Starting signal for Lalou Roucayrol and Alex Pella at the Transat Jacques Vabre

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This Sunday at 1.35 pm, Lalou Roucayrol and Alex Pella set off on the Transat Jacques Vabre from Le Havre in sporty conditions immediately in the swing of this transatlantic race heading for Salvador de Bahia in Brazil. Among the six Multi50 fleet, the Arkema Franco-Spanish pair clearly will have a strong card to play in conditions that the boat relishes. The two men will also be able to count on the expert advice of their onshore router, Karine Fauconnier.

Interview with Lalou Roucayrol and Alex Pella

Lalou, Alex, as you’re about to start on this Transat Jacques Vabre race, are you as well prepared as you’d like to be?

Lalou Roucayrol: "Clearly we haven’t sailed as many miles together as our competitors in a Multi 50 boat. We don’t have as much practice sailing together, but the two of us combined have a lot of experience indeed."


Alex Pella: "In terms of sailing, we would have liked more. We haven’t really been able to find steady conditions during our preparation, but I feel confident and appreciated as part of this team; I managed to adapt very quickly. Everything on the boat is in tip-top shape, the team is structured well, this makes things easier, and as I set off on this Transat Jacques Vabre, I feel confident."

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    Skippers Lalou Roucayrol and Alex Pella
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    Skippers Lalou Roucayrol and Alex Pella
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    Karine Fauconnier, Weather Strategist Team Arkema Lalou Multi
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    The Arkema trimaran at the start of the Transat Jacques Vabre 2017
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    The Arkema trimaran at the start of the Transat Jacques Vabre 2017
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    The Arkema trimaran at the start of the Transat Jacques Vabre 2017

The human aspect is key when sailing as a pair. Are you still getting on well together?

Lalou Roucayrol: "Yes we are. We’ve now been together every day for the past three weeks and everything’s working out well. We always have things to talk about apart from sailing, we have a good time together. Alex will serve the team, it’s great."

Alex Pella: "Things are clear between us: in this project, Lalou is the leader because he knows his boat much better than I do. I joined the team to help out and put my experience to use. Inevitably there will be times in the race when we are stressed and tired, but that’s part of the game."

Conditions in the first few days look actually favorable: you both like a breeze and the Multi 50 Arkema reaches its full potential in those conditions…

Lalou Roucayrol: "Yes, overall the Arkema trimaran is a boat made for breezy conditions. It’s going to go fast from the start and we don't expect we’ll be sleeping much for the first three of four days. These are typical conditions for races taking place in November like the Transat Jacques Vabre or the Route du Rhum. We’ll make do! In any case, we’re expecting a fast race."

What are your feelings in particular as you’re about to set off on a 4,350 mile race heading for Salvador de Bahia? Are you stressed? Excited? Impatient?

Alex Pella: "I feel calm and collected. The boat has been good and ready for days now, so I’m not stressed. We’re raring to go!"

Lalou Roucayrol: "This is my ninth Transat Jacques Vabre race, so I know what to expect. But it’s always a commitment; it’s not easy to pull yourself away from the appeal of the land, your family, comfort… The transition is abrupt because there’re many demands before the start."

Is winning your stated goal?

Lalou Roucayrol: "We’re professionals. The two of us are a good team, and our team on land is super, with Karine Fauconnier and Eric Mas helping us on the weather front. We’ve the right boat and the right skills to aim for a great result."