It’s back to work for the IMOCAs after their Vendée Globe. On Thursday 4th May, five of them will be taking part in the 2017 Guyader Grand Prix in Douarnenez. On Thursday and Friday, the five Vendée Globe type boats will be racing around coastal courses in the magnificent setting of Douarnenez Bay at the tip of Brittany. On Saturday and Sunday, they will compete in speed runs close to the public. During these runs, all of the different fleets attending the event will be racing. So we may see an IMOCA 60 racing against a kite surfer for example…
© Y.Zedda/StMichel-VirbacThe line up sees four Vendée Globe heroes taking part and one newcomer. For the first event of the 2017 season for the IMOCAs, the Guyader Grand Prix will bring together five boats that are well known for those following the Vendée Globe, with four having taken part in the 2016-2017 race. We shall be able to watch Jean-Piere Dick’s StMichel-Virbac. During his delivery trip from Lorient to Douarnenez, Jean-Pierre was able to sail for the first time with Yann Eliès with whom he will compete in the Transat Jacques Vabre. Jean-Pierre Dick: “I can’t wait to compete in the Guyader Grand Prix for the first race of the season for StMichel-Virbac after her post-Vendée Globe refit. This event takes place in a magical place with fairly varied courses. The organisers are extremely welcoming and this is a real celebration of the sea.”
© SafranThere will be one other foiler in Douarnenez - Morgan Lagravière’s Safran. One of the final occasions for Lagravière to appear in these colours, as his contract with Safran ends in late June. It is also an opportunity for the skipper and his team to check over the work done this winter aboard the Safran monohull. For these races in Douarnenez Bay, Morgan has chosen to include his shore team: “We are making sure that everyone in the team takes it in turns. They worked so hard on preparing for the Vendée Globe and then getting the boat back in shape that I owe them that. It’s vital to focus on the human elements in this type of project.”
Aboard SMA, Paul Meilhat will be taking the opportunity to test a new foil fitted on the starboard side (Paul has kept a classic daggerboard on the port side to compare how the two appendages perform). “This is finally a chance to test SMA with the specially designed foil,” said the happy young skipper. “It’s a bit like the foilers in the Vendée Globe eighteen months ago entering a new universe, as no one has tested this shape or the system we have put in place to raise or lower it. This is one of the first major innovations we have made to the boat since I got involved in the project. We are very clear about our goal in the Guyader Grand Prix. We don’t have any pressure on us to get a good result, but we want to work on fine tuning the boat. We aren’t likely to do that well not knowing how things will work on one side and that will be experimental. The priority is to find out more and get some data on the foil… even if when we’re out there racing we’re bound to want to do well.”
© OLIVIER BLANCHET / DPPI / Vendée GlobeA leading player in the Vendée Globe, 6th in the 2016-2017 race, Jean Le Cam will be back racing aboard his IMOCA Finistère Mer Vent, which is none other than the boat aboard which Michel Desjoyeaux won the non-stop solo round the world race in 2009. We can rely on Jean Le Cam and his crew to be up there at the front during the four days of racing in Douarnenez Bay.
The fifth boat will be sailed by Yoann Richomme. Winner of the 2016 Solitaire du Figaro, this is an opportunity for him to discover the IMOCA circuit aboard Samantha Davies’s former Saveol (a Lombard design from 2004). A chance to gain some experience before the Transat Jacques Vabre (which he will race with Pierre Lacaze) and on the road to the 2020 Vendée Globe in which he would like to compete aboard a newer IMOCA.