Stars line up for cat race

Clairefontaine Trophy sets sail tomorrow

Friday September 5th 2003, Author: Isabelle Musy, Location: France
Every year, the Clairefontaine Trophy gathers eight sailing champions from various disciplines in la Trinité-sur-Mer off the northwest coast of France. The eight skippers and their two crews compete on board one-design 25-foot catamarans, called Sailing One, specially designed for this regatta.

Ellen MacArthur, Ernesto Bertarelli, Loïck Peyron, Bertrand Pacé, Bernard Stamm, Michel Desjoyeaux, Laurent Bourgnon and Roland Jourdain will line up in the 14th edition that promises great and fierce racing.

This year, Yvan Griboval, the organiser, has chosen to honour Switzerland. Ernesto Bertarelli, the boss of the America¹s Cup winning team Alinghi and skipper of the Alinghi cataraman, is participating for the first time. Just like Bernard Stamm, winner of the round-the-world-race Around Alone. This 14th edition also sees the come back of Laurent Bourgnon, double winner of the single-handed transatlantic race Route du Rhum, who is competing with two other multihulls specialists, Stève and Yvan Ravussin.

But the task will be hard for the Swiss as they will face some most motivated French contenders. After its two years experience with team New Zealand, Bertrand Pacé is back in the French waters eager to perform well. Loïck Peyron, the defending champion, has participated 13 times to the Clairefontaine Trophy and therefore will be a real threat. As well as Michel Desjoyeaux, winner of the last Vendée Globe and the last Route du Rhum. 60-footer monohull skipper Roland Jourdain has also a good experience of multihulls.

British star Ellen MacArthur, who is participating for the third time, will be sailing with crew Nicolas Bérenger and Philippe Péché, both crewmember onboard Alain Gautier's 60-footer trimaran.

Altogether, with the skippers and their two crews, it's 24 champions who will fight onboard identical boats, They will alternatively sail in short 12 to 15 minutes runs and in 60 to 90 minutes raids. The runs are sailed just off la Trinité-sur-Mer¹s marina in order to let the public take part to the show. And according to the weather forecast - sun and good breeze - the show should be most spectacular.

Ellen MacArthur: "It's a great event. It's always good fun and pretty challenging too as these small catamarans are quite a handful. It's also a fantastic place to sail. So it should be good. In the runs, you get a lot of experience and make a lot of mistakes in a very short period of time. People who are sailing here are top level sailors. There's a real spread of real good sailors so it should be very interesting."

Ernesto Bertarelli: "It's always good to have new experiences. I must say that I'm used to bigger boats and have not raced much in small catas. The challenge for me won't be to take the helm as I'm used to helm 40-footer multihulls on the lake but to move quickly on the boat and do several things at a time as we're a small crew. I've chosen to sail with Pierre-Yves Jorand and Yves Detrey who have multihulls experience as together we won the Bol d'Or many times. I'm pleased to sail in short courses with competitive start
and rounding marks, which will be good training for match racing. If the weather remains like today, it will be superb."

Loïck Peyron: "I'm still enjoying this event a lot. Because it's both fun and serious. We all have the same boats and do not have to worry about technical problems, which is nice for a change. Besides, it's very. To perform well, one must be most reactive and reading the wind well. This regatta is also a chance to meet great sailors. This year, the cast is impressive. I think it's great to see somebody like Ernesto Bertarelli, It
shows how open minded he is."

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