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At age 29, Quentin Vlamynck is the youngest skipper in the Ocean Fifty category, and has plenty of support. For his very first Transat race on board an ocean-going trimaran, he can first count on the vast experience of Lalou Roucayrol. Aged 57, Médoc-born Lalou, who has a distinct commitment to the transmission of knowledge, ranks among the most skilled in the art of sailing a multihull across the Atlantic, as evidenced by his ten participations on three hulls in the Transat Jacques Vabre.quentin-vlamynck-lalou-roucayrol-duo.jpgAlongside such a sailor, no wonder that any apprehension of stepping aboard an Ocean Fifty gives way to the stress induced by sporting challenges. “Alongside Lalou, I am setting off in the best possible conditions to compete in this great premiere. But Arkema 4 is a highly competitive boat. We have the means to win, and that's our goal. Inevitably, this produces a certain tension from a desire to face fierce competition effectively,” says Quentin Vlamynck.

Reports of major lull in the wind!

Against this background, the conditions announced for the start of the race do not appear too conducive to making things easy.

“The weather is very complicated with wind holes all over the place. A low stalled in the Atlantic, taking the place of a high and quashing the trade winds, seems to be freezing the situation. Either we will sail along the edge of this weather system to the West, or we will make our way through a corridor and avoid finding ourselves in the lulls scattered on our course,” continues the Arkema 4 skipper. “We musn’t waste time on our way to the tip of Britanny. Otherwise we could find ourselves stuck, all of us on every boat looking at each other,” says Lalou Roucayrol with a watchful eye. For him, routine is not on, especially since he readily admits to having set off in a fresh breeze more often than in light conditions.

Strategy, tactics and instinct!

However much of a headache it may be, this weather pattern will nevertheless be an ideal testing ground allowing Quentin to initiate collaboration with a pair of routers.

In a year’s time, the Arkema 4 skipper will set off solo on the Route du Rhum. He will then be able to rely on himself only to find his way across the Atlantic.

“As a skipper, I will be communicating with them to let them know what we are going through on board and to understand their language properly. It's about laying the foundations for a relationship based on lasting trust,” Quentin explains. He will be making the decisions and the choices of route based on the daily emails and the written messages he will receive from Eric Mas of Météo Consult and Alexandre Ozon.

The latter, winner of the last Transquadra, will convey his views as a top sailor and sharp tactician. He will complete the strategic decoding of the weatherman already well-versed in the delicate art of ocean routing.

“The purpose of the game is not to set off all alone by yourself while taking too many risks, but rather to get to the finish line before the others,” the young sailor says, adding: “As for Lalou, he will tell me how he feels and how he sees things.” An extra ingredient and a major asset to lead Arkema 4 on the road to success all the way to Martinique...