Marcel Van Triest: An exceptional router 

In this exclusive interview, Marcel van Triest shares his experience with Adrena software and his contribution to the Jules Verne Trophy.


– How long have you been using Adrena software?

Can’t really remember. A long time! I used to be a MacSea and then MaxSea user, but around the turn of the century there development in the racing functionality became slow if at all. My first contact with Adrena was with the Groupama campaigns of Franck Cammas and I remember sitting down in their base with Michel Rodet asking for new functions etc. His very open attitude to this and the swiftness with which they were implemented “converted” pretty quickly!

– What is your favorite function of Adrena?

Definitely the routing! It has evolved over the years in a very complete tool that gives me a lot of control over how the routings are done. There is always room for improvement, but if there wasn’t life would be pretty boring. The good thing is that with Adrena I can talk to the programmers about new functionality and if they like it, it makes it in a future release. Ensemble routing for instance was something I requested.  Roadbooks, Fleet tracking, Sailselect etc. are all very useful tools. Basically it is very complete program. So complete that despite using Adrena 24/7 at times there are still sections of the program I have never touched! The start sequence for instance.

–  Could you define Adrena software in a few words?

The Swiss knife of navigation software for any racing navigator. Maybe a little daunting to use at first, but has everything you need and is excellent for most tasks.

– What are the best conditions to do a good routing job? How did you live the race from ashore?

A difficult question. I guess the best conditions are that when I have absolutely nothing else to worry about. No other jobs, no emails to reply, no bills to pay, no grocery to get, no food to cook etc. etc.  Achieving this for 40+ days is actually pretty hard when you’re in shore so preparing for this is essential. And yes I live (and look) a bit like a caveman during that 40+ days. In the end is not very different from being onboard with the exception that I have unlimited good Internet, unlimited electricity, lots of computers, my office doesn’t bounce around and I don’t get wet! Sleepwise it is worse though.

–  What is the moment of the race that you remember the most? The most stressful?

The race to stay ahead of the front in the Indian Ocean knowing that if successful the odds of beating the Jules Verne would be looking pretty good. Also some of the exchanges with the boat had some good humor in it which is remarkable as it is high stress for everyone involved.

Most stressful is the Southern Ocean when ice is present. I feel responsible, but also helpless being on the other side of the planet in an office and that combination is not a nice feeling.

–  As a router you played a key part on the strategy but were you also a moral support for the team onboard?

You would have to ask the guys onboard, but yes I think and hope so. It should be nice for them to have someone looking over their shoulder all the time. For sure the moral support is much more important in singlehanded races like the Route du Rhum though.

– Who were you in contact with? Can you let us know a bit more about the transmission of information between ashore and offshore? How does it work?

With quite a few actually. Big decisions would be with Francis of course but the more routine chat was with most of the crew. Gweno, Bernard, Seb and Alex. In that order. Only Clement was the exception. The only downside off this is that they were 6 and I was alone! Sometimes when I was just about to take a nap a new watch would arrive on deck after a nice sleep and would think let’s ask a question to Marcel! 😉

It is a 24/7 open line. I like to use Telegram (which is roughly similar to Whatsapp) as I have it on all devices. PC’s, phones and tablets and when Idec sends a message alarm go off everywhere. That way I don’t miss it when I just happen to be downstairs making a coffee or having a nap. It allows to send screenshots and all sorts of other files so it is a central place for all communication. Meaning there are no email either and I gave up on phone calls a long time ago. It is better to have a written record so people can read it again in case they have a doubt. Apart from that a satphone connection from a noisy boat with my French (accent) on one side and both me and Francis being a bit deaf is far from ideal!! Also when it is written down the rest of the crew can read it, which was the case on Idec. The whole crew had access to the whole discussion on weather and strategy.

– Did you already know that the record would be broken a few days before the arrival of Idec Sport or was it a full suspense until the end?

I was already pretty confident mid-Pacific as by then I knew more or less the time to the Equator which was so quick that it left us with a large margin in the North Atlantic. It would have needed a “once-in-a-century” situation in the North Atlantic to go wrong and even then these boats go so fast that you can make long detours to find favorable conditions if needed. That would cost time but I expected we would have plenty of it “in the bank” by the time we reached the Equator.