The best quotes of Jorg Riechers and Sebastien Audigane - Sixth placed finishers in the Barcelona World Race
The last hour of Jorg Riechers and Sébastien Audigane's Barcelana World Race rather typified their whole race since having to pit stop into New Zealand. The odds were still stacked against the German-French duo who took sixth place today. They struggled and struggled in light winds, the heavens opened periodically - not enough to require foul weather gear, just enough to keep drenching them. The lightest of fickle breezes headed them again and again. The expression on their faces said it all: "Deliver us from this race. Soon!"
And as if to just play with their minds, no sooner had the finish gun gone, the first big smiles of relief broke out over their faces than the clouds rolled back and the sun shone on the Catalan capital.
Their humour returned with the first beer and sandwich. And by the time they reached the dock in front of the Christopher Columbus statue they were in bright spirits.
Theirs is a partnership which has endured the hardest of challenges, physically - a big, scary, windy Cape Horn with 75 kts gusts, when they closed the doors on the world, sat below and sailed 150 very difficult miles - and mentally, -knowing their race was over after their rudder broke which rendered the last third of their race an upwind delivery trip back to Barcelona.
But the learning for both has been valuable. This is the best of what Jorg Riechers and Sébastien Audigane had to say as they finished today:
ON THE BOAT AFTER THE FINISH LINE:
Jorg Riechers, Renault Captur
BWR: So Jorg, finished at last?
JR: Yeah. At last! It was a pretty long race, longer than we wished, and longer than we anticipated.
BWR: So how do you feel?
JR: Satisfied, happy, relieved. A big relief that we have finally arrived. It’s been a mix of feelings, the good thing is that I’m happy to have done my first round the world race. I learnt a lot. Results-wise I’m a little bit disappointed, because we expected a little bit more, surely, because we expected to be finished fourth or something like that, fourth or third, and in the end we obviously had the rudder problem and the pitstop, and that was all over.
BWR: Tell us about the really low points, were there points when you thought you might stop and wouldn’t finish? Or didn’t want to finish?
JR: Well I mean, there was never the question not to finish, but probably the closest point was probably when we went to get some seaweed off the rudder and discovered one third of the rudder was missing! And [laughs], we were just getting distance on GAES and we were really pushing hard, and said “Oh. Fxxk. No.”
" And then we thought okay, we can repair it. Sebastien said on Orange when they had the same problem they continued. So we thought, ok no problem we’ll continue, then everything starts to go wobbly. Then we put the safety rudder on, so we said: “Ok, now we tack again, here we go again, yes!” And then one day later – pff, that was also gone, and we knew the race finally from a performance point of view was over for us."
" And so we we went to New Zealand, repaired it. We thought we would regain the fourth place but in the end it was like we had to sail 800 miles north, 800 miles back, one and a half days there, then it was nearly 2,000 miles."
BWR: Tell us about your relationship with Seb, are you good friends – still?
JR: Yeah, if you do a race that is complicated like ours – because we haven’t had a single day without a technical problem, really. I mean there was one day, or maybe one or two days I can remember, when we can go “Oh this is easy, this is nice, this is how we want it to happen.” But no, every time there was something which was broken, which we had to fix.
" So I think a lot of teams would have turned against each other and that could have been problematic. But in the hard times we kept the team spirit and also in the lows we – after the Falklands when we know everything was done, sixth place sealed, so nothing to do – then it’s complicated because you don’t have a big motivation for what you’re fighting for. And I think there we held up together quite well as a team. No, I’m very happy to sail with him.
BWR: And what have you learnt about yourself, for the future, for the Vendee Globe and racing solo?
JR: Definitely how I want to have my new boat, definitely. So there alone is a lot of things: how it should perform, and how it should sail. The best point about this race is - and for that reason I’m really happy I’ve done this race – is that I’ve learnt how to the sail the South, because it’s a completely different animal to any other sailing. And I know that races are won and lost in the Atlantic.
BWR: And what are you looking forward to now?
JR: Now? A good meal, chocolate, a beer, a shower, and after that, I’m looking forward to not round-the-clock watching.
BWR: When did you last have chocolate?
JR: One week after New Zealand – just before Cape Horn!
THE RENAULT CAPTUR PRESS CONFERENCE:
Audigane: " It is difficult to race when you damage the rudder. So after we stopped in New Zealand that was difficult, but the most difficult and the most satisfying after that was Cape Horn. There was a big depression with 70 kts after Cape Horn. We took all our efforts to stay on our feet, it was not possible to do anything, we went inside the boat, shut the doors and it was 150 miles of very difficult times.
What didn't break?
Riechers: "Only the keel. That was all that was left and then we heard funny noises. I said, 'shit what is that? And it was the keel. There have been funny noises since New Zealand, so nothing I think is left at 100%. It has been a full race as MacGuyver (1985 - 1992 American secret agent series popular in France and Spain) .
Broken Rudder? The facts......
" Since the beginning we had big problems with the kick up systems on the rudders. That created a big before the Cape Verde Islands. With the Code 5 up and in 35kts the lewward rudder was lifting up, the boat went into a big broach, we broke the Code 5 and were on its side for ten minutes and afterwards in the Southern Ocean the boat was always hard to steer all the time. There was so much pressure a lot of the time hand steering was impossible. We had to steer on the pilot all the time. In the end we were pushign pretty hard to stay in the front three boats especially to stay with GAES and in the end I think the rudder suffered fatigue failure . Looking at the rudder, I think it was old, from 2008, so it had done a lot of miles and we pushed it and, we had to push to stay with the other boats. I think it just said 'Ok I have had enough, Me, I'm off. End of Story."
Would you do it again, if the clock were turned back to the start and you knew the result you would get would be this one?
" If I knew all I do now and could rewind the clock back, and I could call someone and order a decent rudder, yes, I would do it again. Probably."
Reichers: "We learned a lot about the perfect new boat. We have started to organise that for the Vendée Globe which kind of boat would be good, even the designer. We thought alot abut a new boat, what it should look like, what characteristics it should have. We started to organise it a bit, what kind of boat for the Vendée Globe and we have a really, really totally specific idea. We know how it looks like. It is top secret. And I know the designer."
The south is different?
Riechers: "The difference between there and the Atlantic for example, you have to sail under powered all the time. In the Atlantic you can push the boat hard and in the South you can't. And this race was super for learning this race, how quick the wind is always changing. You have 25kts, and three minutes later with no warning you have a gust of 35-40kts, so you have to be really cautious about how you sail push the boat. A lot of the time the boat is under powered, and so you need a boat which is realy fast when it is under powered. And I think that a new boat needs to have and this boat does not have that ability. "
Best and worst attributes and worst attributes of each other.
Riechers: Good: " Seb is a really stable character. Bad: Sometimes because he has more experience than me in the IMOCA when he explains things he can have the attitude of an East European gymnastics trainer, that can be difficult.
Audigane: Good: Jorg is always very motivated. Sometimes too much. Bad: Sometimes he puts up too much sail, all the time."
The Med, five more days of Hell
Riechers: "The Med proved to be just like the whole of the climb up the Atlantic. Every time we got to a Cape or a milestone, a weather window closed on on us. When we got into the Mediterranean and it was upwind in 35-45kts. We said: (laughs) 'Thank you very much. This is really kind. This is what we want. Really Stormy Upwind Conditions for the last days. Then for a little bit of spice in the last two days....we have: No Wind. Three days upwind bashing our brains out in horrible conditions, and then two days with no wind. We were saying: ' We will never, ever, every arrive in Barcelona. So I don't know what we did wrong in our lives. A superior force just said: "The two guys...lets give them....110 days around the world...don't let them get home until they have eaten everything on t he boat!!"
Photo : Mireia Perello