The countdown has already begun with a day to go till the race start in the fourth edition of the Guyader Bermudes 1000 milles Race Brest-Brest, this Sunday at 14:00 hours local time. For the skippers, it’s been a particularly studious day with a scientific conference in the morning and a briefing late afternoon, as well as a siesta for the lucky ones. On today’s menu were final preparations and studying of the weather, whilst trying to remain as rested as possible before taking the plunge.


THE PROGRAMME – Immersing oneself in a droplet of water  

It’s impossible not to be aware of environmental issues when you enjoy competing on the water. Particularly concerned by global warming and the impact of human activity on the oceans, the 26 sailors participating in the Guyader Bermudes 1000 Race Brest - Brest attended ‘The sea for life’ conference this Saturday morning at the Préfecture Maritime (Police Port Authority) in Brest. It was a truly unique experience as it enabled the sailors to ‘hitch a virtual ride in a droplet of water’ and explore the mysteries of one’s journey across the oceans. This rich exchange championed a wealth of practical steps to better protect the ocean.

Presented by a member of the Académie Française, Érik Orsenna and journalist Marine Barnerias, this programme highlight gathered together renowned scientists like Pascale Lherminier, an oceanography researcher at Ifremer, Tristan Hatin, Mediation and scientific culture manager at Océanopolis, Martin Kramp, vessel coordinateur at OceanOPS, as well as Olivier Desprez de Gesincourt, manager of the European E-SurfMar programme. Alongside them, around twenty sailors from the École des mousses, which trains up 220 youngsters every year keen to join the French Navy crews, listened intently and eagerly interrogated the skippers. 

For the latter, taking part in this conference was a key opportunity to “learn about the value of the role they can play in communicating about the environment, championing its cause and benefiting science during the next Vendée Globe”, explains Claire Vayer, science project coordinator for IMOCA.  Moreover, the Class is partnered with the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission of UNESCO (IOC), which works closely with the OceanOPS operational centre


 THE INITIATIVE – Three Météo France buoys deployed during the race

For many years, sailors have been working with scientists, regularly carrying oceanographic instruments with them during their various races. As such, within the scope of the fourth Guyader Bermudes 1000 Race Brest-Brest, three duos will be involved in deploying new drifting buoys for Météo France over the triangular course from the north-west tip of Brittany to the Fastnet lighthouse and the Gallimard waypoint: Guirec Soudée – Corentin Douguet (Freelance.com), Antoine Cornic – Jean-Charles Luro (Human Immobilier) and Sam Goodchild – Antoine Koch (FOR THE PLANET). The appeal of these drifting buoys is significant since they are one of the only ways (together with VOS Voluntary Observing Ship) of constantly collecting atmospheric pressure data in situ. At the same time, they are capable of measuring the surface temperature of the sea water and currents, which is of considerable benefit in that it provides measurements which will make forecasts more accurate. 

“The release coordinates have been identified and are located around the Gallimard waypoint,” explains Olivier Desprez de Gesincourt, manager of the European E-SurfMar programme, which is initially targeting zones a long way offshore to prevent the buoys from returning to the coast too early. “Ideally, the tools will be deployed at the same time and in an area where they are relatively scarce. In fact, today’s global network features 1,300 buoys and 800 new beacons are deployed every year to sustain the network,” explains the scientist. “It’s very interesting for us sailors to help carry out research. It’s a win-win relationship. Short-term forecasts are important to us when we’re navigating. The longer-term forecasts are important to us as inhabitants of planet Earth, as they enable us to simulate the evolution of weather systems,” says Sam Goodchild.

THE ENCOUNTER – When children in care discover offshore racing

Discovering the offshore sailing world, meeting famous skippers, hitching a ride aboard some exceptional boats… Throughout the weekend, 200 local youngsters placed in specialist establishments and foster families, together with their accompanying adults, will have special access to both the sailors and the boats. The renowned French skipper Jean Le Cam gave all those in attendance this Saturday a precious insight into his world on the water, in the presence of Jean-Marc Puchois, a local departmental councillor. With backing from the Council of the Finistère department and a desire to get involved in a series of operations with the ASE (Social Aid for Children), the sailor admits to being “proud and happy to get to meet them and give them the opportunity to enjoy some exceptional moments.”

It's worth pointing out that nearly 2,200 minors are placed in the Department’s care and almost as many again are monitored at home. The authority is prioritising child protection by notably launching a plan to boost fostering capacity and placement methods and offer each individual a personalised life path with the aim of enabling them to fulfil their potential.


FORECASTS AND COURSE – 1,280 miles to stand out from the crowd and a wide variety of weather systems

 This Saturday, on the eve of the race start, Race Management for the Guyader Bermudes 1000 Race Brest-Brest unveiled the course for this fourth edition. The thirteen duos will set sail at the exit from Brest Narrows tomorrow at 14:00 hours local time and make for the ‘Tout Commence en Finistère’ waypoint located 205 miles to the south-west of the tip of Brittany, go around the legendary Fastnet lighthouse, pass the Gallimard waypoint positioned 280 miles to the south-west of Ireland, and then head back to the finish line in Brest Harbour having covered a total of 1,280 miles.

What does the weather have in store? Kick-off should take place in fairly light conditions (between 5 and 10 knots of W’ly wind). Soon after that, having crossed a small ridge of high pressure, the duos will likely be able to latch onto a SW’ly breeze to beat to the first waypoint. Immediately afterwards, the pairings should reach to the Fastnet enabling them to really lengthen their stride before they have to revert to a beat once they go around the famous Irish lighthouse. The breeze may pick up to 25 knots on the way to the Gallimard waypoint before easing during the drop back down to Brest, where the leaders will be on a run, whilst those at the back of the fleet may well link onto a reach and may get the chance to play catch-up.

ETAS ? At this stage of play, it’s anyone’s guess, but the fastest crews might well make Brest on Thursday night through into Friday morning and the slowest may finish on Saturday morning.

PRACTICAL INFO – Where can you watch the start? 

The general public is cordially invited to watch the boats setting sail from the Quai Malbert then the Marina du Château from 11:00 hours on Sunday. They can then head to the Polder de Brest, at the heart of the Fan Zone for the European Wingfoil Championship village, where they can watch the opening miles of the race on a giant screen. Indeed, the dynamic hosting capability of the City of Brest will be on display in all its glory, along with the wonderful synergy between the watersports world and offshore racing!

QUOTES FROM THE BOATS – Dock talk on the eve of the race start

Louis Duc (Fives Group - Lantana Environnement): “The boat underwent a major refit this winter so I’m eager to rediscover the open ocean with the boat’s new set-up. The sail plan has changed, the mast has been canted aft with a rake of 8.5, the tack of the headsails has been shifted forward, the ballast tanks have been modified (500 litres) and the keel bulb is lighter. In essence, we’ve exploited the class measurement as best we can for an older generation boat so she’s similar to Jean Le Cam and Damien Seguin’s old boats. We’ve revamped our IMOCA a great deal to bring her up to their kinds of speeds. I’m really keen to see how it all comes together, even though we’re still missing two sails, the lack of Code O being a potential worry at the start. We’re bound to be gnashing our teeth a little in the first few hours, but that’s not a serious issue. It’s going to be a fantastic race and the pace will be quite aggressive during the first two days with some fronts to negotiate. I’m eager to see what the boat’s capable of now and to rack up a few miles with her!” 

Alan Roura (Hublot): “It’s shaping up to be a really great race with a fantastic line-up. In the past year we’ve made a lot of progress. We’re managing to get the boat working better, we’re finding the right trim and it’s plain to see how far we’ve raised our game. The aim is to be in the leading group, to sail a good race and to get the best out of the boat throughout. It’s very interesting to sail as a duo: you learn faster and above all everything’s quicker! The Guyader Bermudes 1000 Race Brest-Brest is too short to really get into a rhythm like you do on a transatlantic, but you still have to keep on top of things and avoid going into the red. The conditions expected should be very manageable, though the boats may well fly out of the starting blocks!”

Guirec Soudée (Freelance.com): “I really can’t wait to be at the start, in Brest Harbour, and set a course for Ireland. It’s going to be fabulous. There are going to be a lot of different points of sail and it will be really nice to learn as much as I can with Corentin (Douguet). We’re due to have a light wind at the start and we’ll have to put in a few tacks. The breeze is then set to pick up the closer we get to the Fastnet. We’ll be on a reach, which is a good point of sail for us. Though it’ll be a completely different ride to the foilers, it’s likely to be a bit wet! Once we round Fastnet, we’ll gently bear away as far as the Gallimard waypoint and then we’ll be at full bore heading back to Brest! According to the grib files, I reckon we should make the finish late Thursday or early Friday!”

Times for the Défi Pom’Potes speed runs (1.2-mile course) contested on Friday 5 May: 

1. FOR PEOPLE (Thomas Ruyant – Morgan Lagravière) 2 minutes 13 seconds. Average 32.48 knots.

1. Charal 2 (Jérémie Beyou – Franck Cammas) 2 minutes 13 seconds. Average 32.48 knots.

2. Paprec Arkéa (Yoann Richomme – Yann Eliès) 2 minutes 28 seconds. 29.19 knots.

3. FOR THE PLANET (Sam Goodchild – Antoine Koch) 2 minutes 33 seconds. Average 28.24 knots.

4. Initiatives Coeur (Sam Davies – Damien Seguin) 2 minutes 33 seconds. Average 28.24 knots.