Just like the king's privateers, the crews bear the mark of their sponsor and are ready to set out across the Atlantic. No time to sit back and watch the world go by – the aim of the game is to be first across the Saint Malo finishing line ! Provisions are on board, rigging has been checked, sails validated, liens replaced, fittings and gear greased… And although no-one is planning on boarding another's vessel, privateer style, a canon shot will be fired, the starting shot from the Yacht Club de Québec, at 12h50 on Sunday ! The signal that a session of battleships is about to get underway. Never before has a fleet of twelve multihulls lining up on the start of this transatlantic race from west to east been so finely tuned. Optimum boats deserve optimum crews and that is exactly what they are. The skippers have called upon the services of previous winners of the race. Loïck Peyron, for example, currently holder of the record for the race on his Fujicolor II - 1996 in 7 days 21 hours 35 minutes, who will be on board Sodebo with Thomas Coville. Laurent Bourgnon, who won back in 1992 on Primagaz will be sailing with his former crew Stève Ravussin on Banque Covefi.
There are so many special factors in this race that not only must technical skill be taken for granted, but also particular knowledge of the course itself. Particularly the first stretch run down the Saint Lawrence river and the Gulf, featuring currents, coastal phenomena, thermal breezes, effects of the high cliff, tides… navigators and tacticians have their work cut out for them ! On both Gitana, six have already raced the Québec-Saint Malo. Marc Guillemot (Gitana X) has three participations to his name : one win with Jet Services V in 1988, one second place with Mike Birch in 1996, and another second place in 2000, on his trimaran Biscuits La Trinitaine II. Alongside Marc in 2004 is Olivier Wroczynski who was crew with Laurent Bourgnon in 1992 on Primagaz, and Thierry Duprey who was at the helm of Gitana IX in 2000. Nicolas Raynaud, Luc Poupon and Erwan Le Roux make up the rest of the crew on Gitana X.
On Gitana 11, Fred Le Peutrec will be running this race for the third time. His first time on this course was with Jean Maurel on ex-Elf Aquitaine in 1992 and a second place with Marc Guillemot in 2000. The Baron Benjamin de Rothschild and François Denis were also on board Gitana IX four years ago. Yann Marilley, Yann Guichard and Fred Brousse comprise the three remaining members of the crew.
Same scenario on the other multis where the crew lists are every bit as impressive. Coean racing specialists by the likes of Hervé Jan (Trophée Jules Verne…) on Géant, Franck Proffit (The Race…) on Groupama, Yannick Bestaven (Mini Transat) on Mediatis Région Aquitaine, Damian Foxall, Ronan Le Goff and Brit Brian Thompson (The Race…) on Sergio Tacchini, Jacques Vincent and American Cam Lewis (Trophée Jules Verne, The Race…) on Sodebo !
Fred Le Peutrec and Yann Guichard (Gitana 11) will not feel lonely as other trimarans are being crewed by former racers from the national squad, specialists of Olympic sailing - Thierry Douillard (Banque Covefi) and Daniel Souben (Groupama) from the Tornado background, or Jean-Philippe Saliou (Géant) crew with Philippe Presti in the Star class
Not forgetting the remarkable « Figaristes », Armel Le Cléac'h (Foncia), winner of the Solitaire du Figaro 2003 and Sidney Gavignet (Banque Populaire), runner up in the Transat Ag2r 2004. Other crew from the world of crewed circumnavigation racing - Jan Decker (Groupama), Stefan Fodor (Sodebo) or Lionel Lemonchois (Sopra Group)… And last but not least, guys from the America's Cup - Pierre Mas (Banque Populaire), Julien Cressant (Foncia), Benoît Briand (Groupama).
The 2004 vintage is a melting pot of multi-disciplined talented yachtsmen and women sailing alongside top notch skippers, resulting in a totally complementary bunch of trimmer, helmsmen, navigators and tacticians. A transatlantic passage which will be raced like a Grand Prix… but over 3 000 miles !
Banque Covefi : Stève Ravussin (1996-Primagaz, 2000-Groupama)
Laurent Bourgnon, Yvan Ravussin , Nicolas Pichelin, Thierry Douillard, Georges Wagner
Banque Populaire : Lalou Roucayrol
Pierre Mas, Gilles Favennec, Bruno Laurent, Florent Chastel, Sidney Gavignet
Foncia : Alain Gautier (2000-Foncia)
Thierry Briend, Julien Cressant, Armel Le Cléac'h, Philippe Péché
Géant : Michel Desjoyeaux
Hervé Jan, Hugues Destremau, Jean-Philippe Saliou, Nicolas de Castro, Vincent Riou
Gitana X : Marc Guillemot
Olivier Wroczynski, Nicolas Raynaud, Luc Poupon, Erwan Le Roux, Thierry Duprey
Gitana 11 : Fred Le Peutrec
Baron Benjamin de Rothschild, Yann Marilley, Yann Guichard, François Denis, Fred Brousse
Groupama : Franck Cammas (2000-Groupama)
Franck Proffit, Jan Decker, Daniel Souben, Benoît Briand, Erwen Le Clec'h
Mediatis-Région Aquitaine : Yves Parlier
Christophe Gouineau, Stéphane Hervé, Romaric Neyhousser, Yannick Bestaven
Sergio Tacchini : Karine Fauconnier
Damian Foxall, Ronan Le Goff, Antoine Mermod, Jean-Baptiste Le Vaillant, Brian Thompson
Sopra Group : Philippe Monnet
Lionel Lemonchois, Jacques Delorme, Mayeul Riffet, Thierry Brault
Sodebo : Thomas Coville (1996-Primagaz)
Jacques Vincent, Martial Salvan, Stefan Fodor, Loïck Peyron, Cam Lewis
TIM-Progetto Italia : Giovanni Soldini (1996-Telecom Italia, 2000-Fila)
Alberto Sonnino, Tommaso Stella, Guido Broggi, Gerardo Siciliano