Multihulls in Valencia
The race fleet for the first Route des Princes is now assembled in the Marina Real Juan Carlos I in Valencia where the first leg, to Lisbon, Portugal starts on Sunday.
The first of the Route des Princes fleet to arrive was Erwan Leroux’s FenêtréA-Cardinal which docked in Valencia back on 26 May, while Jean-Pierre Dick’s Virbac-Paprec 70, the newest MOD70 of the class, only arrived very first thing Tuesday morning.
The only boat to not have arrived is Rennes-Métropole Saint-Malo Agglomération skippered by Gilles Lamiré. The Multi50 suffered an alternator failure last weekend while early on the delivery trip to Valencia for the start of the Route des Princes. The boat has had to wait in Lorient until a new alternator arrives, probably on Wednesday morning. As a result they will not make it to Valencia on time for the start but instead will route direct to Lisbon where they should be in good shape for Leg 2 from Lisbon to Dun Laoghaire.
"We had to make a decision and I took it.” the skipper said, “It’s a disappointment but we did not want it all to end in tears. Our goal was not just to be at the start of the race, but to be in a position to do well, to be in the game.”
The skipper had made every possible effort to make a repair, driving back from Lorient to Saint Malo to find a part. However he has been forced to wait for the new alternator to arrive.
“It was brand new and so the team has been bench testing the engine this morning to see if we can find out what the problem has been. The good news is that tomorrow it all should be repaired."
Lamire's team will be credited with points equivalent to non starters in Leg 1, so 12 points which is not too much to ruin their dream of being on the overall podium when they arrive at the finish in Morlaix Bay on June.
For Groupe Edmond de Rothschild skipper Sébastien Josse last year’s lessons from a first season with the MOD70 has been invaluable. This crew line-up for the Route des Princes which is more multi-skilled, with more stronger helmsmen, including Volvo Ocean Race winner Charles Caudrelier as navigator.
He explains that, since re-launching the boat in April their early season training has been compact and focused: “We have not done so much sailing against the other boats. We sailed a little bit against Oman Sail for four days and we did three days with Spindrift and did the ArMen Race. So we have done much less training this year but then we know the boat much better with the group. After one season we are much more confident with the boat.
“After the European Tour we did not feel so good. It was a season which we did some good stuff and some bad. That, I suppose, is normal when you are just starting out in the class. We needed to have more consistent, regular results. But then, also, we did not break anything on the boat. That was a question before the start of the season and over the whole European Tour we did not know who would win overall until the last five minutes of the race. That makes interesting for the future of the fleet and we have a good feeling about it.”
When they review the first season objectively, Josse considers their relative inexperience in Multihulls, compared with some of their rivals, meant they were always playing catch up:
“In the end we look back and know we had a young crew which did not have enough experience in these type of boats. And we were against MichDes, Yann Guichard, Pascal Bidégorry and guys like that who have more than 10 years in multihulls. So we tried to sail as much as we could all working to grow up in the class very quickly. And so we had a good start to the season with a good Transat and a bad finish as the race was shorter and the crew was put together for more offshore sailing.
"The others had a lot of drivers with a lot of experience. So we have changed a bit for this season. Now we have Charles Caudrelier who is a helmsman too and Jean Christophe Mourniac who has done the Tornado and F18. So these are changes which are good choices I think, otherwise it is the same. We had a good group last year. Everyone was at a good level but we were forced to grow up quick, focused and motivated but we lacked time.”
Caudrelier is a talented all rounder, a helm as well as a navigator and a past Solitaire du Figaro winner: “Charles will do the navigation and is my co-skipper for the Transat Jacques Vabre," continues Josse. "I have known him for 15 years. He is a great sailor and we have a good feeling together and we have a small group in Port La Fôret who have been together for more than ten years and we have not yet had the chance to sail together on a race like this. I needed someone strong and smart. He has won the Transat Jacques Vabre, the Figaro and the Volvo with Groupama, so he is not just crew. He is a co-skipper and because of that I know he is motivated, he’s good fun and physically strong. And so he is more back up for me. Last year I maybe did not have so much back up on board. It was like an inshore crew with each having a specialisation and so when we had to rotate to different jobs it was a mess. So now we are more multiskilled and capable”.