French Super Yacht Captain Romain Mouchel goes Offshore Solo!

This winter Palma’s STP has seen plenty of prodigious tents hiding boats as big as the 74m M/Y Ilona, and while these oversized super yachts had their hulls painted or their teak replaced, an equally impressive amount of work took place inside STP’s smallest tent, where SY AEGIR Captain Roman Mouchel and his sailing sidekick Eric Santene spent 3 months grinding, laminating, melting, welding and weighing (lead!). Two weeks ago we saw the result: Romain’s 6.5 meter mini proto went back in the water, albeit now with a bigger rig and overall being a better boat than she was before.. and at the start of October Romain is going to cross the Atlantic on her!!

Back in the water!

Back in the water!

Romain got a taste for the wind and the water as a young whippersnapper when he spent all his summer holidays in Brittany but he never thought that sailing would be for him what it is today. Not only is Romain captain of S/Y AEGIR (twice winner of the Maxi Rolex World’s in Porto Cervo) he’s also scheduled to take part in this years Mini Transat: A transatlantic race starting in Brittany’s Douarnenez and 4020 nautical miles later finishing in sunny Guadeloupe, which means Romain will be spending 30 days alone at sea on a boat the size of a cramped crew cabin. No wifi, no chart plotter, no bunk and no snack cupboard 😉 as it’s back to basics with a simple GPS, VHF, paper charts, packets of freeze dried food and a jetboil kettle.

There will be no one else on board with him to stand watch and nothing else around him but 106,400,000 square k’s of Atlantic Ocean, so we’re sure you can understand why we had to meet Romain in STP’s DockBar to hit him with a few questions about this fascinating project..

When did you start offshore racing? I’ve wanted to sail on the mini 650 circuit since I was 16 years old and sailed my first big offshore singlehanded race, Les Sables-Les Açores, in 2012. Les Sables runs on alternate years to the Mini Transat and consists of two legs, France to the Azores and back again, covering a total distance of 2540 nm. Apart from Les Sables I’ve taken part in numerous mini races but this will be my first Mini Transat, the big one..

Ready to race!

Ready to race!

What can you tell us about the Mini Transat? And why do you want to compete? It’s the longest of the Transats on the most extreme of boats. It’s the breeding ground for the worlds’ top short handed sailors, including Michel Desjoyeaux and Dame Ellen McArthur. (Ellen MacArthur said in1997: “It is the Mini-transat which gave me the taste for Ocean racing. I will never forget”) The Mini is the most accessible offshore class for single-handed racing as compared to the other races it’s reasonably ‘affordable’ to run a campaign and sailing in the Mini will enable me to get together with 84 (other) crazy Frenchmen equally as passionate about sailing Mini’s and single-handed offshore racing. I know all these guys by now, we’re like a big family and although it’s war on the water, ashore we have a lot of fun!

And your boat? It’s a Prepreg carbon, super light boat. It’s a French design and well built by the boats’ previous owner. It’s a good boat, one of the ten best..

A bigger rig and even better boat than she was before..

A bigger rig and an even better boat than she was before..

How are you going to prepare for the race? I’ll be training here in Palma until the end of March then we’ll bring the boat back to France where I’ll be competing in 5 races prior to the Transat. I’ll be spending lots of time on the water and in the gym, getting fit and also gearing up for 20 min naps instead of my usual 8 hours!

What are your expectations? The boat’s capable of being at the front of the fleet. But ‘just’ crossing the Atlantic solo is no mean feat and I reckon 30 sunsets and 57 degrees of longitude later that first sip of rum in Pointe-à-Pitre is going to taste pretty sweet

How are you funding the project? I’ve paid for a lot myself but I’ve also had a lot of support from STP, Rolling Stock, RSB Rigging, TechnoCraft, Trabajos en Cabos, Wavelength electronics and Armare who donated ropes, paint and plenty of other racing essentials..

How can people get involved? Everybody that wants to get involved can get involved! (Please have a look at Romain’s website to see what you or your company can do and how you could help.) Amounts as little as 20€ really make a massive difference as with 100 20€ donations I would be able to get a new sail! But at least as valuable as the financial backing is the inherent moral support. I will be seeing the names of those assisting me written down in the cockpit which will continue to give me strength during those solitary days at sea!

At the age of 25 Romain has clocked up an impressive 50.000 miles and without a doubt will be one of the youngest competitors on the start line in October. We’ll definitely be keeping you posted on his progress!

Romain: Good luck!

©Jesús Renedo

©Jesús Renedo

Check out Romain’s website to find out more about him and his adventure here and/or follow him on Facebook.

Ten questions for one of Spain’s top sailing photographers: Jesús Renedo

If you’re not interested in the world of sailing, don’t follow the big regatta’s, the best teams and would call the bow the pointy end of a boat you might not have heard of world renowned sailing photographer Jesús Renedo. Anyone else however is sure to have seen his work a myriad of times adorn the front pages of high profile yachting magazines like Classic Boat, Vela and Yachting World. He travels the world taking photo’s of the best teams and the fastest boats on the regatta circuit and is well known for his striking and powerful action shots. Jesús was raised on the water in Santander but made the move to Mallorca many years ago which is where we caught him just after he got back from NY to hit him with the next ten questions..

©2014 Pedro Martínez/Sailing Energy

©2014 Pedro Martínez/Sailing Energy

1) Are you a keen sailor yourself?

Yes, I’ve been sailing ever since I was a kid, I learnt to sail on Optimists, Vauriens, and 470’s in the Bay of Biscay on the North Coast of Spain. Also my parents had a 25 ft sailing boat on which we used to spend all our family holidays so I’ve been messing around on boats for as long as I can remember.

2) Have you crewed on boats as well?

Yes, I have. I was 29 when I quit my office job to join a sailboat about to embark on a round the world race. Since then I never looked back: I got my skipper’s license and worked in the superyacht industry for quite a few years, first as a deckhand later as mate and captain running all sorts of yachts and taking part in many regattas.

3) So, have you always taken photo’s while at sea?

Yes, I always had a camera in my hands. I also used to work as a scuba diving instructor and so took (and still take) many shots underwater as well.

4) When did you start taking photo’s professionally?

I think it was back in 2006.

5) How did you learn your photography skills? I’m self taught. Lots of studying and plenty of practice.

Copyright: Jesús Renedo

Copyright: Jesús Renedo

6) How would you describe your style?

Action!! I love working during regattas and concentrating on those ‘action shots’!

7) How many regatta’s and other sailing events do you travel to per year? And which is your favourite?

I travel a lot, which is a pain!  Carrying all that heavy photography gear is becoming a big problem at airports.
It’s difficult to choose one event, I enjoy them all! But I can say I really love the olympic sailing and the big, mighty J Class racing!

Copyright: Jesús Renedo

Copyright: Jesús Renedo

8) What do you look for when you’re on a shoot?

I like to capture the essence of what is going on by taking close ups of sailors and show exactly what they’re doing, their efforts and concentration. I also like to use the landscape, the sea and the whole environment we’re in at that moment.

9) Do you know immediately if you’ve taken a spectacular photo?

Yes! Most of the time when I download the images, I can’t wait to see if one particular shot is focussed and sharp. It’s fantastic when you get the feeling you’ve just taken that extra special shot! Then you keep your fingers crossed for it to be razor sharp!

Copyright Jesús Renedo

Copyright Jesús Renedo

10) Any advice for us sailors who like to take pictures of our own?

Enjoy!! And take care not to drop your camera in the splash!! Trust me I’ve done that a few times! 😉

Thank you Jesús!

No problem!

If you want to see more of Jesús Renedo’s high-impact photo’s check out the galleries on his website here.

Copyright: Jesús Renedo

Copyright: Jesús Renedo