As European sailors gear up for one of the premiere regattas of the summer, Quantum Sails' David Arnaus chatted with his colleague Carles Rodriguez about what it takes to perform well in such a competitive fleet. The 39th edition of the Copa del Rey MAPFRE, sailed in Spain’s Bay of Palma, hosts sailors in several one-design classes as well as ORC and IRC. Competing for his ninth win, Carles is truly one of the event’s masters.
David Arnaus: For a big event like the Copa del Rey, when do you start preparing?
Carles Rodriguez: Once the notice of race is published in February, we start to put all the items together, from crew to what the boat needs. And we plan the timing for the coming months and the preparations needed to succeed.
DA: With so many choices, why one boat versus another?
CR: Mainly for two reasons: First, we try to be the fastest boat in the fleet, whether ORC 1, ORC 2, etc, and, second, for budget reasons. Depending on the budget for the season, we will go for one boat or the other that will at the same time define the fleet we are going to race against through the season.
DA: What about your crew? How do you approach that?
CR: I’m a lucky guy since I have a bunch of lifelong friends that are really good sailors without being professionals, so I do not choose the team. I sail with my friends who happen to be very good. Knowing each other very well and being friends makes us a better team. You will always do better if you can have fun and enjoy it.
DA: Regattas tend to be the best place to practice for other regattas. What regattas and events do you choose to help prepare?
CR: Our objective is the Copa del Rey in ORC, so we try to do regattas with similar conditions and with a fleet similar to the one that we are going to find in Palma. Therefore, we usually sail regattas like Godó, Valencia, Alicante, and Palma Vela, although we cannot always sail all the regattas since sometimes the boat is in dry dock getting some modifications.
From my point of view, what would work best would be that the Copa del Rey sets up a plan for two to three years and then does not need to change every year. This would help to reduce the preparations tasks, preparation costs, and allow more boats to participate in regattas prior to the Copa del Rey.
DA: How does Quantum play a role in the overall campaign development?
CR: Thanks to Quantum, I get to work with the best team in the industry, which allows me to have incredible resources to develop and innovate. My team and all of the teams who sail with Quantum also benefit from this. We always try to share the data so everyone can get better. Quantum and the team are here to help every sailor, not just my team. From America’s Cup designers to TP 52 experts or even international experts in rating ruling, Quantum gives me the tools and time to sail and lead the project in order to be competitive in one of the most competitive regattas in the world.
DA: So you have the boat and the crew, now the sails. What sails do you use and why Quantum?
CR: The new Quantum Fusion M membranes with the VX skins are really good and a very fast product. It is a project that started a few years ago, and sail designer Adrien de Belloy has helped us to go faster every year. Adrien is a good friend and a great designer. He helps me a lot by investing precious time in my boat that turns into experience and speed. The team at Quantum are some of the best in the whole industry of sailing. It is like the best in the world are on my team helping. This is for everyone who has Quantum, not just me! It makes a really big difference.
DA: What are your thoughts going into Copa del Rey 2021?
CR: Honestly, I see it being very difficult to win. There is a boat that has a larger budget and better preparation than us, so it will be very difficult to win. But we are going to work hard and do our best to finish first or second or at least try our best! Our team is highly motivated, and we have worked a lot on the boat making changes to the keel, mast, rating, etc. We will try our best and have fun. Winning is complicated, but a podium is feasible. That is why it is important that we make so many preparations and practices.
Gunning for a podium spot at Copa del Rey is no small feat. But just like any other major regatta, having the right crew, equipment, and preparation and putting in plenty of hard work can get you there. Make sure you're setting your team up for success by competing in several top-tier regattas, so that when you arrive to the main event, you're ready to perform your best. Follow Carles during the 2021 Copa del Rey MAPFRE aboard Alexandre Laplaza Gutierrez’s modified Sinergia 40, L´Immens.