The first day of racing at the 2nd edition of Les Voiles de St. Barth dawned with 25 knots of tropical tradewind breeze and showers sweeping over the picturesque French island located midway down the Caribbean chain. The regatta’s fleet of maxis, racing and cruising yachts, multi-hulls and classics – 48 confirmed on race day – set off on a race course around the nearby archipelago, and met with plenty of wind and bumpy seas, especially on the islands’ exposed eastern side.
You certainly couldn’t have asked for a prettier race course, which today sent fleets on jaunts of either 16-, 22-, or 25-nautical mile jaunts. Most intriguing was the trip around the northern tip of St. Barth and through the nearby archipelago, which in a typically French way makes one ready for a meal with names such as Ile Chevreau (baby goat), Ile Fregate (bird), Ile le Boulanger (the baker), Ile Fourchue (fork), Grouper et Petite Groupers (fish), Le Boeuf (beef), and Le Pain du Sucre (sugarloaf).
Today’s later start at 1300 did nothing to diminish the wind and sea, as the first two classes off – Maxis and Multihulls – with eleven boats, started in 22 knots and encountered two meter seas and were sent on a 25-nautical mile course. George David’s Rambler 100 with Ken Read as skipper, got away at the pin end of the starting line and lead Hugo Stenbeck on Genuine Risk up into the outer harbor to an offset turning mark. Once around, Rambler set a huge asymmetric spinnaker and was on her way for the day.
On the eastern, and windward, side of the island the big boats reveled in the conditions which eventually topped out above 30 knots – Genuine Risk, with their combined crew Swedish/ American crew, recorded 30 knots of boat speed surfing downwind through the islands.
Also racing in the Maxi class was the 86’ CNB sloop Spiip, owned by Robin de Jong, who is making his way westward to Tahiti with the boat. Onboard Spiip is Bruno Trouble, well known for creating and overseeing the Louis Vuitton Challenger Series (for the America’s Cup) that originated in 1983. Trouble is racing at the regatta for the first time, and he said, “Les Voiles de St. Barth reminds me a lot of the early days of the Nioulargue with boats from all over the place taking part. Things are going to really build and it is just great, it really reminds me of the first Nioulargue!”
In the Racing Class, the crew work aboard Jim Swartz’s Vesper looked well-honed as the team traded tacks with Peter Cunningham’s Farr 60 Venomous (CAY) up the first short beat. Back on the quay, Venomous’ tactician Tony Rey recounted the day, “We had some great sailing – St. Barth’s is such an awesome place to sail, every time you turn around an island, or a piece of land, the view just gets better and better. It’s just that the race course is a minefield because the wind twists and turns up the corners and the crevices – but it’s a fascinating place to sail! We also had the added challenge that our instruments went down, so we were guessing on our wind speed and direction, and guessing at our boat speed for part of it too, which turned us into good seat-of-the-pants sailors.”
Before scores were tabulated, though Rey suspects, “We think we were probably 2nd or 3rd, we’re pretty sure Vesper beat us handily, because downwind you just can’t stay with a boat like that. We could have sailed better for sure, we left a few seconds on the race track, but generally we’re thrilled, it was a great day of sailing!”
In the 24-boat Racing Cruising class, the Swan 60 Fenix closely led Jereon Hin’s First 50 Black Hole (NED) after the first upwind beat. This class has a gamut of boats including two all-women entries, Annie O’Sullivan’s Diamonds Are Forever (UK), and Henneke Stegweg’s iLost (NED). As well, there are two Moorings 50.5 charter boats with two crews from Oakville, Ontario, Canada, headed up by Andre Beese and Patrick Festing. Both crews are comprised of friends and fellow Etchells sailors, who were originally headed to Antigua to race when a friend suggested they race at Les Voiles de St. Barth.
The Classics class, while low on numbers with just five boats, were high on style points with the 76’ W-class White Wings, the 80’ Fife yawl, Mariella, the 60’ dark-hulled gaff-rigged yawl Kate from St Kitt’s, and the 26’ Friendship sloop La Sirene, gracing the line.
Carlo Falcone, from Antigua, is a frequent competitor with Mariella in both classic and offshore races around the world, which he, more often than not, wins. He enjoys sailing in St. Barth because it has, he says, “more European style than other parts of the Caribbean.”
The yacht was designed by American naval architect Alfred Mylne, and built by Fife in Scotland in 1938. As Falcone says, “The beauty of this boat is the mix of the two. Mariella is well sailed and immaculately maintained, and Falcone says, “I believe the more you use the boat the better it is. But it’s never-ending work – not buying the boat, but keeping it. They say, ‘the owners are just taking care of the boat until the next one.’” His regular crew is a mix of family and friends including his daughter Sylvia, his long-time navigator, 89-year old Henry Pepper (Marblehead, Mass), and crew from Italy, Australia and Dominica. Les Voiles de St.Barth is a way to prepare the boat for this summer’s classic yacht series in New England.
With a relatively new event, one may wonder what goes into the thinking for the course on day one. Following this morning’s skipper’s briefing, the, Les Voiles Race Committee Principal Race Officer, Jean Coadou offered some insight, “There were three main elements: the weather forecast, looking at the strength and direction of the wind around all of the islands. Also it was important with such a large fleet to avoid any boats crossing paths. And first and foremost, the enjoyment of sailing was a key factor. We try to ensure that the competitors encounter all the different points of sail, upwind, downwind and reaching. The idea is to come up with three hours of exciting racing each day; that is why the courses are around 30 miles in length for the fastest boats and 16 miles for the smaller craft.”
Key information: Les Voiles de St. Barth is being hosted from April 4 – 9 2011 by the St. Barth Yacht Club
Yacht Name Sail Design LOA Skipper Status
GBR 115 FARR 115 Peter HARRISON /Marc FIDZGERALD
888 SWAN 112 RS/GPR 112′ ALBERT KEULARTS
FRA 8686 CNB 86 86′ ROBIN DE JONG
RAMBLER 100 USA 25555 READ Ken
8390 DUBOIS/MC CONAUGHY 97′ HUGO STENBECK
750 OPEN 750 24′ JAN VANDEN EYNDE
FRA 27917 Farr 36,7 DEREDEC Christian
USA 45454 Farr 45 DEMARCHELLIER Patrick
GRB 1513L GRAND SOLEIL 43′ WILLEM WESTER
SPEEDY NEMO SBH 26 MAGRAS Raymond
TP 52 54′ JAMES SWARTZ
GBR 60006 FARR DESIGN 60′ PETER CUNNINGHAM
MAE-LIA MAGRAS Raphael
SOLANO FRA 34625
Yacht Name Sail Design LOA Skipper Status
US2 W CLASS 76′ DONALD TOFIAS
ES5 MYLNE 60′ Walwyn
3 FRIEND SHIP SLOOP R WILSON 26′ DAVID PERTEL
464 YAWL/FIFE 80′ CARLO FALCONE Pre-entry
Yacht Name Sail Design LOA Skipper Status
GBR 9660R SWAN 60′ MORITZ BURMESTER
123 Beneteau 45 VELASQUEZ Robert
GER 150L FIRST 50 50′ JEROEN HIN
88 DUFOUR 425 GL 43′ REY PASCAL
FINOT BENETEAU 47.3 ALAIN CHARLOT
FRA 491 REQUIN 33 MELISSA RIMBAUD
FRA 479 REQUIN 33 FOX MOWGLI
BERRET 50.5 ANDRE BEESE
X-YACHT 34 MAGRAS Raphael
BERRET 50.5 PATRICK SMITH
DUFOUR 34′ RAYMOND MAGRAS
51952 BALTIC 39 39′ MAX IMRIE
SUN ODYSSEY 54 DS 54′ HENRY ALBERT
FRA37407 GRAND SOLEIL 40′ PHILIPPE HERVOUET
IVB 612 X-YACHT 60′ NICO CORTLEVER
US 50007 SWAN 48′ JACK DESMOND
FRA 34625 LATINI 52 FELCI 52′ FREDERIC RIALLAND
DIAMONDS ARE FOREVER
GRB 1007L ELAN 37′ ANNIE O’SULLIVAN
GBR 9949 T FIRST 40.7 41′ KEN ACOTT
HARMONY 42 42′ HANNEKE STEGWEG
USA 1 J 95 31′ THOMAS MULLEN
WILD DEVIL ISLAND WATER WORLD
NM 1993 KIWI 35 35′ BEN JELIC
TANGRA 413 REQUIN 35′ QUERE Pre-entry
Yacht Name Sail Design LOA Skipper Status
399BC GUNBOAT 66′ PAUL HAND
COULOMBEL 40′ ERICK CLEMENT
SEACART 30′ HERVE DE MARJOLIE
GBR 565 40′ JASON GARD
BLUE CAT VAN PETEGHEM 40′ CHAYER
CATAMARAN MY CAT 26′ CONSIDERE CLAUDE
Thirty eight years ago the first International Rolex Regatta took place in St. Thomas and so began an annual tradition that endures to this day. The three-day event, which starts tomorrow, has increased its participants over last year, with 77 teams signed up in IRC, CSA (Spinnaker and Non-Spinnaker), IC 24 and Beach Cat classes. The gamut of keelboat sizes runs from 90 feet (the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy’s canting keel Maxi Yacht Genuine Risk, chartered by Sweden’s Hugo Stenbeck and competing in IRC) down to 24 feet (three feisty Melges 24 sport boats competing in CSA Spinnaker 1 class and 16 “homegrown” IC 24s sailing in their own one-design class). Likewise, there are plenty of established teams with “rock star” crews from the top end of the international sailing spectrum and heaps of lesser knowns with otherwise enormous talent from around the globe, surrounding islands, and St. Thomas itself.
IRC and CSA Fleet Racing
Certainly one of the best known names here is Bouwe Bekking (DEN), who will be calling tactics on the Grand Soleil 43 Antilope in IRC 2 class. Bekking has five around the world races under his belt (most notably as skipper of the 2008/09 Volvo Ocean Race entry Telefonica Blue, which finished third), and has also won the Rolex Sydney Hobart Race once and the Cape Town to Rio Race three times.
Antilope is owned by Willem Wester (SUI), who will serve as navigator onboard, and though it is Antilope’s first time to compete in the International Rolex Regatta, Bekking says its core team has been together for several very successful years. As for other recognizable names on the crew, he says, “they are all well known back home. On the international scene; however, our helmsman Philippe Bergmans has two Olympics under his belt in the Laser class, and another crew member Bert Schandevyl sailed in the last Volvo on Delta Lloyd and sails on heaps of good boats.”
For all of his accomplishments, Bekking says this regatta is as important as any other, and he doesn’t have a particular win that he considers his “Holy Grail.” “I like to win even when it is a Wednesday night race; you are only as good as your last result,” said Bekking.
IRC 2 class will also get a show from the likes of Peter Corr’s (St. Thomas) new Warwick 82 Aiyana, which will have Steve Benjamin (South Norwalk, Conn., USA) aboard as tactician. Phil Lotz’s (Newport, R.I.) Swan 42 Arethusa, who won here two years ago, practiced against Aiyana today and was impressed. “They had good speed and a symmetrical chute, so it will be interesting,” said Lotz, explaining that “with Arethusa using an asymmetrical chute, we won’t be sailing the same angles downwind.” He also had good things to say about Pat Eudy’s (Charleston, S.C., USA) Lutra 42 Big Booty. “Big Booty is a good boat; it’s always right there. We sailed against them at the US-IRC Nationals and two years ago here.” Among the other contenders is Tea Ekengren-Sauren’s (FIN) Swan 45 Blue Nights.
Battling with Genuine Risk in IRC 1 class will be Richard Oland’s (CAN) Southern Cross 52 Vela Veloce, which won last year and will have America’s Cup skipper Ed Baird (St. Petersburg, Fla., USA) calling tactics and Richard Clarke (CAN) steering. Austin and Gwen Fragomen’s (Newport, R.I., USA) IRC 52 Interlodge gave them a run for the money last year, up until the last race which they lost by a hair, so the challenge is on. Bill Alcott’s chartered Swan 601 Aquarius will also be on the starting line along with Jim Swartz’s (Edgartown, Mass., USA) Vesper/Team Moneypenny and Ron O’Hanley’s (Boston, Mass.) Cookson 50 Privateer. The Privateer team was so intent on doing this regatta that they sailed the boat down from Florida last week and will deliver it back immediately after the event is over.
After class splits were determined this afternoon, CSA Spinnaker 1 class shook out to include three Melges 24s, two Melges 32s and a Henderson 30. “It’s nice to have sport boats all in one class,” said Kevin Rigley (BVI), headsail trimmer on fellow BVI sailor Dave West’s Melges 32 Jurakan. “Our boat speeds are faster on the 32s, but with the handicaps, racing against the 24s is always tight. The 24s might favor lighter conditions (he predicts 12 knots, max 15 over the next three days), but in anything over 15 knots and under 10 knots we might have the edge.”
CSA Spinnaker 2 class features everything from Peter Haycrafts’s (Tortola, BVI) Sirena 38 Pipe Dream to Tony McBride’s (GBR) Beneteau First 50 Bigamist and Sergio Sagramosa’s (San Juan, PR) Grand Soleil 54 Lazy Dog, while CSA Spinnaker 3 class will see plenty of action from the two J/27s Mag 7, skippered by Paul Davis (St. Thomas), and No Sea Dem, skippered by Christopher Hardin (St. Thomas); Robert Read’s (Seekonk, Mass.) J/40 Nepenthe; and Kike Gonzalez’s (San Juan, PR) Otrakosa, among others.
In CSA Non Spinnaker class, Antonio Sanpere (St. Croix, USVI) holds all the cards as defending champion and perhaps the best prepared of the entrants. The crew of his J/36 Cayennita Grande returns with him each year, but there are new faces on the race course for 2011. An all-woman sailing team, GirlsforSail, will step up to the plate, with Annie O’Sullivan (GBR) skippering. Once a buyer for Woolworth’s, O’Sullivan quit that job after seeing famous yachtswoman Ellen McArthur speak and started a company that encouraged women to sail. “It was ten years ago when not many would have asked me to race, and women weren’t given the same chances as men, so I said ‘I’ll have to do it myself,’” said O’Sullivan, who has since skippered her GirlsforSail team on three Atlantic crossings and to victories in such events as Antigua Race Week.
The IC 24 class, the largest with 16 entries here, is hugely popular here in St. Thomas, in large part because the one-design class was developed locally as a way to increase inter-island competition with a fun, easy boat to own and sail. The resulting hybrid of a J/24 hull and Melges 24-style deck did the trick, convincing hordes of talented island sailors to give up whatever they had sailed before and join the class, which at the International Rolex Regatta typically features lead changes on every leg and at every mark rounding on short courses set close to shore. Top IC 24 skippers from St. Thomas include Verian Aquilar on Green Boat, Chris Cuerreri on Soggy Dollar, Paul Stoeken on Island Sol, and Mike Williams on Red Dog. But the fiercest competition will come from off-island from no less than four Puerto Rican teams, including eight-time winner at this event, Fraito Lugo (Ponce), skippering Orion.
In Beach Cat class, defending champion John Holmberg and his 12-year-old son Kai have proven in recent regattas that they still have what it takes to repeat last year’s performance here. Sailing Hobie One Canobie, the duo will match up with other local Hobie 16 teams Island Girl, skippered by Teri McKenna, and Chancletero, skippered by Mike Williams, while Mark Chong’s (St. Thomas) Blame it on Rhea, Pedro Colon’s (PR) Furia Roja and Jason Siska’s (Fox River Grove, Ill., USA) Puma round out the fleet with Nacra 20, Hobie 20 and Prindle 20 teams, respectively.
Race Formats and Schedule
First up on the three-day race schedule are tomorrow’s colorful “town races” that start at St. Thomas Yacht Club and finish in Charlotte Amalie Harbour at lunchtime before starting again around 1 p.m. for a return to the yacht club. Visitors and residents alike will be able to catch the spectacle from vantage points around the island, including Marriott Frenchman’s Reef, where a bird’s eye view of multi-colored spinnakers can be had. Racing will continue on Saturday with as many as eight windward/leeward races for the IC 24s, while all other classes will sail a combination of island and/or distance races on the south side of St. John. Sunday features as many as six races for IC 24s and two races for all others on Pillsbury Sound. Racing starts at 10 a.m. each morning.
The International Rolex Regatta is the third of the four-part Caribbean Ocean Racing Circuit (CORC), which also includes major regattas in St. Croix, Puerto Rico and Tortola. Sailors are treated to a mix of short-course and long distance races that take place off St. Thomas Yacht Club and along the waterfronts of St. Thomas and St. John, and those lucky enough to win the top classes here can also take home a Rolex watch as a prize. Parties are legendary, including a Saturday evening reggae party at Yacht Haven Grande marina, which adds exotic flair to the activities.
The International Rolex Regatta has been hosted by St. Thomas Yacht Club since 1974, making it the oldest regatta in Rolex’s portfolio of international sailing events. Rolex is known for sponsoring famous offshore and grand-prix events such as the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race, Rolex Fastnet Race, Giraglia Rolex Cup, Rolex Middle Sea Race, Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup and the Rolex Farr 40 World Championship.
Competition for oldest trophy in international sport once again returns to American waters
San Francisco has been selected as the host venue for the 34th America’s Cup. An official celebration event will be hosted in San Francisco on January 5th, event location details to be announced.
“We sought a venue that fulfills our promise – to showcase the best sailors in the world competing on the fastest boats,” said Richard Worth, Chairman, America’s Cup Event Authority. “And hosting the America’s Cup in San Francisco will realize that promise.”
“We thank Mayor Newsom, Board President Chiu, Supervisor Mirkarimi and all of the Board of Supervisors, the staff at City Hall and the Port Authority, Mark Buell and San Francisco America’s Cup Organizing Committee, and all who have worked so diligently on securing the bid,” Worth continued. “We look forward to working closely with City of San Francisco over the coming months to create a world-class America’s Cup event, and a large and lasting beneficial impact on the City.”
The world-famous San Francisco Bay will be home to the 2013 America’s Cup Finals and the Challenger Selection Series for the Louis Vuitton Cup, as well as an America’s Cup World Series event in 2012. This will be the first time the America’s Cup has been hosted in the United States since 1995.
“Today is one of great celebration, with San Francisco winning the right to host the America’s Cup, and all of the economic benefit, jobs and excitement that comes with it,” said Mayor Gavin Newsom. “San Francisco is the best place on Earth to host an event of this stature, and we could not be more proud to be the city that brings the America’s Cup back home to the United States.”
Independent studies show that the America’s Cup delivers the third largest economic impact in sport to host countries, behind the Olympic Games and soccer’s World Cup. The 34th America’s Cup is projected to pump an estimated $1.4 billion dollars into the San Francisco region.
“As a native San Franciscan, I grew up sailing in front of the City. Racing for the America’s Cup in San Francisco is something I have dreamt of my whole life,” said Paul Cayard, CEO of Sweden’s Artemis Racing, a challenger for the 34th America’s Cup. “By hosting sailing’s most important event in the Bay, the world will see sailing as it never has before. As a team, Artemis Racing is particularly looking forward to competing in San Francisco.”
Racing will be held on the iconic San Francisco Cityfront and be visible from world-renown tourist destinations such as the Golden Gate Bridge, the Marin Headlands, Crissy Field, the Embarcadero and Fisherman’s Wharf. An influx of millions of tourists is expected for the Challenger Series for the Louis Vuitton Cup and the America’s Cup Finals in late 2013.
“My support for San Francisco hosting the America’s Cup goes beyond the opportunity to see our team competing on home waters,” said Russell Coutts, CEO, ORACLE Racing, the current America’s Cup defending team. “We are excited to sail for our sport’s greatest trophy, on a stretch of water legendary among sailors worldwide.”
The Race Village will be constructed on Piers 19 and 29, with the team bases at and around Pier 30/32. As part of the plan, the America’s Cup Event Authority will redevelop these piers as well as the surrounding infrastructure to support the racing, while rehabilitating the piers for the enjoyment of generations of San Franciscans to come.
With a goal of creating the most dynamic America’s Cup in history for fans and participants, changes have been introduced to the 34th edition. Enhancements include the introduction of groundbreaking new 72′ wing-sailed catamarans capable of speeds in excess of 40 miles per hour, new race formats and rules, and a transformed media and online broadcasting approach to enable an interactive viewer experience.
In the summer of 2011, America’s Cup teams will commence racing in the new America’s Cup World Series in the new wing-sailed AC45 catamaran. The America’s Cup World Series calendar of events will be published in early 2011.
Italian skipper Andrea Mura celebrates upon his arrival at Pointe-a-Pitre in the French West Indies island of Guadeloupe, on his way to win the Route du Rhum trans-Atlantic in the Rhum Class monohull category on his boat Vento di Sardegna.
As Andrea Mura celebrates his win the Class 40 and Rhum Category skippers continue to arrive in Guadeloupe. Pete Goss due in today.
Normally, during this time of year, the tradewinds are generally nice and steady, yet it has to be said that this doesn’t appear to be the case for the competitors in the Ultimate Class competing in the Route du Rhum La Banque Postale.
Positioned 300 miles to the North of Groupama 3, Thomas Coville’s Sodebo is enjoying stronger wind from a better direction to maintain a high average speed. In this way, the skipper has been able to make up 86 miles on the leader over the past 24 hours.
Similarly, Francis Joyon, who is positioned to the East of Groupama 3, has made up 60 miles of his deficit, whilst Yann Guichard has lost around a hundred miles.
On the Atlantic race zone then, things aren’t exactly sticking to the usual routine. Variable both in terms of strength and direction, the wind is imposing a fast physical rhythm on the sailors, who not only have to keep watch for sudden surges of breeze to avoid capsizing, but also wind holes, so as they don’t lose ground on their rivals by keeping an unsuitable sail configuration up for too long.
To spice things up a bit, you have no prior warning about how long this phase will last: you think it’s going to last a good while so you manoeuvre by hoisting or reducing the sail area. Lots of physical effort is involved at that point, as well as a drop in speed as you perform the manoeuvres. If your forecast proves to be right then it’s BINGO. There you are carrying the correct sail configuration, happy with the efforts you’ve made to get where you are. Where the opposite is true, it’s hell. You’re stuck fast or forced to go up on deck to avoid the risk of capsizing.
Such is the life of the multihull skipper, who only sleeps in 20 minute chunks.
Suffice to say that as the skippers begin to tackle the sixth day at sea, just 1,338 miles from the finish, the fatigue must be seriously beginning to make its presence felt. There’s no question of easing off the pace though: you have to earn a Rhum!
Positions at 1500 hours on Friday 5th November
1/ Groupama 3 some 1,338 miles from the finish
2/ Sodebo 260.6 miles from the leader
3/ Idec 309.4 miles astern
4/ Gitana 11 some 453 miles astern
5/ La Boite à Pizza 905.2 miles astern
In this hotly contested fleet where past race honours are shared almost equally through the fleet, it is still Armel Le Cléac’h, the Jackal, who has managed to maintain the lead of the nine boat class for a full 24 hours.
On his southerly option, passing off Lisbon today, after being slowed by calms straying too close to the edge of the high last night Michel Desjoyeaux, had to gybe to the SE to escape but has gybed back to course now and is quickest in the fleet, regaining seven miles on the leaders since this morning.
His deviation cost eighth too Arnaud Boissières. Desjoyeaux is ninth still with a deficit of 169 miles on Brit Air.
Marc Guillemot said this morning that he hopes to repair the hook on the head of his solent jib which has been his problem virtually since the start of the race on Safran.
There was bit of a fright for Kito de Pavant (Groupe Bel) during the night when he awoke with a start with his radar alarm going off. Incredibly he was on collision course with sister-ship Safran with skipper Guillemot asleep. De Pavant reacted quickly and passed 50 metres behind his rival, the winner of last year’s Transat Jacques Vabre.
Speaking on the radio vacs this morning Safran’s Guillemot was unaware he had passed so close to his friend and rival.
Guillemot did reveal what his technical issue has been. There is a problem with the hook which locks the head of the Solent to the mast and so he has been unable to use this key sail, instead sailing under staysail. But he hopes to be able to fix this today and resume full power.
After studying the matter for several months and following various discussions, the French sailors Loïck and Bruno Peyron are getting together in an attempt to unite the leading figures from French multihull sailing. This new challenge is being set up with the goal of bringing the America’s Cup, which will be raced on multihulls in 2013, to France for the first time in its history.
- A meeting between Russell Coutts, representing the Defender and organiser of the 34th America’s Cup, and the Peyron brothers was held in Paris on Friday, to discuss how France could take part in such an ambitious project as the America’s Cup.
- Bruno and Loïck Peyron have also announced they are in talks with Stéphane Kandler, Jochen Schümann (twice winner of the America’s Cup) and their ALL4ONE team, with the prospect of bringing the two groups together.
Are the French able to win the America’s Cup, the world’s oldest international sporting trophy? A goal, which France, ever since Baron Bich’s first challenge in 1967, has been unable to reach. It is certainly a very complex project, even though no one doubts the ability of French designers, sailors and builders, this is not by itself enough to guarantee success.
The America’s Cup, just like Formula 1 motor racing, is a global event, an economic and technological war, just as much as being a sporting challenge. Between now and the end of March, the new team that is being formed will have to prove it has got what it takes to commit itself. They will then have three years ahead of them to prove they can win.
The America’s Cup revolution of 2013
For 2013, something which no one really expected is happening. The Defender and Challenger of Record announced on 13th September that the 34th America’s Cup will be raced aboard multihulls, and more precisely on 72-foot catamarans with rigid wingsails. This announcement led to a wave of optimism from the French, meaning the conquest of the Silver Ewer is more likely to be within the grasp of the world’s leading multihull specialists in France.
A sacred union of multihull racers
After doing battle for 30 years on the world’s oceans and between them obtaining the finest list of successes in ocean racing, Loïck and Bruno Peyron coming together is an unprecedented opportunity for the French in challenging for the America’s Cup.
The two brothers have set a target of three months to try to bring together all the necessary personnel and resources, from a sporting, technological and economic perspective, to achieve this goal.
This major challenge is open to all the talents in France and abroad with the aim of bringing together the two worlds of multihull racing and the America’s Cup, to try and conquer the most famous sailing event in the world.
Bruno Peyron: “With the America’s Cup being organised for the first time with multihulls, the challenge is clear for us: Is France, the world leader in multihulls for 30 years capable of capitalising on its assets or will it allow other nations to catch up in three years, what we have acquired over 30? We have three months ahead of us to answer that question and three years to show what we can do. Looking beyond individual concerns, and any protectionism, I am convinced that we need to unite to be in with a chance of winning. This first symbolic step must build the foundations to allow skills, wherever they come from to be brought together.
This will be carried out at a pace suiting everyone, but remaining open is a key aspect of achieving this goal. Are we being idealistic? Is it impossible? We have already proven that what seems impossible is not always so.”
Loïck Peyron: “We’ve always been told and quite rightly that the America’s Cup is reserved for specialists…which is good news for us! From Formula 18 to the Route du Rhum and not forgetting the Jules Verne Trophy, the French are specialists in multihulls, so let’s go for it … together.”
Russell Coutts: “The new format of The America’s Cup is a great opportunity for a country such as France which counts with some of the best multihull skills in the world. Bruno and Loick Peyron each have a fantastic record in racing multihulls successfully as well as creating and taking part in top level events. I am really gratified to see that they share a similar vision for transforming the America’s Cup and the new opportunities created for teams with imagination and ambition. I have no doubt that Bruno & Loick Peyron will put together a strong team and prove to be tough competitors.”
Extracts from the list of Loïck and Bruno Peyron’s achievements
• Helmsman with Alinghi in the 33rd America’s Cup (2010)
• Triple winner of the Transatlantic race from Plymouth (1992, 1996, 2008)
• Winner and second in the Quebec-Saint Malo (1988, 1996)
• Twice winner and three times on the podium of the Transat Jacques Vabre (1993, 1999, 2001, 2003, 2005)
• 43 Atlantic crossings, including 17 solo crossings
• 2nd in The Race (2000-2001)
• 2nd in the Vendée Globe (1989-1990)
• 5 ORMA championship titles
• 16 Grand Prix wins
• 8 times winner of the Clairefontaine Trophy
• Twice winner of the D35 championship and the Bol d’Or
• Founder of The Race (2000 / 2001)
• Three times holder of the Jules-Verne Trophy (1993, 2002, 2005)
• Three Atlantic records (1987, 1992, 2006)
• 5 North and South Pacific records (1997, 1998, 1993, 2002, 2005)
• 5 24-hour records (1982, 1997, 2000, 2004, 2006)
• 39 ocean records
• 8 times world number 1 in ocean records
• 3 nominations for the title of Yachtsman of The Year
France and the America’s Cup
Created in 1851, the America’s Cup is the oldest trophy in international sport. For more than 150 years, it has been hotly contested by those trying to win it. In fact, it is the winner – the Defender – who determines the venue for the next Cup, while the Challenger(s) has/have to go there to try to overcome the Defender.
France took part for the first time in 1967 thanks to Baron Bich, who would back three boats in a row (France I, II and III). In 1980, France III with Bruno Troublé at the helm was to be the challenger that went the furthest, but they fell at the final hurdle in the Challengers’ final against Australia. There then followed the challenges launched by Marc Pajot (1987, 1992 and 1995), then le Defi team with Pierre Mas, Luc Gellusseau and Xavier de Lesquen in 2000 and 2003. Finally in 2007, Areva Challenge led by Stéphane Kandler, aided by Dawn Riley and Thierry Péponnet, would finish in 8th place in the Louis Vuitton Cup.
The America’s Cup in numbers
• 33 editions of the America’s Cup have taken place between 1870 and 2010
• Only four countries have ever won the America’s Cup: the United States, Australia, New Zealand and Switzerland
- 28 editions defended by the United States : from 1870 to 1983, 1988, 1992, 1995
- 1 edition defended by Australia: 1987
- 2 editions defended by New Zealand: 2000 and 2003
- 2 editions defended by Switzerland: 2007 and 2010
• 7 countries have raced in the America’s Cup (England, Italy, Canada, Switzerland, Australia, New Zealand and the United States)
• 6 venues have hosted the event in 159 years: New York (USA), Newport (USA), Fremantle (AUS), San Diego (USA), Auckland (NZL) and Valencia (ESP)
• 1 single trophy: the America’s Cup.