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Tom Laperche: “To go around the world in an Ultim, you have to have a touch of madness, and I have it...”


The young sailor confided to Le Figaro his ambition, his pleasure and his doubts by taking the helm of François Gabart's trimaran for the unprecedented 2024 solo round the world race.

LE FIGARO - What does the challenge of finding yourself at the helm of an Ultime at the age of 25 represent for you to compete in the new solo round the world race?

Tom LAPERCHE - It's a grand, exceptional, extraordinary challenge.

Sailing around the world alone in a multihull, there are only 4 or 5 sailors who have done it, the last one was François Gabart in 2017. A race like that is incredible...

Do you feel up to this challenge?

Yes I feel up to it, I feel capable.

Now, for sure, there is apprehension.

There is nothing acquired at all.

There are a lot of things that are not easy, but I also know that we have everything to prepare well and in this decision, there is the fact that we have the team that has been around the trimaran since its conception and who has performed with François for the past ten years.

It's an enormous opportunity and privilege to have the confidence of François, Didier Tabary and the Kresk group to go on this world tour.

Questions and apprehension

Today, how do you feel on this boat?

I feel good there, I take a lot of pleasure.

There aren't many boats on which you come back from sailing with a huge smile.

It's a chance to sail on these boats and it's exceptional to have the opportunity to do this alone.

I feel good on the trimaran and with the team, I have enormous confidence in François, in his choices, in what he has put in place to get there and in what we are going to put in place in the months who come to perform well in the Transat Jacques Vabre and then around the world.

I've had that in the back of my mind for a little while and when I do something or when I sail, I wonder how it will be alone on this trimaran around the world.

There are always plenty of questions, of apprehension.


you hesitate to go there?

Yes I hesitated.

The first time we discussed it was more than 2 years ago and I was not able to answer in five minutes "Yeah it's good, I'm going to go around the world".

It was in the realm of dreams.

And having followed the world tours of François and Thomas Coville closely, I know that it's something that is very committed and not easy.

But the desire has also grown over the past two years and the fact of sailing on this boat, getting to know the team, going shopping, reduces the level of apprehension.

In any case, I find the risk less important than what I could have imagined 2-3 years ago.

Glad I went and glad to have the prospect of going back.

Tom Laperche

Why is it important to have been to see the deep South this year with your crewed round the world sailing aboard Kevin Escoffier's monohull?

The Great South, we always talk about it in books or in stories as something super difficult, very long, very cold, with incredible waves, super strong wind.

And it's true that there are not easy conditions and that it's a place where he can have dantesque conditions.

Now the fact of having gone to see him, it allowed me to feel these elements.

It's true that we had big waves, strong winds, even if we didn't have the harshest southern ocean there could be.

Now how will it be solo on a trimaran?

In terms of the experience, it was also good to have lived 35 days on a boat at sea, which I had never done, and to see this really wild and super beautiful nature.

I want to go back there,

and in multihulls.

Glad I went and glad to have the prospect of going back.

I'm actually looking forward to...

You don't waste your time during your career by going directly from Figaro to Ultim...

It's extraordinary.

I'm super happy with that but I don't think there's an ideal ocean racing course.

That's how it goes for me, so much the better.

I'm young, I know there are still plenty of other things to do in offshore racing and today I'm doing what I most want to do, so it's really great.

Read alsoSailing: Gabart says stop to solo sailing and hands over the helm to Laperche for the 2024 round the world race

Did you speak with your father, a former competitor in the Solitaire du Figaro, about the world tour?

Yes, we discussed with the family, with my parents, my relatives.

They left me super free in my decisions.

They didn't push me or hold me back.

They also saw what we had done with the team and that it was going well, that I liked it.

Today, they are happy for me that I have this opportunity and that I especially like it.

I don't have the role of dad but I think you can only be happy if your children do what they love, are fulfilled and grow in what they want to do, with great passion.

Why do you think François Gabart chose you?

Beyond the fact that we rubbed shoulders a little in Port la forêt when I was at the Finistère offshore racing center with Le Figaro and that I was close to his company, I think he saw my desire to sail on these big boats, the pleasure that I have on board and he detected that in Figaro I had been rather good quickly.

In the end, this dream of a multihull, of sailing at high speed, this adrenaline of flying, I really want it and I don't know if it's so marked by everyone.

To go around the world on these boats, you have to have a little bit of madness.

François got it, he left young for a Vendée Globe and then a world tour in a trimaran.

He felt that I had this little bit of madness too.

And if we hadn't got along well, we wouldn't be here.

Yes, the objective is to win this world tour

Tom Laperche

Do you believe he finds himself in you when he was young?

Of course we have some things in common.

We have done studies that are very similar.

He was at Insa Lyon, I was at the Compiègne University of Technology, also in mechanics, mechanical engineering, engineer.

We had courses where during the studies where alongside the lessons, we had our weeks of training, he did a lot of Tornado, me, it was Flying phantom.

In Figaro, he spent ten years before me in the Brittany CMB region at the Finistère offshore racing division.

After that he didn't win the Solitaire and I didn't win the Vendée Globe...

In concrete terms, is your objective to win this round the world race?

Yes, the objective is to win this round the world.

Afterwards, the objective at the start is more to finish it.

We know that it's a personal, human and psychological challenge to be able to do it, but also a technical challenge, to have a reliable boat that sails at 30 knots around the planet.

So the first thing is to finish and win yes, I have that in a little corner of my head.

The goal is to be the best I can be, to feel that I'm in control of the boat as well as possible, and afterwards, if it goes to win, so much the better...

Source: lefigaro

All sports articles on 2023-04-13

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