Armel Le Cheach by  Yvan Zedda  BPCE

Armel Le Cheach (Photo by Yvan Zedda BPCE)

The Maxi Banque Populaire VII Solo skippered by Armel Le Cléac’h , accompanied by five men crew, members of Team Banque Populaire (Ronan Lucas, Pierre-Yves Moreau, Florent Vilboux Yvan Joucla and Christopher Pratt), has just reached the bay of New York after 8 days of sailing. Despite the cold wind and fog days, the crossing went well and the weather was relatively good.

“The delivery went very well. We had very good conditions with lots of downwind the early days, it was interesting, it allowed us to test the sails – it was one of our goals – and do a lot of small adjustments on the boat . We found no major problem, the maxi is almost ready to attempt the record in the North Atlantic . The crew is happy, everyone is relaxed and everything went well! We arrived in New York in a thick fog, somewhat comparable to the UK in November (laughter)  ; this is not the arrival that I imagined, under a beautiful blue sky with skyscrapers in the background but we are happy to arrive anyway ” , reported Armel shortly before setting foot (for first time) on earth New York.
Present in New York, Team Banque Populaire, with its expertise, will enjoy the next few days for an update on the boat, a few small tweaks and set the switch to “solo record.”

From June 2, the Maxi Banque Populaire Solo VII begin his period of “stand-by” waiting period during which Armel and Marcel Van Triest router carefully observe the weather to identify the right time to embark on crossing the Atlantic. Record to beat: 5 days, 2 hours, 56 minutes and 10 seconds (held by Francis Joyon on his trimaran Idec).
The weather observation began working in close collaboration with the browser-router Marcel van Triest. Big unknown this year in the approach of this prodigious challenge, changes in the ice were still rife in number towards Newfoundland, which could greatly limit the options out.

Armel (Photo by Yann Zedda / BPCE)

Armel (Photo by Yann Zedda / BPCE)

Icebergs invite on the road record

For several weeks, and after the harsh winter which bathed the entire North American continent, the skipper of the Maxi Trimaran Banque Populaire VII Solo and router scrutinize carefully the evolution of pieces of ice that are slow to disintegrate in the North Atlantic, and wander off Newfoundland. “The baseline scenario depends on the ice situation” says Armel le Cléac’h. “Icebergs are very present on the track record. The direct route is not yet feasible. Remains the most southern option, followed last year by Francis Joyon, and that we could try our turn depending on the evolution of depressions. If the waiting period should be extended, with the arrival of summer, the ice should be evacuated from the direct route, and offer us another opportunity to jump us on the shortest path to the Lizard . The idea is as usual on this record, fetch good depression off Newfoundland that will accompany us to England. Navigate one edge along the road, a feat achieved by Banque Populaire V is the optimum desired condition, guaranteeing the most efficient route possible. We must stay ahead of the depression, in strong wind, 25 to 30 knots, mostly oriented around the boat, and above all, a less rough seas possible, because it is the size and frequency of the waves that affect the high speed trimaran such extremes. ” Armel Le Cléach has thus given an observation window and search for the optimum conditions five days to trigger the start. “We will from this weekend very precise study with Marcel van Triest on the situation Atlantic next week. Our forecasts are accurate for a period of about a week. If something is emerging, we work every day to ensure that all positive elements come together over a period of five days. Thus we worked at the record of the Route Discovery. It is a work exchange and sharing three with Marcel, but Ronan Lucas and myself. Ronan knows perfectly mechanics records, and responds quickly and efficiently to take advantage of any opportunity and prompt and final preparations for departure … “

Transat Jacques Vabre Le Havre  Jean-Marie Liot  DPPI TJV13

Strong wind in the Transat Jacques Vabre village in the Vatine Marina in Le Havre (North France) on October 28, 2013 – Photo Jean-Marie Liot / DPPI/TJV13

Young British duo Sam Goodchild and Ned Collier Wakefield are expected in Le Havre this Tuesday after a tough battle to have their new, recently launched Jason Ker designed Class 40 fully optimised in time for the start of the race. They may have been pressed for time, but have left absolutely nothing to chance. After being cruelly forced to retire from the last Transat Jacques Vabre just after they had taken the Class 40 lead, overhauling, and battling through the last big storm of the race, they discovered some delamination in the front sections of their boat and had to abandon and head to the Azores. But they report that they are in good shape, ready to make the short hop from Hamble to Le Havre.

“We are waiting for the wind to die to get going, we still have 40kts but it is dropping fairly quickly and we should get going fairly soon. We have been watching the weather very closely”, Co-skipper Ned Collier Wakefield reported this morning.

To make sure nothing untoward happened on their final night in their home marina at Hamble Yacht Services before leaving for Le Havre, Collier-Wakefield decided to sleep on their boat through the storm force winds.

“I got a little sleep. I was more worried something would come crashing into us during the night. Actually I probably got better sleep than I would at sea! Otherwise we are getting there and will be ready to go shortly.”

“Race Direction have been very understanding. To be honest we just ran out of time. We had to get new spreaders made in Cape Town at the last minute. There has been some work to do with the rig and rudders. Andy Meiklejohn has been great in helping us set up the rig. We have had a few problems with the kick up rudders but have a good solution now. They have had a good test now and we are confident.”

Concise 8 has had ten days of trialling at sea including a tough sail down to Ushant and back from Hamble.

“We are incredibly impressed with the boat. We brought her back upwind in big seas and did some proper slamming. The performance is especially good reaching, I am sure we have one of the quickest boats when the wind is between 95-130 degrees especially. And we have had some great sailing under the big kites.”

The new Concise has a much more inboard chainplate position, which allows them to set big upwind Code Zero sails, especially potent for pushing through light wind transition zones, like in the Doldrums.

“The boat has the Transat Jacques Vabre and Route du Rhum as two key events. We looked at a lot of historical weather data for the races and developed a potent hull form. The rig is a little heavier for this set up, but we did a lot of work with the sail and rig development, with Chris Williams and Scott Ferguson and so it feels like we have a proper closed loop, grand prix set up.”

Collier-Wakefield is confident he knows their new boat better than any of his rivals, having been in the yard in China throughout the build.

“Yes we have not had the time we might have wanted on the water but we have had great guys involved all the way through.”

Living the Dream, Taking A Chance
And while the young English duo are on the ascent as professional sailors, looking to make their mark at the front of the fleet, so Class 40 of the Transat Jacques Vabre is also where many of the most committed and talented amateur sailors will compete, living their dreams. Some of them have limited expectations of winning, looking to get to Brazil safely and to sail to the best of their ability. Budgets and racing experience may be correspondingly less than their professional rivals but these amateurs are no less enthusiastic.


There are osteopaths, project managers, emergency doctor, company directors but now they are taking time out from their wage paying careers to take on the adventure of the Transat Jacques Vabre.

“It is really not easy to find time to prepare. I delivered the boat from Marie Galante with a friend who could barely sail. Let’s say it was a real baptism of fire!” recalls Dominique Rivard (Marie Galante ).Australians Michelle Zwagerman and Pat Conway on the Class 40 are also living their dream.


Doctor Damien Rousseau skipper of the Class 40 Mr Bricolage engaged in the Transat jacques Vabre in Le Havre (North France) on October 28, 2013 – Photo Jean-Marie Liot / DPPI/TJV13

“It started last year in April. We bought the boat and have done it all ourselves. For us, it is a huge challenge”.

Christoph Petter (co-skipper on Vaquita), is an Austrian entrepreneur who set sail on his adventures five years ago and enjoys offshore races, but the Transat Jacques Vabre will be his first big one.

“We feel both excitement and fear”, says Michelle Zwagerman. “We’ll have to control our anxiety during gales, but most of the time, it will be fantastic. Dolphins, the moon, the stars, I am looking forwards to some great moments.”

Tough budgets
And even making it to the start of Transat Jacques Vabre requires great perseverance and tenacity.

Damien Rousseau explains: “I started without money but wanted to realise a childhood dream. I took the big chance and plunged into debt. I thought it was no worse than buying a nice car but I finally also found myself a sponsor who has helped me do it a bit more comfortably.”

Rousseau has been able to race in various events in preparation including a good ninth place in Les Sables-Horta-Les Sables . But, in contrast, without a sponsor Dominique Rivard has had to draw on his own money: “I took a bank loan to buy a boat at EUR 250,000. Everything is very expensive, I have put another EUR 80,000 euros in the pot since, and I have worked 70 hours a week.”

All of these sailors are on a break from their daily lives and careers: some see it as big step towards new adventures, others a unique one off experience, like Pat Conway: “Our boat is already for sale and once we have completed the Transat Jacques Vabre we return a normal life in Australia.”

Village life
Closed since 2000hrs Sunday night due to the storm force winds the village of the Transat Jacques Vabre will reopen tomorrow (Tuesday) morning at 1000hrs.

All of the technical teams have remained on high alert around the village of the Transat Jacques Vabre. Buses and lorries were parked along the perimeter to protect the tents around Paul Vatine dock.

2011 Title Defenders
Monohull 60′:
Jean-Pierre DICK & Jérémie BEYOU
15days 18h 15min 54sec

Multihull 50′:
17days 17h 7min 43sec

Class 40′:
21days 17h 59min 8sec

2013 Participants



  • 11TH Hour racing  – Hannah Jenner, Rob Windsor
  • APRIL / DELTACALOR -Lionel Regnier, Tim Darni
  • BET1128  – Gaetano Mura, Sam Manuard
  • Campagne de France  – Halvard Mabire, Miranda Merron
  • Caterham Challenge  – Mike Gascoyne, Brian Thompson
  • Concise 8  – Ned Collier Wakefield, Sam Goodchild
  • Croix du sud  – Michelle Zwagerman, Patrick Conway
  • DUNKERQUE – PLANETE ENFANTS  – Bruno Jourdren, Thomas Ruyant
  • Eärwen  – Catherine Pourre, Goulven Royer
  • ECOELEC – FANTRONIC – Eric Darni, Florent Bernard
  • ERDF – Des pieds et Des mains  – Damien Seguin, Yoann Richomme
  • Fantastica  – Stefano Raspadori, Pietro D’Ali
  • GDF SUEZ  – Sébastien Rogues, Fabien Delahaye
  • Groupe Picoty  – Jean-Christophe Caso, Aymeric Chappellier
  • Mare  – Jörg Riechers, Pierre Brasseur
  • MARIE-GALANTE  – Dominique Rivard, Wilfrid Clerton
  • Matouba  – Bertrand Guillonneau, Sébastien Audigane
  • Mr Bricolage  – Damien Rousseau, Matthieu Alluin
  • Obportus³  – Olivier Roussey, Philippe Burger
  • Phoenix Europe  – Louis Duc, Stéphanie Alran
  • Proximedia – Sauvez Mon Enfant  – Denis Van Weynbergh,
  •                                                               Jean-Edouard Criquioche
  • SNCF – GEODIS  – Fabrice Amedeo, Armel Tripon
  • Solidaires En Peloton   –  Victorien Erussard, Thibaut Vauchel-Camus
  • Tales Santander 2014   –  Alex Pella, Pablo Santurde
  • Vaquita    –  Christof Petter, Andreas Hanakamp


  • Bureau vallée    –  Louis Burton, Guillaume Le Brec
  • Cheminées Poujoulat   –  Bernard Stamm, Philippe Legros
  • Energa    –  Zbigniew Gutkowski , Maciej Marczewski
  • Initiatives-Coeur  –  Tanguy de Lamotte, François Damiens
  • MACIF   –   François Gabart, Michel Desjoyeaux
  • Maitre CoQ   –  Jérémie Beyou, Christopher Pratt
  • PRB  –  Vincent Riou, Jean Le Cam
  • Safran   –   Marc Guillemot, Pascal Bidégorry
  • TEAM PLASTIQUE  – Alessandro Di Benedetto, Alberto Monaco
  • Votre Nom Autour du Monde  – Bertrand de Broc, Arnaud Boissières


  • Edmond de Rothschild   –  Sébastien Josse, Charles Caudrelier
  • OMAN AIR – MUSANDAM   –  Sidney Gavignet , Damian Foxall

Multi 50

  • Actual  – Yves le Blévec, Kito de Pavant
  • Arkema-Région Aquitaine   –  Lalou Roucayrol, Mayeul Riffet
  • FenêtréA Cardina  –  lErwan Le Roux, Yann Elies
  • Maître Jacques   –   Loïc Féquet, Loic Escoffier
  • Vers un monde sans SIDA  –  Erik Nigon, Samy Villeneuve

Pete Goss on DMS  (Photo by Colin Merry)

Pete Goss on DMS (Photo by Colin Merry)

A long, and busy night in Pointe-à-Pitre saw more and more finishers completing the Route du Rhum La Banque Postale, and it is only set to get more hectic when the Class 40 fleet start arriving late Wednesday or Thursday depending on how cruel or kind the winds on the approach to Guadeloupe turn out to be. Notable finishes last night included Michel Desjoyeaux (Foncia) and Arnaud Boissières (Akena Vérandas), the two IMOCA Open 60 skippers who chose the southerly routing option. Desjoyueax arrived in sixth position, just under one day behind fellow Vendée Globe winner Vincent Riou (PRB). He joked about going south for the sun early but admitted that there was very little to choose between the two options before making his choice “ I did what I wanted. From time to time you try things when you don’t know if they will be good or not so good. I expected to have 50 miles of deficit in the south of the Azores amticyclone and it was 150. There the mass was said.” Desjoyeaux said. “I have had time to digest this. Now we move on. Life goes on.”

The only IMOCA skipper left at sea, Christoper Pratt on DCNS 1000 – who has been battling with no electrics since last Thursday morning, was due to finish this evening (CET/Paris). Having sailed a very competitive and creditable first half of the race, the young skipper from Marseille, was enjoying a boat-for-boat sprint to the line against Servan Escoffier (Saint Malo 2015), due to finish seventh of seven in the Ultime multihull fleet.


But it is the Class 40 race which has race watchers twitching with anticipation as Thomas Ruyant closes to within 380 miles of the finish on Destination Dunkerque, with a lead now of only 59.8 miles ahead of Nico Troussel (Crédit Mutuel de Bretagne) who has closed back around 20 miles on the leader over the last two days, but the leading trio – Germany’s Jorg Riecher on, are now filing in a line towards the NW corner of the island, all knowing what the possibility of an overnight shut down of the breeze might do.

Britain’s Pete Goss holds 13th position, approaching Guadeloupe from his more southerly routing reported light winds today, and looks set to suffer slightly less wind on his course in to the island, but the Cornish skipper admitted he is delighted with his race so far:

“ In my particular circumstances I was parachuted into the race out of the blue, and jumped on the boat and went. At the start of the race in Saint Malo I had done four days of single-handed sailing in 14 years. I had not really sailed the boat much. The boat is immaculate, I am not criticising the boat, and Tom Gall the boat captain, Tony Lawson and Team Concise have been great, but it is about building a relationship, and as I said then, (at the start) I now feel ready to start the Route du Rhum. If you look beyond this race, then this is effectively a training race. I was a bit rusty at the beginning, but I have a bit of experience and so I did not break anything. I am loving it.”

And Marco Nannini, the London based banker racing UniCredit, who has built a following of thousands for his unmissable blog (, said on today’s radio vacation:

“This for me is about me being an office worker who one week before the race I was sitting behind a desk in the office. I am not a French pro and I did not come here expecting to perform as a French pro. I held my own, especially in the first part of the race and I was very proud of what  I was achieving, then of course experience comes in and I made a bad mistake, but here I am, still racing absolutely enjoying every minute of it, in this adventure. I have seen things I have never seen before. I was caught in an electric storm last night, which scared the hell out of me. It is for me a great adventure, and so the blogs, sharing it with others, makes it so much more enjoyable. I receive many, many messages on the boat, reading my blogs – and I am talking thousands and thousands –every time, it is fantastic.”


Franck Cammas on Groupama 3 Wins The Route du Rhum 2010 (Photo Copyright AFP)

Franck Cammas on Groupama 3 Wins The Route du Rhum 2010 (Photo Copyright AFP)

When he brought the giant 31m trimaran Groupama 3 across the finish line off Pointe-a-Piitre, Guadeloupe today (Tuesday)under perfect sunshine and light breezes Franck Cammas (FRA) won the 9th edition of the Route du Rhum – La Banque Postale, the 3542 miles transatlantic race from Saint Malo for solo skippers which takes place every four years. Cammas crossed the finish line at 16..h 16..min 47. Secs (CET paris// 15h 16 mins 47 secs GMT,// 11 hrs 16 mins 47 seconds local time) The elapsed time for the course, after starting Saint Malo at 1302hr (CET/paris) Is. 9 days 3 hours 14 mins 47 seconds The average speed over the course on the water was. 20..39 knots for the actual course sailed of 4471 miles. . The course record of 7 days17 hrs 19 mins 6 seconds was set in 2006 Cammas adds his name to the legend of the ‘Rhum’ as successor to Mike Birch, Marc Pajot, Philippe Poupon, Florence Arthaud, Laurent Bourgnon, Michel Desjoyeaux and Lionel Lemonchois


Locking out at 0615hrs (Photo by Colin Merry)

by Colin Merry

“Alarm call at 0500hrs. this morning. but as Pete’s minder last night I was up and about at 0400hrs. in order not to miss the wake up call.  Quick slurp of coffee then down to the boat.  The rain was easing as we slid into the lock prior to being released to the sea. Even at this hour the lock sides were lined with waving cheering people!  ”


Crowds cheering their favourites. (Photo by Colin Merry)

  “A lot of them looked as though they had been partying all night! Slipping out through the entrance we headed seaward greeted by a magnificant sunrise, a good omen we hoped.  ”


Sunrise (Photo by Colin Merry)

“Several hours followed where Pete and Tom got the boat set up whilst I helmed. Normally not a problem for me, but this time it was different. ”


Porridge before the start! (Photo by Colin Merry)

“I have never experienced so much responsibility, and it was getting more crowded by the minute. After nearly four hours and with twelve minutes to go we wished him well and jumped into the waiting rib.”


Tom landing in rib (Photo by Colin Merry)

“Sorry that most of the pics. are of Class40’s but we were intent on following DMS for several miles and naturally we were surrounded by other 40’s. “


IDEC and Groupama 3 (Photo by Colin Merry)

After a studied start keeping clear of the mayhem that is a start line Pete broke out the fractional kite and settled into the race.


And They Are Off !!! (Photo by Colin Merry)

With the wind easing it was not long before he went up a gear and raised the masthead kite.


Before we broke off the chase he was overhauling a few boats and looked like he was thoroughly enjoying himself! So 3500miles to go and a possible encounter with a hurricane. (there is a cyclone winding itself up out the West atlantic which has been upgraded to Hurricane ”Tomas).


Kite going up (Photo by Colin Merry)

We at C&A wish him and skippers well in their endeavour to be in Gaudalupe first.

by Colin Merry



Veolia. Open 60' (Photo by Colin Merry)





The DMS Hospitality Boat (Photo by Colin Merry)



Au revoir from St. Malo. (Photo by Colin Merry)

Mega Crowds in St. Malo For The Route du Rhum Skippers (Photo by Colin Merry)

Mega Crowds in St. Malo For The Route du Rhum Skippers (Photo by Colin Merry)

Crowds flocked to the skippers reception last night.   Even a vociferous demo by the French unions (complaining about France’s rise in pensionable age) couldn’t dampen the way in which each skipper was applauded as they mounted the stage.   People crowded the whole area stretching back as for as the eye could see! 

More Crowds For Pre-start Festivities (Photo by Colin Merry)

More Crowds For Pre-start Festivities (Photo by Colin Merry)

 Some climbing trees and still others clinging to the lamp posts! Everyone was determined to get a glimpse of these brave men and women before they set off on the ”Route de Rhumb”.   I was particularly warmed by the reception Pete Goss got as his name was announced and he mounted the stage to what was the loudest applause and cheers all night.   The French still hold him in very high esteem to this day.

At Skippers Presentation Pete Goss shares a photo with Richard Tolkien, ICAP (Photo by Colin Merry)

At Skippers Presentation Pete Goss shares a photo with Richard Tolkien, ICAP (Photo by Colin Merry)

After the reception Team DMS, the sponsors and guests retired to a pub for some very welcome R&R.  I say pub but once inside it became clear that this was a strange hostelry indeed!   Dolls and weird bric a brac everywhere.  

At A Very Strange Bar (Photo by Colin MerrY)

At A Very Strange Bar with Swings for seats (Photo by Colin Merry)

 The bar seats were swings hanging from the ceiling.   Oh and did I mention the three piece ensemble that entertained us?   They were completely off the wall but good in a ‘different’ sort of way.

Swings At Bar Seats?  (Photo by Colin Merry)

A Very Strange in a good way bar . (Photo by Colin Merry)

Anyway, back to the race.   I walked past one tri for the best part of a week before recognising her. None other than Ellen MacArthur’s B&Q!

B&Q  (Photo by Colin Merry)

B&Q (Photo by Colin Merry)

  Gone is the familiar livery and now she is plain white. Turned into a Pizza delivery judging by the logos being applied as I watched one evening.

B&Q Pizza Delivery?  (Photo by Colin Merry)

B&Q Pizza Delivery? (Photo by Colin Merry)

On DMS we have a constant stream of visitors, Media crew who want interviews.   Other skippers. Sponsors and guests. Plus old friends of Pete and Tom’s that reads like a who’s who of sailing.   One such visitor was Frederick Meunier, the boat builder responsible for DMS. 

Frederick Meunier top man in Class40' building (Photo by Colin Merry)

Frederick Meunier top man in Class40' building (Photo by Colin Merry)

  Fred’s Tunisia based yard ”MC Tech” has order books full until next May for the ”Akiliria” brand known as the RC2.   As we sat and chatted he was looking around at the mods that Tom had made since she left his yard.   A testament to Tom’s attention to detail when said he reckoned that she was the best turned out boat in the Class 40′ fleet.

Another Media Interview (Photo by Colin Merry)

Another Media Interview for Pete (Photo by Colin Merry)

As crowded as our boat was, at times it paled into insignificance compared to the crowds who by now had swelled to massive proportions!   It was gridlock on the roads in and around St. Malo and it threatened to become gridlock on the pavements too.   Looking out from a high vantage point it seemed that the predicted 1.2 million visitors had all arrived together today!   I can’t even begin to envisage what 18,000 people on the water tomorrow are going to look like.   Also add to that 100 ribs that will be inside the exclusion zone prior to the start and you begin to get some idea of the huge logistical enterprise that is the ”Route de Rhumb”.

The welcome that awaits in Quadalupe on the the streets of St. Malo (Photo by Colin Merry)

The welcome that awaits in Quadalupe on the the streets of St. Malo (Photo by Colin Merry)

Hope you’ve all enjoyed my snapshot of the ‘Route de Rhumb”. Catch up with the start tomorrow on or of course
Cheers, Colin Merry


Crowds At Skippers Presentation  (Photo by Colin Merry)

Crowds At Skippers Presentation (Photo by Colin Merry)

Crowds are filling the wharf as thing start hotting up (Photo by Coin Merry)

Crowds are filling the wharf as thing start hotting up (Photo by Coin Merry)

Rookies to legends, the IMOCA class skippers are as one when it comes to being ready to go, they say.


Challenge and Adventure’s Colin Merry in his daily check-in wrote today how things were hotting up in St. Malo and he spoke of the atmosphere there. “We are now well sorted on DMS.   She has now passed all her safety checks and is virtually ready to go.   Not so with all the boats though.   I see anxious faces on some of the Skippers as they seek to come within the scrutineers beady eye!   For others it is a mad dash yet again to the Chandlers for some forgotten item. Or to replace a broken piece of equipment.

Tom splicing (Photo by Colin Merry)

Tom splicing (Photo by Colin Merry)

Tom (boat captain on DMS) was splicing more spare sheets and making chocks for the spare anchor to sit in yesterday. All done in almost a leisurely way. This air of calm is one that now pervades DMS. The reason being, that Pete and Tom have been working hard with a set plan of objectives for each and every day that we have been here. The hard work has paid off and we are sitting pretty. I myself was spared the job yesterday of donning wetsuit and cleaning the hull as Tom reckons we can do it nearer the start date. Instead I mounted the ‘Argos’ unit on the guard rail and attended to the sponsors flags that we are flying. Then I went food shopping! (someone has to be house mother you know!) Shopping in St. Malo can be fun, as for a short cut you can walk around the city wall when the streets get too crowded. Of course, when on the wall loads of opportunities arise for photography. So I include a few of my shopping shots!
Even on a cold day such as Wednesday the crowds are out in force. Whilst on the wall I grabbed a pic. of the 50′ tri’s lined up like dragonflys. The sheer volume of people is amazing!

Beautiful rugged coastline (Photo by Colin Merry)

Beautiful rugged coastline (Photo by Colin Merry)


Christopher Pratt (DCNS) is the rookie in the IMOCA Open 60 class is keeping up to speed with his sponsor and media commitments. After the talent search programme of his sponsors DCNS – which is one of France’s largest naval defence construction and shipbuilding companies – which he won, there are very many young students from the major colleges visiting the boat to meet the skipper here.

PRB’s visitor programme is very comprehensive. The sponsors of 2004-5 Vendée Globe winner Vincent Riou have 300 guests most days to see the boat, and they have been running such a programme since the new boat was launched and sailed her maiden race around Spain in June. On board PRB everything is ready for the start.

Latest launched IMOCA Open 60 is of course that of Michel Desjoyeaux and his team are busy each day with the fine details, while the skipper catches up with his sleep and de-stresses after the remarkably quick six months build of his new boat.

Each afternoon the double Vendée Globe winner catches up with a two hour nap.

Street dancing in the festival atmosphere (Photo by Colin Merry)

Street dancing in the festival atmosphere (Photo by Colin Merry)

And Marc Guillemot, the IMOCA world champion and winner of the last Transat Jacques Vabre is also in great shape, ready for the off. He will be signing copies of the book he co-wrote with his wife after his 2008-9 Vendée Globe.

Jean-Pierre Dick will show Belgian comic actor François Damians over his new VPLP-Verdier design and then Loick Peyron, who JP will pair up with for the imminent Barcelona World Race, will be here this evening.

On Friday Arnaud Boissières will host world match racing tour leader Mathieu Richard aboard Akena Verandas, as well as Christine Janin, the first French woman to climb Everest.

Armel Le Cléac’H of Brit Air has been home with his family and will arrive this evening, whilst Roland Jourdain, the defending champion, is totally chilled out and ready with his new Veolia Environnment. Routing is of course forbidden in this class, and so preparations with external advisors is paramount leading in to Sunday.

Groupama 3 At the outer dock (Photo by Colin Merry)

Groupama 3 At the outer dock (Photo by Colin Merry)

Groupama made for a lonely looking boat as she lay all on her own in the outer harbour. This not because she has been excluded.  No, they just couldn’t get her into the lock!  She is sporting a much smaller rig for this race because the normal rig would be too much for one man to handle.

An indication of the attention to detail that the Groupama team approach their projects is shown in the extent of changes made to the giant trimaran in order that one man (Frank Cammas) can handle this beast.  As well as the obvious switch to a lower-aspect rig the boats ergonomics have been re-evaluated and modified with the installation of a hand and leg driven system for the winches and the hydraulic system.  This with many other mods. should enable one (very fit) man to manage this 103′ behemoth!

The skippers will all be at the top of their game as they head out

Treacherous Entrance into St. Malo (Photo by Colin Merry)

Treacherous Entrance into St. Malo (Photo by Colin Merry)


Pete Goss and Raphael Dinelli (Photo by Colin Merry)

by Colin Merry

Today’s update on the prestart activities for Pete Goss and DMS from Colin Merry had a great suprise.  Raphael Dinelli paid Pete Goss a visit prior to Pete’s departure in the Route du Rhum 2010. 

With all the safety checks passed we can now get down to the task of stowing all the gear that is going with the boat and removing everything that is not vital to the dockside. Mark Wylie (Eastern Electornics) looks up to his ears in it as he operates no less than three computers at once! But rest assured he is on top of his game, and the installs and glitch sorting are going fine.
We had a most welcome visitor to DMS yesterday in the form of Raphael Dinelli. You may remember that Pete turned back in to the teeth of a massive storm in the Southern Ocean during a Vendee race to rescue him. Since then they have been firm friends and it was touching to see them meet again.
Once again close of play found us winding down in the ‘Bar de Legends’ where we met James Boyd. Editor of and Raphael! 


Forgive me for getting on the other side of the lens but I couldn’t resist a couple of pics. with James and Raphael! 


Joined by Marco Nannini and Richard Tolkien both Class 40 skippers we spent a pleasant hour talking boats.