Jules Verne Trophy – To undertake the crewed around-the-world record is as much about the human adventure as it is a technical and sporting challenge. The men and women working alongside Dona Bertarelli and Yann Guichard at Spindrift racing have been preparing this race against the clock for almost three years.
The target: to sail around the world in less than 45 days, 13 hours and 42 minutes. The tough record they will try to beat was set by Loïck Peyron and his crew in 2012 on Banque Populaire V, which was renamed Spindrift 2 a year later.
The French-Swiss team decided to use the same 40 m trimaran because they believed that the boat could be further optimised, a task that sailors, engineers and technicians at the team have been working on ever since. After countless hours of work at the boatyard and 40,000 nautical miles of racing and training, the Spindrift racing-prepared trimaran is all set to go. The team will officially go on stand-by on October 19th and wait for the ideal weather window.
With just a few days left until that important date, Dona and Yann are pleased to announce the twelve men who will join them on their journey through the world’s most hostile oceans. Most are multihull experts; some have an Olympic background; others, experience in offshore challenges; but all are familiar with the trimaran and share the team’s values and mindset. The crew members know each other, having competed together for Spindrift racing or taken part in other projects. Some have already circumnavigated the globe, whether in the Jules Verne Trophy or the Volvo Ocean Race.
From left to right, at the top : Thierry Duprey du Vorsent, Thomas Rouxel, Sébastien Audigane, Antoine Carraz, Sébastien Marsset, Xavier Revil, François Morvan. From left to right, at the bottom : Yann Riou, Dona Bertarelli, Yann Guichard, Jacques Guichard, Christophe Espagnon, Erwan Israël. (Loïc Le Mignon, not in the picture)
“The Jules Verne Trophy is the highlight of a programme we drew up as soon as we bought the trimaran Spindrift 2,” explains Dona Bertarelli. “The tour around the world will require total physical, mental, professional and especially personal dedication. Being a team means relying on each another, supporting each other, and accepting the highs and lows while striving to strike the right balance to succeed together. Yann and I are hugely motivated by this immense challenge. We want to surround ourselves with people who share our approach and our values. We’re also driven by a desire to share our passion for sailing with the public, especially youngsters, and to show them the hard work put in by our team. Very soon we’ll reveal the tools we’ve decided to use to achieve this goal.”Yann Guichard also spoke about the
record attempt: “Apart from the competition itself, for Dona and me it is as much about the human adventure. The record attempt brings together sailors who competed in Olympic series before turning to offshore competition and sailors with previous experience of oceanic record attempts and the Southern Ocean. Spindrift 2 is a prototype, so we have to take good care of her. Multihull specialists are aware of the fundamental balance we must strike between speed and safety. I’m surrounded by sailors who I know are talented and who feel good at sea. I can rely on them and trust them. In training I see us gel as a team, which gives me such a strong desire to experience this unique challenge together.”
First around-the-world campaign for Dona Bertarelli and Yann Guichard
Two challenges lie ahead for the skipper Yann Guichard, who has dedicated his career to elite multihull sailing and has made more than 15 transatlantic crossings. First, to complete his first around-the-world sail, and second, to take charge of the boat and the crew on board. “I must concentrate hard to make the right choices at the right time, whether during early or final preparations or out on the water,” says Yann. He set up Spindrift racing with his partner Dona Bertarelli, and the couple are jointly responsible for the team’s day-to-day development and management. Dona is an exacting, determined businesswoman, actively involved in several foundations, including the Bertarelli Foundation for marine conservation, and she has been involved in the Jules Verne Trophy project from day one. She first took up offshore multihull sailing on Spindrift 2 in 2013. Since then she has listened, observed, honed her skills and grown in confidence, and is now ready to spend more than 40 days at sea, following in the footsteps of Tracy Edwards (1998) and Ellen MacArthur (2003) in attempting to become the first woman ever to beat the record. “This circumnavigation is probably one of the biggest challenges I’ve ever set myself,” says Dona. “We’ve spent several years preparing ourselves and preparing those close to us who support and encourage us, but I don’t think you can ever be fully prepared for the unknown that awaits us. If we want to enjoy the adventure, those of us out at sea and those ashore will have to accept whatever comes our way.”
A supportive, well-drilled crew
One of Spindrift racing’s goals is to perform well all year round on the different circuits on which it competes. To achieve this, a core group of sailors accompany Dona and Yann throughout the year on the D35, the Diam 24, the GC32 and the maxi-trimaran. From that core group, Christophe Espagnon, François Morvan and Xavier Revil, whom Yann met during his Olympic preparations, will be part of the Jules Verne Trophy crew, as will the skipper’s younger brother Jacques Guichard, who is the team’s sailmaker at North Sails. Xavier Revil has already sailed around the world on the same boat as part of Loïck Peyron’s record-breaking crew in 2012.
Another member of Peyron’s crew was Thierry Duprey du Vorsent, who was brought in to the project last winter as Boat Captain because of his maritime experience over the last fifteen years, including his role in the Banque Populaire V record. Antoine Carraz was also part of the previous record and is one of the persons who know Spindrift 2 the best, having spent three years as technical manager for the trimaran and for the design office. This will be his first circumnavigation during which he will be keeping a particularly close eye on the boat.
Three other crew members – Thomas Rouxel, Sébastien Marsset and Erwan Israël – were part of the team that beat the Discovery Route record (Cádiz-San Salvador) on Spindrift 2 at the end of 2013, so their experience on the boat will also be important. Two of three have just competed in the 2014–15 Volvo Ocean Race: Thomas for the Chinese Dongfeng Race Team and Sébastien for the American Team Alvimedica. None of the three, however, took part in the Southern Ocean leg, so they will have their sights set firmly on rounding Cape Horn during the Jules Verne. Erwan Israël was Yann Guichard’s router for the 2014 edition of the single-handed Route du Rhum (Yann was sailing Spindrift 2), and last winter he joined Dongfeng for the Sanya-Auckland stage of the Volvo Ocean Race. After several months as Spindrift racing’s performance analyst, Erwan will be the navigator for the Jules Verne Trophy, working alongside the skipper at the chart table to determine the best route.
Yann Riou also has experience in the Volvo Ocean Race: the former electronics specialist was Groupama’s media reporter during their victorious 2011–12 campaign, and in the latest edition of the race he performed the same role for Dongfeng Race Team. Yann will be the first full-time on-board reporter for a Jules Verne record attempt.
Dona Bertarelli and Yann Guichard have called up two men with vast experience sailing multihulls at high speed in the Southern Ocean. Brest-based sailor Sébastien Audigane will take on sailing’s most famous record for the fourth time, having been part of Bruno Peyron’s successful bid on Orange II in 2005 and the unsuccessful attempts by Olivier de Kersauson in 2002 and Franck Cammas in 2008. Loïc Le Mignon, meanwhile, was part of the Jules Verne attempts by Groupama 3, including the successful one in 2010.
Onshore support will be provided by world-renowned meteorologist and offshore sailing router Jean-Yves Bernot, who has prepared and routed some of the world’s best single-handed sailors. Jean-Yves has also competed in the Whitbread Round the World Race and has been a crew member for various teams in different countries.
Finally, there are two reserves, Thomas Le Breton and Simone Gaeta, both of whom have trained on the maxi-trimaran this season and are ready to stand in if a crew member has to drop out.
Preparations on the trimaran are drawing to a close. As of Monday, October 19th, Spindrift 2 will officially be on stand-by in Brest, a port famous for major record attempts, located just a few miles away from the start line at Créac’h lighthouse on Ushant island. The routing team will analyse weather data several times a year in search of a good opportunity to launch the assault on the legendary course.
Spindrift 2 crew for the Jules Verne Trophy
Yann Guichard, skipper
Dona Bertarelli, helmsman-trimmer
Sébastien Audigane, helmsman-trimmer
Antoine Carraz, helmsman-trimmer
Thierry Duprey du Vorsent, helmsman-trimmer
Christophe Espagnon, helmsman-bowman
Jacques Guichard, helmsman-trimmer
Erwan Israël, navigator
Loïc Le Mignon, helmsman-trimmer
Sébastien Marsset, bowman
François Morvan, helmsman-trimmer
Xavier Revil, helmsman-trimmer
Yann Riou, media reporter
Thomas Rouxel, helmsman-bowman
Jean-Yves Bernot, onshore router
Simone Gaeta, substitute
Thomas Le Breton, substitute
Jules Verne Trophy:
Start and finish: a line between Créac’h lighthouse (Ushant island) and Lizard Point (England)
Course: non-stop around-the-world tour travelling without outside assistance via the three capes (Good Hope, Leeuwin and Horn).
Minimum distance: 21,600 nautical miles (40,000 kilometres)