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news - Only days to the start of la Route du Rhum: Interview with Kito de Pavant

Okt 28 2010

St. Malo, France

They are in place!

The Groupe Bel monohull and its skipper have been in St. Malo for the past two weeks after a ten day journey from Port Camargue, with a 48 hour stopover in Brest to bring on board the new sails that will be used to race the Route du Rhum-La Banque Postale.

Although he has always been a sailor and crossed the Atlantic Ocean more than forty times, Kito de Pavant is taking part in this symbolic offshore racing event for the first time. For him, this is a “childhood dream” come true, a "yachting" image, admittedly, but a reality, a moment the Mediterranean skipper has been waiting for 17 years.

Although it will soon be time for Kito’s first Rhum, the skipper has his “baggage” as they say. He knows the route and his yacht by heart, and single-handed racing is what he is good at. He also did an Atlantic crossing single-handed on board Groupe Bel in the winter of 2007, for the Transat BtoB between Brazil and Brittany in which he was ranked second, behind Loïck Peyron and ahead of Michel Desjoyeaux.

Interview with the skipper this morning as Groupe Bel was moored to the Dinard nun-buoy while waiting for a gap at St. Malo:

Groupe Bel is the only IMOCA to come so far, how did this delivery go???“

"It is true that 98% of the Rhum contenders coming to St.Malo are "neighbors". From Port Camargue, we had a 2,000 mile journey, which is no small thing. We’ve had a lot of wind and sea, which has enabled us to confirm a few more choices on the boat. Seb (Audigane) spend eight days taking notes with a view to our round-the-world this winter on the Barcelona World Race! I know now that Group Bel is safe in St. Malo.”

How do you feel about your boat?

“Groupe Bel is high-performing in all sailing trims, but we will need to wait to confront the new yachts to see exactly where we are. We have progressed in ergonomics and in single-handed maneuvering efficiency. I know Groupe Bel better and better. I know all her sounds. When I'm inside, I know that if the wind lifts whether she's trimmed well or not. I feel really in phase with her.”

What were you doing in 1978 during the first Route du Rhum?

“I was still in my last year in secondary school in Montpellier and the Rhum got me dreaming. Two years later, I bought a boat (Rackham le Rouge, a Rorqual made of moulded wood) after entering university. They did not see me much. I set off with three friends to the West Indies, because it was the destination of the Route du Rhum. I had to get there. Since then, my life has has been built around sailing trips on the oceans, either racing or delivering. I became a sailor thanks to the Route du Rhum.”

What ideal does this race represent for you?

“I wanted to sail on beautiful boats, trim beautiful sails and live in communion with the sea. I could not see my life any other way. I took to the sea and I don’t regret it one bit. I could have stayed a simple traveller, but this mixture between adventure and competition attracted me. Every four years, I did what was necessary to arrive sufficiently early to be at the Rhum finish, just to be there to see it.”

Which Rhum racer has marked your life most?

“Without hesitation, Mike Birch, the first winner, someone in whom I recognize myself. When he won, he already travelled a lot and delivered a lot of boats. He was not predestined to do this; he was just a sailor who liked that.

Your “childhood dream” is about to come true, so?

“That’s the way life goes. I had to be patient before I could race my first Figaro, my first Transat Jacques Vabre and now my first Route du Rhum. I feel so fortunate to be able to set off in these conditions, thanks to the people at Bel Group who trust me and have made it possible for me to set off with such a beautiful boat."

How do you see this race turning out???“

There are 85 contenders on the starting line always with this mix of professional skippers and sailors who come with a different approach and their amateur status. They are also living their dream. Thanks to the Class 40, the challenge remains accessible even though this mix of sailing profiles is disappearing in other races. This side of the Rhum is very pleasant.”

People talk of hard sailing on board multihulls of the “Ultime" class, but in the IMOCA (60’ Open monohull), it will be just as much so and why???“

The Rhum in IMOCA is a middle-distance race. Whereas there are 4 to 5 standby sails in the multihull class, we have double this on our boats and more than half of them to move from one side to another with every tack. With the material and the supplies, that is nearly 600 kilos that has to be manually transported and often, when you’re finished, you have to start again. Add to this the excellent level of the sailors and the homogeneity of the boats and you get a transatlantic race that is similar to a long leg of the Solitaire du Figaro. On a Vendée Globe, you manage the length throughout. You sail using your autopilot and you preserve the boat. Here, we will be on deck and at the helm 20 hours a day to be at a max all the time. It will be a fascinating race and difficult to win. It’s going to be quite some match!”

 

La Route du Rhum

9th anniversary of this race created in 1978 by Michel Etevenon

Start on Sunday 31 October 2010 at 13:02

Course: 3,543 miles from St. Malo to Pointe-à-Pitre en Solitaire leaving the island of Guadeloupe to port

8?5 participants divided among IMOCA, Class 40’, Class Multi 50’, “Ultimes”, “Category Rhum” (multi 39’-59')

Real time winner in 2006: Lionel Lemonchois, 60 foot trimaran Gitana 11
I?MOCA Winner: Roland Jourdain, Sill and Véolia

Routing is prohibited for the IMOCA Class

Official website: www.routedurhum-labanquepostale.com

© Jacques Vapillon