Friday, 17 September 2010

France’s Groupe Bel will participate in the Barcelona World Race with Kito de Pavant and Sébastien Audigane

Groupe Bel. Image copyright Gilles Martin-Raget/Groupe Bel.

by Groupe Bel media

Never satisfied, always ready to take on new challenges with enthusiasm and ambition, Groupe Bel and his skipper Kito de Pavant will be racing in a new and particularly audacious adventure. At the end of the Route du Rhum next November, the red monohull bearing the image of La vache qui rit® (The Laughing Cow) will line up on 31 December for the Barcelona World Race, to attack a two-handed non-stop round the world race leaving from the Catalan capital. To keep him company during these three months of racing, the Mediterranean sailor has chosen the man from Brest, Sébastien Audigane, an experienced and talented sailor with whom he has already shared many experience at sea. Three oceans, two sailors and a very famous cow in this round the world - quite a program!

For three years now, between races and her sailing expeditions, the 60 foot Groupe Bel already has the equivalent of two round-the-worlds to her name. Nonetheless, neither the yacht nor the skipper have raced between the three capes and toyed with the South Seas. Although back in February, Bel Group and Kito announced they would take part in the Vendée Globe 2012-2013, their desire to compete in a big race round the world this winter is ever present.

Very good reasons

Since the start of their association in 2005, on board the Figaro and then the IMOCA 60 footer, Kito and Bel Group have set their hearts on using their sailing project as a means of communicating with workers of the Group the world over. Visits to subsidiaries, the “Thumbs up to Kito” operation and more recently, the “Sharing Smiles Regatta”, which united 200 workers from 31 countries, have all been opportunities to measure Bel’s adherence and team cohesion in relation to this adventure .

Bel is an international group, whose products are distributed in 120 countries and 80% of its turnover is made outside France. To compete in a really international event, such as the Barcelona World Race, is beneficial both in terms of external development and internal mobilization. “In the six years alongside Kito, we have shared both racing and human emotions, bringing us together in France, as well as in the 31 countries in which we are established”, explains Guillaume Jouët, communications manager of Bel Group. “We wish to offer our teams, as well as our customers and partners, a really exciting international adventure such as the Barcelona World Race. This is a coherent step up the ladder matching our Group, our sailing sponsoring program and our skipper, especially, since with Sébastien, the combination of skills and affinities is ideal."

With two years to the next Vendée Globe, it is go od training to sail a two-handed round the world race, and the Bel Group program is now mature for this kind of challenge. “I am extremely happy to participate in the great Barcelona World Race and I am incredibly lucky to have such an enthusiastic partner as Bel”, explains Kito. “Our 60 footer was designed for round-the-world racing. We prepared her for the Vendée Globe which came to an abrupt end (dismasting). Since then, we have optimized the yacht even further. Our team is now in its stride and very united. We feel well armed and in phase with such a challenge.”

Kito and Seb: mutual respect and friendship

Kito de Pavant and Sébastien Audigane. Image copyright Gilles Martin-Raget/Groupe Bel.

To share the same yacht for 90 days in the most hostile seas in the world and under pressure from other contenders is already a test in itself. For a good duo, you need good casting and Sébastien Audigane is an obvious choice for Kito: "We sailed against each other in the Figaro, then together with Jean Le Cam, and then Seb joined us for the Istanbul Europa Race 2009 on board the Groupe Bel 60 footer. This is where the idea of racing the BWR together came to fruition. We then took part in the Transat Ag2r in the spring (in the Figaro class). We recognize human qualities and skills in each other, because you need to trust your partner completely. Seb is highly experienced and very good at sea. He is real sailor, in harmony with the elements, and he lives his yachting life on the ocean. He is easy to get on with, always calm no matter what the conditions and makes good decisions. Such people are few and far between.”

Sébastien is one of the most wanted crewmen in the world. An expert on large oceanic multihulls, he has already sailed in the Great South and is happy to return there with Kito on board Groupe Bel. “The Barcelona World Race is a wonderful race which enables top international sailors to race against each other in this round-the-world with a limited crew”, he explains. “For me, it is important from a competitive point of view, since I am thinking of racing in the next Vendée Globe. With Bel, Kito has built up a solid program, and to be able to share this experience with him is a real pleasure. We are not very talkative together; quick looks are how we work. We like to experience the same adventures at sea and share good times even when the conditions are difficult. A round-the-world is an adventure interspersed with pitfalls, which you have to work hard for. You need to set off with a friend, which is the case for Kito and me .”

Close timing

To follow the Route du Rhum with the Barcelona World Race, with so little time in between is already a major challenge. “We have four months to prepare this round-the-worl d with two transatlantic races in between”, continues the skipper. “I must first concentrate 100% on the Route du Rhum, an important objective in our program, and I’m not taking part as an extra! From Guadeloupe, Sébastien will deliver Groupe Bel to Port Camargue with a crew, to get the feel of her while I’m resting. We will also need to adapt the boat to be able to live on board together and configure her for a round-the-world before heading to Barcelona in mid-December. There is a lot to do, but I have a wonderful boat, and great sponsor and I’m very lucky to be able to take full advantage of this!”

The Barcelona World Race in brief

Two-handed non-stop round the world race on board IMOCA 60 foot monohulls

Start on 31 December from Barcelona at 12:00

Second race in the history of this event organized by the FNOB (Fundacio per la Na vegació Oceànica de Barcelona)

Course: 25,000 miles (46,300 kilometers), passing between the two islands of New Zealand.

Among the duos registered to date:
A.Pella/P.Ribes (Estrella Damm),
J.Merediz/F.Palacio (Central Lechera Central),
M.Desjoyeaux/Fr.Gabart (Foncia),
J.P.Dick/L.Peyron (Virbac- Paprec 3),
D.Wavre/M.Paret (Mirabeau),
I.Martinez/X.Fernandez (Telefonia),
A.Thomson/A.Meicklejohn (Hugo Boss), etc...

Groupe Bel
Barcelona World Race