Is the Jules Verne trophy still an adventure?
Absolutely. There's nothing new about circumnavigating the world. Or about doing it as a team and in a race. But to do this at high speed, with a motor like that, in a team, requires the crew to not only be good sailors but also good friends with respect for each other, which actually is often the case. When there are problems in a transatlantic race, they don't show as much. But a round-the-world trip is long enough for you to only want the best people around you.
Your strength has been in managing your crew well. What does this require, particularly to ride the highs and lows at sea?
There's no simple recipe. You can see it well in global companies and stories: there are many different ways of managing a team to get to the same result. For me, the means are more important than the end. And the good news is that these means have brought me pretty good end results. I am fairly demanding and at the same time respectful of people's views and skills, which allows me to bring out the best in each crew member. Because we all need that. I don't much like saying no, but I do like explaining why I want things. I like trying to have general agreement before making a decision, but I also know when to impose one if necessary. On a boat, you definitely need a management structure, but it must be a valid one. You have even greater responsibility if you feel people trust you. Skippering a boat is definitely not an easy job. You are responsible for quite a few things, but the most important is to get everyone back safely to port. It's almost a paternal instinct, wanting to bring all your children home safely.
The boat has been adapted by Spindrift racing. Do you think it's able to break your record?
Yes, of course, the boat itself is. Because the boat never reaches its maximum potential for a record or race. Also, Spindrift racing have drastically improved it. A lighter mast is a very good thing. You always want to reduce weight up top. But this shouldn't be at the expense of comfort elsewhere. If it slows down the way you handle the craft, that doesn't work. You need to be able to trust the equipment. Spindrift racing also put in lighter appendages. Another way of reducing weight is to have fewer people. That puts more pressure on the crew, but it's doable. There were 14 of us but we could have got by with 11 or 12. Three people, that's immediately half a tonne less weight. And then there's the weather. We were up to three days ahead but we lost a long day in the Pacific. We had to make quite a big detour because of icebergs. So much to say that it's possible to cut the record by several days. Personally, I'm not interested in beating my own record. I just want to see the record broken, so that I can then try to break it again. That should motivate them!