Zoom on: Mariska, 15 m I.R.

No less than 17 people are needed to manage the huge sails -730 square metres of sail area- on board this 23.40 metre (14.85 LWL) long and elegant gaff cutter designed by William Fife III and launched in 1908.

17 sailors who work on three different areas on deck: bow, centre and back. “There’s someone in charge for each area, and every sail. Everyone knows exactly what to do and everyone knows each other,” explains Benjamin Redreau, boat captain on Mariska since 2013. No winches on this pure racer, but a strong and experienced crew. Sébastien Audigane, who has some 180.000 miles in the Imoca and Figaro classes and on maxi multihulls, is at the helm with the experienced and versatile Christian Ponthieu, calling tactics.  “The team spirit is our secret weapon.” Says Benjamin, who sets Mariska’s season’s programme together with Christian Niels, and is once again back in Cannes to defend her title.