«Our ACTION-X3 is always in our pocket»

INTERVIEW

CHRISTOPHER PRATT & PIERRE LEBOUCHER

At the end of an 18-day intense race, Christopher Pratt and Pierre Le Boucher made the 4th place on the Transat AG2R La Mondiale on Guyot Environnement Voile. Just back from Saint Barth they tirelessly switched from sailing to walking, hitting the legendary GR20 (Corsica) footpath on trail mode in just four days. Marseille-born Christopher came to see us and shared his feedback on the use of his ACTION-X3 on both land and sea.

How did the Transat AG2R La Mondiale go for both of you?

Christophe – « It was my 3rd Transat for me and the first open-sea experience for Pierre who has more of an Olympics background. It wasn’t the best-known race but the level is very high with the same boat for all crews. Therefore it’s the technique of each skipper that makes the difference. For this Transat race we could have made the third place but we are happy with our fourth place. It was a top regatta and a great pleasure form a human perspective. I still remember Pierre seeing the port of Saint Bath and saying to me: “ Have we already arrived?”

And how about the GR20 challenge?

« “Things went so well with Pierre on the Transat that we set ourselves a challenge: travelling Corsica through the GR20 path on Trail mode being as quick and light as possible. We ran for the “Sourire à la Vie” (Smile to Life) association that helps children affected by cancer. Pierre is an outstanding runner and has run the Diagonale des fous before, while I’d never gone over 25km! We ran 180km and 11000D+ in 4 days and 6 hours.”

What kind of use did you make of your ACTION-X3 as skippers?

“During races the smartphone is the ultimate tool for capturing images. On the Vendée Globe for instance, it was connected via wifi to the boat and the technical teams could receive contents instantly. No need for a computer. And to cope with humidity and cold temperatures we needed a waterproof, robust and easy-to-use phone.

Our ACTION-X3 phones were useful in terms of communicating with a “main operations centre” i.e. a powerful on-board computer collecting all cruising data thanks to a software – maps, weather, boat information…

We also used them as “spare” assistance in case of failure of electronic devices. That’s why they’re always in our pockets or vest. They’re completely under water the whole time.

For backup maps services we had our base maps from the Navionics and Scan Nav apps. And for the weather you always need several apps: Windyty, which is pretty comprehensive as it provides various weather models and radar images (impact of lightning, rain…); Weather 4D and Squid Mobile, the latter being specific to open-sea races with a particular focus on wind-related information.

We made little use of the telephone function itself as we were necessarily connected to the satellite network. When weather conditions were calm we would use it for podcasts, social networks, instant messaging  (mainly WhatsApp and Skype to communicate with the technical teams and other sailors), audio books, music… On the AG2R I was using the Bluetooth X-PLAY earphones. It’s very handy, you can put your phone down safely on the boat avoiding all risks of tearing with a cable.”

And how about on the GR20 ?

“As we were on “fast and light” mode, we made a limited use of it to save battery. The GR trail is very well traced but we occasionally needed to use maps services with View Ranger between two points to locate ourselves or get information on the difference in height travelled. One day it took us an hour to find the phone that Pierre had dropped while running while it turned out to be just 200mt down.

Weather conditions were not simple. It rained every day and there was some snow left. At night temperatures would sometimes go down to -10°C at 2200mt. The phone had no issues and I only used the X-POWER once to recharge it half-way through.

At the end of the four days I still had 40% battery left.”

ls the Vendée Globe in your sights?

“Yes, in 2012 I was already replacing Armel Le Cleac’h so I couldn’t be any more ready than this! I’m fully working on the project and the will to go is certainly there.”

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