Thierry Verneuil : « Easy Regatta, a pure bliss »
At 63, the CEO of Bic Sport has been under the spell of the Easy Regatta offer which now enables him to participate in the coming Spi Ouest France in the best conditions ever. The industrialist ponders on the reasons for the success of this multihull sportboat.
Successful industrialist, eclectic sailor, Thierry Verneuil is a sea lover. Chief executive of Bic Sport, he has accompanied the greatest transformations in nautism with the development of surfing, paddling, with the ‘Open BIC’ competitions. This emblematic director is also an experienced navigator who has sailed on a wide range of formats, surfboards or even on the majestic FRANCE as a skipper, for five years. Today, he has chosen speed and lightness with the Diam 24 OD.
- How did you learn about the Diam 24 od ?
I am the president of Team France and Team France youth. I have been accompanying the detection department since four years which has seen the emergence of these young sailors; the Robin, Follin, des Solune Robert, all very dedicated to the Tour de France à la Voile today. Seeing them in action gave me the desire to navigate on the Diam24.
- Is it a challenge to start with le Diam 24od,?
For someone like me who hasn’t done any particular physical preparation, yes, I do take it as a challenge. Also, it is a boat which I feel is very reliable, which requires some revision of sailing strategies. Its a multihull, not a monohull, I have to learn. It’s an interesting boat as it is a step towards sailing professionally on a multihull.
- What appealed to you precisely ?
What appealed to me in this boat is exactly what didn’t appeal to me when steering a 12 meters, 30 Tons JI. It has to do with accelerations, lightness, speed, physical demands of the maneuvers. It does exist with a 12 meter JI but it’s not exactly the same thing. We take much pleasure sailing with this boat, it is so fast, agile, great ! In addition it has 3 floats. For those who want confrontations, they must really get into it strongly ! So it is a boat which is really demanding technically speaking, specially for the crew. A part from the navigation aspect, there are all the ajustments and settings that must be learnt. That is why we train regularly. It is a boat which is both very technical and fun.
- Did you start the Easy Regatta ?
Yes, it is definitely a great system. The idea coming from Vianney to set up the Easy Regatta is really a good one. It’s not easy to get into the procedures of buying a boat without having ever sailed with it. It’s a bit complex and not clearly compatible with other activities. Easy Regatta is a pure bliss; having boats at hand and be advised, coached on the navigation adjustments. It’s just great to have a boat at hand when you want it. It’s a dream come true. Specially for a boat with such high level of technicity. The boat remains simple but also technical. I wouldn’t have dared have a go at it without the EASY REGATTA offer. Clearly, I would perhaps have joined a team to see how it goes but I wouldn’t have registered for the Spi Ouest France with a Diam 24 od, definitely.
- As an industrialist, what is you analysis of the Diam 24 od ?
Vianney once told me that he had been inspired by what we did for the Windsurf and the other formats. For the Windsurf there has been for quite a long time one-design formats. At the time I did criticise a lot the one-design system but I have changed my mind about it. When the format is a good one, the one-design format is really a great thing. When the format is fun, when we can enjoy it in any possible conditions, on a large spectrum, the one-design is super. The result of the regatta is then a matter of the crew’s sailing technique. Vianney, in his desire to modify the rules has in a way followed us in this direction. This prevents the race towards heavy equipments. I think this is the solution to encourage more sailing. We can see that the reputed classes, who undergo brillant developments, are all monohull types.
- In what way the boat comes out of the lot ?
I really like the clean approach he had for the settings of the boat. The thought he had on the simple maneuvers etc… The boat is imposing, has three floats and still is easy to set up, easy to carry. It’s terrific to have such a high-performance boat. What really surprised me is the lightness of the boat compared to it’s price. It remains a light and competitive boat.
- What are the Keys to success at the International level for such a boat as the Diam 24od ?
We need two things. We need local branches, otherwise it won’t work. And one need to set up an international class that can develop locally. We need a branch in every country. We had the chance to have Russel Couts as our sales representative for the Open Bic in New Zealand. Today, we sell more boats in New-Zealand than in France or elsewhere. We must build a circuit. We have to develop the Class, which is not an easy thing.
- What are the obstacles ?
Sailing is an activity which is not very evolutive. There is a kind of powerful conservatism. Changes are slow. I won’t polemic on this aspect. On the daily practice of this activity in clubs it takes quite a long time to change sailing formats. We still navigate on 470 in the United States. Sailing is a sport where the formats still in use are those as old as 50 years, I think some will take it for a joke. The formats are no longer adapted and this will contribute to a decrease in the participation among young sailors.
- What is your objective for the Spi Ouest France ?
It’s the sport objective for the start of the season period. I don’t know if I will do more than the Spi ouest France in Diam 24 od. The advantage with the Easy Regatta offer is that if we want to constinue, we can, but we don’t have the buying constraint. The system is ideal. Our aim will be to avoid as many buoys as possible. We found that in some contexts, we could make it. The aim will be to find a fit place in a fleet of 40 boats. It will be quite sporty. The objective is to have fun. For the time being we can’t really be ambitious with such little experience on this boat.