Big gear at the Happy Baie
Those of us who fondly remember the annual Trophee des Multicoques in La Trinite-sur-Mer back in the 1980s will be interested in a vaguely similar event that took place on the Golfe du Morbihan this weekend.
The appallingly named Happy Baie started on Friday and featured a fantastic line-up of boats. Previewing this autumn’s Route du Rhum were five ‘Ultime’ boats – the three Irens-Cabaret sisterships Francis Joyon’s IDEC, Thomas Coville’s Sodebo (both based in La Trinite) and Sidney Gavignet’s Oman Air, on which Gavignet recently demolished the outright fully crew Round Britain record – singlehanded. In addition there were two of Baron Benjamin de Rothschild’s Gitana fleet – Yann Guichard’s elongated ORMA 60 Gitana 11 and the former Innovations Explorer/Orange/Kingfisher maxi-cat Gitana 13.
The IMOCA Open 60 was represented by just two boats – Marc Thiercelin/Christopher Pratt’s Finot-Conq designed Generali/Hugo Boss sistership DCNS and Marc Guillemot’s Safran (another La Trinite resident).
14 Class 40s took part, again many flexing their muscles prior to November’s solo dash to Guadeloupe. These included class regulars such as its President, Jacques Fournier on his new Groupe Picoty, first of the new Finot-Conq designed Pogo S², Christophe Coatnoun, Yvan Noblet on Appart City and Damien Grimont on Monbana and the sole British entry, Andrew Dawson on Spliff.
New faces included Nicolas Troussel, the double Solitaire du Figaro winner, also sailing a new Pogo S² in the colours of his Figaro sponsor, Credit Crédit Mutuel de Bretagne. He’s thedailysail favourite for the Route du Rhum Class 40 win. Well known as the designer and skipper of some of the top Minis, Sam Manuard was sailing Vecteur Plus, a boat he has co-designed with Bert Mauri. Also from the Mini class is New Zealander Conrad Colman who has chartered Peter Harding’s 40 Degrees.
Despite some serious hardware out on the water, Happy Baie was as much a festival as a regatta with entertainment ashore and dinghy racing in the harbour.
On the water Nicolas Troussel won the Class 40s. " We competed because we are new to the series and that was a good way to gauge us," said Troussel who heralds from Morlaix. "I also loved the mix of boats, the maxi-multihulls, via the IMOCA 60s, Class 40s and the Minis. It was a really nice celebration of sailing. Roll on the next Happy Baie!"
Former multihull skipper Jean Maurel, who was at the helm of Gitana 13 commented: "I was very happy to take two children who took part in yesterday's Junior Trophy race. They were amazed and asked lots of questions. And what about the atmosphere ashore! I loved the festival and the famous contest of flying men who made us all laugh a lot.