D-150: with six months to go to the start, things are hotting up at sea and alongside the quayside

September 29 will see the start of the MED MAX I Occitanie - Saidia Resorts. With six months to go until the start, and exactly 150 days to go, a whole team is already in the starting-block for the organisation of this unprecedented ocean race, linking the two shores of the Mediterranean. And it's speeding up. Just like the thundering start to the season for the Class40s and Ocean Fifties, the two categories that will be racing on the formidable playground that is the MED MAX I Occitanie - Saidia Resorts course. On the water, but also on land, whether on the quays of Port-Camargue or the marina of Saïdia, in Morocco, for the organisation of the start and finish villages.
An overview with the organiser, Kito de Pavant.


Q: Kito, we're now 150 days away from the start of the MED MAX I Occitanie - Saïdia Resorts. Time flies, doesn't it?

Kito de Pavant : We're going to say that we've never been so close to the start. So the tension is rising. So we're anticipating a lot. I always anticipated when I was a racer. This is something we're discovering. I'm a rookie in the organisation. We set ourselves a challenge that we knew would be difficult: to set up a race in the Mediterranean that aims to be ambitious. Especially as we're inviting teams from far and wide. Some are already racing, some will be arriving from Canada, Quebec, Saint-Pierre-et-Miquelon and the West Indies. Others are already in Port-Camargue. It was a difficult gamble. We're right in the middle of it. We want to have a great event here in Port-Camargue and above all a great finish in Saïdia.


Q: With a team around you that you've built up with people from the South, right?

Kito de Pavant : We've strengthened the team in recent weeks. We've put together a small team of southerners. Competent, motivated people who are in tune with the direction we want to take this race. In terms of communication, but also logistics. There's the race at sea, of course, but there are also two villages to be set up, at the start and the finish. It's not a small project.


Q: The two categories of boats which will be competing in the Mediterranean on this MED MAX I Occitanie - Saidia Resorts, the Class40s and the Ocean Fifties, have started their season. We've already seen some records broken, some great racing, some top-level line-ups, some great crowds and a lot of media interest. It's exciting to know that most of them have put the MED MAX on their calendar, isn't it?


 Kito de Pavant : First of all, I say to them that they're right to train, because the MED MAX won't be a piece of cake (laughs). On a more serious note, we've always stressed that the MED MAX I Occitanie - Saidia Resorts was organised by racers for racers. So it's important that the scheme appeals. The racers need organisers who listen to them, and the organisers need racers who follow them. When we had the opportunity to put this idea of a race in the Mediterranean into practice, I turned to them. The feedback has been positive. Today, between the two classes, we're sure to have at least 25 boats at the start. Monohulls and multihulls, all eager to sample the pleasures of the Mediterranean. With a beautiful course that we've concocted. And one that I would have been delighted to run! (laughs).


Q: There are some innovative ideas on this course! Notably this buoy, this marker at Sète, which the competitors will have to pass before heading out to sea.


Kito de Pavant We try to keep the good ideas from the races I've taken part in and leave out the less relevant ones... This buoy anchored in front of the Théâtre de la Mer, in Sète, will offer spectators in the stands a magnificent show hosted by a commentator. In fact, the Théâtre de la Mer is a magical place, which you might think was created for the MED MAX I Occitanie-Saïdia Resorts (laughs). An amphitheatre facing the sea, and even Morocco! It'll be like the start of the Route du Rhum, with the buoy in front of Cap Fréhel. Well, we're going to have the Théâtre de la Mer in Sète!


Q: What will be happening in the start/finish village? Are there any leads yet?
Kito de Pavant : I can tell you that it's full of ideas! At Le Grau du Roi-Port Camargue, it's going to be quite a big village. There will obviously be giant screens showing sailing images. But that's not all. The idea is to showcase the richness of our Occitanie region. Economic, tourist, traditional and modern. Like the Catalanes, the Latin sails that will come from the four corners of Occitanie to mingle with racing boats, at the cutting edge of performance and innovation, in a modern port, Port Camargue, and a traditional village, Le Grau du Roi. There will also be a jousting tournament. There will also be exhibitions of all the board sports that are constantly reinventing themselves, such as foils. There will be a speed base open to anything that goes on the water in front of the Port-Camargue jetty, in front of the village. We're even thinking of having a stand-up paddle race in the harbour, which is unique with all its marinas. There will also be an open stage for concerts. And, of course, Moroccan culture will have pride of place.


Q : What about the finish in Saïdia?


Kito de Pavant : Our Moroccan friends are preparing something exceptional. I can't wait to see the look on the competitors' faces when they arrive in the marina at Saïdia. There too, it will be something unheard of in a sailing race. The whole philosophy of the race will be there: to bring people together and share. I've had this race in my head for a long time. And the important thing is to share it with as many people as possible, whether it's the public, the racers or the partners. All the people who come to see the pretty, colourful boats. And it's great to introduce this to a Moroccan public not really familiar with this type of sailing event.


Q : Are you looking for other partners?
 Kito de Pavant : Of course we did. Many followed us very early on. We're hoping for more. There's always room for new partners, especially a title partner. Because we're ambitious. The bigger our budget, the better we'll do.


Editor: Jean Loup Robertier

"At Le Grau du Roi-Port Camargue, it will be quite a large village. There will obviously be giant screens showing sailing images. But that's not all. The idea is to show all the richness of our Occitanie region. Economic, tourist, traditional, modern".

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