Mark Lloyd / DPPI

Guillemot and Elies reunited

After their part in the Vendee Globe together, Safran has a new co-skipper for the Transat Jacques Vabre

Wednesday February 16th 2011, Author: James Boyd, Location: France

Setting out on 30 October from Le Havre, Marc Guillemot will be defending his title in the Transat Jacques Vabre this autumn aboard his IMOCA Safran with Yann Eliès as his co-skipper. A strong friendship developed between the two men after the former came to the help of the latter during the 2008-2009 Vendée Globe. But above all for both men, it is more a matter of setting up an efficient sporting partnership. Their goal? To do the double. Nothing less than that.

No one can forget that emotionally charged moment, when Eliès broke his leg in the Southern Ocean during the 2008-2009 Vendée Globe. Guillemot had to change course to offer assistance to his stricken colleague, who was seriously injured. Later they met up again in Les Sables d’Olonne, when Eliès went to welcome Guillemot home on the night he finished the race.

Charles Caudrelier Benac, Guillemot’s usual co-skipper aboard Safran, will be taking part in the Volvo Ocean Race as part of Franck Cammas’s Groupama team, so Guillemot was naturally attracted to the idea of sailing with Yann Eliès: “I need an efficient skipper, with whom I will enjoy sailing. Yann satisfies these criteria. Of course, our friendship has been very strong since everything happened in the Indian Ocean, but I have decided to set sail with Yann above all because he is very skilful.” Marc Guillemot added: “Yann is one of those skippers, who has achieved some excellent results, particularly in the Figaro circuit: a good performer, he is determined and intelligent… and looking beyond the race itself, he is someone, who enjoys being at sea. Sailing with people like him widens our horizons.”

The goal is clear: to confirm the status of the monohull Safran as one of the leaders in the IMOCA class; to carry on working to be at the top… and to do all they can to ensure they win the prestigious Transat Jacques Vabre twice in a row. “Roland Jourdain has acquired the habit of winning the Route du Rhum every four years… I’d now like to do the same every two years in the Transat Jacques Vabre,” says Guillemot.

French ocean racing champion in 2004 and 2006, winner of five legs and twice runner-up in the Solitaire du Figaro, Yann Eliès was also a helmsman on Orange and Orange 2, Bruno Peyron’s maxi-catamarans, which twice won the Jules Verne Trophy. He was also considered to be one of the leading lights in the IMOCA 60 class before his accident. His return to the Figaro circuit in the past two years has confirmed his status as a great French racer. At the age of 37, the sailor from St. Brieuc is particularly keen on the idea of competing alongside Guillemot: “Just like Lionel Lemonchois and Jean Le Cam, Marc Guillemot is one of those rare skippers, who never seems to have had enough, and who prove each day their high standards, which leads you to want to push that bit harder. It will therefore be a great team racing together on Safran, one of the best performing boats in the class, especially after what happened to us on the other side of the world. But above all this is a sporting partnership and a huge challenge we are taking up.”

Some intensive training lies ahead for the duo over the next eight months. They will be taking part in the sessions at the French training centre in Port-la-Forêt of course, but in particular, they will be racing too in the Europa Race (which starts in Turkey on 3 July). They will also be carrying out a large part of the delivery trip from la Trinité-sur-Mer to Istanbul together “One thing we can be certain of is that we will have sailed a lot together on Safran before the start of the Transat Jacques Vabre,” explained Marc Guillemot. Remaining hard at work and continually proving themselves before claiming their place as leader is a recurrent method in the Safran Group. It also applies to their top-class sailors.

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