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Yoann Richomme: "The North Atlantic, a test in itself"

He is the latest winner of an IMOCA race. Last December, after just one season in the Class, Yoann Richomme (Paprec Arkéa) won Retour à la Base. After a 13-week refit, he is back racing with The Transat CIC. Having lived in the United States for three years, his main aim is to secure his qualification for the Vendée Globe and he has no qualms about playing a leading role.

How do you feel at the moment, with just a few days to go before the start?

The schedule has been very tight between the launch last March and the start of The Transat CIC. The closer the days get, the faster it seems to go by! It's not going to be easy to know where to place the cursor. On the one hand, we're going to have to be careful not to do anything stupid, to preserve the boat and not to add too much work to the technical team. On the other hand, we're bound to want to perform, as in all the races we take part in. We'll have to be careful to take our foot off the gas when we need to, so as not to risk damaging our machines.

"The phenomena can still be violent".

What was it like sailing for the first time after putting the boat back in the water?

After a winter without sailing, I was obviously a bit rusty (laughs)! But the pleasure of being on the boat soon returned. We had some tough conditions with 25 to 30 knots of wind virtually all the time. It's good preparation before crossing the North Atlantic in what are often tough conditions.

What are the special features of this race?

What makes this race so special is that it takes place in the North Atlantic. So we have to deal with storms and weather systems, which is a test in itself for the boats. We're still coming out of winter, so the phenomena can still be violent. There are no particular crossing points apart from the ice zone to be avoided to the north of the route and to the south of Newfoundland.

"My father's American dream"

What are your goals?

Taking the start is one of them because it enables us to finalise our qualification for the Vendée Globe. Secondly, it's a race that's very much upwind. Even if it's not the most frequent point of sail during the round the world, it will enable us to test the boat and see if the optimisations we've made will be effective. I'm going to try to be in the right wagon and aim for a top 5 finish!

You have a special history with the United States, having lived there as a teenager...

Yes, my father had been transferred there and he wanted us to live the American dream. We spent over three years there: I went to American public school, my father's boat was moored in Annapolis and we sailed the Chesapeake Bay, the largest estuary in the United States. It was a wonderful experience.

So you can go back to the States...

Yes, it's going to be great to be back there 24 years after I was there! I'm very happy to be taking part in this race with such a prestigious history. I can't wait to get to New York and see the Manhattan skyline from the deck of the boat!


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