The 16 skippers, eight duos, who are set to take on the 2014-2015 Barcelona World Race gathered to face the media at today’s busy official press conference, the last official gathering of all the teams before the race start on 31st December, now less than 48 hours away.
The conference was opened by Jean Kerhoas, IMOCA Class President, who introduced the UNESCO marine research and education programmes which are essential to this edition of the race, innovating by integrating the round the world competition with an ambitious scientific research programme and a global, openly available further education programme.
He was followed by Race Director Jacques Caräes who explained the starting procedure, which will see the eight IMOCA 60s start at 1300hrs, heading north-easterly along the Barcelona beachfront, before rounding the North Buoy turning mark and heading for Gibraltar and the Atlantic.
But all attention was focused on the 16 sailors gathered on stage. As ever body language and attitude spoke louder and more comprehensively than the words they uttered. Some, like veteran Jean Le Cam (Cheminees Poujoulat), appearing like it was just another work day at the office, relaxed and enjoying the build-up to his second Barcelona World Race. When asked about his final preparations, Le Cam joked that he was going to be mostly eating for the next two days. Guillermo Altadill (Neutrogena), approaching his seventh global circumnavigation, also played to the gallery:
“I live in a small village 90 kilometers from Barcelona. And I realised that I had left the lights on. So my plan for the next two days, will be to go back tomorrow and put them out!” But for all his humour, fiery Catalan Altadill knows he has been given a gilt edged chance of winning the race which starts and finishes on the waters where he first learned to sail, an opportunity of a victory which would rank him as the first Spaniard to win a major IMOCA race, the same as it would be for Pepe Ribes who grew up in Benissa beside Calpe, 75 kilometres down the race track.