Brit duo for the Transat AG2R

Sam Matson and Robin Elsey join forces for next month's doublehanded race

Wednesday March 9th 2016, Author: James Boyd, Location: none selected

With just under a month to the start of the race on April 3rd, British co-skippers Sam Matson and Robin Elsey are confirmed as the first UK Transat AG2R La Mondiale entry for 2016.

The 15th doublehanded duo to sign up for the 3,890 mile race from Concarneau to Saint Barts, Matson and Elsey of the Artemis Offshore Academy join a formidable line-up of Classe Figaro Bénéteau II competitors combining forces for the Transat AG2R.

“The competition for this race is fierce," Elsey reported. “Sébastien Simon and Xavier Macaire (Bretagne – CMB Performance), Gildas Morvan and Alexis Loison (Cercle Vert), Thierry Chabagny and Erwan Taberly (Gedimat), Nicolas Lunven and Gildas Mahé (Generali), Charlie Dalin and Yoann Richomme (Skipper Macif)… the list goes on.

All of these guys are really strong solo competitors and together they will be even better. Sam and I have the advantage of having raced double-handed together for a year before going solo, but it’s hard to say where we fit in the fleet. There is plenty of talent on the entry list.”

Both successful skippers in the annual Solitaire Bompard – Le Figaro, Matson and Elsey now look toward their first transatlantic adventure – from the rough waters of the French Atlantic to the fresh breeze and humid temperatures of the Caribbean.

“This race will be the furthest I’ve sailed on a Figaro and the conditions on the course will be very changeable,”Chatham sponsored skipper Matson explained. “From Concarneau we sail across the Bay of Biscay and around Cape Finisterre. This part of the course will likely be windy and wet until we’re around the peninsula.

From there, we race to a virtual mark in the Canaries. It’s hard to predict what we will face on this section of the course, we’re pretty much sailing into the unknown,” he continued.

“From the Canaries we start into the tropics. We’re hoping for a nice downwind surf on the trade winds to Saint Barts, but Paul Meilhat, who won the last race in 2014, said not take anything for granted with this race. We could end up sailing upwind all the way across the Atlantic…"

Adding to challenges of the course comes having to live together aboard a 33ft keelboat. For some of the solo and highly competitive sailors in the line-up, the compact living arrangements may have its issues. It is the ultimate test of team-work and endurance.

Thankfully co-skippers Matson and Elsey are well used to one another’s company on land and on the water.

“I started sailing fully crewed with Sam in 2011,” said Elsey. “Later we raced Figaro 21 in the Royal Ocean Racing Club series as part Artemis Offshore Academy’s double-handed programme, before both progressing to the solo squad.

We both have a focused and relaxed approach to racing and have been friends for a long time. I think this will make for a great partnership."

A biennial race, the double-handed Transat AG2R La Mondiale is a great test of skill and team work for Figaro veterans and Rookies alike, with past winners including Paul Meilhat and Gwénolé Gahinet (2014), Armel Le Cléac’h and Fabien Delahaye (2010), Alain Gautier and Jimmy Pahun (1996), Jean Le Cam and Roland Jourdain (1994) and Jacques Caraës and Michel Desjoyeaux (1992) – all now well known names on the Classe Figaro Bénéteau and ocean racing circuits. See the full winners list below.

Matson and Elsey will be following in the footsteps of British teammates Sam Goodchild and Nick Cherry who finished the race in 12th place in 2012.

The 13th edition of the Transat AG2R La Mondiale starts on Sunday 3 April from Concarneau.

2016 Transat AG2R La Mondiale entries

Sébastien Simon & Xavier Macaire/Bretagne – CMB Performance
Gildas Morvan & Alexis Loison/Cercle Vert
Thierry Chabagny & Erwan Taberly/Gedimat
Nicolas Lunven & Gildas Mahé/Generali
Nicolas Thomas & Arthur Prat/Les Saintes
Arthur Bouwyn & Alienor Fleury/Guadeloupe
Yannig Livory & Erwan Livory/Lorientreprendre
Charlie Dalin & Yoann Richomme/Skipper Macif
Tolga Ekrem Pamir & Stéphanie Jadaud/Freedom Services À Domicile
Tanguy Le Turquais & Hervé Aubry/Cuisine Ixina
Adrian Hardy & Vincent Biarnes/AGIR Recouvrement
Richard Ledée & Christophe Lebas/One Laststone Fi Di Road
Milan Kolacek & Pierre Brasseur/NC
Keni Piperol & Benjamin Augereau/Marie Galante
Sam Matson & Robin Elsey/Artemis

Past winners Transat AG2R La Mondiale winners

1992 – Jacques Caraës & Michel Desjoyeaux
1994 – Roland Jourdain & Jean Le Cam
1996 – Alain Gautier & Jimmy Pahun
1998 – Bruno Jourdren & Marc Guessard
2000 – Karine Fauconnier & Lionel Lemonchois
2002 – Hervé Laurent & Rodolphe Jacq
2004 – Armel Le Cléac’h & Nicolas Troussel
2006 – Kito de Pavant & Pietro D’Ali
2008 – Jean-Paul Mouren & Laurent Pellecuer
2010 – Armel Le Cléac’h & Fabien Delahaye
2012 – Gildas Morvan & Charlie Dalin
2014 – Paul Meilhat & Gwenolé Gahinet

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