See you in 2025

The Transat Paprec was an enriching experience for Charlie Dalin

Second in the Route du Rhum – Destination Guadeloupe 2022, Charlie Dalin (MACIF), the winner of all the other races of the season in the IMOCA class last year, is one of the most talented sailors of his generation. The skipper originally from Le Havre has long since made his mark on the Figaro BENETEAU circuit with no less than five consecutive podiums between 2014 and 2018 on La Solitaire du Figaro but also on the Transat Paprec (ex-Transat AG2R La Mondiale, which he first won in 2012 with Gildas Morvan). It was a formative, enriching experience for Dalin who gives us his view of the race.

Charlie, you won the Transat Paprec in 2012 at the very start of the Figaro years. What did your participation in this race bring you for the rest of your career?
“I like the transmission element of this race, which was very good for me in 2012. It was only my second year on the Figaro circuit. We won it with Gildas (Morvan) who trusted me. I learned a lot from him. It gave me a lot of experience in one compacted period. Sailing double-handed, talking things over and working in pairs on the meteo allowed me to learn a lot of things that I was then able to apply when I was solo on my boat. And there was a real complementarity between Gildas and me. He had already made the crossing several times and knew many things from previous editions, like practical things. On my part, I took care of the routing and brought something to the strategy. I presented my ideas to him and he added his views with all his experience taking into account the scenarios he had experienced before. I made a lot of progress sailing with him. He was one of the best Figarists of that time.”

The Transat Paprec has become 100% mixed this year. How do you view this development?
“I think it will help get women into offshore racing and it will raise the women's level a little more. We saw some very good duos in training. It's interesting to recall that the very first race in the Figaro BENETEAU 3 was won by a mixed crew (Sam Davies and Yann Eliès) although back then it was not compulsory at the time. This shows that with the right crew and good complementarity, you can very well perform better in mixed doubles than 100% male crews. So I think that's a good thing."

What is special about the Transat Paprec compared to other races on the circuit?
“The Transat Paprec is very different to races like La Solitaire du Figaro. Once you have passed the waypoint, the game is very open. Even if you have a fast boat that performs well, your speed delta will never be enough to make up for a strategic mistake. That's what's interesting. And the fleet is very much grouped like on a Solitaire du Figaro and the overall speed is super important in terms of your final performance. But on a transat like this, the strategy and the choice of route are top priority. You have to be careful and get rid of your La Solitaire mindset. This is not a stage race. You can't just sit back and tell yourself that there are more stages to come back on and they will go better. There is only one finish. You have to manage to focus on your own course and risk when you think it’s right because in the end there is only one winner. And now the game is even more open than in Figaro 2 since the downwind angles are more open because of the asymmetrical spinnakers. If you broach you will lose even more than before, and conversely even more gain if you can sail low and fast. The small gybes and the overall strategy are therefore really important in this race, surely more than the speeds they will be able to achieve.