Series class victory for Aymeric Belloir
While the first Protos arrived in the Mini Transat over the weekend with the come-from-behind victory for Benoit Marie, the first Series boat reached Pointe a Pitre, Guadeloupe yesterday. It came as no surprise that the Series winner is Aymeric Belloir on his Nacira one design, Tout le monde chante contre le cancer.
The 35 year old Merchant Navy captain, originally from La Baule (home for the Pajots and Peyrons) took the lead in the Series class on the first evening after the Mini Transat eventually started from Sada in northwest Spain. From there he was never overtaken. Saying this, it was initially close. Rounding the Puerto Calero mark four days after the start, Simon Koster on Go4It was just 2.7 miles astern of him.
Belloir got his first jump on the fleet shunning the wisdom to avoid the window shadow of the Canary Islands by sailing between the islands of La Palma and Tenerife, as Koster chose to leave the islands to port. However it proved beneficial to get south, as remarkable Swiss sailor Justine Mettraux proved when she joined Belloir on the southerly track, pulling up to second despite diverging from the great circle route to Guadeloupe. Koster gybed south to regain second place but four days after rounding the Puerto Calero mark had pulled out a lead of 78 miles.
Belloir stuck to his guns with the southerly route and this enabled him to stay up with the lead Protos and a week out from the Canaries he was still holding the fourth place overall in the race, with only the top three Protos ahead of him.
From here Belloir was never challenged. As the trade winds collapsed mid-Atlantic for the boats behind allowed Belloir to make further gains. 24 hours out from the finish Tout le monde chante contre le cancer held a 273 mile lead over second placed Justine Mettraux.
Belloir was slightly fortunate that a number of the other favourites in the Series class fell by the wayside: Damien Cloarec (Lomig) was forced to stay ashore for medical reasons, Ian Lipinski (Pas de Futur sans Numérique) triggered his beacon and Clement Bouyssou (no War) had to throw in the towel after a lot of breakages along the coast of Portugal. Another of his main rivals, Renaud Mary (www.runo.fr) had to pit stop in Lanzarote.
Aside from his merchant navy background, Belloir is certainly one of the most accomplished racers in the fleet, having previously competed in the Figaro class, including three Solitaires over 2007-9, his best result being 20th in 2008. However in the Mini he has excelled with the class' Championship de France last year following his victories in the Les Sables-Azores-Les Sables, the Select 6.50 and the year before in the Transsgascogne and Demi-Cle.
Belloir performance in this Mini Transat betters the achievement of Francisco Lobato who finished seventh in the overall ranking aboard his Series class boat (which remember has less sail area than the Protos, etc) in 2009.
On his arrival Belloir commented: "It was difficult to manage. I had to know how to rest when needed, but also when to put the brakes on when conditions became too harsh. The first night I just flopped down and I sailed goosewinged downwind. I certainly was not the fastest, but I was making very good progress ... "
Breakage: "Early on I broke my boom vang. I also bent a stanchion. But something good came out of something bad and I was able to retrieve a piece of the stanchion to make a splint on the vang. "
The race: "I already had a little buffer when we got to the Canary Islands, but I was still under threat from Justine and Simon. I made my choice of trajectory at that time and behind me things had to run their course. A few days after we passed Gran Canaria, I could see that the weather favored the leaders. I took the opportunity to run my own race, to pick my routing."
Tout le Monde chante contre le Cancer: "I'm really happy to be associated with all the volunteers who are involved in this fight. If I can help spread the word of their daily battle, I am very honoured."
How to become deaf! "The only concern was listening to the weather forecast on the SSB. There was so much noise that I had to listen on the headphones with the volume turned up. I ended up with tinnitus, it was horrible ... "