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Transat Jacques Vabre: “I’m a Poulidor, is that it?”, says François Gabart after another second place

In Fort-de-France.

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Transat Jacques Vabre: “I’m a Poulidor, is that it?”, says François Gabart after another second place

In Fort-de-France

François, what feeling prevails after this second place?

François Gabart: We are happy to finish this race and to arrive on the other side of the Atlantic. We are also a little disappointed because we would have liked to win. But we came across someone who was stronger than us with a boat that was going very fast downwind. Banque Populaire deserves its victory and we must continue to progress. And the next one will be Tom's to win.

What did your boat lack to achieve victory?

François Gabart: He probably lacked a little speed downwind in the trade winds. I don't think we missed any tactical, weather or even strategic moves.

Tom, you loved your Transat Jacques Vabre two years ago, and this one?

Tom La perche: Yes, it was one of the most beautiful crewed offshore races and this time again it went well for both of us. We will keep lots of beautiful memories. We did a lot of miles with a long run at high speed. These boats are made for that and we had a blast with three or four boats of equal level in front. It was super intense. We were delighted to have passed Ascension Island in the lead but we knew that there was still quite a bit behind and a big downwind leg. But Banque Populaire was a little faster than us...

Have you believed it in the last few days?

François Gabart: We always fought to win but it had been 24 or 36 hours since it was difficult to come back. They were more than 100 miles ahead of us. Despite that, we believed in it until the end. It will remain an incredible experience to cross the Atlantic on these boats. This is the first time we have flown so much and for so long.

You don't even look tired...

François Gabart: No, it’s true, not too much. We're sorry, you wish we arrived dead! (laughs) We're not too tired because we benefited from conditions where it wasn't necessarily necessary to be two people in the cockpit to make the boat move quickly. We managed to shoot well.

Tom, did you imagine yourself leaving the world tour alone in January aboard this boat?

Tom Laperche: Indeed, it will be a challenge, probably something crazy too, but I really want to do this race. During this ordeal, I obviously thought about it a little. I wrote things down and had some thoughts to prepare for the race.

How is the boat doing after these fourteen days at sea?

François Gabart: Overall, it is still going very well and we have not had any major problems. There are still lots of little things to check that we haven't had time to do in recent days.

François, you finished second twice in the Route du Rhum and twice second in the Transat Jacques Vabre...

François Gabart: (cuts) I'm a Poulidor, right? (smile) It's true that we like to win and that's a great series of second places since 2018. The positive side is that each time we are second but not very far from the winner and we play the won. We're not off the mark but it would be nice to win...

With this being your last race as skipper, how does it feel to leave the boat to Tom?

François Gabart: I don't know if this is my last race as skipper. We're going to do a few more crew races next year even if we haven't thought too much about it yet. On the other hand, obviously, the next race with this boat, I will not be there. I'm happy to see Tom and the way he prepares. I will play a role on the ground and I am happy to have this future cap. I hope she wins though. He's ready, of course.

There is a lot of support for the world tour and that is where you were dominated by Banque Populaire? How can you remedy this superiority of your opponent?

François Gabart: There is clothes, but it’s not just that. We can still improve a lot of things in a few weeks, especially on the sails, and find some configurations and adjustments to improve ourselves.

What’s the plan now?

Tom Laperche: I'm going to transport the boat so one day we will be in Brittany in a fortnight and there will be a small three-week inspection project. We will be in the water again around December 10 or 15, then we will go to Brest for Christmas, just before the world tour.

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