Jean-Pierre Dick: "I really wanted to be on the start line”
Jean-Pierre Dick has won both editions of the Barcelona World Race so far. But the French skipper will not race this time to defend his title. The skipper from Nice is working on his new IMOCA 60 Saint-Michel-Virbac, a Verdier-VPLP design which he is having built for the next Vendée Globe. The boat will be launched at the end of the spring 2015 but until then the skipper is high and dry, boat-less. So there will not be a third double-handed circumnavigation for JP, even if the Barcelona World Race is an event he dearly loves and wanted to be back in…
Jean-Pierre, as the double title holder, I imagine you would have loved to be at the start?
Yes, it's a race that I like a lot. I think in fact the format that suits me well. Three months is a duration that suits me, I need time to do what I can do. And both times the experience has been very rich, it is the teamwork of the duo that makes it so gratifying. Whatever happens I am so proud of having won the first two editions. And even if I can’t make it to the start, I will be in Barcelona to see the race start and wish the skippers well.
What is easier about sailing two handed than solo?
Primarily because there is less stress. You know that when you sleep your opposite number looking after you and keeping it going, and ready to react immediately if anything happens. And so you sleep better and recover better.
Is it difficult to get on?
It is not that hard if you take care to respect each other. It is rarely ‘professional’ issues that there is friction, it is the living in each other’s pocket which can grate. You can take on habits as you get older, little quirks which are not always compatible.
What do you remember of the races?
It’s funny because both really had similarities. Both times we outlasted out strongest opponents. First time that was Vincent Riou and Sébastien Josse. The second time it was Michel Desjoyeaux and Francois Gabart. And both times getting down the Atlantic was very intense, the Southern Ocean was almost relaxing by comparison.
And your co-skippers?
Damian (Foxall) and Loick (Peyron) are two people who were very easy to live with, we shared a lot of good humour in their respective styles. Both times it was a great experience. It is down to their characters. Damian we sailed a more Anglo-Saxon style with more fixed watches. Loick was more intuitive and flexible. I think I felt less tired the second time, slightly paradoxically.
What do you think of the changes proposed for this third edition, the ice exclusion zone and the removal of the passage through the Cook Strait?
The exclusion zone we will see how it works. It is an interesting approach, but I'm not sure it opens the game that much more. With the ice gates there was a real strategic side which can’t be forgotten. You really had to aim at the point where you would make the gate. This could be an opportunity for a competitor to get back into it, it could restart the race. We saw in the Vendée Globe, where one of the first gates of the Indian Ocean caused a bit of that. Sure, we will regain feeling of freedom, but who knows? Perhaps it will set the positions early ... It will be interesting to see how it goes and then to decide what is best for the future.
As for Cook Strait, I recall it being very frustrating and a bit weird for me. On the one hand I've lived a long time in New Zealand, and also because when you arrive in the strait between the North and South Islands, it is high summer. Can you imagine seeing people having barbecues on the beach and in your own case there you are heading back down south into the winter. It's weird.
Are your pre-race favourites to win?
Hugo Boss, of course, since it's my old boat. Alex and Pepe are an excellent crew, they have the most recent design and therefore potentially the fastest. I'm going to keep a weather eye open for Jean and Bernard on Cheminées Poujoulat, because they will be a great duo.
Finally, your favourite memory of the Barcelona World Race?
I passed Cape Horn with Loïck ... It was incredible. We were just a few miles from the Cape in the sunshine, we had a magical call back to land that day. You just cannot ask for more. It compensated for all the times you spend the Horn without seeing a piece of land of any kind.