Friday, 17 June 2011

TJV : Kito de Pavant to race the Transat Jacques Vabre with Yann Régniau on board Groupe Bel

Image copyright Gilles Martin-Raget/Groupe Bel.

by Julia Huvé

Same shaggy mop of hair, same piercing look and same passion for beautiful sails that speed along the blue ocean, these two could almost be "brothers". However, one grew up on the shores of the Mediterranean, while the other was sailing the length and breadth of the Golfe du Morbihan, but it will be together, on board the Groupe Bel 60' monohull, that they will cross the Atlantic in the Transat Jacques Vabre 2011. The skipper, Kito de Pavant, has chosen one of his partners, Yann Régniau, to sail with him in this double-handed race to Costa Rica, which will leave from Le Havre on 30th October 2011.

Regatta racer, sailmaker and designer with North Sails France for 12 years, Yann Régniau belongs to the family of those great, talented, discreet professionals who know their art inside out. The cream of offshore racing, on seas all over the world, seeks the services of this indispensable sailmaker. “Above all, to be a good sailmaker you need to know how to listen to the skipper,” explains this man from Morbihan through and through, who works in Vannes, 300 meters from where he grew up. “Yann was one of the first to be involved in the project when the Groupe Bel monohull came into being in late 2006,” explains Kito. “Like a car's engine, sails are what provide the power and the chassis, or in this case the hull, is adapted accordingly."

Kito and Yann. Image © Stéphanie Gaspari/Groupe Bel

Expertise and sensitivity
The two sailors, who sailed as crewmen for Jean Le Cam (between 2001 and 2005), very quickly got on with each other. So it was natural that Yann should follow the adventure of Groupe Bel 60', whether on the drawing board or on board, and manage the "haute couture" set of sails stamped with the smile of the Laughing Cow® for this yacht. “Groupe Bel is an extremely reactive yacht when steering. For me, it is on the 60 foot monohull that provides the best surfing sensations and one of the fastest downwind”, says the man who equips 80% of the Imoca fleet and cuts sails for yachts in all the current leading classes. “I'm deeply touched by Kito's invitation and I'm highly motivated. I'm already keeping to a three-hour sport rhythm per day to be on top form! I have sailed a lot on board Groupe Bel and I know her qualities as well as those of Kito and his team. I really want to give it all I've got, because we have what it takes to do well.”

As for the skipper of Groupe Bel, he knows all the strengths of his crewman, with whom he has wanted to share a Transat Jacques Vabre for a long time. “Thanks to his trade, Yann sails a great deal and has what it takes to be a good helmsman. He has an extremely sharp eye for trimming complex and demanding yachts. He's a great technician and I trust him entirely to boast the potential of Groupe Bel!"

Image © Carlo Borlenghi/Rolex/Groupe Bel

Since the stopping of the Barcelona World Race at Cape Horn, Groupe Bel has returned to her quarters in Port Camargue, where the team is busy getting her back into “crew-manned racing” and no longer “round-the-world” configuration. A new keel will replace the one that did not stand up to the collision with a cetacean in the Pacific Ocean and the yacht will be back sailing in June.

The 6th Transat Jacques Vabre for Kito in 2011!
2009: 2nd on board the 60' Groupe Bel monohull with François Gabart
2007: 6th on board the 60' Groupe Bel monohull with Sébastien Col
2005: 3rd on board the 60' Bonduelle monohull with Jean Le Cam
2003: 11th on board the 60' Bonduelle trimaran with Jean Le Cam
2001: 5th on board the 60' Voilà.fr monohull with Bernard Gallay

Yann Régniau
Born on 12/01/68 in Vannes (56) where he still lives
Started the trade of sailmaker at the age of 18 (Voilerie Class Sails)
Draughtsman for North Sails France for 12 years
Freemantle-Singapore Crossing on board the Majan maxi-trimaran
Imoca 60' monohull circuit: 1,000 miles Calais Round Britain Race, Artemis Challenge, Istanbul Europa Race and Giraglia Rolex Cup on board Groupe Bel
Five seasons on the 60' Orma trimaran circuit, including two European Tours.
And also: Transat Québec-Saint Malo, Route de la Découverte, Admiral's Cup, One Cup, 6 participations in the Tour de France à la Voile, Moth Europe Circuit
Leisure activities: Kite surf, surf, hang gliding, climbing, planing, airplane acrobatics

The Bel Group is one of the world leaders in brand name cheeses
Its portfolio of different products on an international scale, such as La Vache qui Rit® (The Laughing Cow), Kiri®, Mini Babybel®, Leerdammer®, and Boursin®, as well as 25 local brand names, enabled it to make a turnover of approximately 2.4 billion Euros in 2010. Nearly 11,300 workers divided among thirty international subsidiaries, contribute to the success of the group. Its products are developed on 25 production sites and distributed in more than 120 countries.

“Thumbs up for Kito” campaign!
Since June 2007, 7,500 thumbprints were collected from the Group's 11,300 workers worldwide, in 25 countries, and placed on the 60 foot monohull's mast as a sign of support for the skipper. And it's not over yet, the count is rising.

Groupe Bel