Loïck Peyron has helped write some of the finest pages in ocean racing history. With twenty years of varied sailing and no less than 40 transats under his belt, Loïck has actually lined up at the start of every Transat Jacques Vabre since the event was created in 1993. And on two memorable occasions, he has even climbed to the top of the podium: in 1999 on Fujicolor and in 2005 with Jean-Pierre Dick aboard Virbac Paprec. For the race's eighth edition this year, he finds himself back at the helm of a brand-new monohull, Gitana Eighty, supported by his regular companion, the master sailmaker from Incidences, Jean-Baptiste Le Vaillant. Read on for a presentation of a duo with many a string to their bows!
Loïck Peyron: the main man
Although a multihull specialist, Loïck Peyron is making his big comeback at the helm of a new-generation IMOCA monohull, Gitana Eighty. On this next edition of the Transat Jacques Vabre, his aim will be to test out the boat's many technical innovations, while at the same time going for victory.
Son of an oil supertanker captain and younger brother of a sailor-siblings, Loïck Peyron cut his sailing teeth aboard a cruiser in La Baule bay, before making his first Atlantic crossing in the Mini-Transat at the age of 18 in a 6.50-m boat. From then on, he ceaselessly honed his solo sailing skills in Figaros or multihulls, as well as serving as a crew member from Formula 40 through to match racing.
At the helm of Lada Poch in the 1989-90 Vendée Globe, the skipper ceded victory to Titouan Lamazou after having helped Philippe Poupon's stricken monohull in the ocean off South Africa. His tremendous talent and verve help give solo racing an added dimension. Subsequently, he began to string successes together onboard Fujicolor II and Fujifilm: two victories in the English Transat in solo and four Course de l'Europe triumphs. He also became nigh on untouchable in the ORMA circuit Grand Prix, but after being absent from the 2000 circuit primarily to take part in The Race, Loïck Peyron was then traumatised by the loss of his trimaran, pulverised by a demented sea during the 2002 Route du Rhum. He reverted to the monohull with Jean-Pierre Dick, winning the 2005 edition of the Transat Jacques Vabre.
Almost forty transatlantic races later and armed with a breathtaking honours list, Loïck Peyron's passion for boats, big and small remains undimmed. Whether working alongside an architect or engineer, in a boatyard or at the helm on the open sea, this man who numbers among France's all-time sailing greats is always hungry for discovery. What's more, he transmits this great enthusiasm to the Gitana Team, which he has led since the start of 2006.
A man motivated by challenges, Loïck Peyron currently wears two hats: that of Gitana Team manager and that of skipper. His appetite for performance and adventure are sure to make him one of the key figures in the 2008-09 Vendée Globe.
Although Loïck Peyron, accompanied by Jean-Baptiste Le Vaillant, will be primarily competing in the next Transat Jacques Vabre in order to test the new boat, you can be sure that this born winner at the helm of Gitana Eighty will countenance but one objective on what is the ultimate sailing course: victory.
An exceptional track record
- 39 Atlantic crossings, 15 of them solo
- 2 laps of the world
- 5 ORMA Champion titles
- 16 Grand Prix victories
- 2 solo English Transat wins
- 2 solo Transat Jacques Vabre wins
- 2 Course des Phares wins
- 4 Course de l'Europe wins
- 7 Trophée Clairefontaine wins
- 2 victories of Bol d'Or
Jean-Baptiste Le Vaillant: the talented newcomer
Co-skipper on board Gitana Eighty for this 8th edition of the Transat Jacques Vabre 2007, Jean-Baptiste Le Vaillant is taking a break from multihulls for one transatlantic race in order to accompany Loïck Peyron, with whom he has been sailing for almost twenty years. Technical Co-director of Incidences sailmakers in La Rochelle, Jean-Baptiste is the circuit's sails specialist, not to mention a first-rate sailor.
At the start of his working life, Jean-Baptiste Le Vaillant's focus soon turned towards sail-making and today, he is regarded as one of the top three sailmakers in the world. Working under the Incidences label, he manages to permanently reconcile sailing with the design of increasingly sophisticated sail plans.
The best skippers clamour to have him on board and concur that they win whenever he sails with them. Indeed, Jean-Baptiste Le Vaillant, despite being new to doublehanded transats, boasts one of the most exceptional track records and a mind-boggling list of honours which includes over 15 Grand Prix victories on multihulls. Most of these have come in conjunction with Loïck Peyron, with whom he has forged a tremendous understanding. He has also spent many a day and night racing alongside the likes of Marc Guillemot, Franck Cammas and Karine Fauconnier.
His knowledge of sail adjustment, his feel for the ocean and his modesty make him one of Loïck Peyron's major assets in his bid to return from Brazil victorious.
- 2006 - North Atlantic record on Orange II
- 2004, 2000 and 1996 - 1st in the Quebec – Saint-Malo race
- 1992 - 2nd in the Quebec – Saint-Malo race on Pierre 1er
- 1989 - 1st in the China Sea Raid in F 18 catamaran
- 1983 - 1st in the La Baule – Dakar on Charente-Maritime
- 16 Grand Prix wins and 5 victories in the Clairefontaine Trophy
Late last week, Gitana Eighty took part in training runs at Bénodet after having accompanied her sister ship Paprec Virbac for 24 hours on route to Spain. This workout gave Gitana Eighty a chance to start her first races and to take on a field of hardened competitors. Loïck Peyron was thus able to verify that the vessel was very comfortable in light air.
Gitana Eighty is due to leave her home port of Trinité-sur-mer on Wednesday 24 October in order to reach Le Havre before midday on Friday 26th.