Young at Heart - An Interview with the crew of radical cruiser MacPat

11 December 2016

Though both originally from Europe, Miguel Castellote and Patrick Franchet met via sailing in the Quebec Province of Canada where they both now live. Joint Family sailing holidays led to their plan to buy a boat together now that they are approaching retirement. But not an ordinary boat; they wanted one for the young at heart, or as Patrick said, “to prove we are still alive!”. We caught up with them in Saint Lucia after their two-stage Atlantic crossing with ARC+ on board MacPat their Pogo 1250.

How did you first discover the Pogo concept?

We’ve been following the boats for several years and then last year we chartered a sister boat to the 1250 we now own and took it to the Antigua Sailing Week regatta. We were sold on the concept and right away confirmed our order with the yard in Brittany.

What appealed to you about the Pogo design, which for a cruising boat is a radical change from conventional cruising boats?

Basically we wanted to have a fast cruising boat, but also having a swing keel means that we can go into shallow waters; with the keel up only draw 1.2m against 3m with the keel down.

And does the wing keel compromise the inside layout of the boat or impact of the interior space?

Well yes to a certain extent as the boat has been designed around the keel box, but it is a very large inside. We have a lot of room for us inside. Whilst the hull is similar to the Class 40 boats, inside it really is a cruising boat. We can sleep 7 or 8 if needed, we have the normal furnishings you expect on a cruising boat; two showers/heads and even air conditioning and a bow thruster, so it is definitely a cruising boat!

So why is this cruising boat so different?

The loaded displacement is just 7500kg which is around half that of a similar 40 foot cruiser.

Was it the performance of the boat that appealed to you? Have you managed to make the boat sail as fast as you wanted to?

Well, perhaps not on the second (Atlantic) leg of the ARC+; we didn’t have the wind. Certainly on leg 1 to Cape Verde we did. On one night watch we averaged 12 knots in around 13 knots. We don’t have a spinnaker pole so we can’t sail downwind more than 150°; with our asymmetric spinnaker we need to sail at fast gybe angles. With the wind we had on leg 2, we were struggling to get the speeds we needed to keep up with the conventional boats.

Have you had to adapt the way you sail for this boat and has that been a difficult learning curve or has it been easy to change?

No it is something you get used to quite quickly – we look for speed! We are learning to adapt our sailing angles to suit the boat’s best speed.

So what was the best speed you had on the ARC?

The first night we had a few surfs at 17 knots down the waves. It is an exciting boat to sail and looks like a baby Volvo Ocean Race boat, with its wide stern, twin wheels and twin rudders!

Did you break anything on the way across the Atlantic?

We took delivery of the boat in September in Brittany, and used the trip down to Las Palmas to learn the boat. We didn’t break anything on the crossing – just some problems with our hydro-generator which will need to go back to the factory under warranty. Also some problems with our satellite connection, so neither was due to the boat.

It should be an interesting boat to sailing around the Caribbean this season, where the winds will give you predominantly reaching conditions – ideal for your boat.

Yes, indeed. The key thing for us is that it is an exciting boat to sail and we both wanted to be energised by our sailing, and show ourselves that we are still young at heart!

So what is your cruising plan now with your extra-fast cruising boat?

Patrick will stay in the Caribbean and enjoy the boat with his family. We plan to do some of the Caribbean Regattas as well, but just for fun and probably keep her over this side of the Atlantic for two years. We may well go back to Brittany in 2018 with World Cruising Club in ARC Europe, as we’ve been very pleased with the ARC! So thank you very much World Cruising Club!