First blood for Sill
Ellen MacArthur and Kingfisher who were to have taken part have withdrawn in order to concentrate on the Regate de Rubicon offshore race which starts on 11 May, so British representation was left to Mike Golding's Ecover. This proved to be a bit of a rush as Ecover was held up leaving the UK to get to Lorient by the severe conditions.
"We arrive boarded crew and started precisely 10 minutes later!" Golding told madforsailing. "But we got into the start routine pretty quickly. It was a bit frantic. We were only late because the terrible weather we had earlier in the week. We left at the earliest opportunity about two or three hours after it had been blowing 68 knots in the marina!"
The Trophee des Monocoque de Larmor-Plage is being held from Lorient which is becoming a new centre for the Open monohull and trimaran classes and many of the top boats are based either at the Larmor-Plage marina or at some pontoons by the impressive WW2 submarine silos nearby.
After the strong winds earlier in the week Golding was lucky that racing was delayed because of light winds. Eventually yesterday afternoon at 2.20pm local time the race committee sent the boats out on a course around Ile de Groix, a course of around 30 miles in 6-7 knot winds.
Golding has a crack team of 10 on board including designer Pascal Conq, French Tour Voile star Jimmy Pahun and America's Cup veteran Guy Barron who has been conscripted to help transform Golding's Open 60 from a boat set up for singlehanding round the world to one which will work on short round the cans courses (no mean feat this).
"We got a good start - we were the first away and showing really good pace upwind," commented Golding on how he'd got on. "We made some good calls on the upwind section. Then we went round the island. We went to a Code 5 and then peeled to a spinnaer, which takes some doing on an Open 60. But we did manage it all." The new masthead spinnaker which Mike describes as "a bit of a weapon" has been added to Ecover's sail wardrobe primarily for the Regate du Rubicon which will take the Open 60s down to the Canaries and then back and into the Med, before finishing in Italy.
Although the racing was generally in light conditions Golding said that as they were rounding the island a big black cloud had set upon them while they were under the new sail. Unfortunately as the sail loaded up in the gusts the jammer stripped the outer sleeve of the spinnaker halyard, preventing them from taking it down...rather than fire a Berry pistol through the centre of their new sail, the crew managed to unjam the jammer, but this cost them the lead and they just managed to regain fourth place ahead of Thierry Dubois' Open 60 Solidaires.
The race was won by Roland Jourdain's Sill Plein Fruit, sailed immaculately as ever with Jourdain's troup of former Figaro solos, with Bernard Stamm's Bobst Group Armor Lux coming second despite a problematic spinnaker hoist around the back of the island.
2nd Bobst Group Armor Lux