60ft tri circuit kicks off
The 60ft trimaran racing season kicks off this Friday with the Grand Prix du Pays de Lorient in Brittany. The event will blow the cobwebs away for the multihull sailors prior to the first offshore race of the season - the Courses des Phares starting on 19 May from Calais.
The Lorient Grand Prix is the first event in the 9 TELECOM Championship, this year culminating in the Route du Rhum and will see three brand new 60ft trimarans taking part.
These include Alain Gautier's new Foncia 2 with Ellen MacArthur among the crew, Fred Le Peutrec's new Bayer CropScience and Philippe Monnet's Sopra Group.
The new Foncia 2 was featured on madforsailing last week and has now undergone her first sea trials. "We're remaining focused, because it's not very long before the Grand Prix but we're very happy with the result," commented Gautier. "So far, the boat is living up to our expectations perfectly. She looks great, the ergonomics are superb and she feels very different and much pleasanter at the helm than Foncia 1".
The new Bayer, along with Sopra Group is one of the latest generation Nigel Irens designs, and comes from the same moulds as Karine Fauconnier's Sergio Tacchini. However she has some modifications such as raised crossed beam and more sail area. Skipper Fred le Peutrec has represented France in the Tornado and was one of the main drivers on Club Med for The Race. Bayer was recently launched by film star Charlotte Rampling (see photos on page 3).
Philippe Monnet's first foray into multihull grand prix racing for many years will be interesting. Monnet is better known for his long distance solo passages. Back in the 1980s before the first Vendee Globe he has sailed around the world the right way singlehanded on a trimaran and is the current holder of the singlehanded non-stop lap the westabout way, a record he set on the Open 60 UUNet. He also holds the China-London sailing record, another passage he completed singlehanded. It will be interesting to see how Monnet fares in the highly charged and socialable world of the 60ft tris.
Continued on page 2...