Photos: Alexis Courcoux

Out into 35 knots

Figaro's Transat Bretagne-Martinique sets sail from Brest

Sunday March 17th 2013, Author: James Boyd, Location: France

With a magical light between the clouds and sun, a moderate wind of 12 to 15 knots and spectators watching from the ashore, the conditions for the start of the Figaro's Transat Bretagne-Martinique were exceptional.

At 1100 the fifteen Figaros left the dock, their skippers having said their final farewells to family and friends. The start gun was fired at 1300 by François Cuillandre, Mayor of Brest, Karine Roy-Camille, President of Martinique Tourist Board, and Pierre Karleskind, Vice-President of the Bretagne regional council and Didier Le Gac of the Finistère general council.

On the line, Fabien Delahaye on Skipper Macif 2012 was over early and was called back while Yoann Richomme and DLBC-Module Création, made the best start, closely followed by Fred Duthil on Sepalumic. The boats headed upwind to the Pennou Pell buoy where some hoisted kites, while others erred on caution and decided not to as they passed the harbour and the Castle.

The boats now have around 20 days of racing ahead of them, but first they must survive the Bay of Biscay where 35 knot winds, gusting to 50 are forecast.

Before leaving the skippers commented: 

Anthony Marchand (Bretagne – Crédit Mutuel Performance): "The start is always a special moment. There are spectator boats and buoys to watch out for and the 15 furious sailor, all trying to get to the top of the fleet. What will happen? It is rather complicated. Fairly steady wind are expected but it will make the first few hours of navigation stressful. In addition, there are two possible routes. So we have to make a choice quickly, almost as soon as we leave the Rade de Brest. Not easy!"

Fred Duthil (Sepalumic): "It will be necessary to push hard from the outset especially as there is a choice between heading west or going south to bypass the anticyclone and that is not so simple today. We'll have to make a decision quickly thought, as soon as tonight maybe. I think we'll be heading out into 35 knot gusts, so we will be directly into it and it will be time to find out if you can face it for the next ten days or not. The route is less complicated further on as we head down the eastern side of the high, not far from the Canary Islands."

Yann Eliès (Groupe Quéguiner – Leucémie Espoir): "I'm a little tense. It will be pretty tough, that's for sure. It is important to immediately get into the race and not delay. You need to get into a good rhythm because as soon as you go out through the bottleneck at the mouth to Brest harbour, you'll be into a large sea. There won't be any time to get our sea legs. The problem is that there is a fairly complex weather system. It will be quite stormy and we must be dynamic and opportunistic from the outset, consider this early part of the race like a leg of the Solitaire du Figaro Eric Bompard cashmere."

Kristin Songe-Moller (Sponsor Me): "Going into my first transatlantic race, the weather is complicated and hard and is not easy to understand. This week, it felt like I was running around in all directions, unable to do whatever I wanted to finish. I am preparing myself for a hard few days and I'm feeling a lot of stress because my goal is to really get to the finish. My boat is not as well prepared as the favourites and my sails are already worn, so I have to protect them for as long as possible. It would be catastrophic for me not to make it to Fort-de-France. I have put all my savings into taking part in this race. I cannot imagine giving up."

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