The two-handed Guyader Bermudes 1000 Race is proving a fascinating opener as the 2023 IMOCA GLOBE SERIES gets underway in the northeast Atlantic, with some outstanding performances in the early stages.

The race began in light upwind conditions on Sunday off Brest and then featured a long beat to the first mark, set about 200 nautical miles to the southwest. From there the crews made a 180-degree turn to begin heading due north to the Fastnet Rock off the southwest corner of Ireland.

As the 13 IMOCAs made their way out into a misty Atlantic, it was British sailor Sam Goodchild sailing with Antoine Koch on FOR THE PLANET who set the pace in his first race in the Class, teasing excellent pace from a boat he has hardly had a chance to familiarise himself with. 

Behind him Jérémie Beyou and Franck Cammas on Charal, and Goodchild’s TR Racing stablemate, Thomas Ruyant sailing with Morgan Lagravière on the brand new For People, were waiting to pounce and it was not long before they got their opportunity.

© Maxime Mergalet / Charal Sailing Team

In the approach to the Trophée « Tout Commence en Finistère », Beyou and Cammas showed all their experience to get past the old LinkedOut, as the Charal team assumed the lead with Ruyant hot on their heels. 

Indeed the competitiveness of Ruyant’s brand new boat, which has only been in the water for a few weeks, is remarkable with Ruyant and Lagravière being able to match Beyou on the race-proven and much-tweaked Charal, tack-for-tack and gybe-for-gybe. 

Approaching the Fastnet Rock this morning the two boats were less than a mile apart, with For People just ahead, as their crews prepared to head south-southeast towards the third mark of the course – the Trophée Région Bretagne – positioned about 100 miles west-southwest of Brest.

Another brand new boat being tested for the first time in anger in this Guyader Bermudes 1000 sprint, is Yoann Richomme’s Paprec Arkéa which is in a strong fourth position, about 15 miles astern of Goodchild. For Richomme this is a learning experience as he makes his long-awaited debut as a skipper in the IMOCA Class.

“The boat is going well – we had a hard time finding the right setting to get her going as fast as the others last night. But by this morning we were able to match their speed,” he reported from on board on Monday.

The 39-year-old two-time Figaro champion was enjoying life onboard his Koch/Finot Conq-designed foiler. “We are well inside our little house, while it’s wet and misty outside. We’ve been able to rest quite well, even though our sleeping arrangement isn’t that great. We are were we had hoped to be, near the front,”he added, “it’s going to take a few races to be able to keep the pace of the leaders – I hope the weather is going to keep this race close.”

The early stages have also seen another impressive showing by Benjamin Ferré, sailing with Pierre Le Roy on the daggerboard-configured Monnoyeur-Duo for a Job. Ferré audaciously port-tacked the fleet at the start and then revelled in the light upwind conditions, reaching the first mark in fourth place.

That pairing have since slipped to seventh, sailing off the wind heading north, but they are still leading the daggerboard division in the race from first-timers Scott Shawyer and Ryan Barkey on Canada Ocean Racing in ninth position. Ferré enjoyed his spectacular getaway from Brest.

“What happened was that shortly before the start we realised there was a big gain, especially with a daggerboard boat, to start on port tack and thus avoid making two tacks,”he explained. “We decided to try it and found a small mouse hole to get through. It was quite intense, but we managed to cross the line ahead on the port side and made good progress in the easing wind.”

This Guyader Bermudes 1000 Race is unique because it is the first time the race has included On Board Reporters on the boats and for the first time we are seeing videos of life on board from an IMOCA GLOBE SERIES Race taken by media specialists. We are seeing the co-skippers trimming sails or changing sails on the foredeck, moving the stack, pulling on their foul weather gear, studying the weather on their onboard computers or discussing tactical options. We are also getting a flavor of how the boats are going, with onboard shots often showing rival crews close by, as the IMOCAs make their way around the first course of the 2023 IMOCA GLOBE SERIES season. 

Ed Gorman