Eric is surprising. He is relaxed. He has always got the same fierceness. Last year, he rounded a cape, he stopped being the 'Poulidor' of the race. He's now even more dangerous ". These remarks from Sébastien Josse, second last year, are revealing.
Eric Drouglazet's motivations haven't changed one iota and it is with this inalterable craving to win that he lines up at the start of his tenth Single-handed Figaro. Attempting the double whilst his opponents can think of nothing else than beating him! Interview with the skipper to beat.
Since the Figaro began, only one double has been carried off two years running". Is a second victory as difficult as the first?
" Without doubt. In the Single-handed Figaro, you must stop yourself from shouting victory too soon above all else. Already, to finish on the podium is something very hard to do. I always knew I could win, but - it is absolutely essential to also get a nudge in the direction of success thoughout the four legs. That remains highly perilous. "
Among your competitors, which of them are the most dangerous to your mind ? " As ever, there are lots of candidates. I place them first of all, among those who hotly contested 'Générali Méditerranée', which served as a rehearsal to the Single-handed. Of course there is the winner (Jérémie Beyou), who has stepped up the pace of late. I also have to be careful of Charles Caudrelier-Benac, who could do a lot of damage if he wins regularly. But these aren't the only ones and a lot of the entrants could prove dangerous if the weather conditions become uncertain. You can battle with someone for a very long time and lose everything in minutes if the wind drops off. That is just one example of a lack of success and it can make irrevocable gaps in the time rankings. "
Exactly what kind of conditions are you hoping for ? A breeze ?
" The more the wind blows, the better it is for me ... that's for sure! I know how to go fast for longer and I feel much more at ease when I have to keep the rhythm in a sustained breeze. It's a question of temperament ! "
What do you think of the 2002 course?
" It's always the weather that will decide which sauce it wants to eat us with. I think the first leg could reveal itself to be very complicated... or very simple. If we can get into the middle of the southern sector, there shouldn't be too many problems. On the otherhand if we cop the rather lighter west, with the simultaneous turns in the tide : it'll be more risky. The arrival at Gijon always scares me too. Up until now we've always been lucky enough to reach land with the wind. But if we have light winds this year, it could turn into a catastrophe for a lot of us. "
Are you starting to feel under pressure ?
" No, not at all !.. OK, yes, maybe I'm starting to feel a litte stressed. That's always a good sign … that means I really want to do well ! "
Who could say it better ?
(") In 1975-1976, Guy Cornou managed two victories, one after the other in the 'Course de l'Aurore', at the helm of his wooden Half " Jabadao ". A feat of arms which has never since been repeated. Philippe Poupon and Jean Le Cam remain the holders of the greatest number of victories, each with three successes added to their list of achievements.
Preview of the Bayer prologue
A kind of general " tasting " before the copious menu of 1691 miles is swallowed, the pre-start regatta remains a score to be played as precisely as possible. And it's the same the world over! For the runners who can appreciate the preparation of their Figaro Bénéteau and measure the competition, as much as for the whole organisation and its contingent of 100 people involved in the follow-up at sea and on land, the fine tuning of computers and other tools… The Bayer prologue will in this way be the occasion to roadtest the Géolink transmission, which will enable the daily infiltration of films and photo media. In short, the prologue, is much more than just a regatta around the cans and it is, with very particular attention, that the Race management endeavours to concoct the best harbour course in Ambrequeuse. With a start planned for 11am sharp, the 38 single-handed skipper will sail over a 5-6 mile course in conditions favourable to tactical coups. In a 5 to 7 knot South-easterly and with the ebb tide thrown in, serious events could transpire before the eyes of the people of Boulogne.
All the teams !
No, no-one is seeing double ! Of the 38 monotypes moored in the port of Boulogne-sur mer, three of them have a kind of clone-boat. The result of teams which have multiplied this year and total three in number. There are of course the " Thales boats " of the " Thales boys ", Philippe Vicariot and Erwan Tabarly. The two skippers who fought hotly together with a great deal of talent in the last 'Transat Ag2r', are now taking part in the Figaro once again, apart for the Single-handed : Philippe at the helm of No. 44, Erwan with the No.7. There are also the new Créaline companions, Sébastien Josse and Armel Le Cléac'h, each of them preparing to line up their respective flaming red monotype on the start line. And finally, there are two Delta Dore boats : 'Delta Dore' quite simply, of Jerémie Beyou, and 'Delta Dore & partenaires', of Arnaud Boissières, participating in his first Single-handed Figaro.
" Sport sans Frontières " takes to the sea
Sébastien Audigane is back on the Figaro circuit, after an interlude last year to sail aboard Géronimo, the maxi-trimaran of Olivier de Kersauson. Loyal to battles on equal terms, this discreet sailor has chosen to offer his hull to " Sport Sans Frontières "(Sport without Barriers), the NGO who use sport as an educational tool for under-priviliged youth. A fantastic opportunity to help them discover the virtues of yacht racing. This initiative was greeted, on Thursday, by the Godfather of the Figaro Bénéteau, Christian Gourduff, professional football trainer. He didn't fall short of " going straight to the goal " in breaking the accepted bottle !