After every Vendée Globe, the skippers of the IMOCA class jump on the communication bandwagon despite the more relaxed marine activity, which enables them to get some well-earned rest. It takes time for the body and soul to recuperate after the three intense months of racing that punctuate a long period of hard work. It’s also an opportunity for a general review of their machines and possibly a chance to trial a few new additions. We provide the lowdown on the projects currently underway.
Honour to whom honour is due, François Gabart, the most recent winner of the Vendée Globe is already engaged in the next stage of his programme, which is set to continue at the very least as far as the Route du Rhum 2014. MACIF has been relaunched after a review in the yard and some small ergonomic corrections resulting from lessons learnt by François during his sprint around the world. The only major modification has been the stepping of a new mast, which should further improve the boat’s performances.
Alex Thomson has also granted himself some much-deserved rest. He kicked off the 2013 season with Hugo Boss’ participation in the Gotland Rund, an extremely popular race in Norway. For this particular race he was accompanied by Sam Goodchild, who put up a sterling performance in this year’s Solitaire du Figaro.
A fine ambassador for British skippers, Alex will soon take the start of the Fastnet, happy to be sailing on home waters and keen to link up with his Breton friends who’ll be making the trip across the English Channel.
Good news for Vincent Riou. After a period of hesitation in anticipation of the new direction taken by IMOCA, Jean-Jacques Laurent, PRB’s boss, has decided to support Vincent on another campaign. For PRB, the new class rule is heading in the right direction with its welcome reduction in cost. The boat has been recently relaunched and will compete in the Fastnet and the Transat Jacques Vabre with the inseparable duo of Vincent Riou – Jean Le Cam at the helm.
Jean Le Cam’s Synerciel has returned to Spanish waters in the colours of Gaes. Currently without an appointed boat, Jean is delighted to be sailing on one of the most highly optimised IMOCAs.
Votre Nom autour du Monde pour UNICEF
Bertrand de Broc is back for another campaign and has every intention of participating in the next Transat Jacques Vabre. We don’t yet know the name of his co-skipper, but the sailor from North-West France is making no secret of his desire to be able to give a talented youngster a leg-up with a view to the next Vendée Globe. Of note is the fact that the boat, only just out of the CDK yard after a post-Vendée Globe check-up, will now be associated with UNICEF.
With the boat having undergone a refit, Bernard Stamm and Philippe Legros, his co-skipper in the Transat Jacques Vabre, have opted to benefit from every opportunity to get in some on-the-water training. In this way, Cheminées Poujoulat participated in the SNSM record and since then Bernard and Philippe have been racking up a series of double-handed training sessions, alternating between offshore sailing and coastal courses so as to polish their manoeuvring skills.
Jérémie Beyou has inherited the machine that Armel le Cléac’h raced into second place in the Vendée Globe. As such, he has essentially taken over a boat that has been thoroughly checked by Banque Populaire’s shore crew and has opted to focus his time on sailing her. Jérémie used his new boat for the first time at the end of April during the “Grand Prix Guyader” in Douarnenez. Today his sights are on the Fastnet with the dynamic Christopher Pratt as co-skipper, who was Armel’s teammate on the same boat during the Transat Jacques Vabre 2011.
Marc Guillemot made the announcement very early on. His teammate in the Transat Jacques Vabre will be Pascal Bidegorry. Somewhat frustrated by his abortive Vendée Globe however, Marc was keen to get some sailing under his belt again. As such he decided to have a go at the singlehanded North Atlantic record, held till that point by Alex Thomson. Completing the crossing in 8 days 5 hours 20 minutes and 20 seconds, he pulled off his gamble in style.
“Gutek” also made an attempt at the North Atlantic record. Though his performance was a little overshadowed by Safran’s new reference time, he too improved on the record previously held by Alex Thomson.
Tanguy de Lamotte is still just as keen as ever to compete and continue to share his adventure for the benefit of Initiatives Cœur (Heart Foundation). He’ll be participating in the Transat Jacques Vabre alongside the French actor François Damiens. The duo has already completed the qualifier and Initiatives Cœur was also racing in Douarnenez at the Grand Prix Guyader. No doubt that with a duo such as this, the social networks will have a field day.
Another record for Kito de Pavant, namely crossing the Mediterranean singlehanded aboard a monohull between Marseille and Tunis. Kito set a new reference time of 1 day, 2 hours, 43 minutes 30 seconds. With his partnership with Groupe Bel having now drawn to a close, Kito is seeking a new sponsor with which to continue the adventure.
Jörg Riechers is a newcomer to IMOCA. After the Vendée Globe, he bought Jérémie Beyou’s former boat, which won the Vendée Globe 2008-2009 in the hands of Michel Desjoyeaux. He will be accompanied for the Fastnet by Sébastien Audigane. Later in the year however, Jörg will be competing in the Transat Jacques Vabre in the Class40. The IMOCA programme will be taken up again in January 2014 with a view to competing in the Route du Rhum and the Barcelona World Race in particular.
Alessandro Di Benedetto has just relaunched his boat. After being invited by François Gabart to participate in the Record SNSM aboard MACIF, Alessandro has been actively preparing for the next Transat Jacques Vabre, with another circumnavigation of the world already in his sights.
Taking the start of the Rolex Fastnet Race will be:
MACIF, PRB, Safran, Cheminées Poujoulat, Maître CoQ, Mare, Hugo Boss.
The following will be competing in the Artemis Challenge (Round the Island Race):
MACIF, PRB, Safran, Cheminées Poujoulat, Hugo Boss