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Ne wsle t ter 21/11/2011 #14

Puerto Limon m down .Tracking the on off Puerto Lim nd .Dominique a stock‌ Michele take ndition .In perfect co

Tracking them down off Puerto Limon

It’s two in the morning in Puerto Limon, Costa Rica and despite the fact that I have been repeatedly told, “one should never walk alone at night”, I am weaving my way through the dark, badly paved streets of this small town of only 6,000 inhabitants. I pick my way around the cavernous drains, the homeless fast asleep on the pavements and the mangy dogs – one hand guarding my laptop and camera – and eventually reach the customs control at the entry to the commercial port. A glance at my access pass and I’m waved through. Only 500m to go and the night air is heavy and damp, I dodge the lorries, low loaders and container carriers and at last reach the Transat Jacques Vabre race village – out of place in this indus2

trial environment. There is a tent decorated with flowers and pulsating with the Burton brothers’ laughter and reggae music. Having just arrived, they are telling tales of their adventures. I find Sylvain, the shore crew boss and Dominique, the cameraman who is filming a documentary for TSR and we hop onto the RIB and set off into the night to find Mirabaud 3nm off the coast to the north west. The sea is beautiful with only the slightest chop and barely a zephyr of wind. On the horizon we can just make out the glow of Mirabaud’s red navigation light. We approach the boat, but Dominique and Mi-

chele are in the middle of a manoeuvre, so we wave discreetly – it’s too soon to celebrate – and stand off. The coastline is lit up like a Christmas tree and difficult to navigate, there is current, shoals and even a small, unlit island that was discovered by Christopher Columbus 600 years ago. Mirabaud has to round this before they can head for Puerto Limon and the finish line. The light breeze is all over the place, a shift to the left, to the right, on the nose, from behind. The co-skippers are constantly in motion to keep the boat coasting along. An unlit dugout canoe appears out of the darkness with a huge outboard engine on the back – the coastguards, we are told, but not for us this time. They carry on past leaving a cloud of kerosene in their wake.

Only a few 100m to go to the finish line now, the breeze is on the nose again and the duo trim the sails for the last time this race. Michele is helming, Dominique is trimming with his headlamp on – deep in concentration. The finish line is in sight and we can make out the Puerto Limon dam and dozens of people silhouetted against the night sky. The horns sound, there is applause, whistling and shouts and it is over. Dominique and Michele embrace and then turn to their friends and the media that has come to meet them. They crossed the Atlantic Ocean in 17 days, 19 hours and 39 minutes. Bernard Schopfer 3

Dominique and Michele take stock… What conclusions do you draw from this Transat Jacques Vabre? Dominique: “Our approach to this race was quite conservative as we had to test our new mast and were still learning how best to manoeuvre the boat with the new configuration, which is different to our old one. That took some time and certainly cost us in terms of performance. Overall I think we sailed well and that we made the right tactical decisions. Ultimately, I am a bit disappointed with the final result, but very happy with the way that we sailed. We certainly gave it our all.” What were the turning points of the race? Michele: “There were several. The first few days of the race were special for us as we were rediscovering the boat. We were itching to go sailing again, but were anxious to do well and needed to break down each manoeuvre in order to get it right. Another turning point was our decision not to go west from our position south of the Azores – we would have got a beating and did not want to jeopardise finishing the race, which was what was really important to us. We weren’t prepared to take the ‘make or break’ gamble, but it was clearly a race winning call for Virbac Paprec.” Any regrets? Dominique: “South of the Azores, we were ahead of Groupe Bell and we hesitated to take a dive south. They went for it and passed us. In retrospect, we should have gone south.” Were you scared at all? Michele: “No, but there were some close shaves. The moment that the autopilot let go and the


boat tacked and was knocked down was hairy. We were on our side with the keel, the ballast and the sails on the wrong side. Dominique was thrown across the hull and landed on my bunk, which folded me into it. He called out my name, asking where I was, and I was stuck underneath him! Fear is pointless. We choose to do what we do and you get on with it. We haven’t yet been overwhelmed by a situation.” Throughout the race, you have given the impression of self-sufficiency and contentment… Dominique: “We are very happy when we are at sea. It’s our world. I love the fact that the decisions we make impact us directly, we are the masters of our own destinies and we are dealing with an environment that we both feel very at home with.” Michele: “It was a fabulous Transat and we enjoyed every moment. It was often physically very challenging, but pleasure won the day.” The next event for you is the Vendee Globe. What will you take from this Transat and what are Mirabaud’s chances? Dominique: “Well first of all and importantly, we know that Mirabaud is a very strong boat. We also know that we have a very good rig as well now – it has paid its dues during this Transat Jacques Vabre. Our boat is not the fastest in the fleet, but during a race like the Vendee Globe, a lot of other factors come into play. Mirabaud has many strengths.”

In perfect condition Mirabaud is moored in Puerto Limon and shows no sign of the storms it has sailed through over the last couple of weeks. The boat looks new and immaculately clean. Dominique and Michele don’t get to rest yet… After a good night’s sleep in a real bed, their first afternoon ashore was spent drawing up a job list for the shore crew – there are a few (small) things that need fixing over the next few days and the

duo have a number of media and event organisation commitments. Once that is done, they are planning to take a few days off, before heading back across the ocean to return the boat to La Rochelle. Michele plans to fly back for family reasons and Dominique will deliver the boat with three other crewmembers – they plan to leave towards the end of the week.

IMOCA Ranking 1. Virbac Paprec 3 2. Hugo Boss 3. Banque PoPulaire 4. Macif 5. Group Bel

15d 18h 15mn 54sec 16d 9h 20mn 0sec 16d 15h 0mn 23sec 16d 16h 50mn 12sec 16d 18h 4mn 32sec

6. Safran 7. Bureau Vallée 8. Mirabaud 9. Gamesa

16d 19h 27mn 52sec 17d 16h 45mn 40sec 17d 19h 39mn 26sec 17d 21h 42mn 10sec 5

Mirabaud & Cie, banquiers privés Laurent Koutaïssoff 29, boulevard Georges-Favon 1204 Genève T: +41 58 816 23 90 M: +41 79 786 78 93

MaxComm Communication Bernard Schopfer T: +41 22 735 55 30 M: +41 79 332 11 76

Crédits photos Alexis Courcoux/Mirabaud Wavre/Paret Bernard Schopfer

Newsletter #14  
Newsletter #14  

- Tracking them down off Puerto Limon - Dominique and Michele take stock… - In perfect condition