Lucky Riou Declares His Boat ‘The Best’ In The Fleet
"There is never a perfect race for me. I was lucky in 2004 because my boat was not the fastest boat. In 2004 Mike Golding was able to come back in the Southern Ocean and take the lead during the 2004 Vendée Globe because he was able to make such good speeds with his boat.
PRB is optimised for downwind but it’s never a bad boat. This is the best boat for downwind in the whole fleet – THE BEST! But it is also a good boat for all the other conditions because it is such a good boat.
It’s a very light because it’s very basic. There are no extras and because it’s light it’s not as solid as some of the others. The hull is the same as Bel, Banque Populaire, Saffran. The hulls are light and can be damaged but you wouldn’t fall through the deck. All of these new boats in the fleet use the same type of carbon. My boat is very strong and rigid unlike the Bruce Farr boats, which are like chewing gum in comparison. The top speed I have managed so far was 33knots in June.
But really the average speed on the boat is all about the sea and what the sea allows me to do. I can’t visualise the sea and what it will do and so I don’t know what speeds I will achieve.
In 2004 there were two key moments, firstly the start, and then after that the most important moment was in the South Atlantic. Jean le Cam and I came very close to a big weather system. We both managed to sail ahead of the developing weather system. Before it we had a lead of 100 miles then the fleet got caught in it and our lead grew overnight into a 400 mile lead into the South Atlantic. It was a very nice race.
The weather is always different every year. Being a good skipper is all about being able to start over again at every weather report. Four times a day you receive the weather files and four times a day you have to start all over again. Interpreting the information on the weather chart and reacting to the situation in front of you and starting from scratch four times a day. That is what being a good skipper is all about.
My boat is not a man, it’s not a woman, it’s not an animal – it’s a machine. It’s not an object or a person – it’s a boat. It’s my boat. I always listen to the boat. The minute there is something wrong I want to hear it. Sometimes I listen to music and watch videos but always quietly so I can always hear the boat.
At one point in the Course de Figaro, when I was younger, I didn’t sleep enough and I had hallucinations but that was the only time. It was a lesson in sleeping. Now I sleep on the floor on a mattress.
I don’t travel light when it comes to food because I use the food instead of the ballast. The food can always be moved to help trim the boat. I prefer to have food onboard instead of using the ballast. All day long I move my equipment, sails and food supplies around the boat to trim it.
My favourite food onboard is mashed potato. It tastes good. I like to eat good food. I put the carton in hot water and heat it up.© Clare Macnaughton
I bring all my rubbish back with me. The empty carton is only 5grams. 150 kilos for all of my food and 50 kilos of rubbish at the end of the race so when I am heading back up the Atlantic that’s when I use the ballast." Riou said.