French boats take the honours

Olivier Pesci's Grand Soleil 40 Beelzebuth 3 takes the overall St Malo race prize

Tuesday July 17th 2012, Author: James Boyd, Location: none selected

Organised by the Royal Ocean Racing Club in association with UNCL, Yacht Club de Dinard, Société Nautique de la Baie de St Malo and the Royal Yacht Squadron, this year’s race to St Malo proved to be a fast and tactical affair with French yachts dominating through virtually all classes.

Olivier Pesci and his crew on Grand Soleil 40 Beelzebuth 3 were overjoyed to learn that they had won the King Edward VII Cup for the best corrected time in all IRC classes.

Olivier Pesci was tired but elated to have won the race as he explains: “It was a difficult race to win and we are all very tired but there were important decisions that needed to be made and we got our tactics right at key moments. We played the tide and the wind shifts well at the start in the Solent and probably the biggest tactical call was when to tack for The Casquets. Many of our competitors tacked earlier than us because the wind started to swing to the east but we held on a little bit more and, as we thought, the wind eventually went to the west. This gave us a better angle to The Casquets.

“For a crew who come from Brittany, it was a fantastic experience to win this race. Although the firework display at St.Malo was to celebrate our national day, the 14 July, we enjoyed it even more because we were celebrating our victory in the St.Malo Race! For a Breton to win the King Edward VII Cup is a dream come true and our next dream is to win the Brewin Dolphin Commodore Cup for France.”

Beelzebuth 3 was top of the class in IRC Two and of the 28 in the division the first seven places all went to French teams. UNCL President Marc de Saint Denis and Géry Trentesaux's MC34 Courrier Vintage was just seven minutes behind Beelzebuth 3 and Philippe Delaporte’s J/122 Pen Azen was third. These three yachts also occupied the podium for the race overall.

In IRC One, French domination continued with Loday & Nicoleau’s Grand Soleil 43 Codiam taking the class win but only just RORC Commodore, Mike Greville skipper of Erivale III was less than 7 minutes behind on corrected time. Erivale was the top scoring British yacht overall. Hervé Borgoltz’s Grand Soleil 44 Eleuthera was third and Laurent Gouy’s Ker 39 Inis Mor scored fourth, which was good enough to lift the French team to the top spot for the RORC Season’s Points Championship.

In IRC Three, former short handed offshore trimaran skipper Franck-Yves Escoffier and his A-35 Ame-Hasle came out on top beating the highly experienced team on Foggy Dew, skippered by Noel Racine, into second place. Francois Carluer’s A-35 Agence Directe sailed by Bruno Bessac was third.

In IRC 4, Jean-Pierre Bonnet's J/105 Moontiger was the victor, Eric Mordret’s JPK 9.60 Leonardo was second with Harry Heijst’s S&S 41 Winsome taking third place and as a result now leads IRC 4 overall for the RORC Season’s Points Championship.

In the Multihull Class, Loïc Fequet’s Multi 50 Maitre Jacques literally flew around the track, completing the 155-mile course in an astonishing 12 hours and 39 minutes. Chaz Ivill’s Grande Soleil 54 John B took nearly twice as long, but Ivill was racing John B doublehanded for the first time and was delighted to win the Two-Handed division. Ivill was racing with Shaun Murphy who donated the Slingshot Trophy for the Two Handed class racing to St.Malo.

“Although we were allowed to use the autopilot, we decided not to and helmed 12 hours each, so we have virtually had no sleep. It was incredibly tiring but I am chuffed to bits to have won the Two Handed Class” explained Ivill. “Preparation was very important as John B is not normally sailed in this way, but during practice we worked out how to sail and gybe three kites with just the two of us and that was very important. It was great to do the race with Spud but it was a lot quieter on board without a full crew but we had a few giggles on the way round, especially when I was getting a salt water bath up on the bow and I turned round to see Spud desperately trying to keep a straight face.”

The RORC Season’s Points Championship continues with The Channel Race, starting on 4 August after the showcase event of the season, the Brewin Dolphin Commodores’ Cup which starts on 23 July.

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