This Sunday 7 May at 14:00 hours local time, the fourth edition of the Guyader Bermudes 1000 Race Brest – Brest kicked off from the Brest Narrows exit. Propelled along by a 5 to 8-knot W’ly wind, the thirteen duos enjoyed a gentle start to the 1,280-mile course.

The opening stages as far as the ‘Tout Commence en Finistère’ waypoint promise to be particularly tricky. Indeed, in addition to light airs, the sailors will have to cope with some significant current. Game on!

“We’ll start off the race on a beat in a rather light wind. That’s a good thing because the foilers won’t just disappear over the horizon as soon as the starting gun fires. Instead, the boats with daggerboards will be in on the action. However, it’ll be important to sail a clean race as, typically, it is these sorts of conditions where certain boats can very quickly steal a march,” explained Pierre Le Roy, Benjamin Ferré’s co-skipper, who posted a very good start on port tack and managed to stay at the front. Aboard Monnoyeur – Duo for a Job, the two sailors, both former Mini sailors, really sailed well around the Saint-Mathieu headland. They were the first to set a course for the open ocean, well aware that the next few hours are likely to be extremely tricky, especially until they can escape the Raz de Sein, punching tide with a substantial coefficient (90). “It’s really going to be anyone’s game and it’ll be vital to remain vigilant during the first 24 hours of racing. It will be very strategic and we’ll clearly need to sail a smart race to make the ‘Tout commence en Finistère’ buoy," commented Arnaud Boissières (La Mie Câline), who was first across the line.

© Jean-Louis Carli

The daggerboard boats in with a shout

This sentiment is echoed by Franck Cammas, co-skipper to Jérémie Beyou aboard Charal 2. “This gentle start to the race promises to be pretty technical, as we’ll have to deal with the current to free ourselves from the tip of Brittany and then head westwards,” explained the sailor from Aix en Provence, who will likely take nearly 24 hours to make the first course mark, some 205 miles to the south-west of Brest. “Things will be pretty tense until this evening. I hope we don’t come to a complete standstill at any point. On the positive, it’s the same scenario for everyone, but it’s highly likely that the old daggerboard boats we’ll be in their wind shadow”, said Franck Cammas, who’s well aware that the latest generation IMOCAs will be able to lengthen their stride on the long reach to the legendary Fastnet lighthouse. Prior to that though, the plan will be to not let anyone get too far ahead, even though there are sure to be some opportunities to play catch-up given the weather forecast for this fourth Guyader Bermudes 1000 Race Brest – Brest.

Anyone’s game 

“There will be a lot going on strategically," explained Morgan Lagravière, Thomas Ruyant’s co-skipper aboard FOR PEOPLE, which showed off the fabulous potential of the Koch – Finot Conq design launched on 16 March during Friday’s speed runs contested in the harbour. “For now, we don’t really have much reason to doubt the boat’s potential. However, it’s very difficult to have any degree of certainty about what’s going to happen in this race. We know that it won’t be a straight-line course and that conditions will be fairly shifty throughout, so there’s bound to be plenty of surprises!” commented the sailor, whose main objective is to get a feel for the new boat. “We really enjoyed the speed runs and they gave us our first indication of how she performs, but this is where things start to get serious!” assured  Morgan Lagravière. 

© Jean-Louis Carli

Louis Duc (Five Group – Lantana Environnement): “Our bags are packed and we’re going boating so it’s all good! We did a major refit over the winter and this is the first race of the season. We haven’t done a lot of sailing so far, because we’ve been focusing on the technology. We’re keen to discover a little bit about how she operates, hoist our sails, knock the rough edges off the daggerboards and see what happens with our playmates. We have fairly gentle conditions for the start, a bit too gentle even, but the breeze will gradually pick up. The course will get us to link onto a lot of different things, which is pretty good. We’re still a daggerboard boat though. The developments we’ve made won’t suddenly give us an extra ten knots, but they will enable us to claw back a few half knots in roughly every area. We can’t wait to see if it pays dividends. Sometimes we make a big blunder, which prevents us from getting everything running smoothly. I hope we’ll avoid errors like that or discover new ones that we can then erase. The aim for all the boats is to start over with what we’ve done before in a bid to continue making more and more improvements. The main objective is to have a fantastic machine at the start of the Vendée Globe and we mustn’t forget that.”

Arnaud Boissières (La Mie Câline): “We’re ready to go! We have good conditions, a great course and we’re going to give our all! It’s down to us now to exploit the boat’s true potential. We need to be really focused. There isn’t a lot of wind, there’s a little mist… it’s going to be tricky. I think the fleet will bunch up together. I hope so, in any case. It’ll be strategic at the start and we’ll need to sail a smart race to get through that before hunting down the ‘Tout Commence en Finistère’ buoy. The boat is ready, we’ve had a fair amount of time sailing and now we’ll have to do battle on the water and jostle for the top spot. I hope we’ll sail a good race and that we make it to the finish!

Guirec Soudée (’m so happy. I’ve really been looking forward to this first race. What I love is to be at sea and in particular to be back on my fine boat. I’ll certainly be in great company with Corentin (Douguet). I know I’m going to learn a great deal. That’s what most appeals to me. We relaunched the boat just a short time ago. The idea is not to push her too hard, even though that’s something we say every time and end up really pushing her hard! Our project is still a small one though, with a fairly old boat. We’ve made it this far though and inevitably we’re going to go for it. The aim is to take on board a lot of fantastic advice  from Corentin because he has a vast amount of experience of offshore racing. He knows boats like the back of his hand and I’m really stoked to have him aboard.

Scott Shawyer (Canada Ocean Racing):It’s the big day! You’re ready to go, even though it feels like you haven’t had enough time to prepare before the start of a race that kicks off the first season. That’s especially true for us as it’s also our first race on the IMOCA circuit. We did a transatlantic passage to reach Brest and the initial sensations have been incredible. Our primary aim is to complete the race. We’re up against a significant amount of highly experienced skippers with very modern boats. We had a taste of that on Friday during the speed runs: some of them are 50% faster than ours. On the positive, we’ll be doing lots of upwind sailing in light wind and some current during this race. That will even things out a bit between the daggerboard boats and the foilers. If we finish in the middle of the pack of IMOCAs of a similar generation to our own, we’ll be very happy.” 

Sam Davies (Initiatives Cœur): “I can’t wait. The boat only came out of refit a short time ago. It’s great to see her in tip-top conditions again, ready to sail and be pushed hard. Though it’s her first race of the season, it’s the second for Damien and I after The Ocean Race. As a result, we’re already warmed up and it’s cool to be able to set sail with confidence, even though the fatigue has built up. I’m looking forward to battling it out with the others and to see just what we’re capable of doing. The course has changed due to the weather constraints. It’s going to be a comprehensive route. We’ll be able to test the boat in lots of different configurations. The fact that we’ll be setting sail in quite light conditions means we can gradually work the boat up before the wind picks up bit by bit. It’s going to be an interesting race,  as we have a great line-up with lots of fairly modern boats. It’ll be a really great way to see where we’re at.”

Sam Goodchild (FOR THE PLANET):“I’m looking forward to it. There are a great many unknowns and lots of things to discover: sailing against the other boats, being with Antoine (Koch)… I’m eager to see how things play out and I know we’re not going to get bored any time soon! There won’t be a lot of wind at the start, but it’ll pick up fairly quickly, with pretty much all the different conditions and strong breeze. It'll be particularly interesting to see where we’re at in relation to the rest of the fleet. At the finish we’ll be happy if we can work out how to do better the next time around or equally if we win (laughs)!”

Benjamin Ferré (Monnoyeur – Duo for a Job): “It’s cool that they’ve altered the course, because two days ago, we’d have had a 100-mile deficit at the Fastnet with the initial route. The game is a bit more open now. We’ll be able to vie with the good foiling boats at the start, which is great. Going forward, there will be more breeze, so we’ll have to try to hang onto them. I know that Pierre (Le Roy) really loves it when it’s a good ride so it’ll be just perfect. The main aim will be to finish the race. Just because we had a great season last year, there’s no reason to big yourself up. We’re still the young soldiers, the rookies… we still need to show a little humility. We need to sail a clean race and be proud of our wake and our manœuvres and the results will follow. It’s fantastic that it’s a double-handed race. It’s a journey of discovery for both of us on these boats. Even on the Mini circuit we never sailed together.”

Antoine Cornic (Human Immobilier):“I’m really eager to get out on the water sailing, which is why I’m setting sail with Jean-Charles (Luro). We’ve already done a transatlantic race together, we get on well at sea and it will be easy to tune our violins together. What’s great about this class is that everyone has been working over the winter and has tried to save weight to make the boats perform better. That means the teams are constantly striving for more, which creates extraordinary boats. Perhaps we’ll have one ourselves one day! Above all, we’re trying to keep pace. The emphasis during the race will be to try not to break her. We’ll be giving our all to stay in contact, but I believe some teams will be bent on revenge after the Route du Rhum – Destination Guadeloupe! Initially, the foilers will try to drop down so they can make faster headway. With our daggerboard boats, we’ll be on a more direct course, which means the fleet could well balance out.  However, the climb up to Ireland will favour the foilers, before we revert to a beat. However things play out, we’re delighted to be heading back out to sea!”

Jean-Marie Dauris (Maître CoQ V): “The primary mission is to validate all the work that’s been done during the winter refit and during our training sessions in Cascais. The aim is to continue to work the boat up. We’ll clearly get a chance to test everything as we’re set to have all the different angles and all the different wind strengths. We’re thrilled to be able to slug it out with the others and see where all our work takes us on the playing field. We’re going to try to enjoy ourselves and bring the boat back intact. There isn’t a lot of breeze at the start but we’ll try to stay in the match. We have a long way to go. We’re not gunning for a top spot, but we’re here to secure the best possible result whilst respecting the machine we’re continuing to get to grips with. It’s bound to be an intriguing race to follow and to experience!”

Source : Guyader Bermudes 1000 Race