Since Tuesday, a series of training sessions have taken place on Lake Geneva, seven months after the curtain fell on the last season. With it comes the unique rush of sailing this foiler and an opportunity to prepare with gusto for the upcoming competition, which resumes in a month’s time in Nyon, Switzerland.
There has been a mixture of excitement and impatience even, as the team get themselves reaccustomed to the intricacies of the boat. Last Tuesday, after five days spent assembling the TF35, the Spindrift crew finally hoisted the sails on Lake Geneva. It was clearly meant to be with perfect conditions (a little breeze), a fast boat perched on her foils (22 knots), all of it framed by the mountains overhanging the largest of the alpine lakes. “The mountains have been capped in snow since Saturday, explains Yann Guichard. Skimming over the surface of the water with a backdrop like that after a seven-month wait is bordering on magical.”
“A constant balancing act”
Yann adds: “It’s always a special moment to get together with the team again and rediscover the delights of sailing and our ability to get airborne in upwards of 4 or 5 knots of breeze.” “What’s exciting is creating our own wind, completes Yann. It’s a constant balancing act as you try to remain on the foils and nail the manoeuvres, which require permanent cohesion.”
As a result, this first week of training has been reminiscent of a shakedown since the foiling catamaran last hit the water back in the autumn. Over the winter, she underwent some intense maintenance with a particular emphasis on the four foils, which keep the boat out of the water. “The team rallied together for several weeks to complete the maintenance and reinforcement work.” Yann explains: “To ensure that the boat can slip along flawlessly, especially on her appendages, which are technical and fragile parts, it’s important that the “fairing” is free of scratches, bumps and imperfections. Therefore, she’s had a whole new paint job with tweaks to her surface finish and some minor repairs, so the boat is in excellent condition.”
Poised for the podium!
Following this, the boat was entirely dismantled and transported to Switzerland aboard a container ship. A five-strong team was then tasked with “putting the jigsaw back together” says Xavier Revil, head of the TF35 programme. The boat gradually took shape, spanning 15 metres in length and 8.50 metres wide, her mast transported in two sections, with the tensioning of her appendages and her trampoline requiring the utmost diligence. Next, it was over to the sailing team, which comprises six sailors, who are taking it in turns to complete the first training session through until Sunday. Two of them have been making the most of the opportunity to undergo testing and familiarise themselves with the team with a view to their future integration in the group.
The aim of this latest training session and a second one scheduled for early May is to “ensure the coordination of the manoeuvres is slick so we’re as efficient as possible out on the racetrack,” underlines Yann Guichard. Such aspects will naturally need to be mastered before the first of the six events on this season’s programme, which is due to take place in Nyon with the Realstone Cup for Léman hope, from 19 to 22 May. “We’ll be going all out to sail a clean race every time and target a podium finish,” confirms Xavier.
Meantime, the whole of the Spindrift team is preparing for another challenge: the possibility, weather permitting and if the opportunity arises, to take advantage of the training month in May to attempt one of the official WSSRC records. “The TF35 programme is complementary as we’re able to utilise it to boost our team cohesion, which is a prerequisite for record attempts,” explains Yann. Enjoyment fuels motivation of course and so many sailors dream about an opportunity like this. Yann encapsulates the situation: “We’re so lucky to be able to go offshore and inshore racing on a flying boat. It’s joyous!”
Until Sunday, April 17: 1st training session
From Monday, April 18 to Sunday, May 15: Training on the maxi-trimaran
From Monday 2nd to Friday 6th May: 2nd training session
From May 16 to 18: 3rd training session
From Thursday 19th to Sunday 22nd May: Realstone Cup for Léman hope