Ignasi Triay is the current president of the Soto 40 European Association, an organization governing the continental Soto 40 circuit. aBoatTime interviewed Ignasi to find out more about the development of this highly competitive sailing class.
What are the biggest challenges being the president of the European Soto 40? Basically my role is to help to consolidate the Soto 40 Class at this side of the Atlantic, obtaining supporters and increasing its European fleet in a solid and steady way.
What advantages do you see in the Soto 40 class? The monotype of the Soto 40 is very simple in its construction technology and does not require large investments in the maintenance. The conditions and rules for the boats in this class do not change very often, which altogether make the overall costs much lower than any other prototype of a similar size while at the same time its fine design allows to reach the speed that can be easily compared to any “one off” boat built with the most sophisticated materials. At the same time, the requirement for all boats to be equal alongside with the strict control, makes competition really exciting as the speed differences between different teams are minimal and all boats are very close each to other in the water, ensuring that it is a competition of human skills rather than of machines.
Do you think competitions using the monotypes is the future? It is the future for most of the teams and boat owners that want to compete in real time. There will always be, and must be, disciplines involving prototypes that require large investments in design, research and technology. We need it in order that the sailing sport continues to develop and nourish with the latest advances in design and materials. But currently this is available only to the minority of this sector.
What are your impressions about the 2012 season? First of all, it is impressive how equal the teams are. During the season, in five events we have seen four different winners, and until the penultimate day of the season we didn’t know the winner of the European Championship. On the other hand, we have had a really good cooperation with the nautic clubs organizing the Soto 40 races, and I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone from the Real Club Nautico de Barcelona, Costa Smeralda Yacht Club, Real Club Nautico de Palma, Real Club Marítimo de Sotogrande and the Real Club Nautico de Valencia.
What do you expect from the second season taking into account the first year’s European Championship experience in 2012? I expect consolidation of the fleet and the progress for current teams, as well as incorporation of some new European team. Unfortunately because of the economic situation in Spain we can not expect an emergence of a new Spanish teams, but I am sure the Soto 40 Class is a good basis for the recovery of competitive sailing in Spain in the future.
In your opinion, what is the ideal number of races for the Soto 40 European Championship? We have to be flexible and adapt to the circumstances of each year as well as the needs and limitations of the boat owners. The five events in 2012 have proved to be a bit excessive for some participants and it has been decided to reduce the number of races down to three in 2013 European Championship. However, apart from these three, there will be two more official events, although not giving points for the Championship.
What is the feedback from the participants who have been competing in the Soto 40 class? The feedback is indeed positive; everyone is impressed by the boat performance and easy handling. What would you suggest to those shipbuilders that wish to join the Soto 40 European Circuit? Definitely to contact us and we will give them an opportunity to test the boat either during a competition or outside it. To understand the adrenaline that can be gained with these 40 feet boats, it is much better to test it yourself than trust what other people are telling.
How do you see the European fleet compared to the South American one? The South American fleet is several years ahead us, as the Class was born there and is sheltered by a group of enthusiastic participants. Here in Europe things are not going so easily, but I trust we can improve the situation and step by step we will equalize with them.
Do you think that we could see the American boats in Europe and vice versa in the future? We will definitely experience it, and there have already been some attempts. It is not easy to manage it taking into account the costs of freight, but the enthusiasm of the participants from the both sides of the Atlantic will help to overcome obstacles and we will soon see some teams crossing the Ocean to compete against the other boats of the sister-fleet.