Jean-Marie Liot / SailingOne

Nicolas Charbonnier defends his title

After resounding first day at the Clairefontaine Trophy champion of champions event

Thursday October 18th 2012, Author: Benedicte Etienne, Location: France

Nicolas Charbonnier and his crew, Stéphane Christidis and Gilles André, won the 23rd Trophée Clairefontaine.

The French champion of champions event, held at La Grande Motte saw nine races held on in light winds, the breeze never stronger than force 3.

Fred Le Peutrec, four-time winner alongside Loïck Peyron, took second place as helmsman ahead of Sète's own Bertrand Pacé, who finished third just one point behind. Both of them won two of the four heats on Sunday, while Charbonnier won the first five runs sailed on Saturday.

"After winning five of the runs on Saturday, the goal for the last four heats on Sunday was to avoid any penalties," explained Charbonnier, who finished third, sixth, fourth and seventh at the end of the  sports show. His raw talent on the first day and professional skill on the second made all the difference: he stood head and shoulders above the competition.

"Nicolas stopped us dead on Saturday, winning 100% of the 50 points available," admitted Le Peutrec. "Psychologically, it's always a bit tough starting the day knowing your best result can only be second place. But it was a fight to finish. Anything could have happened in the last four races." The seventh crew could have finished second and vice versa. By winning twice, and finishing fourth and second, Le Peutrec saved the single point enabling him to fend off Bertrand Pacé's comeback.

"We had a great day today," grinned Pacé on returning to port after the last race. "We sailed well and we had a lot of fun." After a somewhat morose Saturday and an injury (four stitches to the middle finger of his right hand), the local sailor from the Languedoc-Roussillon region in the Trophée Clairefontaine had an inspired Sunday, taking second, first, second and first place once again. Pacé finished hot on Le Peutrec's heels, opening up a huge gap of 13 points over Vendee Globe skipper François Gabart, who finished fourth.

Fellow Vendee Globe skipper Jérémie Beyou was often in the top three, but a few slip-ups kept him from any chance of making the podium. He finished fifth. The same went for Daniel Souben. Ultimately finishing sixth overall, he was often at the forefront of the fleet, but never managed to be first at the finish line.

From Switzerland, recently crowned 2012 winner of the D35's Vulcain Trophy, Jérôme Clerc had a lot of fun, but lack of familiarity with the boats caused him to come hom seventh, while for French Olympic match racerClaire Leroy, she showed some great tricks and tacks, but was unable to finish consistently high enough in each, also hampered by a hamstring injury after she capsized during practice on Friday morning.

Final overall results:

1 - Nicolas Charbonnier, 66 pts (1,1,1,1,1,3,6,4,7)
2 - Fred Le Peutrec, 56 pts (8,2,4,6,3,1,4,1,2)
3 - Bertrand Pacé, 55 pts (4,4, DNS, 8,2,2,1,2,1)
4 - François Gabart, 42 pts (3,7,3,2,6,4,7,3,5)
5 - Jérémie Beyou, 37 pts (7,6,2,7,4,8,3,5,3)
6 - Daniel Souben, 36 pts (2,5,7,3,5,6,8,6,4)
7 - Jérôme Clerc (SUI) 30 pts (6,3,5,5,7,5,5,7,8)
8 - Claire Leroy, 28 pts (5,8,6,4,8,7,2,8,6).



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