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Meet Pierre-Yves Jorand

While sailors in other teams come and go, one of the strengths of Ernesto Bertarelli’s Alinghi crew is its longevity, writes Editor of thedailysail.com, James Boyd. Personally Bertarelli has raced multihulls on his native Lake Geneva for more than two decades, winning Switzerland’s premier race, the Bol d’Or Mirabaud for the first of six times in 1997. Four years later when he first challenged for sailing’s top prize, the America’s Cup, one of Bertarelli’s recruits was accomplished sailor, Pierre-Yves Jorand, also a former European champion in speed skiing, the first skier to go faster than 200kph, and who also represented Switzerland at the 1992 Winter Olympics.

Thursday 7th April 2016

While sailors in other teams come and go, one of the strengths of Ernesto Bertarelli’s Alinghi crew is its longevity, writes Editor of thedailysail.com, James Boyd. Personally Bertarelli has raced multihulls on his native Lake Geneva for more than two decades, winning Switzerland’s premier race, the Bol d’Or Mirabaud for the first of six times in 1997. Four years later when he first challenged for sailing’s top prize, the America’s Cup, one of Bertarelli’s recruits was accomplished sailor, Pierre-Yves Jorand, also a former European champion in speed skiing, the first skier to go faster than 200kph, and who also represented Switzerland at the 1992 Winter Olympics.

During his time with Alinghi, Jorand has won the America’s Cup twice and lost it once in 2010 to a well-resourced BMW Oracle Racing team competing in giant multihulls off Valencia, Spain. He has also been central to the Swiss team’s victories in the Extreme Sailing Series™ (with Ed Baird helming in 2008 and with Morgan Larson/Ernesto Bertarelli in 2014) and on the competitive D35 catamaran racing circuit on Lake Geneva. Last season, as usual, he was manning the main sheet for Alinghi this time on the GC32, which finished a close second to Oman Sail’s team on the Bullitt GC32 Racing Tour, a team that will also compete in this years Extreme Sailing Series bringing with them valuable foiling experience.

Sadly in May, Jorand suffered a back accident and having undergone surgery since then is currently unable to sail. However this is not stopping him from resuming his duties with the team for the time being in the role of coach and performance analyst.

His time in the GC32, combined with the Alinghi team’s reputation for fastidious preparation, makes Jorand something of a specialist in the foiling cat.

So how long does it take to get competitive on this new type of boat? “We’ve already seen that the Red Bull and SAP teams [both new to foiling this season] are very strong on all the reaching starts. They know the game and they had great timing to the line, because, as we know on all short course racing like the Extreme Sailing Series, the start is key. That’s especially true on these foiling boats: If you can start in clean air, then you are gone and then maybe you have enough advantage to maintain your lead.”

2012 Alinghi Crew (Left to Right) - Nils Frei (Trimmer), Pierre-Yves Jorand (Traveller), Ernesto Bertarelli (Skipper/Helm), Yves Detrey (Bowman) and Tanguy Cariou (Tactician)

Where experience on the new foiling catamaran will pay is in ‘marginal foiling conditions’, i.e 8-10 knots of wind, when at times it can be faster to foil, but at others it might pay to come off the foils, depending on wind direction, sea state and other factors. “In that, technique can add a lot,” advises Jorand, “but above or below 8-10 knots, I see all the teams being really strong from day one.”

Fortunately for Alinghi, they were able to spend much time honing their GC32 foiling skills last season, with their boat being based in Geneva between regattas. “Having foiling hours from last year is very important, a big advantage, especially in the marginal conditions, in all the manoeuvres, including gybes and mark roundings,” agrees Jorand. “Last year we sailed six events, each of five days, plus a few training days - maybe 50-55 sailing days in total.”

As if things didn’t happen fast enough already in the Extreme Sailing Series, this year is set to be more frantic still in the GC32s, which, in addition to flying, are also lighter, with superior acceleration. Because of this, speedy decision-making and communication is vital so, on board the Alinghi GC32, they are returning to speaking their native tongue - French. This comes following the departure of their American back-up helmsman Morgan Larson, who has stood in for Ernesto Bertarelli in recent seasons.

Larson has been replaced by experienced Swiss foiling sailor Arnaud Psarofaghis. As Jorand explains: “We hired Arnaud not only because he is a French speaker, but also because he has huge experience on foiling boats: He sailed the Moth for ages and he also knows the Extreme Sailing Series format having sailed with Realteam two years ago and last year with the Italian team. Speaking French on board, the communication goes smoothly.”

When Psarofaghis is helming, French 470 Olympic bronze medallist and four time World Champion, Nicolas Charbonnier, the team’s tactician, will move into his position as mainsheet trimmer while Alinghi’s new young French crewman Timothé Lapauw will also come on board.

Experience will pay early on for the top Extreme Sailing Series teams, but Jorand believes it could be shortlived, with Red Bull Sailing Team, SAP Extreme Sailing Team and the Land Rover BAR Academy getting competitive very rapidly. “All of these guys have a lot of multihull experience and some also have some foiling experience, and so no doubt they will be sharp and strong. The good thing about a one design boat is that you need the minimum time to get up to speed.”

However while the Extreme 40s ended up having the reliability of a 4x4 offroad vehicle, the GC32s are much more highly tuned affairs and this, Jorand warns, will place a greater emphasis on each team’s shore support. “With the foils and rudders, if you push hard or you hit something, then all of a sudden the boat won’t foil correctly and you have to fix it quickly. So maintenance and onshore service will be key. Fortunately there’ll be longer races early on, which is a smart move for the teams to get to understand these foiling boats.”

While Alinghi may be one of the most experienced teams in the GC32, (alongside Oman Air), mastering and racing the foiling catamaran remains a steep learning curve for all and with sailors coming into the boat from other avenues such as dinghies like the foiling Moth, to the America’s Cup foiling catamarans, there is still much work to be done to get the most out of the GC32.

A former European champion in speed skiing, the picture shows Jorand preparing for the 1992 Olympics where he represented Switzerland.