As the Pro Sailing Tour prepares for its first ever visit to the home of British yachting in Cowes, and the challenging 515-mile course to get there, the crews of the seven Ocean Fifty foiling trimarans have had the opportunity to reflect on two days of intense inshore racing in the Bay of Saint-Brieuc.
Navigating the light winds and legendary strong currents for which the area is known was the key to success, with the starts proving to be equally crucial to securing a podium place or win. After the excitement of shoreside activities in the port of Armor, out at sea the crews were fully focused on working their way through the light airs on the Bay of Saint-Brieuc around the Saint-Quay Islands.
Increasing the challenge, the strong tides hindered progress towards the course marks, with the Ocean Fifties engaged in a constant battle of tacks and gybes around the two coastal courses and the intricate round-the-cans challenge set by the race committee.
Quentin Vlamynck (FRA) on Arkema won the opening race and Erwan Le Roux (FRA) aboard Koesio scored two back-to-back victories, with both opening up a lead over Leyton and defending Pro Sailing Tour champion Sam Goodchild (GBR).
Primonial was disappointed by its results in the Bay of Saint-Brieuc, and Sébastien Rogues will be keen to do well on the upcoming race to Cowes, with both Komilfo and Solidaires En Peloton-ARSEP also out to make their mark in English waters.
As the clock counts down to Sunday’s 19:00CET start the crews are anticipating a strategic and physical 500-plus mile race. After a short leg to show off the multihulls in front of spectators in Armor, the fleet will head for La Roche Gautier to the north-east of the island of Brehat, before leaving Sark in the Channel Islands to port.
The multihulls’ bows will then turn towards Finistère and the Grande Basse de Portsall cardinal mark, before the crews set off across the English Channel to round the mythical Wolf Rock lighthouse.
From there it is an ultra-technical race due east along England’s south coast towards the Isle of Wight, managing the numerous headlands and tidal gates all the way to the entrance of The Solent, with the Pro Sailing Tour reserving the right to shorten the course at The Needles off the Isle of Wight, depending on the weather conditions.
“We’re really looking forward to the offshore to Cowes,” said Goodchild. “I started my offshore sailing career there at the Artemis Offshore Academy in 2010-11, so it will be good to go back there with my own project and to sail in the Solent again – I’m looking forward to it!“
A cannon fired at the Royal Yacht Squadron in Cowes will greet the winners, and all crews will receive a warm welcome from the Royal London Yacht Club and the Cowes Harbour Commission on their expected arrival at midday on Tuesday.
THE RACE CALENDAR
Bonifacio, Corsica, France | 11-15 May
Brest, France | 22-26 June
Bay of Saint-Brieuc, France | 30 June-3 July
Cowes, UK | 5-6 July
Roscoff | 9-10 July
Solidaires En Peloton-ARSEP | Thibaut Vauchel-Camus [FRA] Groupe GCA-1001 Sourires | Gilles Lamiré [FRA] Primonial | Sébastien Rogues [FRA] Leyton | Sam Goodchild [GBR] Arkema | Quentin Vlamynck [FRA] Koesio | Erwan Le Roux [FRA] Komilfo | Éric Péron [FRA]