Alain Gautier joined Alinghi in 2008 and has been working with both the design and the sailing team on the Alinghi multihull project. "I am really enjoying working with Alinghi. It was a relationship that grew out of the mutual respect from competing against each other during the last few seasons of the Julius Baer Challenge on Lake Geneva.”
Gautier, a father of five, first came to prominence as the winner of the challenging singlehanded offshore circuit in France, the Solitaire du Figaro in 1989. He went on to win the most challenging singlehanded race of all, the around-the-world non-stop Vendée Globe in 1992.
He is also a big fan of Formula One motor racing, so it was no surprise when in the late 90s Gautier turned his focus on the fast and dangerous world of multihull racing, competing for many years on the ORMA 60 tri circuit. Now with the advent of 90ft multihulls for the America's Cup, the French speed-seeker is right in his element.
Gautier lent Alinghi the use of his 60-foot trimaran Foncia as part of the learning process of getting a group of monohull sailors up to speed with the principles of fast multihull sailing. It wasn’t an auspicious start, as the team accidentally capsized the boat during training, breaking the mast and injuring some of the crew, albeit not badly.
Asked whether or not he had forgiven the team, Gautier laughs, replying: “I was not at the helm, but I was on board as the skipper of the boat. When you are the skipper and the boat capsizes, then you have to take a big share of the responsibility. It was an experience for everybody. We were lucky that none of the guys were too badly injured. It took two months to repair the boat and then we were back in training again.”
Like many professional sportsmen, Gautier sees lessons in everything. “The capsize was a good lesson, for sure. Sometimes you learn more from your bad experiences and you learn more when you lose a race than when you win the race, and the same is true of situations like this.”
Working with Alinghi has given Gautier a chance to work with a big team, something which he has enjoyed greatly. “I have been sailing on multihulls since 1983, I’ve sailed singlehanded, and with crew on the 60 foot multihulls, but I have never worked on a project of this scale before. For me this has been a wonderful experience because these boats are really incredible, and the calibre of the sailors and the design team makes it a privilege to be part of Alinghi.”