Safran to make another Round Britain attempt
There is not going to be much rest for Marc Guillemot's Safran IMOCA 60 and her crew following on from the Guyader Grand Prix: the team on Thursday be attempting to keep their title in the ArMen Race. Four days later, they will be on stand-by to try to improve on their own record around Britain and Ireland.
Safran has a title to defend on Thursday 17 May as winner of the last Ingérop ArMen Race, a 300-mile crewed race, starting and finishing in La Trinité-sur-Mer. After passing the famous Ar-Men Lighthouse off the Pointe du Raz, the competitors will head back down to sail around Belle-Ile, going through the La Teignouse passage in Quiberon Bay, before heading south to round Ile de Yeu, before returning to La Trinité-sur-Mer and the finish. Last year, Safran won this race after a closely fought contest with Vincent Riou’s PRB. This year, the rivals will be Arnaud Boissières’s Akena Vérandas and Sam Davies’s Savéol.
In addition to the skipper, the crew of Safran for this race, will comprise Loïc Lingois, Alexandre Marmorat, César Dohy and Vincent Busnel. As for Pascal Bidégorry, he is going to be busy on Yann Guichard’s MOD 70, while Sébastien Audigane has been attempting to smash the North Atlantic monohull record with Giovanni Soldini. The goal in this ArMen Race will be of course to win, but above all to continue to prepare the boat and the crew for what lies ahead.
And then there is the Round Britain and Ireland record. ForPascal Bidégorry and Sébastien Audigane will be on board. The stand by is due to start on 21st May. The precise start will depend on when they find a favourable weather opportunity. Marc Guillemot really wants to make a big improvement on his own record set last year in 6 days, 9 hours, 48 minutes and 50 seconds and is even hoping to shave a whole day off their time.
Pascal Bidégorry says: “On board, I shall be taking care of the weather in particular and the navigation with Marc, as well as taking the helm. What is tricky is finding a good weather opportunity, where there will not be too many transition phases to deal with, in order not to leave too much to chance. It must not be too complicated. I know these waters a little and one of the particular difficulties is the problem with the oil rigs along the East coast, which force you to adapt your route. Apart from that, there are of course the weather conditions. It is colder in the Shetlands than in La Trinité and the fog can be quite thick. This is a coastal race, where you need as always to get lucky to achieve a good time."
Marc Guillemot added: “The stand-by period is due to run from 21-31 May. We are willing to extend that, if necessary. The idea behind records is that we are never sure that we will be able to set off. The ideal scenario would obviously be to see a stable low-pressure area centred over the British Isles, which would allow us to head off east and to go all the way around sailing downwind... but that is not going to be easy to find. The goal above all is to beat the record, but we would also like to improve it by a lot. We believe in theory that we can shave a day off in comparison to our time from 2011, or in any case take it down to under 6 days. The course allows us to go through a wide range of wind and sea conditions, which is bound to be interesting with the Vendée Globe coming up. And as the IMOCA programme isn’t very busy this year, it seems like a good opportunity to go for this record as part of our preparation. I’ll say it again, but the best way to prepare is to get out there sailing with a crew and solo. This time, if we manage to find a good weather opportunity, we’ll be out there by ourselves and not fighting a duel, as we did last year with PRB. That of course, does change things somewhat, but does not affect our goal of preparing for the Vendée Globe. With a crew, we can learn a lot of things that will be very useful, when we find ourselves alone on the boat."