Sunday, 14 April 2013

Tour de France à la Voile : Interview with Daniel Souben and Pierre Antoine Morvan, Courrier Dunkerque 3

Courrier Dunkerque 3 romps away with Spi Ouest France - Intermarché 2013. Image copyright JM Liot/Courrier Dunkerque.

Daniel Souben is the skipper/helmsman of the M34 Courrier Dunkerque 3 campaigning for the Tour de France à la Voile 2013. Pierre Antoine Morvan is France’s top ISAF-ranked match racer and the country’s sole World Match Racing Tour card holder, who is also on the team of Courrier Dunkerque.

Courrier Dunkerque is training against Franck Cammas’ Groupama (ex-Safran) M34, based out of the Groupama team headquarters by the former Submarine Base in Lorient. On this day, Cammas was absent, so Fabien Henry was helming the Groupama M34.

The two boats raced in the M34 class at Spi OuestFrance – Intermarché over the Easter Weekend, and Courrier Dunkerque won the event, with Groupama second overall. Franck Cammas said, of that event: “Courrier Dunkerque was always right where it counts. Daniel is clearly the man to beat and it's good to have someone of his standard in the class.”

Superb masthead video of Courrier Dunkerque 3 and other M34s (including Groupama 34)

En tête de Courrier Dunkerque 3 par dunkerquenautisme

Anne Hinton spoke to Daniel Souben and Pierre Antoine Morvan (also known as PAM), just before they had an early lunch before heading out on the water for training in Lorient on Thursday, 11th April. The audio, in French, is here.

The discussion ranged from the Tour de France à la Voile and Alpari World Match Racing Tour to Daniel Souben enthusing about MOD70s and PAM’s interest in competing for the America’s Cup.


Daniel Souben. Image copyright JM Liot/Tour de France à la Voile.

AH: When did your involvement with Courrier Dunkerque commence?

DS: 2005

AH: So, 8 years ago

AH: This was always for the Tour de France à la Voile?

DS: The partnership with Courrier Dunkerque is, and has always been, for the Tour de France à la Voile, but in preparing for the Tour de France à la Voile, one effectively does other events like Spi OuestFrance, the Grand Prix Guyader-Douarnenez, but the main aim is always for the Tour de France à la Voile. For 3 or 4 years now, the aim is also for the team championship in France.

AH: There are four Courrier Dunkerque boats?


Other boats from the same club as Courrier Dunkerque are used to train up youth sailors. Image copyright JM Liot/Courrier Dunkerque.

DS: There is just one Courrier Dunkerque boat. However, all the boats that are within the club [Dunkerque Nautisme] have the same colours, as they are supported by the same sponsors. These boats are to help train the young sailors, while the Courrier Dunkerque boat is entirely professional.

AH: You are all professionals on board?

DS: Yes.

AH: How long have you all sailed together? Since 2005?

DS: Er, Pierre Antoine, how long?

PAM: My first Tour de France à la Voile was in 2007. However, we have known each other for a long time. 


Courrier Dunkerque 3 competing in the Tour de France à la Voile 2012. Image copyright JM Liot/Tour de France à la Voile.

AH (to PAM): And you do match racing too – match racing first and Tour de France à la Voile second? Perhaps I shouldn’t ask that!

PAM: No, it a bit of a mix between the two. It’s a bit of a compromise between the match racing and the Tour de France à la Voile.

AH: In regard to the Tour de France à la Voile, the first three M34 boats at Spi Ouest all had match racers on board [Courrier Dunkerque with PAM, Groupama with Franck Cammas, and Sodebo with Mathieu Richard and Damien Iehl]. Franck Cammas has just started with winning the [French] national [match racing] championships. So – it’s good to have match racers on board?

DS: I think it is, yes. The Tour de France à la Voile is an event where one needs to be very all-round in skills; there are some offshore legs, there are some [inshore] “contact” races. One really needs to have the competence of match racers on board. They are a lot better than us in the “contact” races. So, that means that it is necessary to have complementary skills within the team, and a few very with all-round abilities. 

Courrier Dunkerque 3. Image copyright JM Liot/Courrier Dunkerque.
AH: But one can change the team members between the different races [during the Tour de France à la Voile].

DS: Yes, one takes match racers less for the offshore legs, but takes them as a priority for the “contact” races.

AH: And there are three aboard Sodebo this year, I believe – all at the same time!

DS: Yes, Seb Col, Mathieu Richard and Damien Iehl, so they are very effective.

AH: What did you do before Courrier Dunkerque?

DS: I did a lot of multihull sailing. So, some with Franck and Groupama, but also Banque Populaire. And before that Olympic preparation for a summer in the Tornado, and Olympic preparation from the 1970s.

AH: You would like to sail the MOD70s?

DS: Yes. One needs to find a sponsor, but they are good boats. They are superb boats.

AH: They are for offshore racing.

DS: Yes, but multihulls are very fun boats! It [MOD70 racing] is in teams, which pleases me, and they have a programme (usually) of offshore racing but also Grand Prix, so a bit of a mixed programme, and one which can become very full, so it’s a good formula – very, very good!

AH: This morning I saw Vincent Riou and Bilou [Roland Jourdain] with Jean-Pierre Dick [going sailing on JPD’s new Virbac Paprec MOD70]. [Everyone wants to sail the MOD70s.]

DS: Yes, of course.

Courrier Dunkerque 3 competing in the Tour de France à la Voile. Image copyright JM Liot/Tour de France
à la Voile.

AH: But I know that you [PAM] also want to do some multihull sailing, but on smaller boats, and the America’s Cup? The Extreme 40s?

PAM: Of course! That would be very interesting – why not! It is necessary to find the budget. I sailed multihulls and the Tornado until I was 20. Since then I have done match racing.

AH: You are the only French representative on the World Match Racing Tour this year? But do you think that Mathieu Richard wants to return?

PAM: Mathieu is trying to return, but there is the issue of finding a place in the events for him. [PAM was the only French sailor selected to receive a World Match Racing Tour card this year.] I know that he is doing the event in Germany [in May], and he is trying to get invitations to Sweden and Korea too.

AH: Which [World Match Racing Tour] events are you doing this year?

PAM: All! This year everyone [with a Tour Card] is doing all the events. The rules have changed again.

AH: That means [that you will be away match racing] during the Tour de France à la Voile?

PAM: There is only one event during the Tour de France à la Voile – that in Sweden. So I will start the Tour de France à la Voile in Brest or in Lorient.

AH: So, you are not going to the Netherlands [with the Tour de France à la Voile]?

PAM: No.

Courrier Dunkerque 3 in action in the Tour de France à la Voile. Image copyright JM Liot/Tour de Franceà la Voile.
AH: It is a bit mixed. Not all the Tour de France à la Voile is in France this year! Do you [DS] know Breskens?

DS: Yes. Some years ago in multihulls we did a Grand Prix at Brugges, just nearby, and in the coastal race we sailed close to Breskens. So I know it a little.

AH: And you are training with Franck Cammas – and now [today], I believe, Fabien Henry, as Franck is sailing his cat.

DS: Yes

AH: That is going well?

DS: Yes, we have worked together all winter – since the beginning of February. It’s not going badly, as the two teams were first and second at Spi OuestFrance.

PAM: We were first!

Courrier Dunkerque 3 training with Groupama 34

Des adversaires qui coopèrent par dunkerquenautisme


DS: Yes, it is good to be first! So, the work is good and of good quality.

AH: Last year, who did you work with?

DS: A little bit alone, a very little with Oman Sail, but only irregularly. We did a lot less than this year, you know. This year it is a full training programme.

AH: So you were first and second [at Spi Ouest] but who will be first in the Tour de France à la Voile, because it isn’t good luck to win before the main event, but you have already done that?!

DS: There are other events. In 2009 we won all the events.

AH: And Seb Col, who is on board Sodebo, won the Tour de France à la Voile last year, I believe, on TPM COYCH.

PAM: Oh yes, Seb was with TPM last year.

DS: A large part of the TPM team is with Groupama this year.

The Courrier Dunkerque professional team at the christening of their M34 in 2011. Image copyright JM Liot/Tour de France à la Voile.

AH: And what about after the Tour de France à la Voile, as there is a lot of time [left in the year] – six months – for sailing?

DS: After, there is a big event, the French National Championship in the Mediterranean in September, so we have time for a bit of rest. September is the last event. After that we will do a bit of J80 sailing to finish the season, and then the match racing teams still have events on.

AH: You will be sailing against Seb Col again in the J80 then, as he won Spi Ouest in that class?

DS: Ah, yes! He won it.

AH: Match racing for the last few months [PAM] and something else too?

PAM: No, nothing else is planned at present.

AH: You are a bit too old for the Youth [America’s Cup] Team?

PAM: Yes!! [PAM is more than 25 years old!]

AH: What can one do to get into the America’s Cup in that situation?

PAM: I think that starting by winning the Match Racing Championships – that wouldn’t be bad! And then one needs the opportunity and a bit of luck too.

AH: You would do something with multihulls?

PAM: I don’t know that it is that important [NB that PAM spent years racing Tornados in the past]. The teams need to be more physical, but I don’t think that there is much other difference.

AH: Thank you very much indeed.

From some friendly jocular ribaldry overheard on the pontoons as the two boats were being prepared for training… The team of Courrier Dunkerque, who won the M34 class at Spi Ouest, commented that they had won and Groupama had lost over the Easter weekend. The response from the Groupama préparateurs was a very decided « Non, on ne perde pas. Quelquefois on ne gagne pas, mais on ne perde jamais ! » : excellent team philosophy from Franck Cammas’ Groupama !!! [« No, one does not lose. Sometimes one does not win, but one never loses!”] There are always lessons to be learnt, after all…

Interviews with the French match racers Pierre Antoine Morvan, Seb Col, Mathieu Richard and Damien Iehl may be found on by clicking on the links on their names.

A video of training shot from unusual angles

Entrainements divers par dunkerquenautisme

Courrier Dunkerque’s sailing team for Spi Ouest: Daniel Souben, Nicolas Pauchet, Antoine Carpentier, Erwan Le Roux, Bertrand Castelnérac, Antoine Joubert, Steven Liourzou, Hervé Gautier, with Pierre Antoine Morvan replacing Gautier in the inshore races, from the Friday onwards.

The crew of Groupama 34 for Spi Ouest: Franck Cammas, Tanguy Cariou, Julien Villon, Charles Caudrelier, Erwan Israël, Devan Le Bihan, Fabien Henry and Christophe André.

Courrier Dunkerque  
Tour de France à la Voile