Michel Desjoyeaux leads the field

The 22nd Clairefontaine Trophy for the champion of champions to take place next week

Thursday September 1st 2011, Author: James Boyd, Location: France

For the third consecutive year, the sailing champions are returning to La Grande Motte for the 22nd Trophée Clairefontaine des Champions to be held from 8-11 September. The favourite is four-time winner Michel Desjoyeaux.

Michel Desjoyeaux's skills are sharp: the two time Vendée Globe winner, was the Champion of Champions in 2001, 2003, 2004 and 2007 took up intensive competition once again at the beginning of the season in the D35 catamarans on Lake Geneva as skipper of Foncia, as he has been waiting for his new MOD70 trimaran to be launched.

Pascal Bidégorry currently holds the crewed transatlantic crossing record and the 24 Hour Distance record earned on the Banque Populaire V maxi-trimaran. He finished third at La Grande Motte in 2010 and is also aiming for victory this year.

Loïck Peyron and Franck Cammas will not be competing this year. Peyron is currently in England skippering Energy Team in the America's Cup World Series, while Cammas is busy preparing for the Volvo Ocean Race.

However also taking part is Australian Darren Bundock who's credentials include two Olympic Tornado silver medals and 14 world championship titles won on catamarans.

Nicolas Charbonnier, was bronze medalist in the Men's 470 class at the Beijing Olympics, and will be competing in the Trophée Clairefontaine for the fourth time.

Armel Le Cléac'h, two-time winner of the Solitaire du Figaro (2003 and 2010) and second in the last Vendée Globe, has sailed the Trophée Clairefontaine several times as a crew member, and last year as a skipper, when he finished seventh. He is now skippering the Banque Populaire IMOCA 60.

François Gabart was a member of Michel Desjoyeaux's crew last year. This season, he's taking part as the French Solo Offshore Racing Champion. He raced in the Tornado early in his career and now skippering his own brand new IMOCA 60, MACIF.

Jean-Pierre-Dick is making his comeback to the Trophée Clairefontaine this year, thanks to his second victory at the Barcelona World Race and his 2010 IMOCA Championship title skippering the IMOCA 60 Virbac Paprec 3. On board Jérémie Beyou, two-time winner of the Solitaire du Figaro (2005 and 2011), most recently as skipper of BPI, will lend support as an elite crew member.

Finally, Roland Jourdain arrives at La Grande Motte thanks to his back to back victories in the IMOCA 60 class in the Route du Rhum. Like Desjoyeaux Jourdain is in the process of making his transition into the MOD70 trimaran with his long term sponsor Veolia Environnement.

For 22 consecutive years since its inception in 1990, Trophée Clairefontaine has been the world's only event bringing together champions from such varied disciplines of international sailing to compete on strictly equal terms: in identical 7.65m long catamarans exclusively designed and solely used for this sailing show.

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