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Arkéa Ultim Challenge - Brest day 45: Tuesday interview, fifth placed Éric Péron (Ultim Adagio)

by Arkea Ultim Challenge - Brest 20 Feb 17:13 GMT 20 February 2024

Every Tuesday we check in with a skipper and gather their thoughts and ideas. Today, it's time for Éric Péron, the only competitor to start on a non-foiling ULTIM.

On ULTIM ADAGIO he has shown a quiet strength, a real capacity for resistance and remains a sailor who is rising to the challenge and enjoying the achievement. Nothing has been easy for him, far from it, his accumulated fatigue is immense and his reference points - his reasons for being our there - sometimes trouble him. But no matter, Éric is closing in on Cape Horn, now enjoying a bit if a race with his friend 'Antho' Marchand He spoke at length on the eve of approaching Cape Horn.

For a good few days now you have been on this continuous long gybe on the leading edge of a front, What does it feel like when you rip across the Pacific like that?

"You still need to take that idea with a grain of salt. Obviously, it's cool and fast but it is still an Archimedean boat. With an average of 30 knots of wind, it is not easy to live on board. It's noisy, it slams into the waves. My Pacific will have been like that all the time you are totally committed but in step with the weather. It's progressing well but it's not easy, let's not oversimplify it! "

Have you felt since the start that you have pushed your limits on or maybe reached them?

"Yes, I think it was on the third day in the Pacific, I took things that bit further physically and it took me a while to get over that. I wanted to do too much and was very demanding about my sail configurations. That used up a lot of my energy. I understood that there was no point in trying to go any faster. I went instead for configurations that were better all round and that was indeed much better. Having said that, I'm not that tired, but I don't feel like I'm in great shape either. I'm sleeping well... I think I have just used up everything except my reserves."

Do you think so far that in this round the world race everyone is up there where you expected them?

"Yes, in general. You quickly forget that there were some tough, difficult and exhausting times, as well as some nice, pleasant moments too. The rounding of Cape Horn is coming up, which will be like a little reward. When you are at the nav desk, in the cockpit, you feel like you are in your own little world, as happens on every boat. As soon as you go outside, you suddenly see just how wide the boat is and how far away the bow is... You suddenly realize that you are all alone on a giant machine, and that adds a touch of excitement. When you cross over the trampoline to get to the bow of the boat, there is an immense feeling of pleasure. You always remain impressed by these machines."

"It is something unique and that brings us together"

Can you describe the last time you were really over the moon happy?

"There was the moment when I set sail again from Cape Town with smooth seas and brilliant sunshine and the boat sped along... Then, there are those special moments in the race: the flight of an albatross, some incredible light. Yesterday, after passing the warm front, the Sun came out, and with the cool temperatures, there was a slight mist... That was a fine moment too."

Anthony said you talked a lot to the other skippers...

"I try to send messages to my friends to encourage them and support them. I try to get their news and give them mine too... I was in contact with Armel, and sent a message to Thomas. It's been a while since I was in contact with Charles, but Antho and I have talked. There have been times too, when I didn't get any signal and I didn't try to overcome that problem: I just had a short break with my communications, which was good for me."

Has that created something special between you all?

"That's obviously the case. Apart from Thomas, I have sailed with or against everyone. With six of us racing together here, that is bound to bring us together. Thomas likes to quote Jean-Claude Van Damme, saying "I know that you know that I know." He's right about that. This is a unique occasion and that brings us together."

Sometimes, it can be hard ashore to understand just how big your achievement is and what you have had to put up with...

"That is one of the paradoxical elements in ocean racing. The general public has its own rules that the sport itself may never recognize. I should add that it must be hard too judging how well everyone is doing. I started this project way before the start. I fought hard to get used to the boat, get the budget together to be able to line up and then keep hard at it in the Atlantic, sailing this race at a speed that was 20% less than the others. The general public doesn't necessarily get to see how hard you have to push and how much you give. That's nothing to worry about. It doesn't really matter. In the end, it just concerns me."

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