Following on from the Défi Azimut, which was held in Lorient from 20 to 22 September and comprised nearly all the crews set to compete in November’s Transat Jacques Vabre, one final training session is due to take place from 9 to 11 October in Port la Forêt for members of the Pôle France. We have the lowdown on the opposing armies.
The favourites: five boats are neck and neck. Throughout the Défi Azimut, MACIF, PRB, Safran, Maître CoQ and Cheminées Poujoulat showed there are only very minor differences in speed between the various crews. For the time being, the Gabart – Desjoyeaux pairing, even according to its adversaries, seems to have a slight edge. With the fluidity of their manœuvres and good speed, MACIF has a little something extra, which is enabling her to contain her rivals. Marc Guillemot, winner of the Ile de Groix tour said as much at the finish when some exceptional circumstances enabled the crew of Safran to escape MACIF’s clutches in the race and just nail the win on the line. Aboard PRB, Vincent Riou and Jean Le Cam noted the duo’s progress, but admitted there was still some work to be done. The skipper of Maître CoQ knows that he can compete and just needs some solid results behind him now. Meantime, Bernard Stamm continues to lament Cheminées Poujoulat’s ability to perform as well as the Verdier – VPLP designs during the transition phases. However, a transatlantic race is decided over much longer sequences and this handicap will be largely erased during a long-distance race.
Reinforcing the existing teams
For the other crews, the Transat Jacques Vabre will be an opportunity to fire up a host of committed projects. Aboard Votre Nom autour du Monde pour l’UNICEF, Bertrand de Broc will be teaming up with Arnaud Boissières to create a powerful duo of experienced solo sailors that are greatly appreciated by the general public. For Tanguy de Lamotte, the Transat Jacques Vabre now looks somewhat uncertain. Having suffered an Achilles heel injury whilst playing squash, Tanguy doesn’t yet know if he’ll be able to take part in the adventure. Whatever happens though, Initiatives Cœur will be at the start, with another racer waiting in the wings if need be to pair up with François Damiens. Alessandro Di Benedetto will also be present in Le Havre, with the continued support of Team Plastique. The latest objective for the Italian sailor is to convince new partners to commit to the next Vendée Globe with some more scaled-up sporting objectives and hence a more modern boat. Louis Burton has similar aims and he’ll be teaming up with Guillaume Le Brec on Bureau Vallée in a bid to kick-start a campaign, which got him to the start of the last Vendée Globe. Finally Zbigniew Gutkowski will once again take the helm of Energa to sport the colours of his beloved Poland.
Preparing the future
One crew who took part in the Trophée Azimut won’t be racing aboard an IMOCA in the Transat Jacques Vabre. Jörg Riechers is joining forces with Sébastien Audigane with the aim of being the first to earn an entry ticket to the Barcelona World Race. As such, the German sailor has bought the former Maître CoQ from Jérémie Beyou (ex Foncia). For the two sailors, they’ll really be getting down to business in the IMOCA class at the end of the Transat Jacques Vabre, a race which they’ll both be competing in… on a Class40 and on rival boats. Already the duo can boast a fine third place in the Tour de Groix and their shore team has moved into BSM’s premises in the French yachting hub of Keroman, Lorient thanks to Riechers’ overall sponsor for his multiple campaigns, Mare. In short then, they’re sure to be a force to be reckoned with…
The crews entered in the Transat Jacques Vabre
Cheminées Poujoulat : Bernard Stamm – Philippe Legros
MACIF : François Gabart - Michel Desjoyeaux
Maître CoQ : Jérémie Beyou – Christopher Pratt
PRB : Vincent Riou – Jean Le Cam
Safran : Marc Guillemot – Pascal Bidegorry
Bureau Vallée : Louis Burton – Guillaume Le Brec
Votre Nom autour du Monde pour l’UNICEF : Bertrand de Broc – Arnaud Boissières
Initiatives Cœur : Tanguy de Lamotte – François Damiens
Energa : Zbigniew Gutkowski - Maciej Marczewski