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Christopher Pratt : "My first objective to finish"

" it is my time and I am in Saint Malo with a big, wonderful boat"

vendredi 29 octobre 2010SeaSailSurfnaute

Christopher Pratt is unequivocal. His dream of becoming a solo ocean racer was born twenty years ago when he vividly remembers watching the victory of Florence Arthaud into Gaudeloupe, the flares, the lights, the excitement, the history. That was the genesis of his quest and so the nine boat, high calibre IMOCA Imoca #IMOCA Open 60 fleet’s 29 years old rookie can’t help but admit he is living the dream, set to be lining up Sunday against Roland Jourdain, Michel Desjoyeaux et al.

He recalls :

“That was the point, for sure. I saw Florence arrive and I wanted to do that. I want to be solo in that kind of boat since I was young. And now 20 years after that it is my time and I am in Saint Malo with a big, wonderful boat, between Mich and Bilou on the docks. It is amazing. But when I look I see it is amazing, but my feet are completely on the ground, I am totally focused on doing the routing and on every aspect of the race. Perhaps when I get to Guadeloupe I will look back and think what an amazing experience it is.”

Pratt whose mother is originally from London and came to France as an 18 year old to study French, has consistently proven himself as one of France’s outstanding young solo offshore talents. In 2005 he won the highly competitive Credit Agricole Espoir Challenge which offers a two year funded Figaro campaign scholarship whose graduates include Sébastien Josse, Franck Cammas, Armel Le Cléac’H and Francois Gabbart.

And after his success in the Figaro, finishing ninth overall in the French Figaro solo championship in 2006, he was part of the winning team on the Tour Voile in 2007.

But it is as winner of the DCNS talent programme, Les Filières Du Talent, that Pratt has completed a two years mentoring programme with DCNS skipper Marc Thiercelin, which he considers the perfect launch platform for the future.

On the strength of his sailing skills and record Record #sailingrecord , starting out on a youth Olympic programme in the 420 where he was twice French champion and World Championship runner up, and since, as well an array of jury interviews, psychological profiling, and the strength of his programme planning and execution, he won the Les Filières Du Talent. From an initial application of 45, cut to 40, then 10 then 4 then 2 then 1, Pratt has stayed the course.

After sailing last year’s Istanbul Europa Race as part of the DCNS crew, Pratt partnered Thiercelin on last year’s short lived Transat Jacques Vabre Transat Jacques Vabre #TJV2015 , the duo having to retire back to France with keel problems.

The powerful Finot Conq design has undergone some re-configuration since last year, moving the rudders forward in the boat and changing the winch set up, saving over 100 kilos from the aft section. Having trained extensively recently at Port La Foret along with his key rivals, Pratt is happy that DCNS has the speed to compete, especially in reaching conditions.

“My first objective to finish.” Affirms Pratt solidly, “ That is important for me, for the boat, for DCNS and the project. If it is a good place that is a plus. If it’s in the top five that’s amazing. I have nothing to lose, there is no pressure. I am not favourite. This is a learning experience. I am out to do the best that I can, but if they are too strong and too fast then no problem.”

“What is really difficult for me is knowing how to push the boat. If you push too hared you can break the boat, and if you are too tired then it is hard to make the right decision. And if you don’t push hard enough you are 50 miles back after two days of racing. I have no problem no matter what.”

“The boat is quicker than it was. When we were testing in Port la Foret sometimes we see we are faster, some times slower and sometimes the same. So that is a good test. The speed is one thing here, but in five metres of wave it is as much about finding the good rhythm, a good trim. Armel knows his boat well. I don’t my boat as well as him, but it is difficult to say if I can be as fast.”

“The skipper is of course important. I am looking to make a good, well managed race. I feel like I am from the new generation of French offshore sailors, we are forced to me more methodical and scientific in every area. So each point is to be really clear.”

Pratt has clearly inherited his parents bright, academic minds. His mother is a mathematician and father a biologist, but his course is very much set. Initially his targets were to compete on the Figaro circuit and in the Route du Rhum Route du Rhum #RouteDuRhum . After this he plans to progress to winning, with an eye on the Vendée Globe.

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