Karine loves a challenge. Throughout her well planned career, she has often opted to seize the opportunities as they appear. She has been looking for a new partner since her former sponsor ceased at the end of 2004. Her aim is to get back into the 60-foot multihull circuit as soon as possible. However, the yachtswoman wishes to diversify and for the past few months has been wanting to participate in one of these major winter round the world events.
'This will help me move on after the last four years at the helm of the trimaran Sergio Tacchini. Sailing is a sport you never tire of. There are so many different types of boats around to sail, so many different ways of sailing and different races that there is always something to be learned. I'll be getting to know a new boat, team and course. It's an exciting challenge'. Karine had invited Brian THOMPSON to crew on her trimaran and today the roles have reversed. This is an important step in the yachtswoman's career. 'I have no ego problems. I became a skipper as it is simply more difficult for a woman to be taken on board as crew. This is my reward. I still want to head my own projects but that does nothing to stop me wanting to take part in other projects and live experiences.'
On board the maxicat, Karine will be sailing alongside friends - Damian FOXALL, her fellow skipper on the Transat Jacques Vabre 2003, but also Thomas COVILLE and Jacques VINCENT, ORMA Championship competitors and New Zealander Sharon FERRIS who competed in the Grand Prix de Marseille 2003 alongside Karine. Brian's crew includes 13 sailors, two of whom are women and covers six different nationalities.
'There are 13 of us on board. Excellent reference for the Fauconnier family. I'm really happy that Sharon is on board, a top notch sailor. Mixed crews are the best. We complement one another afloat as we do ashore. I'm less apprehensive about the whole thing as I already know part of the crew. I'll going to be in Damian's watch and I've already sailed a lot with him. And the fact that 6 different nationalities are going to be living alongside one another for two months will contribute to the quality of the adventure from a people point of view.'
There is also the perspective of a first time voyage in view. The Oryx Quest race stands apart from the traditional round the world races which set out and finish in the North Atlantic. Cheyenne, Daedalus, Geronimo and Qatar 2006 will be sailing down the Indian Ocean leaving the three great capes to their left - Leeuwin, Horn and Good Hope. After that they will be heading back up to the oil centre. A 21,000 mile long course lasting roughly 50 days at sea.
'I shall start out by getting to know Qatar, a part of the world with a completely different culture and customs. We'll all getting to know the course as first-timers together on this one as even those who've already sailed round the world have not necessarily sailed the North Indian Ocean or the South Atlantic before. We're going to have to face up to a whole set of different weather criteria and deal with effects which are new to us particularly along the coast of Africa. When racing, rather than on record attempts, position in relation to one's fellow competitors plays a highly important role. I don't quite know what to expect yet, nor what this is going to feel like. I'll tell you about it when I get back. '
Trophée Jules Verne = 26 000 miles
ON THE STARTING LINE:
1 - Cheyenne (ex-Playstation) belonging to Steve FOSSETT and helmed by American David SCULLY
2 - Daedalus (ex-Enza) helmed by Brit Tony BULLIMORE
3 - Geronimo skippered by Frenchman Olivier de KERSAUZON
4 - Qatar 2006 (ex-Club Med et Maiden II) skippered by British yachtsman Brian THOMPSON
ON BOARD QATAR 2006:
Brian THOMPSON, skipper (UK)
Will OXLEY, navigator (Australia)
Damian FOXALL, watch captain (Ireland)
Jacques VINCENT, watch captain quart (France)
Thomas COVILLE, watch captain (France)
Karine FAUCONNIER (France)
Sharon FERRIS (New Zealand)
Fraser BROWN (New Zealand)
Paul LARSEN (Australia)
Jonny MALBON, boat captain (UK)
Stan DELBARRE (France)
Andy MICKLEJOHN, bowman 1 (New Zealand)
Jonas WACKENHUTH, bowman (Sweden)