Loick Peyron Keynote at World Yacht Racing Forum 2010

Loick Peyron, Veteran Global Ocean Racer and Multihull Skipper

Loick Peyron - World Yacht Racing Forum

[cleeng_content id=”232140494″ description=”99 cents or 10,000 hours. The path to being an expert can be easy or hard. ” price=”0.99″]It’s difficult to do justice to the speech that Loick Peyron gave to the delegates of the World Yacht Racing Forum to open day 2 in Estoril. The performance was one that showed the sport of sailing does indeed have personalities to rival any other. The speech was full of wisdom from years of being in the industry including an interesting mountain-climbing analogy.

For Loick Peyron, sailing different kinds of boats is the thing that keeps him in the sport. Whether it be monohulls or multihulls, sailing around the cans or offshore alone in the southern ocean, the diversity is something that informs his view of the sport. The lesson he draws from this diverse experience is that the best way to look to the future is to respect the past.

From where he sits, Loick Peyron observes that the yacht racing industry is worried about the future. He can feel it. He doesn’t have the answer to the question ‘What is going to happen to my business?’ but he has some thoughts about the challenges the industry faces.

Peyron says that we live in a funny little village. Sailing is not the same as Formula 1 for a simple reason. He says:

“You can talk to someone and they will say – oh you are a sailor – I have a boat too. People don’t see an F1 pilote and a car driver as the same thing. There is a huge difference, but in sailing the professionals mix with the amateurs all the time.”

Coupled with a lack of a single ranking system, this is a problem. We know the world champions of football, and we know the world champion of F1, but it is difficult to convey the same level of achievement of sailors to the general public. There is no World champion of driving – the more generic description of the activity undertaken by the professional race drivers.

Offshore racing faces a similar problem of conveying the achievements of the best in the world. While the first sailor across the line in the Vendee Globe is given a heroes welcome, so too is the last sailor – who may cross the line months later. The problem with this is that the guy who comes last is just a sailor who has been around the world. The sport is failing to differentiate how difficult it is and how much talent is required to sail FAST.

To continue the argument, Peyron uses an analogy to mountain climbing. He compares the various premier events to 8000 metre peaks. There are 12 or so, all the same level, but some have more light shining on the summit than others.

The America’s Cup has so much light that it sends people blind, but the others are just as high, just as much of an achievement. The Vendee Globe might be a peak with a single steep face and a longer more simple route around the back to the summit. The winner climbs the hard face, but the person who takes the longer, simpler route still reaches the 8000 metre mark – the same level.

This problem of perception leads to situations where countries have well known people who are awful sailors. But sailing needs these people because they fill a wider need than can be delivered purely by the sport. The sport is not very interesting without the people and the stories and we need to respect all facets of the business.

Loick Peyron was also part of the America’s Cup Session at the World Yacht Racing Forum.[/cleeng_content]