Yves le Blevec's Verdier-designed Actual
Yves le Blevec's Verdier-designed Actual

50ft multis to race to Russia

Ambitious new event from the Vendee to St Petersburg to run this summer

Wednesday March 31st 2010, Author: James Boyd, Location: France

A new race reserved for Multi 50s has been created: the Vendée Saint-Petersburg. The first edition of the race is due to start from Saint Gilles Croix-de-Vie on 16 May with a total distance there and back of 3790 miles. Eight crews will be lining up at the start, including two of the latest racing machines in the class: Actual and Crêpes Whaou! (Read more about the Multi50s here)

While most races see the competitors heading off to the west to cross the Atlantic, Vendée has come up with something new offering a brand new route to the Multi 50s with the Atlantic, the English Channel, the North Sea and the Baltic ahead of them. In all, the race will cover the territorial waters of 14 countries before they finish in St Petersburg in Russia on around 20 May.

The best boats like Franck-Yves Escoffier’s new Crêpes Whaou! and Yves le Blevec’s Actual could complete the first stage of the race in less than five days at an average speed of 16 knots. The race will be holding a stopover of around ten days in Russia, before the start of the return leg on 31 May 2010, with the finish due in the port of Saint-Gilles Croix de Vie on around 4 June 2010.

Sunday 30 May is a date to remember: It marks the anniversary of the founding of St Petersburg by Tsar Peter 1st, and the Multi 50s will carry out a parade on the Neva, under the windows of the famous Hermitage museum.

A crew of three

The other original feature of this race between Vendée and St Petersburg is that it will be raced with a crew of three and the members of the crew can switch over between the two legs. Mathias Lallemand has been appointed as Race Director, after serving as Assistant Director for the last two editions of the Vendée Globe and the Solitaire du Figaro. He will be able to count on the expertise of Alain Gautier, who will be the safety consultant for the event. It should be noted that the official race website will be updated in French and English, but also in Russian.

8 boats registered

For the moment, eight Multi 50 crews have already signed up for this very first edition of the Vendée-St Petersburg. Alongside Yves Le Blevec (Actual) and Franck-Yves Escoffier (Crêpes Whaou!), there will be Hervé Cléris (CLM), Erwan Leroux (Fenêtréa-Cardinal), Anne Caseneuve (Croisières Anne Caseneuve), Etienne Hochédé (PIR2), Philippe Laperche (Gamin) and Lalou Roucayrol (Région Aquitaine-Port Médoc).

For the locals in Vendée

This race is due to take place every four years alternating with the Vendée Globe, is another initiative of the Vendée Council, which – as with the Vendée Globe – has created a public-private partnership for the event. Around fifteen famous firms based in Vendée are joining with the Vendée Council and have invested in this partnership taking up 17% of the share capital. According to its founders, the Vendée-St Petersburg race fulfils three requirements: “Creating a sporting event, widening the reputation of Vendée as a tourist destination and encouraging economic development.” Around forty business leaders from Vendée will be taking part in a business mission to Russia, and an organisation will be receiving the Russian visitors at the foot of the Peter and Paul Fortress.

Philippe de Villiers, President of the Vendée Council: “Just as with the Vendée Globe, this is a race for the general public. It is aimed at the public, sailors and their teams, and is for all those, who love the oceans. I’m increasingly convinced that this is the start of a big adventure. If the Multi50 class has a bright future, this race too will also have a great future.”

Franck Yves Escoffier, President of the Multi50 class: “This is going to be a very technical and tactical race. It is an extremely interesting route, as it takes the fleet northwards. The skipper and his crew of two will have to be very vigilant in these waters, with their strong currents, and with boats, fishermen and cargo vessels everywhere. But we can look forward to having a great time.”

Philippe Laperche, skipper: “If I had to choose between a transatlantic race and the Vendée-St Petersburg, I would have chosen the Vendée Saint-Petersburg without the slightest hesitation!”

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