Lining up for the Route des Princes
The first running of the Route des Princes, a new race solely for racing multihulls, has attracted the best crews from the Multi50 and MOD70 classes along with Lionel Lemonchois' brand new Prince de Bretagne 80ft trimaran who will take on a challenging new course over three weeks of racing. The Route des Princes starts on 9 June from Valencia, Spain the 3,045 miles course ending up in Roscoff in northern France, via Lisbon, Dun Laoghaire and Plymouth.
The Multi50 class combines amateurs, well known skippers and highly skilled crews. However given that this race spans three weeks of competition, most of the teams are professional.
One of the most watched will be Lalou Roucayrol whose new Multi50 Arkema-Région Aquitaine is the latest Mlti50, only launched in March.
A regular on the podium of Multi50 races is Yves Le Blevec, winner of the tenth Transat Jacques Vabre aboard Actual, just weeks after losing her mast.
Erwan Leroux and his Fenêtré A-Cardinal is a serious contender, his boat being the highly potent former Crepes Wahou! 3, a boat which he knows well after supervising its development and build and with which he has already done well, especially in the 2012 Quebec St Malo race.
Another key competitor will be Gilles Lamire on Rennes Métropole - Saint-Malo Agglomération (ex-Prince de Bretagne), a skipper who has two Route du Rhum races in the ORMA 60 fleet under his belt.
Since it was launched in 2011 the MOD 70 race has attracted some of the France's top offshore sailors lining up in identical one designed trimarans.
Sébastien Josse, Yann Guichard, Sidney Gavignet and Jean-Pierre Dick will skipper the Route des Princes MOD70s which will follow the opposite course (ie clockwise v anti-clockwise) to the European Tour that the MOD70s sailed last year.
Newest boat is is Jean-Pierre Dick’s Virbac Paprec 70 which was only launched once Dick had completed this year's Vendee Globe. The round the world sailors will have similar of his one time IMOCA 60 skipper competitors sailing with him in Vincent Riou and Roland Jourdain.
Sidney Gavignet’s crew proved a talented, tough outfit when they raced last year on Musandam-Oman Sail. This season Gavignet has the new blood on board in the form of much capped Volvo Ocean Race sailors Neal McDonald and Damian Foxall as well as singlehanded round the world sailor Dee Caffari.
Other notables include Erwan Tabarly and Pascal Bidégorry alongside Guichard aboard Spindrift Racing, while Charles Caudrelier, Antoine Koch, Thomas Rouxel and Sébastien Col will be with Sebastien Josse on Groupe Edmond de Rothschild.
The biggest boat in the fleet will be Lionel Lemonchois's new Multi 80, Prince de Bretagne. The objective for Lemonchois, the double Route du Rhum winner, is to fly the flag for all of the values which the Prince de Bretagne brand represents, such as excellence of taste, collective strength and loyalty of its constituent members while also publicising the region of Brittany itself.
These are just some of the reasons that Lemonchois and his team will race the course. The aim for the future is also to attract more of the 'Ultimate' multis to compete in 2015. The Multi 80, developed from the former Sodebo ORMA 60, will be in ‘record mode’, building miles on the Route des Princes as a prelude to a series of records which Lemonchois will take on in the future.
Jean-François Jacob, Secretary General of St Pol Sica, one of the leaders of Prince de Bretagne "The basic idea is to combine the maritime world and the local recgions... After discussion with various European countries, the decision was taken to create this event. We want to foster friendly and sportsmanship, to develop the regions connected to the sea. On this first edition we will want to do more, our desire is to build the Route des Princes to become an internationally renowned European festival. The ambition is to make it a top ten European events. "
Yves le Blevec, skipper of the Multi 50 Actual commented: "It's a real race, a course that really excites me. I'm really happy to participate. This alternation of inshore and offshore stages will resemble the likes of the Solitaire du Figaro. The boats will sail in sight of each other intensity from beginning to end, it'll be great. We will invite Luc Alphand on two stages, and perhaps some skippers from the Mini Transat. "
Erwan Leroux skipper of Cardinal FenêtréA: "The goal is to sail hard, spending hours on the water, and just racing will allow us to take on the best in our class to get a better understanding of the boat. This course provides a true competitive test in the multi class 50, this year the circuit is very interesting ... "
Yann Guichard skipper of Spindrift Racing said: "It's great that there is a new race which has been organised. This year there will be four boats, it will be a great tour of Europe, the city stage races are great the course is very interesting. From Mediterranean north, usually it is the other way! We have various conditions, little wind in the Mediterranean and Gibraltar is an interesting passage, as is the tour of Ireland. Inshore and offshore MOD 70, this is the perfect program ... Here, the game is very open it will be close.
Lionel Lemonchois, skipper of the Maxi 80 Prince de Bretagne said: "Yes, I'm the standard bearer. I am fortunate to have a partner that has given me a beautiful boat and organizes a nice race. The Route des Princes is a big thing in terms of my goals. Even if we sailed the boat since the beginning of the year this will be a great chance for discovery and development towards the Route du Rhum. It will be five, it was the largest ship but it will be the least likely to edge! ".