Sunday 20 April 2014

Lorient Grand Large, Part One : Training

From an interview held in French with Christophe Baudry in 2013

Figaro training off Lorient with coach Tanguy Leglatin, through Lorient Grand Large. Image copyright Lorient Grand Large

by Anne Hinton

Lorient Grand Large was set up to organize the centre for offshore racing that is based in Lorient. It was set up for nautical creativity in Lorient by Lorient Agglomeration Partners and others in the surrounding community, to support everyone who wants to base their sailing project and related activities in Lorient.
This means that Lorient Grand Large helps the 80 skippers who train from Lorient on a daily basis, but also develops the nautical side of Lorient; i.e. Lorient Grand Large acts to organize everything directly in relationship with local businesses and the community and, side by side with that, to encourage events and international sailing projects to be based in Lorient. At the same time, Lorient Grand Large was set up to coordinate the Volvo Ocean Race stopover in Lorient. Lorient Grand Large is run by Christophe Baudry and his team from offices by the Base des Sous Marins, by the main sailing team bases and BSM marina in Lorient.
Christophe Baudry. Image copyright S. Cuisset.

While there are plenty of private on-the-water coaches in the Lorient area, there is a great deal more to a sailing campaign than simply sailing to train for events. However, Tanguy Leglatin, featured in a 2013 edition of Café de la Marine du Télégramme, is the most widely used and respected, being recently, for example, coach to Seb Josse’s Gitana Team MOD70, Edmond de Rothschild, winners of the inaugural Route des Princes offshore and inshore racing around western Europe this year. “We arrange the complementary work: meteorology, electronics, rope work, etc; everything except for physical training, except that we have a day for a swimming pool session each week,” said Christophe Baudry.
Swimming pool session organized by Lorient Grand Large. Image copyright Lorient Grand Large

In principle we do the same work as Port La Forêt, the Pôle centre for the course au large (offshore sailing) in France, but Port La Forêt only has people who are of a very high level. We have some people who are of a very high level, but who have felt that they did not want to base themselves at Port La Forêt for training, e.g. Adrien Hardy and Isabelle Joschke. Port La Forêt is only for the elite. We believe that those who are not names in the sport can benefit from the same training, and we also welcome those who are e.g. Parisians, who have other work, e.g. including journalists, and who do offshore racing. So, we support those who base their sailing project in Lorient. That means, train in Lorient, find an apartment in Lorient, install themselves in Lorient, buy a house in Lorient, raise a family in Lorient, etc.,” Christophe Baudry explained.
Rope work training organized by Lorient Grand Large. Image copyright Lorient Grand Large

The benefits for Lorient and the surrounding area are that the teams spend a large part of their sponsorship funds in the region. This is not just daily living needs, such as food, but also supporting and sustaining the large nautical infrastructure, which, in turn, brings in substantial (multi-million Euro) international revenue and creates and sustains jobs locally in this area, so, in turn, supporting the local population. In turn events, such as the Lorient stopover of the Volvo Ocean Race, considerably enhance this, on both a short-term (during event) and long-term (legacy) basis. For example, the international North Sails loft in Vannes with multi-million Euro revenue, headed by Bruno Dubois, who has global responsibility within North Sails, was set up due to the Volvo Ocean Race coming to Lorient, to satisfy that need in the market, and now has rebounding orders, including provision of sails to such boats as the Multi-One Design trimarans, many of which train out of Lorient, and the new one design Volvo Ocean 65s, in use for the next edition of the Volvo Ocean Race, which will return to Lorient in June 2015.
Jean-Yves Bernot gives a class on weather and strategy at Lorient Grand Large. Image copyright Lorient Grand Large

Well-known router, Jean-Yves Bernot, came up from La Rochelle for meteorology training a while back at Lorient Grand Large. “Yes, we made a deal with him for two days and we had a good turnout for each day. Each time that Jean-Yves Bernot has been, it has been a great success,” commented Christophe Baudry. “There are a lot of singlehanded sailors who come to the events, but also Team Jolokia, who do the main classics, like the Fastnet Race. Team Jolokia is a mixture of handicapped and able-bodied people, with people with all ages, the old, the young, and differing levels of experience in sailing, etc. for social-cultural mix. There are a large number who are from the Mini class, mainly singlehanded sailors.
Figaro training off Lorient. Image copyright Lorient Grand Large

Many teams are preparing for the Tour de France à la Voile. This is something that is very good, but we have the singlehanders in addition. Also, this year, we have the Mini Transat and the double-handed Transat Jacques-Vabre, so we have a format that is above-all singlehanded.
A mixture of theoretical and practical classes are organized by Lorient Grand Large to help train solo sailors. Image copyright Lorient Grand Large

There are stages in the season. During the winter we have things most weeks, but now they are racing, so there aren’t so many events laid on. For each event, we try to do something specific. For example, for the Class 40, for the Transat Jacques Vabre too, and for each event we try to do some preparation. For example, we did something for the Pornichet Select 6.50 on site just beforehand, with someone who was a specialist in the theory and who went over the data for what they were likely to expect. The Lorient sailors won that event.
We have Conrad Colman from New Zealand, who is racing on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean at the moment, and also Katrina Ham, from Australia, and another foreigner who is interested in racing a Mini. In total we have twelve international sailors, who are attached to Lorient Grand Large. This is also an effect of the Volvo. Katrina Ham said to me “Lorient is the capital of offshore racing in Europe, so, as I want to do a Mini Transat, I came to Lorient as the place to be to learn.”

Lorient skipper Tanguy Delamotte on Initiatives Coeur, IMOCA, rounding Cape Horn on the 2012-13 Vendee Globe. Image copyright Tanguy Delamotte/Initiaves Coeur.

Port-La-Forêt has nothing for the 6.50 [the Mini Class]. They do Figaro, IMOCA and a little MOD70, but that is all. They don’t do anything for the Class 40. We are complementary. We get on well with them. We discuss things, but we are complementary,” said Christophe Baudry. One can see lots of Minis, some Class 40s, some IMOCAs, and some M34s and MOD70s in the water at the former submarine base in Lorient.
IMOCA racing in the Tour de Groix, off Lorient, September 2013. Image copyright Anne Hinton. All rights reserved

The annual individual subscription to Lorient Grand Large is 30 Euros, so not much! After that everything is either free or at a substantially reduced price. Skippers who sign up to Lorient Grand Large can sign up for courses in classes, etc. For these they have to pay 30 Euros for a day’s training, in place of the normal charge of 100 Euros per day. The money to subsidise the training comes from the ‘creativity’. This year, the activities also have the support of a private partner for the season.

Tour de France à la Voile in Lorient, July 2013. Image copyright Anne Hinton. All rights reserved

We have run many events. We are a centre for creativity, etc. For example, we have welcomed the EDHEC racing (which is for students), and Tour de France à la Voile, and for these types of events, we are the ones who operate every day with the organizers. It is this creativity that pays for the training, and we also act as a desk for the organizers of these events, which may also include corporate events and championships, e.g. the J80 World Championships. There we study the potential impact of the events on the local economy, and then we can say that we think that the event is beneficial for such and such reasons, or this event has no interest. One tries to pull together the expertise to internalize this,” commented Christophe Baudry.

Tour de France à la Voile in Lorient 2010. Image copyright Yvan Zedda

Another example of this is the Volvo Ocean Race stopovers, which will be discussed in part two of this article. “We have some racers who are in the Groupama Sailing Team, but it’s not a big thing. However, the Groupama Sailing Team Director, Stéphane Gibault, is also on the directorship panel of Lorient Grand Large, so he has daily input into our organization. The very big teams who are based in Lorient, like Groupama, we support, but we don’t provide training as they have everything that they need for that in-house. However, for the teams like those of Groupama and Jean-Pierre Dick’s Absolute Dreamer, one has the role of representation, or lobbying, further to creativity. For example, with the depth of the keels and the dredging of the port… because the team and race organizers based in Lorient have begun to find that this is an issue. Another example is that they may ask us how to declare a Convoi Exceptionnel for moving a very large boat. For things like that, we investigate and come up with the answers,” said Christophe Baudry.
A visit to Franck Cammas's Groupama Team base. Image copyright Lorient Grand Large/Groupama

Stéphane Gibault explained his role as providing input to Christophe Baudry and his team at Lorient Grand Large as to the needs and wants of the large teams based in Lorient. He had been elected into this role from a gathering of all such teams, including, for example, Groupama, Banque Populaire, Gitana Team, Virbac-Paprec and Beyou Racing. Equally, there is a representative of the Mini Class skippers, and the same for other classes, so that Lorient Grand Large receives input to guide its lobbying from representatives of all the teams of the boat types that train from Lorient.

Two Lorient IMOCA skippers, Jeremie Beyou (Maitre Coq) and Jean-Pierre Dick (Virbac Paprec), autographing posters for fans. Image copyright P. Guiguenot
The lobbying on behalf of the teams is strictly geographically-based, to represent their interests in Lorient and the surrounding area. “We lobby to represent the interests of Lorient offshore racing. For everything to do with the Class, the skippers look after that themselves, and, therefore, also the way to run the racing and the rules,” explained Christophe Baudry.
Jörg Riechers of Mare. Image copyright

Jörg Riechers commented that, while he is German, hailing from Hamburg, Lorient, in Brittany, northwest France, is the perfect base for him for his campaigns, racing in the Mini in 2013, and now the Class 40 and IMOCA. While it may seem a long way from his homeland, Riechers described Lorient as a base as being “praktisch” for him – making sense from a practical point of view as the racing is in the area, it is easy to train from Lorient and the onshore support infrastructure (sail lofts, spar makers, etc) is also present in the region.
Mini racing in Brittany. Image copyright Jacques Vapillon/Sea&Co

We want to continue to attract skippers to Lorient. We will do everything for this. We convinced Jörg Riechers, sponsored by Mare, who wants to do the Barcelona World Race (with a Lorient-based sailor) and the Vendée Globe, that Lorient was the best base for him. Oman Sail is now based in Lorient; we hope that they will remain in Lorient a long time. We want to continue to attract skippers and to exploit the facilities and base to the maximum, and to continue to develop the offshore racing centre (Pôle Course au Large), and for this we need to look to the outside, to the creativity of Lorient, which already has a considerable resource base,” concluded Christophe Baudry.

Cite de la Voile in the foreground and a part-empty marina at the BSM Lorient, as many boats are out racing in summer. Image copyright Yvan Zedda.
Altogether the model of Lorient Grand Large builds on the reputation and existence of the sailing teams in Lorient, the events held partly as a consequence of the presence of these large international classes and teams, and the infrastructure, from high-tech computing to spar makers such as Lorima, which is within the Base des Sous-Marins (BSM), sail lofts and many other businesses, such as shipping (U-Ship has recently moved from the city centre to the BSM in Lorient), which in turn sustain, and are substantially enhanced in development of their own business by, the international reputation of Lorient as “the place to be” in Europe for offshore sailboat racing. Lorient Grand Large coordinates the interactions and positive development of Lorient’s international sailing base. Despite the present economic crisis, there is considerable new building work for business going on in the area; a direct illustration of the success of the positive feedback generated.
Lorient Grand Large