LunaJets lands a first podium finish in Germany!

Mathieu RICHARD and his team make the perfect start to the World Match Racing Tour 2014 with a fine third place in the first race of the season in Langenargen. The LUNAJETS Team, beaten in the semi-final by GAC Pindar (Ian WILLIAMS), winner of the Match Race Germany, already seems to be ‘on the ball’. Here, the skipper recounts the wonderful week in Germany...

[INTERVIEW] Mathieu, what is the overriding feeling amongst the team members after the first round in Germany? “Without a doubt, the satisfaction of having sailed well and above all having pocketed the valuable points in the battle for the title. Getting off the mark with a good third place is a very good start for the LunaJets Team and it gives us confidence for the next stage.”

After two defeats at the start of the round-robin, you then successfully raised your game to eventually qualify for the 1/4 finals... “It’s true that we had a few problems initially by losing the first two match races. After four races, we had only had one win. It was a rather poor start but we remained confident. We focused on what we know how to do, and ultimately ended the round-robin with 7 wins and 4 defeats. What is satisfying is the fact that we got better every day. We grew in strength as the competition progressed. The presence of our coach Bertrand Pacé was crucial to helping us analyse the situations. Having reached the quarter-finals, it then came down to the details. Faced with competing against Hansen the Team didn’t falter. Against Williams in the semi-final we weren’t far off but there’s no disputing the result. We finished with a fine victory in the race for third place. It was a very good week for us.”

In your opinion, what stopped you from beating Williams? “It was a question of details! In the first race we stole a little on the start line. We were about one metre over the line when the starting gun was fired. It wasn’t much but enough for the Committee Boat to recall us and make us go back over the start line. Then, in the second race which took place at the end of the day with hardly any wind, we quickly took the lead. On the final downwind stretch, not far from the finish line, we were at least five or six lengths clear but at that very moment the wind dropped completely! So the race was declared void. You couldn’t say we failed because we would have been able to level the score. And then yesterday, once again, it was the little things that counted: a change of tack that really prevented us from getting to where we needed to be and Williams took advantage. At this level the tiniest detail can make all the difference.”

This fine performance just confirms your ability to compete with the best... “We had no doubt about that! Our team is one of the best in the world. The problem is that many of the others are also very strong! To beat them we must be clear in the choices we make and our sail trimming and manoeuvres need to be effective, and this demands intense effort and concentration. That’s the recipe for being at the very top level and getting on to the podium like we did here.”

The next round will be held in late June in Sweden, what’s the plan for this? “A little bit of rest this week, because although you might not think so, it is very tiring. Once we have had time to properly recover we will have a debrief on this first round of races in Germany. A large part of the team will then go on to Sotogrande in the South of Spain to compete in the RC44, before dashing off to Sweden.”