Boat, meteorology and mental preparation: 170 days to the Route du Rhum

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Boat, meteorology and mental preparation: 170 days to the Route du Rhum

With 170 days to the start of the Route du Rhum – the first challenge of IBSA’s project Sailing into the Future. Together – it’s time to take stock for Alberto Bona: the preparation for a solo ocean race is indeed similar to a marathon, where you have to get to the starting line in perfect condition, after a long training and with everything under control.

First the boat, currently being built in La Trinité-Sur-Mer. “We have been working on it for over three months”, explained Alberto Bona, “and we are doing are absolute best. We discussed each feature with the designer and the shipyard. Together with Sidney Gavignet, we reviewed every detail of the boat’s structure, electronics and components; this is the approach that will make the difference when we are at sea: to have everything under control and to know every little element that makes up this challenge”.

These weeks of preparation are also dedicated to meteorology: “We ocean sailors are constantly connected to satellite images and meteorological models, because we know that choosing the right route is essential. We do not endure the weather, we exploit it: the key factor is to plan ahead, and because of the period of the year when it takes place – the Route du Rhum will involve many choices on our part. A winning strategy depends on the correct interpretation and forecast of where the ocean depressions linked to the switch from autumn to winter will be: the Azores anticyclone, in particular, is a game changer for the tactics in this regatta, together with the lows that will come from America. There are basically two macro-hypotheses: go down off Lisbon and then head west, or choose a route further north at the exit of the Channel. The latter is usually windier and more dangerous, while the southern one is safer, but potentially slower: when I have to make that choice, I will be prepared and I will have all the details about me, the weather and the boat clear in my head. We have been working for months to get ready.

Then – in addition to the boat – also the man, with his physical and mental preparation: “I want to get to the starting line without any stress. It’s a very ambitious goal, given the many forms of pressure I will have to manage, and I’m working on this with Sydney Gavignet. We have set ourselves many small goals, to be achieved one after the other. Stress brings fatigue, and you can’t be already tired at the start of a solo regatta. We are working day by day; many goals with small steps, until the start of the race”.