Tour de Belle-Ile, no records in sight!
For the sixth edition of the Tour de Belle-Ile, which is being contested today, 476 yachts will be vying for supremacy as they set off together from the bay of Quiberon. This certainly isn’t a record number in terms of participation, but it is clear that there is still a great deal of enthusiasm for this race, which is open to amateurs and professionals alike. With regard the weather, the race is set to be raced in light airs this year, so the race record currently held by Gitana 11, of 2 hours and 42 minutes, is unlikely to be challenged.

This morning the sun is shining in La Trinité-sur-Mer! For now though, the wind is yet to kick in and a light 5-knot breeze has been recorded at the start zone. As such the start that was initially scheduled for 1000 hours local time, has been put back. Aboard Gitana 11, Sébastien Josse and his seven crew are waiting for the off, hoping the thermal breeze will pick up so they can complete the long course (complete circumnavigation of the island of Belle-Ile) in some relatively normal conditions.

This morning, before casting off from the Breton port of La Trinité-sur-Mer, Charles Caudrelier – the navigator on Gitana 11 – gave the crew the following lowdown on the weather scenario: “The grib files are showing very little wind, with around 5 knots of breeze forecast, but given the glorious sunshine over the zone at the moment, we’re hoping that the thermal breeze will pick up and boost the forecast a little. The grib files are also announcing some cloud cover in the early afternoon, so we’ll have to monitor all that. To make La Teignouse (the first course marker, which marks the exit from the bay of Quiberon) we’ll very likely be punching tide, which would indicate a pretty slow start. In the event of an OCS (overshooting the start line), we don’t head back to re-cross the line, instead we cop a 1-hour time penalty.”

In the light airs forecast, the choice of sails and tactics, particularly along the South coast of Belle-Ile, will be vital. Indeed, during their reconnaissance trip yesterday, Sébastien Josse’s men were able to see at first hand how treacherous the wind shadow between the Pointe des Poulains and Kerdonis lighthouse can be.

Crew aboard Gitana 11 in the Tour de Belle-Ile 2013

Sébastien Josse (skipper)

Charles Caudrelier – Thomas Rouxel – Antoine Koch – Florent Chastel - Cyril Dardashti – Jean-Christophe Mourniac – David Boileau 

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