Part Two -- Thomas Coville: Planet Racecourse
Part Two of a two-stage interview with French ocean racer Thomas Coville who is at the forefront of the new Ultim movement that could see a fleet seven singlehanded foiling 100-foot multihulls racing around the world non-stop in 2019.
SRM: Tell us about the experience of sailing these amazing boats.
Thomas Coville: One of the new aesthetic points of our century is speed. The speed of everything: connection speed, data speed, the speed of cars and planes and life in general. The pleasure and the excitement of sailing these new boats is definitely linked to their speed. To sail at 40 knots by yourself and not be fighting against the water like monohulls, but just flying in between the air and the water is sublime.
For the first few hours of an offshore leg my brain is very much linked to the numbers like the heel angle, the speed, the cant of the boards. Then at some point it changes and I can't explain to you why I'm easing or trimming on or making other subtle changes. In my head, sailing the boat switches from being something very analytical to something that is more emotional and about instinct. What is difficult is how you can be confident in your instincts and not rely any more on your intellect.
It is a really unusual feeling when you are at the transition between those two modes. When you speak to surfers or windsurfers about how they do what they do they can't explain it in analytical terms.
It’s that connection between the brain and emotion and the balance point where control passes from one to the other. It’s what all human being would love to experience. Some guys do that with music, some guys do that with art, we are doing it out on the ocean.
When Kelly Slater catches a wave on his surfboard you can see in his face that he can't explain how he does it – he is in the zone. It’s the same for me sometimes. When I am by myself, flying on one hull, doing nearly 700 miles in 24 hours, I cannot explain everything that I do onboard.
That need to forget what you have learned and focus on your instinct is why we are seeing a very new profile of skippers. Guys like Francois [Gabart] and the guys coming from dinghies where you sail with the seat of your pants, like Peter Burling. Burling is my hero! He is the epitome of this new generation. He is a legend already. He can't explain to you... READ THE FULL ARTICLE