Clipper 2015-16 Race Winner Wishes New Skippers Well

22 March 2017

As our new Skippers begin their preparations for the Clipper 2017-18 Race, Olivier Cardin, winner of the last edition, offers his advice and recalls how it felt to be in the exact same position two years ago. He says: “It was such a proud and exciting time, finding out I was one of the Clipper 2015-16 Race Skippers. Mark Light called me in the evening to tell me I was on. There was a lot of emotion and I was extremely excited. As it was in the evening, I spent a very, very bad night trying to sleep!”

The 47-year-old former IT Project Manager from Saint Aubin sur Mer, Normandy, was the first French Clipper Race Skipper and didn’t take long to make his mark, with LMAX Exchange pulling off an emphatic win in the opening leg of the race from London to Rio de Janeiro. The team would go on to win five of the fourteen races, and finished on the podium a total of nine times, on the way to claiming the overall victory by four points over Derry~Londonderry~Doire.

Olivier adds: “Just passing back under the Tower Bridge knowing we were the winners, and then holding the cup and presenting it to my team, for us it was the most incredible achievement.”

“Victory in London, and all the other victories, like the last race in Australia, or beating Derry~Londonderry~Doire to Ireland were all memorable moments. The overall victory was the best moment however, for me and for the crew as well.”

Since that moment in London, Olivier has continued to take his sailing career from strength to strength. Last year, he was honoured with a special accolade at the French Sailing Federation’s annual awards, the Soiree des Champions. And now, he is embarking on his next adventure, after being selected as skipper for Class40 Normandie boat for 2017.

Olivier won the role after a tough selection process, and got his first taste of his new boat in the Duo Normandie, a 300-mile race from Granville to Cherbourg, this past weekend.

He explains: “It was pretty tough. We crossed the Channel twice with 35-40 knots of wind at very high speed. It was a real baptism of fire as we only had two days of training on our Class 40 before. This weather was for us a perfect experience as we should have this type of weather in November for the Transat Jacques Vabre's start.”

“The boat is very fun. Completely different to a Clipper 70, as it is smaller, lighter, and only designed for racing. I think, sometimes, I will miss my crew and the ‘comfort’ of the Clipper 70!”

It goes without saying that the Clipper Race Skippers are excellent and experienced sailors, but in order to successfully lead their novice crew, they also need to be just as good at managing people and being able to lead.

Olivier agrees, saying: “It’s true – the job is ten per cent sailing and 90% people management.”

“You are working with people from all walks of life, from all around the world. For us on LMAX Exchange, we wanted to be fast, the crew wanted to do well and that brought us together. I still have a t-shirt printed by the team when we didn't have a sponsor yet. The message on it was ‘Trim to win!’. For us, ‘Trim’ applied to everything. ‘Trim’ makes our life easier. ‘Trim’ is just do the job properly, help your mate and ‘Win’ is enjoy.”

And his number one piece of advice to the twelve new skippers? Be ready for anything.

“The skipper has to think about what’s next all the time. Just always having Plan A, Plan B and a Plan C, and always thinking about what could happen next, in the next hour, in the next day. It’s a matter of anticipation and being ready for the next thing that could happen.

“I wish the new group of Clipper Race Skippers all the best and will be following their progress with interest,” says Olivier.

Olivier will be accompanied by Havrais Cédric Château in the double races, and will next race under the Normandie colours in the Fastnet between Cowes and Plymouth in August.

To read more about our Clipper 2017-18 Race Skippers, click here.

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