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Giraglia Rolex Cup

Thiercelin & Alphand : The Mentor and the Protegé

lundi 20 juin 2011Redaction SSS [Source RP]

The unique partnership onboard the Imoca Imoca #IMOCA 60 DCNS 100 (FRA) is one of the most fascinating stories emerging at the 59th Giraglia Rolex Cup. ‘Les Filières du Talent’ is DCNS’s innovative project, which unites an experienced sailor and a complete novice. The yachtsman in question is the professional skipper Marc Thiercelin and his apprentice is Luc Alphand.

The same Alphand, who enjoyed a glittering career as an Olympic and World Cup skier before spending over a decade as a motorsports driver competing in endurance events such as Paris-Dakar and the 24 Hours of Le Mans, where Rolex is Official Timekeeper.

Alphand introduces his orientation into a third sporting career :

“It is a new adventure and page in my life, which arrived following a serious motorcycle accident that ended my career as a racing driver. During my rehabilitation phase, I always had a desire to be involved in sport and my subsequent encounters with sailors made me dream about taking part in this very hard and difficult sport.”

After hearing about this attraction to the world of sailing, DCNS and Thiercelin offered Alphand the opportunity to focus on a new professional orientation, a change that forced the serial winner to start from scratch.

“I suddenly found myself onboard a 60ft boat,” explains Alphand, “I’ve been learning, working hard, through moments of good progress and other times when it has been more stagnated. I arrived with a lot of humility, accepting that I am an apprentice sailor and that is my level for the time being.”

Whilst skiing, motorsports and sailing may seem like three very different disciplines, Alphand believes that there are some key links :

“There’s a bridge between the sports : the mountains and the sea, the ocean and the elements, the humility that is required in respecting these conditions, the link between speed and technology.”

For Alphand and Thiercelin, the Giraglia Rolex Cup is part of a busy summer programme, which sees the duo compete in both the Transat Jacques Vabre Transat Jacques Vabre #TJV2015 and the Rolex Fastnet Race :

“There is a tradition in this sport which is fantastic,” he continues, “which we will discover further with the Rolex Fastnet Race, which I’ve heard so much about. To be part of these classics is fantastic !”

“The Giraglia Rolex Cup is especially interesting because it’s open to boats of all sizes as well as being a key part of the training for Luc,” explains Thiercelin. “It is a classic like the Fastnet Race and the Rolex Sydney Hobart, starting from Saint-Tropez, a real sailing town, along a great course with the mythical part being the sail round the Cape Corse and the emblematic Giraglia lighthouse.”

As Alphand and Thiercelin approach their fiftieth day working in tandem, the latter is well aware of the climatic factors which may determine the team’s fortunes :

“The weather can of course change. If there is the mistral, it can make the race up to La Fourmigue and the Giraglia incredibly fast. Towards Genoa it can be more erratic. The Mediterranean can be like that : all or nothing.”

- Press info Giraglia Rolex Cup /

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