At 35, he won everything. Winner of the Vendée Globe 2013, record holder around the world alone (42 days 16 hours and 40 minutes), François Gabart announces himself as one of the great favorites of the Route du rhum this Sunday.
This first solo race on Ultimate marks a turning point in sailing?
FRANÇOIS GABART. It's been thousands of years that sailing boats exist, it's only been a few years since they fly. This is the first time there is a race with boats that can fly completely. I am lucky to arrive at an unprecedented turn of the sail, it is a real revolution. This Route du rhum is historic.
In this context, does victory really matter?
Yes, because we're not here to test the boat before next year's race around the world, it's a race in its own right. Obviously it is part of a long-term project, we will take information that will serve us for Brest Oceans (Editor's note: new solo tour of the world, which will leave Brest in December 2019) but we are all here for a race.
Has your boat evolved since your record around the world?
It has nothing to do with the 2017 version, it has progressed a lot. It continues to evolve since its release.
Sébastien Josse (Rothschild) and Armel Le Cléac'h (Banque Populaire) have been discovering their Ultimate for 18 months. Is it an advantage to know your boat for a longer time?
Structurally, the Macif platform has not changed. But concerning the appendages, I start from scratch. It is a partially new boat, I rediscover things in terms of sensations, even if I have the chance to rely on a base that has not moved. I have my bearings. We have evolved the boat, without being in complete rupture.
Does this mean that with this version of Macif, you could have gone even faster during your world tour?
Yes, probably. The trimaran version 2018 is faster. We do not remake the story, but with the same weather conditions, the same way of sailing, we can imagine that I would have gone faster.
Do you consider yourself the favorite?
We are clearly five to play the win. I think the two most recent boats, Banque Populaire and Gitana, clearly have an advantage. I'm here to win, I think I have my chances. I have in front of me four competitors who have a real experience of the offshore race, especially Francis Joyon who started when I was still doing the Optimist (Laughter).
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Where can the race win?
One can also ask the question: where can she get lost? That's still offshore racing, a race by elimination. We will have to push the boat thoroughly without doing anything stupid. There can be breakage, a capsize, a technical problem … It can be gained on the ability of the guy to push the boat while having maximum vigilance for six or seven days.