America’s Cup: French Sailor’s Long, Eclectic Course

Published on July 10th, 2013

“I like to be a free electron,” Loïck Peyron said. At 53, Peyron has certainly bounced around the sailing world and its challenges: from the single-handed privations of the Vendée Globe round-the-world race to the intense teamwork required to claim the Jules Verne Trophy to the hundreds of other races in the multihulls that he understands as well as any other sailor.

It has been a remarkably eclectic run, and the albatross-size wingspan of Peyron’s career is perhaps wider than that of any of the other men who will try to win the America’s Cup between now and September.

Peyron first dreamed of the Cup when he was a boy on summer vacation in the south of France in 1970. The Frenchman Baron Marcel Bich was challenging for it in Newport, R.I., and Peyron built himself a small dinghy with a sheet stolen from his mother for a sail. Peyron said his father jokingly wrote on the sail, “le pessimiste, Newport.”

It would take nearly 40 years for Peyron to make it into the America’s Cup itself, serving as co-helmsman with Ernesto Bertarelli, the owner of the Swiss team Alinghi, which was beaten by BMW Oracle in a contentious giant multihull duel in Valencia, Spain, in 2010.

“The way Larry won it on the water was impressive; the way in which they invited themselves into the final was not,” said Peyron, referring to Oracle’s billionaire owner, Larry Ellison, and the legal machinations that preceded the event that year. “But that was another problem, a legal problem. After that, the way in which they reacted and tried to revolutionize and give a face-lift to this old grandmother of an event was superb.”

The odds at this stage are heavily against him and his latest employer, Artemis Racing, which is struggling to recover from the loss of its first boat in a capsizing that resulted in the death of a British crew member, Andrew Simpson. – NY Times, read on

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