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Skippers’ reactions after the announcement to delay the start

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Pierre Legendre (994 – AKKA): “Personally, I was ready to go for it on Sunday, even in the knowledge that we were going to really get tossed about on the first night. Those sailors, like me, who have Maxi 6.50s, have experienced a few little structural issues in the past, so even though our boats have been reinforced, it’s still reassuring to set off in a little less breeze. The aim is that we set sail with 90 and finish with 90! By heading off on Monday, we’re going to have milder conditions and, in principle, a long stretch of downwind after a few hours of upwind. Ultimately, things will be more pleasant and less of a war zone out on the water. It’s good to set sail in more favourable conditions too. We’re obviously happy not to have to envisage being stuck in port for a fortnight, as was the case two years ago. Twenty-four hours is nothing serious. That equates to an extra night in a good bed and more time to properly analyse the weather, which is good news for all the little Mini family!”

Pierre-Olivier Grand (824 – Audéfi – Solibio): “There are people in charge of our safety and making the right decisions. I trust them implicitly and I’m fully behind their decision. There’s no more to say on the subject, it’s perfect. It’s always complicated imagining yourself copping 45 knots from the first night out. However, that means we have another day on land, with the stress of the pre-start, even though the boats are ready. It is but a minor detail though, as clearly safety takes precedence. We’re here to make the finish intact, to sail well and avoid breaking our Minis so it must be the right decision”.

Rémi Lamouret (880 – Gironde au Large): “I can’t fathom whether or not I’m happy with this decision. On the positive, we’re avoiding the front and gusts in excess of 40 knots for a night, which has the potential to cause a bit of damage. What is a shame though is that it makes the spectacle of the start planned for Sunday a little less exciting. It’s a bit tough for family who’ve made the journey here, because not everyone will be able to stay. The advantage is that we know that we’re setting sail in calmer conditions and that things will be clearer on our way to the Canaries.”

Victor Turpin (Pays d’Iroise): “I have to admit that I’m slightly relieved by the news that the start will be delayed, but I’m also a little disappointed because a lot of people in my entourage had planned to come and watch the start on Sunday. In some way it’s going to spoil the festivities a bit. However, one thing for sure is that I’m very happy not to be starting the race with gusts of 40-45 knots. It’s a really wise decision on the part of Race Management to have us set sail a little later. Doubtless 10% wouldn’t have got through it, me included. I think it’s a really good and really reasonable decision. We can benefit from this extra day on shore to clean the hull, finish off the little jobs we’d left to one side and then make the most of any friends we have here!”

Marc-Eric Siewert (614 – Absolute Sailing Team): “It’s an excellent decision for all 90 skippers because, clearly, setting off on Sunday would have certainly favoured the more experienced sailors. I’d really like to thank Race Management because I imagine it wasn’t an easy decision to make. We’re setting off on a journey of over 4,000 miles and inevitably it’s better not to break everything from the outset and have as much chance as possible of making it to the other side. It’s clearly less stressful to set sail in gentler conditions. If we can avoid taking risks then it’s a good thing to do.”

Yannick Lemonnier (491 – Port of Galway): “I’m a little disappointed because we’d have kicked off the race with some very Irish weather and I was really up for it! (Laughs) Despite all that though, it’s important not to break all our boats just as we come out of the starting blocks so it’s a reasonable decision on the part of Race Management. Right now, it looks like it’ll be a drag race at least as far as the latitude of Porto. There will be fewer options up for grabs and we’ll have to work flat out on the trimming, but we can always sleep afterwards (laughs)!”

Pierre Meilhat (485 – Le Goût de la Vie): “In 1993, during my first participation in the race, the situation was pretty terrible in the Bay of Biscay. At the time, the grib files and all the information we had were a lot less accurate than they are today and we courted disaster because nobody dared to raise their hand and say “no, that’s not going to work, it’s too dangerous”. The decision to postpone the start of this 23rd edition has been made by competent people and I think it’s a good thing. We the racers follow orders and then we adapt. What is a shame though is that there will be a smaller crowd to see us off, but it’s important that safety prevails. Enabling everyone to have a chance of going all the way has to be a good thing.”

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