The Maxi Trimaran IDEC SPORT sailed by Francis Joyon, Clément Surtel, Alex Pella, Bernard Stamm, Gwénolé Gahinet and Sébastien Audigane won the Jules Verne Trophy, the outright round the world sailing record, this morning.
Francis Joyon and his crew sailed the 22,461 theoretical miles in 40 days, 23 hours, 30 minutes and 30 seconds, at an average speed of 22.84 knots.
Today Loïck Peyron, skipper of Pen Duick II, informed The Transat bakerly Race Management that his nostalgic voyage from Plymouth to New York had come to an end following damage to his staysail which has torn off the bridge of his boat.
Peyron reported: “Hello. Staysail plate torn off the bridge, but no problem. Unfortunately I can not continue into the wind, so for the moment I am proceeding on Quiberon Envsn. Loïck.”
Strong winds and crashing waves have played havoc with The Transat bakerly racing fleet over recent days, and Peyron’s recently restored vintage wooden ketch is the latest boat to feel the wrath of the North Atlantic.
Sailing over 3050nm ‘the old way’ as a tribute to the achievements of double Transat winner Eric Tabarly and sailing legend Mike Birch, triple Transat winner Peyron will now divert to Quiberon l’Ecole Nationale de Voile (ENVSN) in France midway through his voyage, no longer able to sail his boat into the wind.
This downwind delivery back to Quiberon ENVSN, where Pen Duick II has been owned and used as part of the sailing school for nearly 50 years, should take the skipper around 10 days to complete.
Francois Gabart, the young heart-throb of French solo offshore sailing, completed his first solo win on board his new 100ft trimaran, Macif, today when he crossed the finish line off New York.
The 33-year-old Frenchman, who in 2013 became the youngest ever winner of the Vendée Globe solo round-the-world race, sailed a brilliant race from Plymouth, covering the official distance of 3,050 nautical miles in 8 days, 8 hours, 54 minutes and 39 seconds. He narrowly missed out on a new race record, which was set by Michel Desjoyeaux in 2004, and still stands at a time of 8 days, 8 hours, 29 minutes.
Gabart actually sailed a total distance of 4,634 miles at an average speed of 23.11 knots in a remarkable voyage that, unusually for The Transat bakerly, took him and his close rival Thomas Coville on Sodebo, hundreds of miles south of the Azores into the tradewinds before sling-shotting northwest up to New York.
His beautiful blue, white and yellow Van Peteghem Lauriot-Prevost-designed multihull, in which Gabart hopes to set a new outright solo round-the-world record, reached the finish at 18:24 local time in New York, as recorded by the Sandy Hook Pilot Association boat, with its jubilant skipper waving to his team support boat as he crossed the line.
Shortly afterwards Gabart reflected on a race that, for much of the time, saw him in close company with Coville on the older Sodebo. For the first three days the two skippers were never more than a few miles apart, having crossed the Bay of Biscay in sight of each other.
“The competition with Thomas on Sodebo was wonderful. It made the race incredible for me. We are working together to organise more races for these type of boats, and when we see what happened in The Transat bakerly, and how close the competition was, we know there is a place for it. This is just the beginning of the journey.”
Gabart clearly loved his first outing on his new mile-munching ocean-racing thoroughbred, and he more than stepped up to the challenge that the 30-metre giant posed. “It was a big challenge for me. You should have 10 or 15 people to manage these boats, and it’s just me. It was my first solo race on Macif, and I didn’t know if I was able to do it, so I am really proud of what I did.
“To arrive into New York was perfect. The boat is in good shape. Me? Well, maybe not! I’m very tired, but I’m incredibly proud.”
As winner of the Ultime class, Gabart will be presented with a special watch from The Transat bakerly official timekeeper Ralf Tech.
Commenting on Gabart’s performance, The Transat bakerly Event Director Herve Favre said: “Francois and Thomas put on an amazing show at the front of the fleet and Francois has emerged a worthy and deserving winner. Over the next week we will see the winners of the IMOCA 60, Multi50 and Class40s emerge and each winner will be a hero in my book.”
The Big Apple has only been used once before in the race as the finish port and that was in the very first edition in 1960 when the winner, one Sir Francis Chichester on the monohull Gipsy Moth III, was at sea for 40 days, 12 hours 30 minutes. Sailing a multihull from a different century, Gabart was 32 days, 3 hours and 36 minutes quicker than the British legend.
As Gabart crossed the line Coville was still some 118nm from the finish while the third-placed trimaran in the Ultime class – Actual skippered by Yves Le Blevec – was still 509.6nm away.
For the other classes in the fleet, the finish line is still over 800 miles away. Armel Le Cléac’h (Banque Populaire) continues to lead the IMOCA 60 fleet with an anticipated arrival time of 19:00 local time on Friday. Vincent Riou on PRB is 76 miles behind and still hot on his stern.
In the four-boat Multi50 class, Gilles Lamiré (Frenchtech Rennes St Malo) is continuing to extend his lead, with a 219 mile advantage between him and the chasing Lalou Roucayrol (Arkema).
Trading places at the top of the Class40 fleet is Isabelle Joschke (Generali–Horizon Mixité) and Thibaut Vauchel-Camus (Solidaires en Peloton–Arsep), with Joschke currently holding a six-mile advantage.
On Tuesday Armel Tripon on Black Pepper announced his retirement from The Transat bakerly, after he sustained damage in the week’s earlier storms, leaving eight Class40s now en route to the Big Apple.
Track the race here.
The class rankings at 20:00 BST – updated every four hours.
1. Francois Gabart/Macif – Finished after 8 days, 8 hours, 54 minutes and 39 seconds
2. Thomas Coville/Sodebo – 88.21nm from the finish
3. Yves Le Blevec/Actual – 504.50nm from the finish
1. Armel Le Cléac’h/Banque Populaire – 857.2nm from the finish
2. Vincent Riou/PRB – 76.10nm from the leader
3. Jean-Pierre Dick/St Michel Virbac – 182.74nm from the leader
1. Gilles Lamiré/French Tech Rennes St Malo – 950nm from the finish
2. Lalou Roucayrol/Arkema – 219.62nm from the leader
3. Pierre Antoine/Olmix – 415.94nm from the leader
1. Isabelle Joschke/Generali Horizon Mixité – 1421.3nm from the finish
2. Thibaut Vauchel-Camus/Solidaires en Peloton – ARSEP – 6.60nm from the leader
3. Phil Sharp/Imerys – 18.59nm from the leader
Tuesday, November 11, 2014
Sidney Gavignet, French skipper of the Sultanate of Oman’s flagship, Musandam-Oman Sail, crossed the finish line of the Route du Rhum in Guadeloupe at 9:15:24 CET this morning completing the epic adventure in 8 days 19 hours 15 minutes and 24 seconds. After 4,446 nautical miles at an average speed of 21.5 knots he was delighted to reach dry land.
“Mission accomplished!” he said as he came ashore to speak to the media who welcomed him in at 03:30 local time. “The boat was superbly prepared by the shore team and is in as good shape as when I left St Malo 8 days ago, a testimony to their great work.
“My primary objective was to get to Guadeloupe in one piece and here I am. I made a few small errors during the last few hours of the race, but I managed to finish on the same night as Prince de Bretagne, a boat that is 10 feet bigger than Musandam-Oman Sail, and as Gitana, a heavily modified MOD70. I am immensely proud to have flown the flag of the Sultanate of Oman all the way across the Atlantic and into Guadeloupe. This place is very special to me as I met my wife here 23 years ago while I was training for the Whitbread.”
He was given a hero’s welcome in Pointe-a-Pitre by his Oman Sail teammates who have lived every moment of the race, highs and lows, alongside the skipper. Support for the 45-year-old Frenchman across three different time zones was immense with cheers going up in France and Muscat when he crossed the finish line.
CEO David Graham, who waved Sidney off in St Malo was the first to applaud such a triumph: “Huge congratulations to Sidney for this incredible achievement. It has been a voyage of discovery for the whole Oman Sail team that has lived this epic experience alongside him, every nautical mile of the way. It has proved very inspiring for our Omani sailors, especially our offshore team who have been sending Sidney messages of support throughout the race, as well as our younger sailors that aspire to greatness on the water in years to come.
“This event has been a great success for us both on the sporting front and in terms of promoting Oman as a high-end tourism destination – we are very proud of Sidney’s achievement and the impact it had with our sailors in terms of inspiration. It may have been a single-handed race, but the reality is there were hundreds of people on the MOD70 with Sidney!”
After a nail-biting first 48 hours of the race that saw the French skipper and his 70ft trimaran battle 40knot gusts and huge seas across the Bay of Biscay and then around Cape Finisterre, with a broken jet burner and no hot food, and a hurt and swollen forearm, the Frenchman bounced back with cheerful and awe inspiring tales of full moon sailing at 30knots and nerve-wracking squalls rolling in one after the other.
He punched way above his weight as he wrestled with Prince de Bretagne, an 80ft trimaran 10 feet his senior, all the way across the Atlantic and led right up to hours before the finish when boat length finally prevailed and Lionel Lemonchois gave him the slip to finish ahead.
The Oman Sail Route du Rhum had two objectives, the first to raise awareness of the Sultanate of Oman as a high-end tourist destination, and with over 2 million visitors to the St Malo race village and the “Visit Oman” tourism pavilion, over the course of a week at the start, this box was firmly ticked. The second was to finish – Sidney himself had estimated a 50/50 chance of catastrophe – and as a result to share the experience with the Omani sailors that aspire to follow in Sidney’s footsteps. Mission accomplished.
“One of the highlights of my race was receiving an email from Fahad Al Hasni, one of our best MOD70 sailors – it made me so happy I picked up the sat phone to tell him about life onboard. I think he was very surprised to hear from me, but I could hear the grin in his voice – I know that this race is inspiring my Omani teammates and making them want to go further in their careers and getting his message was a happy moment for me.”
Sidney will take some well-earned rest now and have a long overdue hot meal before the MOD70 Musandam-Oman Sail is prepared for the return trip to Europe with Fahad Al Hasni, Yassir Al Rahbi, Abdulrahman Al Mashari and Sami Al Shukaili, onboard.
Route du Rhum Ultime Class – provisional results
- Banque Populaire VII/Loick Peyron/103ft – 7 days, 15 hours, 8 minutes, 32 seconds
- Spindrift II/Yann Guichard/131ft – 8 days, 5 hours, 18 minutes, 46 seconds
- Edmond de Rothschild/Sebastien Josse/modified MOD70 – 8 days, 14 hours, 47 minutes, 9 seconds
- Prince de Bretagne/Lionel Lemonchois/80ft – 8 days 17 hours 44 minutes, 50 seconds
- Musandam-Oman Sail/Sidney Gavignet/70ft – 8 days 19 hours 15 minutes, 24 seconds
- Idec/Francis Joyon/97ft – still racing
- Paprec Recyclage/Yann Eliès/70ft – still racing
Monday, November 10, 2014
Thirty two years after the first of his seven attempts, French ocean racing star Loick Peyron won the mythical Route du Rhum-Destination Guadeloupe this Monday morning (TU) when he crossed the finish line of the solo race from Saint-Malo France to Pointe-a-Pitre at 04:08:32 TU/05:08:32 CET/00:08:32 local The lone skipper of the 31.5m (103ft) Ultime trimaran Maxi Solo Banque Populaire VII completed the 3,542 miles course in 7d 15h 8m 32s.
His elapsed time is a new outright record for the course passage, which was first raced in 1982, breaking the 2006 reference time set by Lionel Lemonchois (7 days 17 hours and 9 minutes) by 2hrs 10mins 34secs.
Peyron sailed the 3,524 NMs theoretical course at an average of 19.34kts. In reality he sailed 4,199NM at an average of 22.93kts.
Skipper of the 14 man 2011-2012 Banque Populaire crew which holds the outright Jules Verne Trophy sailing non-stop around the world record, Peyron has a longstanding special affection for La Route du Rhum as it is the Transatlantic race which launched his solo ocean racing career as a 22 year old. Until today he had finished fifth twice and was forced to abandon three times in the ORMA 60 trimarans in 1990, 1994 and 2002.
At the age of 54, his Route du Rhum triumph is another new summit for the sailor from La Baule, Brittany who turns his hand with equal skill to all disciplines of sailing from foiling Moth dinghies to the giant multihulls as well as the America’s Cup.
Ironically he was only enlisted two months ago to replace skipper Armel Le Cléach’h who injured his hand.
Maxi Solo Banque Populaire VII’s win was built from the first night at sea. After negotiating a difficult upwind section Peyron was the first to turn off Ushant, perfectly timing his key passage through the front. He opened his lead in almost all sections of the course, except momentarily when he lead into a bubble of light winds under the Azores high-pressure system. But his approach to Guadeloupe regained distance and when he crossed the finish line second placed Yann Guichard on the 40m Spindrift was 180 miles astern.
It is the second time in a row that the race has been won by the same trimaran, which was designed by VPLP. In 2010 Franck Cammas won on the same boat when it was Groupama, in a time of 9 days 3 hours.
His win is all the more remarkable for the fact that Peyron stepped in for the injured Le Cléac’h only two months ago and many times pre-start in Saint-Malo he voiced his concerns about the magnitude of the physical challenge he faced, playing down any suggestions or expectations.
In fact Peyron had originally planned to sail this Rhum in a tiny 11.5m trimaran called Happy. But his vast experience and technical skills on multihulls filled the gap, complemented by the accomplished skills of his routers ashore – who plot his course for him – Marcel van Triest and Armel Le Cléac’h. His two ‘guardian angels’ kept his course fast, simple, smooth and safe.
First words from Loick upon arrival: “It is a very nice victory but a team victory. I was not supposed to be on this boat two months ago. I was supposed to do the Rhum race on a very small yellow trimaran, which will be the case in four years time, I will be back. But it is not a surprise because I knew that the boat was able to do it. I knew that the team was able to help me a lot.
Armel is here but he does not want to be here on the pontoon. But he is here and in fact we spent the week together. We were talking all the time, before and during the race, and he gave me so much help.
It was really tough, but I am really impressed by the job that Yann Guichard has done since the start. His boat is bigger, this boat is big but it is nice.
The last day was difficult, from the early hours off the Désirade, there was a lot of maneuvering to be done. It’s been seven editions for me! This is an exceptional situation, to stand in for Armel and to be able to skipper such a beautiful boat. This victory is thanks to Team Banque Populaire, as whole team we did this.
I never imagined that I would win a Route du Rhum on a boat like this. A race like this is never simple and that is what is so exciting and incredible about it. It is also very stressful for the boat to withstand such high speeds in bad seas. I was able to sail the boat well but was scared. This is what the multihull game is all about. You have to constantly manage the boat. One night I fell asleep at the helm and nearly capsized the boat. This is a great victory; possibly one of the nicest and breaking the record is the cherry on top of the cake.”
The countdown to the start of the epic single-handed 4,471nm offshore race across the Atlantic Ocean has begun with just 10 days to go to the start of France’s La Route du Rhum. And it is not only the flagship of the Sultanate of Oman, Musandam-Oman Sail, that is making its final approach to the start line, but the team behind the Visit Oman – Tourism Pavilion too!
The Oman sail flagship campaign, Musandam-Oman Sail, a 70ft trimaran skippered by Frenchman Sidney Gavignet and more commonly used by the national initiative Oman Sail as an ultra high-performance sailing school to a number of successful Omani sailors, arrived at the Route du Rhum race village in St Malo, France, this afternoon after a last crewed delivery from the team base in Lorient. Ireland’s offshore veteran, Damian Foxall, Abdulrahman Al Mashari – Oman’s latest recruit to the MOD70 squad – and Loik Gallon, key member of the shore team, joined Gavignet for the trip.
Gavignet received a warm welcome in St Malo with MOD regular Fahad Al Hasni, shore crew member Suleiman Al Manji and one of the original Oman Sail recruits and mentor to the Women’s Sailing Programme back home, Mohsin Al Busaidi, on site to catch his lines. They were joined by the Visit Oman – Tourism Pavilion team, just in from Muscat, Oman.
“I really enjoy the period just before the race starts,” said Gavignet. “It is an opportunity to immerse myself in the race and to mentally prepare for the enormous challenge ahead.
“I am feeling pretty calm going into the final 10 days to the start, both personally and with regards to the boat, I am not sure yet whether I will feel stressed on the day of the start! I am approaching the challenge with pleasure even though I am aware that anything can happen out there…”
This will be Oman’s second entry to the legendary race from St Malo, France, to Guadeloupe in the Caribbean, their first in 2010 ended abruptly with a breakage in the early stages, but Sidney Gavignet who has thousands of offshore miles under his belt, including most recently setting a new Round Britain and Ireland World Record with a 50% Omani crew for the first time – is eager to have another go and proud to be representing Oman again:
“The last edition for me remains an amazing memory and to have a chance to do it again in the colours of Oman is a great honour – we have achieved a huge amount already with our Omani sail training programme onboard the MOD70 and I hope this next challenge will provide further inspiration. For me, growing up sailing, the Route du Rhum was always THE race that made me dream.”
And the objective is that it will also make young Omani sailors dream. As Oman Sail CEO, David Graham, explains:
“The Musandam-Oman Sail MOD70 campaign is the pinnacle of the Oman Sail sailing development programme. We are very proud to be competing in the Route du Rhum, such an important benchmark event in France, under Omani colours, and while we do not have an Omani sailor on the boat this time, competing in such a prestigious offshore event will help us with our sailing awareness campaign back home in Oman.
“Racing the Route du Rhum will encourage and inspire our young Omani sailors to aim high with their ambitions.”
The arrival of the boat in St Malo heralds the opening of the Visit Oman – Tourism Pavilion which throws open its doors to the general public visiting the Race Village on Friday the 24 October at 1030. Over 2 million visitors are expected throughout the week and according to Gavignet a visit is a must: “Don’t miss the “Visit Oman” tent which is located right next to the boat, it is a chance to experience the warm welcome of the Omani people, learn about the country through the exhibition and enjoy the hospitality that the Sultanate is famous for!” he said.
The Route du Rhum starts on the 2 November and takes the 90-strong fleet 4,471 nautical miles across the Bay of Biscay – a perilous stretch of water – then west across the Atlantic Ocean to the island of Guadeloupe. Oman Sail and the Ministry of Tourism see the event, not only as a sporting challenge, but as a platform to share the beauty of the Sultanate with the French general public through the Visit Oman – Tourism Pavilion.
SANREMO, ITA – SAINT-TROPEZ, FRA – MONTE-CARLO, MON – June 13 – 21, 2014
The 2014 Giraglia Rolex Cup enters its final phase tomorrow, Wednesday, with the start of the 241-nm offshore race. Some 213 yachts are expected to take part – a new record fleet. The mythical course which, in a normal year, takes crews from France to Italy, via the Giraglia rock off the northern tip of Corsica, offers something exceptional this year: a finish in Monte-Carlo. The unique opportunity to combine the finish of this celebrated race with the inauguration of the new Yacht Club de Monaco clubhouse has been embraced by the organizing clubs, race sponsor Rolex and, most significantly, the competitors.
The 62nd Giraglia Rolex Cup fleet ranges in size from 100-feet down to 30-feet. If conditions permit, Esimit Europa 2 – the largest and fastest yacht – will seek to dent its record time of 14 hours, 56 minutes and 16 seconds set in 2012 over a similar distance albeit with a finish in Sanremo just up the coast from Monte-Carlo. The yacht’s owner, Igor Simcic, is a member of the Yacht Club de Monaco so there is particular significance in his yacht’s quest to add a fourth line honours to her victory roll.
Skipper Jochen Schümann understands the added importance of doing well, especially given the presence of a special crewmember onboard for the race: Pierre Casiraghi, younger son of Caroline, Princess of Hannover, and member of the YCM Management Committee. “The Giraglia Rolex Cup is one of the classic races in Europe alongside the Rolex Fastnet and Middle Sea Races,” he explains. “The start and finish are always spectacular. Saint-Tropez is one of the most scenic places in the Med, and this time we have a special finish in Monaco.”
Schümann is cautious when discussing prospects for the race record. According to the German Olympian the unsettled weather of the past few days looks set to continue with light airs across the racecourse: “If we get good steady breeze, there’s a chance for the record. Otherwise it will probably be slow.”
Behind the Slovenian Maxi, an intriguing battle is shaping up among four highly competitive 72-ft Racing Mini Maxis. Andres Soriano, owner of Alegre and another member of the Yacht Club de Monaco, is excited by the prospect of finishing in Monte-Carlo. He has tasted success in this race before with a Line Honours victory in 2010 with his previous yacht. Soriano has enjoyed the competition of the Inshore Series over the past three days: “The Mini Maxis are very even, there is not much in it. Some are better in different conditions and a little luck with a wind shift can make the difference in getting one’s nose ahead.” He thinks this bodes well for a tight contest in the offshore race even if the larger yachts are not favoured by the forecast: “Ideally we’d be hoping for more wind at the beginning of the long race to take us down to the rock. The approach there early in the morning is always difficult.”
Another Olympian, this time Frenchman Thierry Peponnet, who has been coaching Niklas Zennström’s Ran 5 crew ahead of the offshore race, has also assessed the challenge this year: “It is special with the finish in Monaco. Normally the leg after the rock to Genoa is very smooth, dominated by light winds. This new course will make things a bit different, as the wind angles will change on the leg from the Giraglia to Monaco. We are waiting for the latest weather information to develop an appropriate strategy, but the team is very motivated; it is a race they want to win.”
Even though a professional yachtsman, Peponnet recognizes the Giraglia Rolex Cup delivers a distinctive flavour: “It is such a mythical race. Similar to the Rolex Sydney Hobart, enthusiastic and passionate amateurs come together and challenge themselves against the most professional of boats like Ran, Alegre etc… It unites sailors from all over the planet, Corinthians or professionals all together on the same starting line.” Peponnet has done the race a number of times and finds it an attractive challenge even if sometimes long. “You have to be patient,” he advises.
Daring to Dream
Patience may be virtue further down the fleet. The current forecasts suggest a hole in the wind over Monaco on Thursday that may favour the smaller yachts if they bring the wind from the Giraglia. Last year’s winner Laurent Camprubi, the owner of French yacht Alizée, was thinking of only a class win in 2013. He ended up taking the overall trophy and the Rolex timepiece. What does he think about his prospects in 2014? “We came last year to win our division, we never imagined winning overall. We are here again to win our division and funnily we have started thinking that we really could have a chance to win again. It is a crazy dream but we have analysed the conditions and… yes, … may be.”
Camprubi would not be first to secure back-to-back victories, but he knows he needs favourable conditions, for his crew to work together, and good decision-making. That was achieved last year and: “It was really a perfect race.” If he had to give an advice to a crew doing the race for a first time it would be to never forget you are racing for fun: “You should come because of your passion for sailing and if the results go with you then of course it is magic. If you have given everything and the result is not so good, it should not be a drama.”
In encouraging those who have never done the race, Camprubi is a persuasive salesman summing up the virtues of an event that captures the imagination of all who participate: “For someone who has yet to discover the Giraglia Rolex Cup I would let them know that the race is just magic. The ambience here in Saint-Tropez, the small picturesque town, the huge numbers of competitors, the beautiful yachts, the quality of the crew, the course, the passage at the Giraglia Rock… the great welcome you get at the arrival, it is all quite extraordinary.”
According to Carlo Croce, President of the International Sailing Federation, President of the Yacht Club Italiano and, therefore, another passionate advocate for the race the opportunity to finish the 62nd Giraglia Rolex Cup in Monte-Carlo was too great to be missed: “The arrival in Monte-Carlo was decided upon because the Yacht Club de Monaco opens its new base this year and the inauguration of this new clubhouse will be exactly the same day when the most of the boats are crossing the finish line.” Croce emphasizes that the decision was made easy on other grounds: “The participants liked the idea; they are really enthusiastic about joining the opening party on Friday night. Furthermore, the Yacht Club de Monaco is twinned with the Yacht Club Italiano and we are pleased to share this special moment, even more so since Rolex is a partner of both clubs and has been fully supportive of the idea.”
The 62nd Giraglia Rolex Cup race gets underway tomorrow at noon CEST. Rolex has been a partner of the event since 1997.
For more detailed information about the 2014 Giraglia Rolex Cup including results and race tracking please visit the Yacht Club Italiano website.
Sanya, China – It’s Charles Caudrelier’s 40th birthday this Wednesday; it’s also his first official day as Dongfeng Race Team’s skipper in the Volvo Ocean Race 2014-15. “A key step as a sailor and as a man” for the Frenchman and winner of the last race.
He doesn’t underestimate the task. He knows the challenges that lay ahead, the human pressure and the rough conditions in the world’s leading offshore professional crewed sailing race which begins in October.
Caudrelier is no stranger to the round-the-world 38,739-mile marathon as a key figure of the winning French team Groupama in 2011-12. Announced as skipper of Dongfeng Race Team at the official christening this Wednesday in Sanya, he understands what it means to guide a team through the next edition.
“I’ve seen it on my skipper and friend Franck Cammas in the last race: being a skipper is a huge responsibility and it’s demanding from a human point of view. But I’ve learned from my past experiences and I want to take these skills further.”
Raised in Brittany, Caudrelier is one of France’s best offshore sailors. He is recognised for his victories in the Solitaire du Figaro and the double-handed Transat Jacques Vabre, not to mention his role in Groupama’s triumph.
“Turning 40 today is a nice symbol,” says this father of two. “I remember being a kid and watching Eric Tabarly and Peter Blake sailing this race – I never thought I would be in this position, years later.
“Today I’m reaching an age where I want to change role and take charge. Becoming a Volvo Ocean Race skipper is a key step for me as a sailor and as a man.”
Race CEO Knut Frostad has no doubt that Dongfeng Race Team have the right man for this demanding role. “Charles is a guy at the top of his game in terms of skills and ability, and very importantly he has the ideal personality to take on the extra challenge of integrating the Chinese sailors into the rest of the crew,” he says.
“He is focused on winning but is a man who is always willing to share his considerable knowledge and help progress plans step by step towards a full Chinese crew in future editions of the Volvo Ocean Race.”
It’s certainly not only about Caudrelier’s path. The future interests of Chinese sailing are at the core of Dongfeng Race Team.
Following the second selection trials at the beginning of the month, four more sailors have now joined the existing eight-strong Chinese Academy Squad bringing the total to 12. The French skipper embraces this educative task.
“We want to select four Chinese crew members to sail the race with*. Our Chinese candidates are very dedicated and they are working hard. Yet, few of them know about ocean racing and it’s quite a challenge with the race starting in six months. We have to teach them all if we want to perform as a group.
“As we’ve started sailing together, I’m already seeing their personalities and skills developing.
“I take a great pleasure in teaching my sport. I believe it’s key for our sport to get China involved in sailing for real, too. I want to do my part for everyone to gain from this – the sport of sailing, China, and Dongfeng Race Team.”
Caudrelier intends to announce his final race crew by the end of March – half of it is planned to be Chinese and half international.
“I’ve been speaking with sailors I’ve raced with before and people I know from the last Volvo. The tricky thing is, I’m looking for excellent sailors who are also ready to embrace this unusual project.
“Let’s be clear: this Chinese campaign is a challenge. I want a good atmosphere onboard, I want to recruit friendly people who take an interest in the Chinese culture and want to share what they know.”
The Serenity Marina in Sanya, a race stopover in 2014-15, will host the team through their training period with their one-design boat before they head to Auckland for a proper offshore exercise at the end of March.
Dongfeng Race Team will then sail back to Europe to gear up for the start of the race on October 4 in Alicante, Spain.
*The standard crew size will be 8 plus 1 non-sailing multimedia reporter.