The return of Kito de Pavant
The French skipper has his sights on the starting line of the Barcelona World Race 2018/19. He has sponsor support and he’s on the hunt for a new boat. We had a chat with Kito as he was in full preparation swing for the Transat Jacques Vabre, the double-handed transatlantic race he’ll be taking on with Yannick Bestaven.
Kito de Pavant, one of the best all-round and experienced sailors in the history of transoceanic racing, has had a few issues with round the world races. Winner of the Solitaire du Figaro 2002, the Transat AG23 2006 and the Solo Mediterranée, he has been forced to abandon all three attempts at the Vendée Globe; in 2008 when his yacht dismasted, in 2012 due to a collision with a fishing boat; and in 2016 he was rescued by a helicopter after losing his boat following a collision with an unidentified floating object, most likely a sperm whale. In 2010 he joined forces with Sébastien Audigane, and took part in the Barcelona World Race, but keel damage meant the pair were forced to withdraw from the race at Ushuaia.
With the support of sponsor Bastide Otio, Kito is planning his Barcelona World Race 2018/19 entry. We interviewed the skipper in the run-up to his departure from La Rochelle towards Le Havre with Yannick Bestaven to take part in the Transat Jacques Vabre which starts on the 5th November 2017.
FNOB: Kito, this is your ninth Transat Jacques Vabre. It’s a race you know well. How’s your preparation going with Yannick?
Kito: Yes, I really like the Transat Jacques Vabre. Even though I come from a solo background, I love double-handed racing and this is an extraordinary regatta. It’s great to share the extreme experience with a co-skipper and to coordinate, communicate… it’s fantastic.
FNOB: What other plans are there ahead?
Kito: We’re working with Bastide Otio on the continuity of our project which began years ago with the Route Du Rhum and it has carried on through to the last Vendée Globe. We had a huge problem there where we lost the boat and we’re looking to buy another boat to continue the schedule with and take part in the Barcelona World Race and then the next Vendée Globe.
FNOB: What are your thoughts on the new Barcelona World Race format?
Kito: I’m really pleased with the stopover in Sydney and I think that the two-leg format will be good for promoting the event. The only issue I can see is the proximity of the Route du Rhum as there won’t be long afterwards to prepare for the Barcelona World Race. I’m going to take part in the next Route Du Rhum in the Class40s to have enough time to prepare for the Barcelona.
FNOB: Do you already have a co-skipper in mind?
Kito: No decisions have been made yet. I have a few options, but it’s all open. There are a few people I’d like to have on board, such as Yannick, of course, and also someone you all know well in Barcelona, Alex Pella who I get on well with and consider a friend.
FNOB: Collisions with UFOs (unidentified floating objects) are a real issue for transoceanic racing. Do you think foils make the boats even more vulnerable?
Kito: Well, of course the faster you go, the greater risk of a collision with serious consequences. Foils add a level of complexity and therefore increase vulnerability. We really need to develop technology which can help us to deal with this problem. There are solutions out there, but they haven’t yet been properly developed.
FNOB: What are your thoughts on the development of the IMOCA class? What do you think about the speed gains of the new boats over the previous generations of yacht?
Kito: Big differences have come into play. I don’t agree with that and I think the IMOCA fleet should be as level a playing field as possible and I think that the most sensible thing would have been to take a step back after the last Vendée Globe. However, that’s just a personal opinion and it’s not shared by IMOCA. The new boats are faster on all courses and the foilers can go even faster from 80º to the wind. Upwind and in light conditions there’s less of a difference, but that doesn’t happen often in transoceanic racing. Technology advances and I think that the boats which will be built in 2018-19 for the Barcelona World Race and Vendée Globe will be even faster.