A top-flight line-up for the fourth edition !

A top-flight line-up for the fourth edition!

After Paul Meilhat in 2018, Sébastien Simon in 2019 and Charlie Dalin in 2022, who will take victory in the Guyader Bermudes 1000 Race Brest - Brest this May? It’s impossible to answer that question right now, except to say that it’s bound to be two sailors as the event is debuting its double-handed format this year. To date, fifteen duos have confirmed their presence and there will be a lot at stake for every one of them. Indeed, the numerous drivers range from validating the work carried out during the winter refit to testing a brand new steed, finding or rediscovering their bearings in double-handed format over a demanding course (1,000 miles between Brest, the legendary Fastnet Rock and the Gallimard waypoint located between the Azores and Cape Finisterre), qualifying for the famous Transat Jacques Vabre – Normandie Le Havre, as well as scoring more precious points in the IMOCA GLOBE SERIES championship.

The first event of the 2023 season in France for the IMOCAs, the Guyader Bermudes 1000 Race Brest - Brest, set to run from 4 to 14 May, will gather together around fifteen duos for its fourth edition. It’s already shaping up to be a very promising and instructive episode for the sailors, teams and public, all of whom will be keen to discover the developments made to the various boats over recent months, as well as the latest two boats to launch, Paprec Arkéa skippered by Yoann Richomme and For People skippered by Thomas Ruyant. “Today, the boats in the fleet all have very different hull forms. The speed runs contested in Brest Harbour, and the long triangular sprint course in particular, will enable the machines to test their mettle on different points of sail. It’s going to be very interesting. Personally, I can’t wait to be there!” says Jérémie Beyou, third in the last Route du Rhum – Destination Guadeloupe last November aboard Charal 2, a boat of noble birth from a well-driven campaign, she too having undergone a few minor development over recent weeks. 

Setting a stellar pace in double-handed format

“The boat has already performed incredibly well between Saint Malo and Pointe-à-Pitre, both in the outward sprint race and on the delivery home. She made it back intact from these two transatlantic passages, which has given us the time and the resources to develop her further,” notes the sailor from the Bay of Morlaix, who’s notably been working on his machine’s overall mass. “We’ve tried to save weight, which is a long, painstaking job,” assures Jérémie Beyou, whose boat is due to be relaunched between 12 and 13 April this year. “There’s not going to be much time between now and the start of the race, but we’ll do the necessary in terms of preparation. The event format is great. I really like this type of three to four-day race, as there’s a lot to do, alternating between a coastal course and semi-offshore. You need to sail flat out the whole time, a bit like on a Solitaire du Figaro leg,” explains the triple champion of the queen of one-design solo races. “The fact that we’re racing double-handed this year will make it possible to set a cracking pace and really race at 100% the whole time. In solo format, we sometimes have to think twice about tacking amongst the rocks. In double-handed format, that’s not really an issue. It promises to be fantastic,” assures the skipper, who will be paired with Franck Cammas, as he will in this November’s Coffee Route. “We’re both still breaking her in,  because even though we went out sailing a few times together last year, within the context of my Rhum preparation, this will be our first double-handed race. There are inevitably going to be a few things to sort out but, as with the start of every race, our aim will be to try to win it,” concludes Jérémie Beyou, second in the last edition and hence all the more determined to do better this year.

In at the deep end!

It has to be said that there will be lots of jockeying for position in the battle for the top spot. Among the names to watch are Yannick Bestaven, the winner of the last Vendée Globe, paired with Julien Pulvé aboard Maître CoQ V, as well as Samantha Davies (Initiatives Cœur), Sam Goodchild (Advens 1) and also Yoann Richomme and Thomas Ruyant (For People), both of them at the helm of brand-new machines, respectively launched on 22 February and 16 March this year. “The race is fast approaching, but at some point or another you just have to go for it. It’s always good to aim for specific dates as it drives you to be operational, even though we know that 60-foot IMOCAs take a very long time to fine-tune. Participating in the Guyader Bermudes 1000 Race Brest - Brest will enable us to hunt down answers and raise our game,” admits Yoann Richomme, who’s delighted to have the opportunity to spend between three and five days doing battle at sea. “Between now and the start, we won’t have much of a chance to spend a big chunk of time at sea. Therefore, this will be the first long stretch for us. We don’t really know where we’ll be at in terms of performance, but we’re going to make sure we have the best machine possible at the start to rub shoulders with our playmates and not solely be focused on technology,” says the reigning champion of the Route du Rhum – Destination Guadeloupe in Class40, whose initial sensations at the helm of a new speed machine are promising to say the least. “We’re very pleased with what we’ve got. The boat is neither too violent nor too noisy. She’s just as we imagined her. Naturally, we have a few teething issues to sort out, but within the team, she’s already earned the nickname: the smile machine,” explains the skipper of Paprec Arkéa, who just like Thomas Ruyant, has opted for a race boat geared specially for the Vendée Globe. 

Lessons to be learned

“‘For People’ is an absolute jewel! She’s beautiful and because she’s beautiful, she’s bound to be quick!” muses the sailor from northern France, whose initial sea trials have not yet begun. “The boat’s out of the yard, but it may take another six months to get her up to scratch as IMOCAs are boats, which require a huge work-up. With this in mind, it’s good to have a date, the first competitive goal. It makes us step up the pace with regards the scrutineering and safety checks, plus all that comes with that. This Guyader Bermudes 1000 Race Brest - Brest will be her first big test. Her first clash with a good group. We’re bound to learn a lot of lessons,” says Thomas Ruyant, forced to retire from the last edition in 2022 whilst slugging it out in the top trio, after breaking part of the steering system on his boat. “I hope to redeem myself this year!” assures the sailor, whose co-skipper, like those of the sailors previously mentioned, is due to be unveiled over the coming days. The same is true for those sailors paired up with Benjamin Ferré (Monnoyeur – Duo for a Job) and Briton James Harayda (Gentoo Sailing Team). They will complete what is already a stellar line-up including pairings like Alan Roura and Simon Koster (Hublot), Antoine Cornic and Jean-Charles Luro (Human), Guirec Soudée and Corentin Douguet (Freelance.com), Arnaud Boissières and Gérald Veniard (La Mie Câline), Louis Duc and Halvard Mabire (Fives Group - Lantana Environnement), as well as Canadians Scott Shawyer and Ryan Barkey (Canada Ocean Racing), newcomers on the circuit. As such, it’s sure to be a battle royal at every stage of the fleet!