Yann Guichard: Multihull Magician
Spindrift Racing’s Yann Guichard might just have the best job in sailing. As well as skippering the world’s fastest trimaran – the maxi-trimaran Spindrift 2 – this year Guichard is also competing on the European GC32 Series and in the World Match Racing Tour. We caught up with the multihull magician in Newport, Rhode Island and asked him about his first season on the Tour.
SRM: What prompted you to mount a Spindrift campaign on the World Match Race Tour?
Multihulls are part of the DNA of the Spindrift racing team; they’re what we love and what we know. It was important for us to join the WMRT - one of the most international tours. I am really happy to be part of this circuit. It is well organised and very professional. It is a circuit where the sport and the competitor are at the centre and are the first concern of the organisers.
We’re the only French entry of 20 teams competing this year, so it was important for us to take part in this circuit, which is extremely high-level and brings together the best sailors in the world. But we come to this circuit feeling quite humble because, even if we know multihulls, we have no experience of match racing.
The long-term goal, from a sailor’s perspective is, of course, to become the World Champions.
SRM: Tell us what you think of the M32? What are its strengths and weaknesses?
The M32 catamaran is totally new to us: it has a mainsail but no jib, which means it sails differently to what we are used to. At the first WMRT event in Fremantle, Australia we had lots of things to learn, every day and every race enabled us to improve and we’ll try to take the best of what we learnt to continue progressing.
SRM: How much training have you been doing in the M32 away from the WMRT?
We’ve been training two weeks in Brittany this winter to try to make us as competitive as possible and we have also taken part in some of the M32 Series events.
SRM: You are fourth in the overall standings with just the Grand Finals to go. What have you learned so far?
I suppose that my strongest point is that I have 25 years of experience in sailing multihulls, so I am very at ease in this type of boat. My weakest point when facing competitors such as Canfield and Williams and the others is that, I am not an expert in match racing.
But we are happy with our results so far. We still have a lot of work and training to do specially on the starts in order to keep developing and to move up the leader board. We're on the right track. It’s up to us to do the work to be even more competitive, especially for the World Championship in Marstrand.”
SRM: Introduce us to your crew on the M32 and their roles on the boat?
My crew is essentially made up of sailors who I know well and that I have sailed with for a long time. Two of them were part of the crew on board Spindrift 2 for our attempt at the Jules Verne Trophy. They are very good trimmers, physically strong and very competitive. The line-up is me on the helm, Christophe Espagnon on the mainsail, François Morvan as trimmer and Paul Dagault on the bow.
SRM: How do you work as a crew while match racing?
Match racing is primarily a game of teamwork. Coordination and working well together is absolutely critical for performance. As skipper, I have the ultimate call. The action is always very fast-paced and often decisions need to be taken very quickly; there is little time for discussion so it is important that the crew takes its lead from the skipper.
SRM: What is your goal for the WMRT finals in July?
Qualifying for the finals means that you are in the game and that you have a shot at the overall title. We always race to win but it is a very strong field and the title is very open I think. To be honest, anything can happen in a winner takes all event like that.