Sunday, 3 April 2011

America's Cup: Loick Peyron on his experiences in the 2010 Alinghi campaign and background to his Barcelona World Race participation

Loick Peyron talked to Anne Hinton, some months after the 33rd America's Cup, and before his qualification sail of Virbac Paprec 3 for the double-handed Barcelona World Race from Panama with Jean-Pierre Dick, and reflected on his experiences with Alinghi, and the America's Cup, plus background to his participation in the Barcelona World Race. Clearly he was bitten by the Auld Mug's bug, as he subsequently announced (in 2011, during the Barcelona World Race, while sailing past Australia) his own Energy Team campaign (very aptly named for someone who is never short of energy!) for the 34th America's Cup!

Loick Peyron in his Oman Sail cap (Extreme 40, 2010). Image copyright Patrick Eden/onEdition.

by Loick Peyron

Actually there was quite a lot of grey hairs in the [Alinghi] team [for the 33rd America's Cup]. The average age was quite interesting! The average age was about 45, with Brad, Murray, me... There were a lot of white hairs, which was good.

It was a tremendous experience for me. I spent nine months with them, which was really interesting for me, especially the training session in RAK. I had the chance to steer this marvellous machine hundreds of hours, and to steer it during the [33rd America's Cup] races [Note from SailRaceWin: the first Frenchman to helm a boat in the AC] – both races – just a while, and that was very interesting for sure. In my case I have [had] some white hairs for quite a long time, and I am still very young, hopefully!

Alinghi 5 during the 33rd America's Cup in Valencia. Image copyright Carlo Borlenghi/

The interesting thing was that in this team – like in the other one – you had tremendous skills coming from everywhere in sailing – like offshore, inshore, Cup, multihull, whatever – and the main thing was try to mix these skills and try to convince sometimes. The main spine was the Cup area for sure – and the Kiwi Cup way of doing things. Before that they never knew how to lose a Cup – they only won it. That was maybe the main thing – to arrive with some different skills, especially multihull; some different spirit.

We were fighting sometimes about some choice – with the design team, with the sailors... and at the end choices were made by the spine. When you have just arrived you are not part of the spine; you are part of the bones, but not part of the spine. That was not so easy.

Alinghi 5 during the 33rd America's Cup in Valencia. Image copyright Guido Trombetta/Studio Borlenghi.

It was very, very interesting and the good thing is that I met a lot of people I never met before – I just saw them on pictures. I met really, really good guys, who are friends now. Because that’s a family – real family. The only bad thing is to be part of a team like that and to assist at the end of this successful run, after ten years when they were the best AC team in the world. That was the main thing – to win or not to win was not important for me. I was not sad in a personal way. Just sad to be witness to the end of a very nice story.

Loick Peyron helming the Masirah Extreme 40, belonging to Oman Sail, in 2010. Image copyright Patrick Eden.

The boat [Alinghi 5] is still in Valencia under a big tent in the commercial area just by the Oracle base. There was a place for us ready to be used. The Cat [Alinghi 5] is there, and the SUI 1000 [Le Black] is still there – ready to sail still.

The boat [Alinghi 5] was a lot shorter than the other one [USA], and it was not easy to steer on starboard against the choppy waves in the second race. The classic rig – the soft sails – were, for sure, less efficient than the wing mast, especially for that. The wing-assisted mast was pretty easy to sail – a lot easier to steer - a lot easier to sail.

Note from SailRaceWin: Looks like Loick is welcoming the wing sail on the cats for the 34th America's Cup!

Background to Loick’s Barcelona World Race participation

Loick Peyron and Virbac Paprec 3. Image copyright Loick Peyron/Virbac Paprec 3.

I have been invited by Jean-Pierre Dick to join him on board Virbac Paprec 3 for the Barcelona World Race, after a 2010 season of doing the Trophee Clairefontaine (I have competed in every one – from the beginning) [Note from SailRaceWin: Loick won the event again in 2010!], and a season in the D35 and Extreme 40. I went to New Zealand for four days to launch the boat [Virbac Paprec 3], and to test it for two or three days. Right now the boat is going to be delivered Auckland to Panama by Jean-Pierre Dick.

Loick Peyron and crew win the 2010 Trophee Clairefontaine. Image copyright Jean-Marie Liot/SailingOne.

The choice for building in New Zealand? The two sisterships – Paprec 2 and Gitana 80 – were built in NZ. The three Paprecs have been built there. For a lot of reasons these guys know how to do boats – and for price reasons New Zealand is good too, although not as good as it was!

Loick Peyron (left) and Jean-Pierre Dick (right) establish a new 24 hour monohull record during the Barcelona World Race. Image copyright Virbac Paprec 3.

We don’t have much time for training before the Barcelona World Race. Jean-Pierre will sail the boat to Panama, then we will do the qualification sail together from Panama to Halifax, Nova Scotia [Note from SailRaceWin: they only got as far as New York in the time allocated], and then we will do a few days’ training in Brittany, and a little locally before the start of the race in Barcelona. [Loick commented that Jean-Pierre Dick was the one sailing Virbac Paprec 3 a lot before the start of the Barcelona World Race; Loick’s schedule simply did not allow him time to do so.]

Virbac Paprec 3. Image copyright Yvan Zedda/Sea&Co./Virbac Paprec 3.

Energy Team
America's Cup
Virbac Paprec 3
Barcelona World Race