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Dalin's dilemma. Back in the game after enforced hiatus, but needs a finish.....

After having to effectively miss both of last Autumn’s Transatlantic races due to an unspecified medical problem now Charlie Dalin (MACIF Santé Prévoyance) makes his return to solo racing on The Transat CIC. Despite being one of the favourites to win this race across the North Atlantic which he takes on for the first time, and after finishing across the line first on the last Vendée Globe, Dalin still needs to finish races to be very sure of his qualification for the solo race round the world. His boat was updated through the winter with new foils and improving the set up of his ‘living pod’. And after missing these races, he has a real hunger to be back out on the water racing hard, and winning,

How are you on the eve of the start? I am delighted to be here, happy to be back on the circuit and to see MACIF Santé Prévoyance moored up ready to go. It feels good. We worked a lot this winter. The boat has been in the water for five weeks. We tried to sail  as much as possible to debug it as best as possible following the winter refit to be as ready as possible. I can't wait to start. We have changed quite a few things that we will have to test as we go, notably the new pair of foils. We are still at the beginning of learning this pair. I can’t wait to see how the boat behaves and how it performs against others.

How is it looking?

It looks light to start then on Monday we will be heading towards a depression. We don't really know yet what’s going to happen. On the other hand, on Tuesday we will find ourselves in a very cold northerly wind with a lot of squalls, perhaps hail, with a lot of sea. The conditions will be a little rough. Afterwards, we will hit a large windless barrier before getting into a south wind on the other side of this area. It's still quite a mess behind. And at the end there is a big no-go area to be acconted for.

What will be key at the end? At some point we will find ourselves not far from this area with the Labrador Current, the Newfoundland Plateaus and then the Gulf Stream to manage. We will finish in the area where the depressions grow before launching across the Atlantic. We will have potentially difficult conditions until the finish. It’s not like a Route du Rhum – Destination Guadeloupe or a Transat Jacques Vabre Normandie – Le Havre where after three or five days you are in clover, in the trade winds. Here you are completely in the depressions system. We will be going into the flow of weather phenomena, which causes rapid changes in wind angles and strength in one direction or in order and a lot of maneuvering. The route is paradoxically shorter than a transatlantic crossing to the West Indies, but certainly more difficult.


“I have a sword of Damocles hanging over my head”: Dalin

This is your first solo Transat on this boat… It’s also my first crossing of the North Atlantic, my first participation in The Transat CIC. There are a lot of firsts but I can't wait to discover the boat alone. It was really designed for solo. The cockpit and living area are really tiny, almost too tiny when there are two of us on the boat. It's going to be great to be able to try this solo for the first time. I am counting a lot on this transatlantic race and the return race because what we will learn with the team will be useful for the future. This is the last opportunity to make modifications for the Vendée Globe. Afterwards, there will only be sails of a maximum of 48 hours. It'll be good to see how I maneuver the boat, possibly taking a chance to have one last shot of modifications this summer.


You have an obligation to finish the Transat CIC or the return race on time to qualify for the Vendée Globe. This is a rather unique situation for you. How do you approach racing from a sporting point of view? It bothers me a little because The Transat CIC is one of the legendary races. It has such a famous story. Plus, I'm going to be 40 on May 10, that's something. It’s my return to racing too, so I’m extremely motivated. I would have liked to say that my goal is to win and only to win but unfortunately, I have this sword of Damocles hanging over my head. It bothers me not to be able to honor the race in that sense and not to be able to give everything, without the chance to push to get a victory. I spent a lot of time thinking about how to approach the race, how to position the cursor. Unfortunately, I will also have to think about this qualification during the race. I hope it won't be too impactful for me in terms of the speed and rhythm I can apply.

You suffered a concussion on a stage of The Ocean Race. How do you protect yourself on board the boat against impacts

This is something I take very seriously. Even before this problem, I was already putting on a helmet from 20-24 knots of boat speed. When we went offshore and the boat accelerated, everyone was given helmets. It’s part of our habits on board, just like putting on your seat belt when you get into a car. I have the impression that we are seeing more and more helmeted sailors in the fleet. I think it's a good thing that it's starting to become a habit. Afterwards, in any field, you always have a little delay because you don't know exactly what accidents there are going to be. In aeronautics, for cars or planes, safety systems are a bit of a recognition of a type of accident but we try to anticipate problems as much as possible.