Wednesday, 23 March 2011

46th SNIM: A High Quality Line-Up On the Water, On Shore and in Virtual Format

- Prototypes and series boats: an appointment with the 9.50 class
- Thierry Fouchier, a native of Marseilles and winner of the America's Cup, patron to the 46th edition
- “Régate en vue” operation: free embarcation for the public

Image copyright Piérick Jeannoutot.

by Maguelonne Turcat

The countdown is on for the Société Nautique in Marseilles and the team responsible for organising the 46th Snim, as they enter the active phase of their mission to play host to boats and crews next month. With a provisional fleet of around 150 craft, and nearly 2,000 racers, the event once again promises to fulfil its role as the main event of the Mediterranean season. There are also two major new features on this year’s programme: a nocturnal race and virtual tracking of the racing.

On the water, there is a fantastic line-up in the Class 9.50

For their first participation in the Snim, representatives of the Mediterranean element of the Class 9.50 have really rallied together. “We’re hoping that conditions will enable us to show off the true potential of these machines” explains Alain Bonnot, the Class president. “The crews are being formed as we speak and a few well-known names are likely to be racing at the event, so we’ll be giving it our all”. The week-long event will be a fabulous opportunity to see this new type of boat in action, a craft designed to facilitate access to ocean racing thanks to a reduced budget. Several prototypes have been announced, such as Cinq Sens, the Class president’s Sam Manuard design, Violon Dingue. She will be putting in her first appearance on the water in Marseilles in the hands of Michel Bensoam. Another such craft is the promising Atomium Black Bird skippered by Swiss sailor Jacques Valente. In the series boats, honour to whom honour is due, Jean-Marie Vidal, the class’ founder, will be racing on his Akilaria 9.50 Jason, in a bid to outdo the Spaniard, Jose Sole from Bayona and Italian Carlo Berio.

In the IRC category, there is a great deal of interest in the largest craft in particular, which will be competing in the nocturnal race at the same time as the Class40s and the Class 9.50s. Much awaited, Franck Noël’s new TP52 Near Miss (ex Artemis) will be making her debut race appearance at the Snim, as a follow-on from the GP42 of the same name with a track record that speaks volumes. Her crew will comprise some familiar faces from the America’s Cup network alongside Benoit Briand, the project manager, François Brenac, start helmsman and tactician, as well as Laurent Delage. “The philosophy is to promote the ‘owner’s spirit’, comments Benoît “that’s why the programme for the boat is to compete in prestigious events in the Mediterranean, starting with the Snim, before going on to participate in this summer’s RORC races”. Among the other crews who have already confirmed their presence is the brand new Marten 49 Speedy belonging to Hans Riegel, a member of Marseille’s Société Nautique, with Dimitri Deruelle calling tactics. They will be up against some honed teams in the form of the X50 Ecbatane, the Grand Soleil 50 Lady First, as well as the Maltese crew from the Ker 53 Dralion.

Of particular note this year is the conspicuous appearance of a number of Longtze, which are famous sportsboats with huge potential, developed in China by Pierre Mas and Luc Gellusseau. The latter class have already organised their schedules to include participation in the Snim 2012 – and the 125th anniversary of the Société Nautique in Marseille – which is set to be one of the series’ Mediterranean highlights.

Thierry Fouchier: an America's Cup air

This is the “most beautiful gulf in the world”, says the native of the area, and nothing pleases him more than sharing it with some of the best skippers of the time during the unmissable Snim meeting. One particular characteristic that Thierry Fouchier – patron to the Snim 2011 – doesn’t share with many racers though, is the fact that he was part of the winning America's Cup crew on USA 17 in Valencia in 2010. It was an exploit in which he was the only Frenchman on the team with the giant winged trimaran, barely a year ago.

How to track the Snim:

On shore, there will be a genuine change in direction in the fleet racing, with the competitors’ very latest evolutions able to be tracked live thanks to iSea3d software. This tracking system is based on a revolutionary principle: replacing each boat’s very costly transmitter equipment with the use of a simple Smartphone. Recordings will also enable parts of the race to be ‘replayed’ once the crews are back on shore, so this latest innovation will be highly prized by the competitors. Indeed this year, the Espace Nautique shows will be placed at the crews’ disposal after the races, along with Wifi and a bar.

On the water the “Régate en Vue” operation, run in partnership with the Office de la Mer, will be back in business for this year’s event. The scheme will enable the local public to embark free of charge on a boat with a large seating capacity, so they can follow the racing live on the water. Furthermore the trips out to sea will have a commentator aboard. The only requirement is to sign up for the service on +33 (0)4 91 90 93 93.

The programme at Sea
Thursday April 21: Confirmation of registration, mesurement control
Friday, April 22: 15h first possible start – Start of the night race (weather permitting)
Saturday, April 23: 11am first possible start
Sunday, April 24: 11am first possible start
Monday, April 25: 11am first possible start