Winner of The Transat Bakerly, on 11 May, in his first single-handed race on the MACIF trimaran, François Gabart has taken advantage of the last three weeks to recover from the cumulative fatigue of over eight days of racing. At the same time, the MACIF skipper continued to train with a view to a North Atlantic Record crossing, in the shape of a single-handed record attempt of the New York to Lizard Point route (south eastern tip of England).
“For several days, I have completely switched to a record-attempt frame of mind. I clearly feel the excitement you do before race start“, explains François Gabart, who is delighted to have a boat in New York ready to tackle the Atlantic again: “MACIF is in perfect condition from a structural point of view and I am really happy with the way the deck plan is organised. It matches my expectations and demonstrates clear progress in relation to last year.“
This North Atlantic record attempt will be the first of a kind for François Gabart, who, up until now, has made a name for himself racing. He approaches this first time with real determination: “I would like to break new ground in by attempting this record and so achieve ultimate sailing speeds. The MACIF trimaran gives you excellent speed sensations. I got a taste of this during The Transat Bakerly, in what were not exactly optimal conditions. I’m impatient to see what she can do in more suitable weather. Some people say that there is no substitute for racing, but in terms of personal and racing commitment, the record exercise is unique, because it is unlimited.” And for the skipper, whatever the result of this return crossing, it will be one extra step in a more long-term progress process. “I have not forgotten that the racing challenges this year will feed my performance in the future.“
“What is the ideal window to set off?” Stable wind, a 20 to 30 knot south-westerly ahead of a low and a reasonable sea. This is the ideal scenario, but since our standby period is fairly short “MACIF must be back on 12 July in Brest to take part in the maritime festival”, we will not necessarily get the ideal window. You need to be an opportunist to know how to make the best use of the weather.”
In concrete terms, the skipper and his team have implemented a four level procedure:
Level 1 indicates that no departure can be considered, Level 2 that there is a potential window of 3 to 4 days on the horizon, and Level 3 confirms a start window and will result in François Gabart and some of his team taking the plane for New York. Level 4 is confirmation of a start within 24 hours and triggers the boat making its way out to the line, anchored from the Ambrose Light buoy, 20 miles from New York. The skipper knows that he must be patient.
“Waiting for the wind goes with being a professional sailor. I was an Olympic sailor for years. There were times when I spent whole days on a car park waiting for the wind come in or to die down.”