Vendée Globe: Kito de Pavant keeping cool



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Kito de Pavant participera au Vendée Globe 2016

* Interview with
Laure Faÿ / Mer & Media Agency


Soon to embark on his third round the world campaign, Kito de Pavant has set the tone. As he recently showed on posters around Montpellier, the skipper from the Mediterranean is committed to a thorough preparation to allow him to complete a race that has so far eluded him. “This year, I’m going to complete it,” he declared. With this goal in mind, the sailor with “Made in Midi” is beginning his 2016 season alongside his boat, in the yard and then during his training out on the water. A long haul programme, leaving him the time and allowing him to line up at the start feeling very relaxed. We met up with the sailor from Southern France.

There are nine months to go before moving to Les Sables d’Olonne. What is your programme before the big event?
Kito de Pavant: “The year began for me in yard mode. On every level. The man and the boat. We recently too Bastide Otio apart to carry out some important work on her. When we got our hands on the boat last year, we knew we had a lot of work to do on her to get her back in condition, to ensure her reliability and get her into round the world mode. Early on, I took the decision to have a fairly light programme in 2016, and not do the preparatory transatlantic races, The Transat (start on 2nd May) and the return race between New York and Vendée (start on 29th May). Taking part in these races would have meant having two periods of work in the yard. We decided to have just one. It will be long, but will be the only one.”

How do you feel today?
Kito : “We will be missing the racing against others, but that doesn’t necessarily matter that much for the Vendée Globe, where you don’t see other people alongside you. The important thing is to finish, which is an ambitious goal; it’s a win if you get there. I’m well aware of that. I’m not competing to win the race. My goal is to set off with a good boat to share this adventure to the finish with as many people as possible. I’m sticking with this simplified programme and my way of doing things, which I share with the Made in Midi project’s partners during this third attempt. The budget isn’t yet complete, but we’re moving in the right direction to be able to line up in Les Sables d’Olonne feeling relaxed and so be in with every chance of completing this round the world race.”

What is being done during this refit? What sort of work is being done on the boat?
Kito: “There’s nothing to do with foils and are not carrying out any radical transformations. Apart from a thorough service, we are making some important improvements. Firstly with the ballast system and the way the water is spread out, so that we can be faster upwind in heavy weather. In terms of the fine-tuning, we carried out studies with the designers to see what needed to be done to improver her in general and improve her speed in every condition and in all points of sail. We’re also carrying out a complete overhaul of the steering system, in order to allow me to fell the same sort of thing I felt on my old boat (Groupe Bel, now Le Souffle du Nord, editor’s note). We’re trying to adapt her to my needs, to make sure she is pleasant to sail. I need to spend a bit of time on her. Enjoying myself at the helm is a priority for me…”

How far have you got in comparison to what you set out to achieve?
Kito: “We had a stroke of luck last year being able to buy this boat. The project had already brought together a first lot of sponsors. We didn’t have a huge amount of money, but we knew where we were heading. We already had everything scheduled and it was the right time to grab the opportunity. Since then, I have been able to sail with Bastide Otio, qualify, schedule and plan the refit. The relaunch of the boat after her refit, modifications and fine-tuning is scheduled for May. I will then have four or five months of training ahead of me. Taking into account my geographical position, I’ll take part in the Giraglia Rolex Cup (10th-18th June), and I also intend to try to smash my own Mediterranean crossing record*. With my team, we’re on schedule to allow me to have enough time to check everything out on the water and do well.”

In general, where do you see Bastide Otio in comparison to your future rivals?
Kito: “Among those from the last Vendée Globe, she is one of those that sails best. But since 2012, the IMOCA fleet has seen some major changes. That was clear to me at the start of the Transat Jacques Vabre. We could see that the brand new boats are really fast when reaching. On the other hand, we don’t yet know what they are like in every point of sail and more importantly whether they are reliable. I’m convinced that these boats will be fast and sail well in the end, but there are still some unknowns concerning the strains inflicted on the structure and the sailor at high speeds. These boats are harder. You really need to be tough and determined to adapt to the race course and the Vendée Globe is drawing near. In my opinion, Bastide Otio will be somewhere in the middle and we’re working to ensure she can keep up. We want to have a good boat, which is as reliable as possible and safe and simple… Even if it is a bit illusory, none of the IMOCA monohulls are really simple.”

Let’s talk about the skipper… How are you yourself preparing for this event?
Kito: “The old man has got a bit of experience already. I won’t be the only one, but it does confirm that there is no age limit for this kind of stupidity! I need to do some more work to be in shape and to be able to face what I come up against next winter. I have set up a complete training programme. I’m trying to be as efficient as possible doing this, spending time moving weights, for example. I have a lot of coaches torturing me! I’m preparing in a medical unit in Montpellier, where I’m working on all the various functions, such as eating and sleeping. I’m also followed by osteopaths and physiotherapists, who know what I’m like. I’m also working hard on the psychological and mental aspects. I have everything I need to learn how to push back my limits and overcome any difficulties and challenges.”

How did you in fact find the willpower to return to the race?
Kito – It wasn’t easy getting motivated to spend so much effort working on this project. Looking back, I can see that the Vendée Globe has taken up ten years of my life. It’s an extraordinary event that is exciting and challenging. You have to find partners, convince them, set up a team, take one thing at a time. I have small loyal team with me. The lads have a lot of experience and are equally frustrated not to have seen it through. They will all be putting a lot of themselves into this project. Over the years, I didn’t notice time slipping by. A Vendée Globe sailor has a great life and sees some exceptional things. But it can be a trap too, as it means you want to go on doing it. I’m lucky to be able to do it again and take the people from the Mediterranean with me; it’s fantastic and I’m taking advantage of that. I am out for revenge in the Vendée Globe, one of the only races not to have been kind to me so far. I have just celebrated my 55th birthday, so it’s now or never!”»

*Edição – Adilson Pacheco
MTB: 0002362/SC