Guadeloupe Grand Large
Race Reporter, Louay Habib interviews three skippers from Guadeloupe Grand Large who are competing in Figaros: Arthur Prat (Guadeloupe Grand Large 17), Baptiste Maillot (Guadeloupe Grand Large 57) and Tony Elise (Guadeloupe Grand Large 11) who is also the Head of North Sails, French Islands and Guadeloupe.
Tony Elise: "We are Guadeloupe Grand Large who have put together a training programme for ocean racing skippers for races such as the Route du Rhum, l'AG2R and others. We are a group of nine and are training to be ocean racing skippers. That's our objective and also to become professional skippers. We're starting with a fleet of Figaros as they are one of the best boats and many top round the world sailors started out on them."
"To take part in this race is very important for us. We are very happy to be here. We've watched from afar and never had the opportunity to take part because we didn't have the boats or the chance before. Now we have the Figaros, we will try to do all the races everywhere. 600 miles maybe a lot for some, but for us, it's not much. The race is going to be very hard, but we train to be prepared and ready, so we know what to expect and we are familiar with the local Caribbean weather."
The Vendee Globe finished recently. Is that a goal for the future?
"Oh yes! Maybe for the younger sailors. I am locked into the technical and staff preparations and so forth. But we hope the younger sailors will race in the Vendee Globe. We are preparing ourselves for everything. With motivation and even within the Region Guadeloupe, the politicians are saying that if we do well, if we are serious, they are watching us. It's up to us. We have started a two-year course for race skippers."
A 600 mile offshore race in the Caribbean, it's fantastic, why?
"It is fantastic because it is the first time we've had a true offshore Caribbean race. It's great especially since there are not many long offshore races in the Caribbean, there really aren't. For me it is wonderful, for us it is great and we are very happy to come here to take part. It really doesn't exist anywhere else and we train for these long ocean races, so for us to be here is just great."
What will you say to other French sailors throughout the Caribbean?
"Oh, we will tell them that we have participated in a great regatta! We hope that everything will go smoothly and well. We have prepared ourselves, studied the weather, looked at which route we will take through the islands, we know where we will go. We will tell them 'listen, come to the RORC Caribbean 600 is a great race.' It is important to be on a good boat though because it's 600 miles so you need to be able to go fast. So, for us with the three Figaros, we are hoping that all will go well and we will have a fast race. We can't wait."