The Fastnet. What Did We Learn?

© Gauthier Lebec / Charal

"It's good to win with Charal and Christopher (Pratt)." enthused Beyou after crossing the line, the win coming as an important confidence boost ahead of the Transat Jacques Vabre especially after having to retire from the Route du Rhum and a disappointing return to La Solitaire URGO Le Figaro.
The Charal team has worked hard to improve the reliability of the boat which was launched just under one year ago, refining the systems to control the foils. Beyou and Pratt made several key training missions before the start. But the solo skipper has plans to continue the boat’s development. He is looking to increase the protection around the cockpit. "With the high speeds that we sail at even relatively small waves submerge the boat. The cockpit becomes like a swimming pool.”

The duel that did not happen…
The first head to head between Charal and the new Arkéa Paprec of Sébastien Simon and Vincent Riou fizzled out early. An electronics shutdown meant Simon and Riou had to retire. As ever there seems to be no substitute for hard sailing miles when it comes to achieving reliability. What was impressive was the debut of Kevin Escoffier and Nicolas Lunven on the optimised, updated 2012 build PRB. The Volvo Ocean Race winning Escoffier and twice La Solitaire winner Lunven were in the match until the final few miles and finished runners up to Charal. For sure that is one conclusion to be drawn from this Fastnet, that the 2010-12 generation boats, such as PRB and Initiatives Coeur with new foils are competitive.

A podium for Clarisse Cremer
IMOCA rookie Clarisse Cremer had an excellent first major IMOCA Race on the Banque Populaire which was previously SMA and MACIF taking third place. Even considering she had Vendée Globe winner Armel Le Cléac’h as co-skipper and mentor theirs is a boat which has straight daggerboard foils which did well through the many weather transition zones. Under these circumstances this boat which won the last Route du Rhum and the 2012-2013 Vendée Globe is competitive and should be a perfect choice for Cremer to race the Vendée Globe. Other IMOCAs which do not have foils did well, such as Groupe Apicil sailed by Damien Seguin and Yoann Richomme in seventh, or Groupe Tétin by Manuel Cousin and Gildas Morvan, tenth. Richomme, Morvan and Eric Péron are all accomplished Figaro sailors who were sought after as co-skippers.  Péron sailed with Fabrice Amedeo (Newrest Art & Fenetres) as did Figarist Antony Marchand alongside Giancarlo Pedote (Groupe Prysmian).

Everyone can be pleased
Other sailors could also feel pleased for various reasons as they look ahead to future races. Louis Burton (Bureau Vallée 2) whose lone preparation from his home port of Saint-Malo seemed to render him out of touch with the preparations of his rivals, sailed with Davy Beadart but managed to do well throughout, finishing fourth in this race. Sam Davies and Paul Meilhat (Initiatives Cœur) and Yannick Bestaven and Roland Jourdain (Maître CoQ) were able to step up their preparation for the Transat Jacques Vabre.

Finally, Pip Hare will no doubt remember the first few hours of this 2019 Fastnet race for some time, as thanks to a bold option off The Lizard, she was able to take the lead of the IMOCA fleet for several hours aboard the former Superbigou, a monohull built for the 2000 Vendée Globe.

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