Going slower is harder work, reveals Loick Peyron, grand master of solo sailing


What is it like winning a race and establishing a new record in a time that’s slower than when you won it before? That’s what Loick Peyron did on Saturday when he won the Artemis Transat in Gitana 80 and set a monohull class record. He admits that it’s a very different experience to when he won the race 12 years ago in the ORMA 60 trimaran Fuijifilm in 10d 10h – a full two days slower.

In any other sport, doing anything slower would be utterly perverse. And so it is in sailing, if truth be told, except for the inconvenient facts of supply and demand. The demand for ORMA 60 trimarans has dwindled, whereas IMOCA 60 multihulls have flourished So there has been an influx of former multi sailors, Loick Peyron among them, and you sense that Peyron is happy to find that he can change course and still be absolutely at the top of his career.

At 49, Peyron, is the maestro. He won Spi Ouest this year. He won the B2B solo race for IMOCA 60s in December. He is about to race in the Bol d’Or. Put Peyron on a maxi multihull or a hollowed out log and he could win. Pet’t Loch, the little guy, is the supreme all-rounder.

But on the subject of returning to a slower type of boat he is particularly interesting. He says it’s a challenge. “After multihulls it’s less stressful and the funny thing is that, when reaching fast, for example, it is most dangerous on a multihull between 110 and 120°TWA, whereas on a monohull that is exactly the best and most comfortable angle. The only stress on a monohull is dead downwind under spinnaker.

“So it’s less stressful and it’s more comfortable but it’s also more physical. On a multihull you have a lot less things to do. You carry and have to drag around less sails. On [IMOCA 60s] you have 9 sails compared with 3 on a trimaran and you pass all your time manoeuvring. OK, nothing is impossible, but you have a lot of systems – trim tabs, daggerboards – and more frequent adjustments. And because you are slower you cross more weather systems on the same course.

“Yes, there is a higher level than these monohulls, but it is much harder work here.”