Clairefontaine Trophy goes to Nicolas Charbonnier
Nicolas Charbonnier and his crew members, Tanguy Cariou and Christophe Espagnon, have won the 22nd Trophée Clairefontaine, champion of champions at La Grande Motte, ahead of François Gabart, Pascal Bidégorry, and Michel Desjoyeaux.
As always in this unique competition, the difference was made in the very last metres of the regatta's ninth and final race. Charbonnier's team finished ahead of François Gabart, who was taking part in the competition for the first time, with Pascal Bidégorry taking third place just one boat length ahead of Michel Desjoyeaux at the finishing line of the final race.
Charbonnier won by garnering points during the first of the two days of the event, including winning the first raid which started the competition on Saturday. He then demonstrated all his skill and strategy, taking four second places, not seeking to make any spectacular feats, but successfully avoiding penalties.
François Gabart was taking part in the Trophée Clairefontaine for the first time, but the young IMOCA 60 skipper from the Pol Atlantique in Port La Forêt nonetheless impressed the public and professionals alike with his talent. With two wins, Gabart was the most significant threat to Nicolas Charbonnier right up to the finishing line in the last heat.
Pascal Bidégorry seems to have bad Saturdays and good Sundays in the Trophée Clairefontaine, with one race win. Once again, at the very last minute he took third place on the podium. Despite having an equal number of points with Pascal Bidégorry, Michel Desjoyeaux finished the last heat just behind him and so took fourth place.
Saturday was also doomsday for Dutch skipper Carolijn Brouwer but she dazzled on Sunday with three wins in four races. As is often the case, and once again this year, the foreign newcomers to the Trophée Clairefontaine constantly improved from race to race, finishing in style on the Sunday afternoon to remind their French colleagues of their superb talent.
Armel Le Cléac'h won a race on Saturday and fought for all he was worth to make the podium, but the last two regattas were fatal (taking 6th and 8th places respectively), and he had to be content with sixth place. Roland Jourdain and Jean-Pierre Dick had alternately good and bad spells, and closed the overall standings in that order.
Overall standings (nine heats):
1- Nicolas Charbonnier, 58 pts (1,7,3,2,2,4,2,2,6)
2- François Gabart, 55 pts (3,4,1,1,6,3,5,4,3)
3- Pascal Bidégorry, 48 pts (7,5,2,6,4,2,6,1,4)
4- Michel Desjoyeaux, 48 pts (2,1,5 , 5.3, 8,4,3,5)
5- Carolijn Brouwer (NL), 43 pts (8,6,4,8,7,1,1,8,1)
6- Armel Le Cléac'h, 38 pts (6,3,7,4,1,7,3,6,8)
7- Roland Jourdain, 35 pts (4,2,8,3, AB, 5,8,7,2)
8- Jean-Pierre Dick, 24 pts (5, AB, 6,7,5, 6,7,5,7).