How did you come across Yagiza and her owner?
After the intensity of IMOCA, I decided to take a break from high-level racing and ran a 1973 Sparkman & Stephens Swan 65, and I met Laurent, the owner of Yagiza, on that boat. It was one of my last charters, and we got on very well together. He had just committed to buying his First 53 but was completely new to sailing. He actually never sailed before joining me on the Swan 65! He decided to start sailing and get a boat during COVID. One of his friends recommended the 53, and he really liked the clean lines and the simplicity of the deck layout and interior.
What’s your role?
Well, I have been managing Yagiza from day 1. When Laurent was with me on the Swan, he asked me, "do you think we could race with my boat?". I said yes, of course, and we started the project. So I put the team together with a very simple plan: Laurent was funding the boat, but he did not want to pay the crew, so I had to imagine ways of being competitive without professional sailors. I gathered a team of around 20 people as we normally race with a crew of 14 inshore and 12 offshore. This is a pro-am team with three professionals onboard, including myself and the rest of the crew as amateurs who pay to race with us. This is how we fund the racing. We are lucky to have such a fantastic mix between pros and amateurs, and also men and women (basically 50/50) and nationalities (full 5 of them) that works really well and provides a good level of performance. It is hard work but good fun!