Second place in the short’ Tour de Belle-Ile
The capricious weather upset proceedings in the sixth edition of the Tour de Belle-Ile, which was contested this Saturday in the bay of Quiberon. Whilst the 476 boats competing in this year’s event were ready for the off at 1000 hours local time, the same cannot be said of the wind over the start zone, forcing the organisers to delay the starting gun. Finally, it was shortly after 1130 hours that the Tour de Belle-Ile fleet was able to set sail, albeit in very light airs. Such conditions meant that the organisers had to shorten the course from 44 miles to just 15 nautical miles.

In the end, the keenly awaited thermal breeze didn’t kick in for the navigator of Gitana 11, despite high hopes prior to the start. As such the course for the Tour de Belle-Ile was transformed into a laborious race and a war of nerves for the sailors, who were attempting to get their steed making headway, at the mercy of the rare puffs of breeze on the race zone. “This morning the grib files weren’t very optimistic about the wind strength, but there was still the hope that the thermals would pick up late morning. However, once we were on the water, we saw the skies cloud over fairly rapidly, at which point we knew we’d have to contend with light airs,” explained Charles Caudrelier.

Authors of a good, powered-up start, despite the lack of wind as the starting gun sounded, the men of Spindrift Racing managed to retain their lead throughout the course, which ended up spanning just 15 miles. Neck and neck from beginning to end, Sébastien Josse and his seven crew put up a creditable performance, but couldn’t catch their rivals. However, they did manage to keep Prince de Bretagne, their major rival here, a decent distance astern.

“The race outcome was partly decided at the start. Aboard Gitana 11, the onus is on safety. This was true not only because of the large number of people on the water and lots of small craft in particular, but also because we didn’t want to cop the rather dissuasive OCS penalty. Despite all that, we got off to a good start on starboard tack, in second place in our category. The race was run in 5-6 knots of breeze, which wasn’t very quick. We made up ground on Spindrift at the entrance to La Teignouse, but we made a slight error by not accompanying them speedily enough on a particular tack. Ultimately the wind did kick back in a little, but it was too late as we were approaching Les Poulains and the decision was taken to call a halt to the 2013 race there and then due to the light wind,” explained Sébastien Josse.

Indeed, given the weather conditions and the fact that the wind still wasn’t being very cooperative at the start of the afternoon, the organisers of the Tour de Belle-Ile took the decision to shorten the course at the Pointe des Poulains, to the far North-West of Belle-Ile-en-Mer. In this way, after a little less than four hours of racing, Spindrift Racing was first across the modified finish line, followed minutes later by the maxi-trimaran fitted out by Baron Benjamin de Rothschild. “Ultimately, given the shortened course, we only sailed upwind. These are conditions where we knew Spindrift could rival us as she carries a slightly larger upwind sail than us, so they were possibly better geared up for today’s conditions,” explained Gitana 11’s navigator.

“It was a great match; Spindrift sailed very well and we congratulate them on their victory,” concluded the skipper of Gitana Team, before heading back out to sea bound for Lorient, the stable’s port of registry.

Sébastien Josse and his crew will be back in the port of La Trinite sur Mer this Wednesday, but this time they will be at the helm of the Multi70 Edmond de Rothschild. Indeed, the following day, Thursday 9 May, they’ll take the start of the ArMen Race.

Runner-up in this 2013 edition then, it is worth noting that Gitana 11 still holds the Tour de Belle-Ile title, with her time of 2 hours and 42 minutes, which she achieved in 2011.

Line honours for the Tour de Belle-Ile 2013
  1. Spindrift Racing, finished at 15h25’31’’ local time
  2. Gitana 11, finished at 15h30’24’’
  3. Prince de Bretagne, finished at 15h41’
  4. Sensation Ocean, finished at 15h43’


The crew of 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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