by Kate Jennings (in translation)
For the first of the season’s confrontations with their MOD70 counterparts, Sébastien Josse and the men of Edmond de Rothschild came good. Crossing the ArMen Race finish line in the early hours of today, 0418 hours, after a 320-mile sprint between La Trinité-sur-Mer, Belle-Ile, Yeu and Groix, they stood out in their category. The trimaran fitted out by Baron Benjamin de Rothschild finished ahead of Oman Air and Virbac Paprec. Such a performance augurs well for the Route des Princes, the class’ first official competition for 2013, the start of which will take place on 9 June 2013 in Valencia, Spain.
Given the weather forecasts, the 3rd edition of the ArMen Race was set to be lively and fast. The race, which this year gathered together some 130 competitors, certainly lived up to expectations! Setting out from La Trinité-sur-Mer, Brittany, yesterday, Thursday 9 May at 1500 hours local time, the one-design trimaran Edmond de Rothschild was back in the bay of Quiberon this Friday morning at 0418 hours. Sébastien Josse and his five crew completed this year’s theoretical 320-mile course in 13 hours and 18 minutes, at an average speed of nearly 24.06 knots. This race time enabled the men of Gitana Team to take victory in their category: “I’m very happy with this victory as the weather conditions weren’t easy. As expected, we had a good 20-25 knots of breeze throughout the course, with stronger gusts in the squalls, which punctuated the second part of the race. We had as much as 30 knots as these squalls rolled through. There were big seas, with a swell of 2.5 metres or more as we navigated Les Birvideaux, but it was quite manageable. Tactically, the race didn’t give us a great deal of choices and the difference was made with the sail configurations and the crew’s ability to anticipate and manage the coastal phases during the successive roundings of the islands dotted along the course,” commented the skipper of Edmond de Rothschild, before explaining the key phases behind their success: “A few miles after the start, once we rounded Belle-Ile for the first time, we managed to get the upper hand over Oman Air through some fine trajectories and moved up to the front of our fleet. However, we did have to battle to the end… As we rounded Groix with a 2-3 mile lead, a squall had it in for us, accidentally unfurling one of our headsails. It was nothing really serious, but it cost us time and Oman subsequently made up ground on us. The second downwind run to the island of Yeu was a really close-contact drag race and we came out on top. The crew worked superbly well and everyone gave their all throughout the night to secure this place. It’s a great reward and a real satisfaction for Gitana Team, even though we still have to up our game before the Route des Princes. We made some mistakes, which can easily be erased for the next competition. This breezy race with a six-man configuration was an excellent trial run.”
Handing over the event record
As predicted by Sébastien Josse prior to the start, the event record previously held by Gitana 11 of 14 hours and 5 minutes has been broken. Winner of the overall ranking for the 2013 edition, Banque Populaire VII, not surprisingly secured the best time for the ArMen Race with a race time of 12 hours and 40 minutes, at an average speed of 25.26 knots. With her giant proportions, 31.5 metres in length with a beam of 22.5 metres, this maxi-trimaran from the Ultimate class is none other than the ex-Groupama 3, winner of the last Route du Rhum. “Conditions were ideal for them and we knew from the outset that they’d improve on our reference time set in 2011 with Gitana 11. However, we’re pretty proud as ultimately we finished the course just 38 minutes astern of them, which is a very honourable performance given the architectural differences between our boats,” smiled Sébastien Josse. It’s worth noting too that last year, in the MOD70 category, Michel Desjoyeaux completed the 330-mile 2012 course in a little over 14 hours.
A wisely adapted course
Yesterday morning, a few hours before the start, Race Management announced the initial course change. Despite its name, it was decided that the 2013 edition wouldn’t negotiate the Occidentale de Sein and the famous Ar Men lighthouse. Indeed, given the wind and sea conditions forecast in the bay of Audierne and around the Chaussée de Sein (25 to 30 knots of breeze and a 5m swell), the organisers revised the course, making it about the equivalent length, but providing safer sailing conditions. As such the ArMen Race fleet were able to show what they were made of over a 320-mile course and the match was played out between La Trinité-sur-Mer, Belle-Ile, Ile d’Yeu and Ile de Groix, with a return to Belle-Ile with a mark not far from Le Palais, Ile d’Yeu a second time and a finish in the bay of Quiberon.
Ranking for the Mod70s in the ArMen Race 2013
1. Edmond de Rothschild, finished at 0418 hours after 13 hours and 18 minutes of racing
2. Oman Air, finished at 0423 hours after 13 hours and 23 minutes
3. Virbac Paprec, finished at 0541 hours, after 14 hours and 41 minutes
The crew of Edmond de Rothschild
Sébastien Josse (skipper)
Charles Caudrelier – Thomas Rouxel – Florent Chastel – Olivier Douillard – Jean-Christophe Mourniac
GITANA TEAM 2013 RACES
Tour de Belle-Ile, 4 May
Artemis Challenge, 8 August
Rolex Fastnet Race, start on 11 August
Edmond de Rothschild (Gitana XV)
ArMen Race, from 9 to 12 May
Route des Princes, from 7 to 30 June (Valencia – Lisbon – Dublin – Plymouth – Morlaix)
Transat Jacques Vabre, start on 3 November (Le Havre – Itajaï)Gitana Team