Groupe Edmond de Rothschild first home in Tour de Belle Ile
With 502 boats on the start line, the great and the good of French sailing set off at 1010 local on the Tour de Belle Ile, France's answer the Island Sailing Club's Round the Island Race.
The start held in the Baie de Quiberon off La Trinite-sur-Mer was light with a gentle breeze from the northeast, with the big multihulls setting their gennakers. At the Chenal de la Teignouse, marking the exit of the Baie de Quiberon, the MOD70 trimarans were leading with Foncia ahead of Groupe Edmond de Rothschild, followed by Sensation Ocean (the former Foncia ORMA 60), the Multi50 Maître Jacques and the MOD70 Spindrift Racing.
While Foncia led for most of the way, in the end victory went to Seb Josse's team on the Groupe Edmond de Rothschild MOD70 crossing the line 1 minutes 40 seconds ahead of Foncia with the Yann Guichard-steered Spindrift Racing another 1 minute 10 seconds back.
On board with Seb Josse were Antoine Koch (navigator), Christophe Espagnon (tactician), David Boileau (Pitman), Olivier Douillard (trimmer), Cyril Dardashti (grinder), Thomas Rouxel (midbow) and Florent Chastel (bowman).
Josse commented: “It’s always impressive to start a race with so many boats on the line and with some very different craft, each with their own speed potential. In fact we narrowly avoided colliding with a small multihull...We got off to an average start, but the crew was fairly at ease in terms of the speed. After that we managed to exploit the transition zones behind Belle-Île in our favour and gradually made up ground on Foncia.
"To the south of the island, as far as Teignouse, we were involved in some real match racing which called for a lot of manœuvres. We were within two to three boat lengths of one another [Foncia], but at the entrance to the channel, we were able to shake them off. They didn’t follow us as we tack while Spindrift, benefiting from our battle to cover each other, was coming up fast. At that point, we could sail our own race. The result was essentially decided 40 minutes from the finish, in the final few miles.
Josse continued: "I rediscovered the automatic reflexes from my Figaro racing days. On paper, the boats have the same performance potential and the slightest mistake costs very dearly. In fact the one who does least, wins."
The Tour de Belle-Île represented the first time the MOD70s have lined up in anger this season prior to the official Multi One Championship which kicks off with the Krys Ocean Race from New York to Brest. “We were keen to do well and thus prove the work we’ve done as a team throughout the winter," continued Josse. "It was a good introduction, even though we still have a way to go to develop our power and be race ready for the New York start on 7 July 2012.”
Unfortunately this year, the Gitana MOD70 wasn't able to beat their record of 2 hours 42 minutes set on Groupe Edmond de Rothschild team's lengthened ORMA 60 Gitana 11 in last year's race. “We took nearly five hours to complete the course (4 hours 48 minutes exactly), but that’s no surprise. We knew that the conditions wouldn’t enable us to improve on our previous time. However, that record time remains with the Gitana Team and that’s the main thing!” concluded Sébastien Josse.
Despite having the biggest boat on the start line, solo round the world legend Francis Joyon came home fifth overall aboard IDEC. "It went well, we sailed well, and made some beautiful manoeuvres," said Joyon. "I had a crew of friends. It was expected that we would finished behind the MOD70s, as they are better suited for short courses than IDEC. But we are happy to finish ahead of the Multi50s which have a power to weight ratio better suited for this type of weather. But the start with 500 boats under spinnaker - that was sacred!"
The Multi50 trimaran race was won by the Loïc Féquet-helmed Maître Jacques (formerly Crêpes Whaou! 2), 1 minute 40 seconds ahead of Erwan le Roux's FenêtréA-Cardinal (the former Crêpes Whaou! 2) and 2 minutes 25 ahead of Yves le Blevec's Actual.
Le Blevec commented: "The Tour de Belle-Ile was super nice, with a nice start and a great fight between us Maître Jacques and FenêtréA-Cardinal. Like the MOD70 Foncia, Maître Jacques went into the coast at Quiberon after the start and we did not think we should go that far in there, but it proved the right thing to do. So they were really ahead at Teignouse, but we caught them and we ended up with a good race, the three Multi50s close together, finishing a little over two minutes apart - great for the class."
First monohull home was the TP52 Paprec Recyclage, skippered by Stephane Neve, finishing ahead of the Arnaud Boissieres' IMOCA 60 Akena Verandas.
Finish times - first 25 home
1. Gitana 15-Groupe Edmond de Rothschild (Sébastien Josse), 4H48’10″
2. Foncia (Michel Desjoyeaux), 4h49’50″
3. Spindrift Racing (Yann Guichard), 4h51’00″
4. Sensation Océan (Alain Gautier) 4h52’25″
5. Idec (Francis Joyon), 5h07’40″
6. Maître Jacques (Loïc Féquet), 5h37’35″
7. FenêtréA-Cardinal (Erwan Le Roux), 5h39’15″
8. Actual (Yves Le Blévec), 5h40’00″
9. MyWay (Pierre-Marie Lemer), 6h06’10″
10. Paprec Recyclage (Stéphane Névé), 6h27’24″ (premier monocoque)
11. Akena Vérandas (Arnaud Boissières), 6h36’45″
12. Vers un monde sans sida (Erik Nigon), 6h49’40″
13. NIM (Pierre Van den Broeke), 7h01’50″
14. Cartouche (Nicolas Groleau), 7h05’00″
15. FRA 06, 7h10’25″
16. Tribull (Pascal Simon), 7h14’20″
17. www.seacart26.com (Patrice Vivient), 7h15’20″ (premier du petit tour)
18. Biscotto – Le Bar Tab’, 7h21′
19. JP 54 (Jean-Pierre Dick), 7h21’55″
20. Nootka (Gilles Buekenhout), 7h26’40″
21. A Capella (Charlie Capelle), 7h31’20″
22. Solano (Frédéric Rialland), 7h43’40″
23. LUD’EAU (Christophe Boucault), 7h46’15″
24. Rafale (Richard Lorber), 7h’48’35″