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Quentin, how are you feeling as you’re about to set off on this second event of the 2022 season?

“Our recent win in the Pro Sailing Tour shows that our boat is fast. I’m really happy with the way it handles and with my team. I’m genuinely confident in the potential of this Arkema boat.

In recent months, with 14 wins out of the 23 events we competed in during season 2 of the Pro Sailing Tour, I was able to confirm on the water that it is very efficient, and that’s already a huge attainment. But the Drheam Cup is a solo competition. This is a radically different exercise from crew racing. It will involve another kind of sailing."

This is a major first for me on board an Ocean Fifty, however familiar I may be with this type of sailing craft. It’ll be quite an eye-opener for me, I’ve never taken part in a solo race on board this type of boat. I'm confident, but cautious at the same time.”

A kind of crowning moment for you? 

“With the Drheam Cup where I have to qualify for the Route du Rhum, we get closer to the final goal of the project which goes back to the construction of the boat, launched four years ago at the Lalou Roucayrol shipyard. We haven’t rushed through any steps. With Arkema, we formalized all that in early 2018.

At the time, I was accompanying Lalou -a partnership going back to 2010-, when he was preparing for the previous Route du Rhum race. I was able to take the measure of all the work I still had to do, but I had time ahead of me. We followed the program correctly. First I spent two years “in the shadows” at the boat yard, then two years on the water when I was able to clock up the miles.

With the Pro Sailing Tour, I managed to gain confidence about the reliability, use and performance of Arkema alongside a number of experienced crewmates and teammates who shared their experience with me. I feel ready. It’s now up to me to dig deep within me and find my own limits as a solo sailor.”

How are you approaching this Drheam Cup?

“I’ve trained a lot, especially during the ferrying periods, in false solo mode. But when you have someone in the cockpit or sleeping downstairs, it's not the same, inevitably. Now, I’ll be on my own on board, and racing. I’ll endeavor to keep in a learning mode to find my bearings properly. The result will come soon enough. The challenge will be not to fall into the trap of the competition against five other opponents, some of whom already have a solid experience in solo racing in an Ocean Fifty.

I don’t want to put pressure on myself in this regard. The goal is not to sacrifice everything to win the Drheam Cup at all costs. I really don't want to damage the boat and end up having a major overhaul this summer. But I’ll do everything in my power to have clean sailing and not get hurt, which does not exclude being ahead of the others.”

In practical terms, how will you go about meeting this objective

“I no longer need to go over the maneuvers in my mind again and again. I know the boat inside out. I now have good reflexes. But when you’re sailing solo, you need to anticipate every maneuver. I’ll also try to work out more versatile adjustments to optimize sail changes. You only have two hands, and you can’t afford to get overwhelmed on a boat that can quickly pick up speed. Not many options on these trimarans, apart from getting knocked off course.

This winter, I worked with a doctor at the Arcachon hospital to get to grips with sleep phases. I now have benchmarks I’ll be able to fall back on. The format of the Drheam Cup is a bit like the beginning of the Route du Rhum in summer conditions. I hope to finish the race in good shape, which would allow me to continue over more days at sea.

For back-up, I can count on the routing cell made up of two experienced sailors, Lalou Roucayrol and Alex Pella. They work closely with weather expert Éric Mas, in charge of compiling the weather data. Again, it’ll be a matter of putting in place and validating good communication procedures between land and boat. For all these reasons, I can’t wait to sail across the starting line in Cherbourg, but I’m especially looking forward to crossing the finish line in La Trinité-sur-Mer.”