The skipper

PORTRAIT

Jean-Pierre Nicol : the sea and the Solitaire were obvious choices

“I really feel that I have a lot of potential to reveal.” At the age of 34, as he is about to embark on his seventh Solitaire du Figaro, Jean-Pierre Nicol is not hiding his ambitions: he wants to move up a step and work on his preparation, with the help of all the experience he has gained. It all began very early on for the sailor, who lives in Pointe-à-Pitre, in Guadeloupe, as he took to the sea while still an infant. After that, it was hard to avoid a career as a sailor. Particularly as a child, his holidays were always in the salty air. And in his youth, he regularly took the helm of his grandparents’ sailing boat. Jean-Pierre entered the world of sailing by travelling and cruising and not through racing. At the same time, he played other sports such as tennis, judo and rode horses. But once he had his school and initial university certificates under his belt, he turned to competitive sailing. At the start of the century, he did battle in First Class 8 in La Trinité-sur-Mer, gaining some fine results. He revealed and was able to develop some fine qualities as a skipper and team leader, which he went on to confirm in the Tour de France Sailing Race. Always on the lookout for new challenges, the sailor turned to solo sailing. The Figaro circuit and its star race, the Solitaire, seemed the obvious move to him. He tackled his first season in 2007 with a lot of enthusiasm but not many means. He would discover that the Solitaire remains a very particular exercise. Jean-Pierre experienced some tricky moments, but kept hard at it. Ambitious, determined and with the desire to become a pro, he joined the Centre d’Entrainement Méditerranée (CEM) in la Grande Motte – where he still trains. A tough decision for the Breton, who had to leave his family behind in order to make progress. And that progress soon came. A friendly chap ashore, who is quick out on the water, Jean-Pierre Nicol is able to achieve the best. As we saw from his two places on the leg podiums in the Solitaire, in Ireland in 2010 and in Caen the following year – when he went on to get his best overall result: 15th. He now hopes to be more consistent in his performance: “I have got everything it takes to go beyond mere moments of genius. I want to be more solid in every aspect of the game. And that should enable me to get a good place in the overall rankings.” Since 2009, Jean-Pierre Nicol has been sailing in the colours of Bernard Controls. A reliable and faithful partner, with whom he shares some common values. “Support is not uniquely financial, but also on a human level. The people at Bernard Controls face huge economic challenges and want to succeed on every level in their sector. So, really, we’re in the same sort of situation, trying to surprise the best and ensure we get everything possible on our side.” With the particularly strong line-up, the 2013 Solitaire du Figaro will indeed be a great opportunity to go and surprise the best. And not get left behind.

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