One woman's ultimate challenge

Photos: Julien Girardot
Servane Escoffier on why she's entered the Route du Rhum in the Ultimate class
One of the big stories in this autumn’s Route du Rhum will be the ‘clash of the titans’ in the Ultimate class. At present eight boats are entered in this and aside from the hotshots such as Joyon, Coville and Cammas, a number of older boats will be bringing up the rear. One of these is being sailed by the only female in the class – Servane Escoffier. Escoffier, 29, will be sailing a boat only two years younger than her, the Gilles Ollier designed and Multiplast built 22.5m long catamaran now known as Saint-Malo 2015. To don our anorak momentarily: The boat was originally built for double BOC Challenge winner and Vendee Globe creator Philippe Jeantot who campaigned it in the 1980s as Credit Agricole. It was then sold to Bruno Peyron who raced it under the name Ericsson and then continued to own it for many years, using it as a test platform before he acquired Jet Services V (latterly Commodore Explorer, the first boat to claim the Jules Verne Trophy) and his subsequent non-stop around the world round the world record breakers Orange 1 and Orange 2. Servane comes from what is turning into one of France’s great ocean racing dynasties – her father Bob has competed in several Route du Rhums and Transat Jacques Vabres, including the 1998 solo race aboard a catamaran. Her uncle Franck-Yves Escoffier has for more than a decade been competing in the top 50ft multihulls, or Multi50s as they are now known, and is one of the favourites for line honours in this autumn’s Route du Rhum aboard his lateest Crepes Whaou! Nephew Kevin is part of Pascal Bidegorry’s Banque Populaire crew. Personnally Servane has had a diverse sailing background. In the past she has also been part of Claire LeRoy’s top ranked match