Shortly before 1400 hours UTC, the MOD 70s were the last yachts to set off, with around a hundred or so other units of varying sizes adopting the same course of them at the start of the afternoon. The author of a fantastic start, Edmond de Rothschild Group was at the front of the pack for the first section of the course, battling it out with Spindrift Racing initially. Conditions were ideal – 20 knots of breeze, flat seas – and the trimaran crews made the most of them to really power up their machines. Sébastien Josse and his men were particularly adept at this little game and were first to round Sein: “We got off to a superb start by opting for a good sail configuration. We headed off under staysail and full mainsail, whilst Foncia and Spindrift went for the solent as headsail instead. As we passed Teignouse (which marks the exit from the Baie de Quiberon), we unfurled the gennaker and attacked a long downwind leg bound for Sein. We were second at that point and within contact of Spindrift. The separation was minimal, but on our one-design boats, gaining a metre is a long-term job! We snapped up an opportunity, by making the most of a burst of speed to overtake them before Sein!” explained the skipper of the Gitana Team this morning.
When the first three MODs passed Sein and set a course for Belle-Ile-en-Mer, there was very little to separate them, a few boat lengths at most. At that stage Josse and his men decided to break away from their rivals to seize an advantage from the weather forecast over the zone: “We wanted to protect the left-hand side of the race zone as we were waiting for a big wind shift; it was supposed to swing round from the South to the West. The step was a logical one in relation to our positioning. However, the rotation kicked in later than the grib files were predicting, which meant that we tacked too early. It was about twenty minutes late kicking in, which made a big difference in the end and prevented us from catching up with our playmates again,” explained Sébastien Josse. “This mistake cost us the race, or at least the close-contact battle for victory, but that’s the name of the game and nobody aboard regrets what we did, quite the contrary in fact. We’re competing in the pre-season races right now and it’s good to try things here. There is so little speed differential between the boats that to win events you have to take the initiative and be daring”, admits Sébastien Josse.
For the Gitana Team, this participation in the ArMen Race concludes what has been a week packed with sailing and a wealth of lessons: “At the start of the week we were in Port-la-Forêt training with Foncia and Oman. The hours spent working together, are very precious, but they can’t replace the ‘full-scale’ confrontations, especially as we enjoyed some intense sailing conditions in this ArMen Race. Overnight the wind filled to around 28-30 knots and we were reaching (wind on the beam). These few tacks gave us a great deal of information and will enable us to progress still further in getting the best out of the boat. There is still some work to be done aboard Edmond de Rothschild Group but we can take a number of positive points from this past week, particularly in terms of speed and the crews ease in carrying out manœuvres. Over the past few days of sailing, I’d opted to make a slight change to the workforce and to choose a new crew configuration so as to continue with preparations for the upcoming season. Olivier Douillard and Pierre Pennec were part of this with a view to their participation in some offshore courses in the Europa Tour in September.”
For the time being, the 70-feet trimaran fitted out by Baron Benjamin de Rothschild has returned to her base in nearby Lorient. Sébastien Josse and his men are giving themselves a few days off before they set sail for Saint Nazaire, where the Record SNSM awaits them. This race has become a classic over the years, for the benefit of the lifeboat men and women, and this year’s start is scheduled for Sunday 3 June. It will be the final preparatory race for Edmond de Rothschild Group before the first official meeting of the Multi One Championship: the Krys Ocean Race, which will set out from New York on 7 July 2012.
The Ingérop ArMen Race in brief
The Ar-Men lighthouse is one of the most renowned lighthouses due to its isolated character, the vast number of difficulties, which had to be overcome for its construction and the danger its staff had to face. As such, in line with the famous Fastnet Race as well as the Giraglia in the Mediterranean, whose course marks are legendary maritime references, the ArMen Race was created and launched in 2011. The idea is to provide local sailors, professionals and amateurs alike, with their own French “Holy Grail”. 83 craft competed in the event last year, for the launch of the race, and this year around a hundred boats livened up the Baie de Quiberon before setting off on courses which were determined according to the size and category of yacht.
Standing for the Ingérop ArMen Race 2012 (MOD category)
1 / Foncia – Michel Desjoyeaux in 14 hours 15 minutes and 35 seconds
2 / Spindrift Racing – Yann Guichard
3 / Ministry Tourism of Oman – Sidney Gavignet
4 / Edmond de Rothschild Group – Sébastien Josse