by Louay Habib
The Cowes Dinard St Malo Race is coming up this weekend when over 170 yachts from six different nations will race across the English Channel to the famous walled port city of St Malo in Brittany, France. The 170-mile race pre-dates the Royal Ocean Racing Club by almost 20 years, with the overall winner taking the impressive gold plated King Edward VII Cup, presented by the British Monarch to the Club Nautique de la Rance at Dinard in 1906. The Cowes Dinard St Malo Race is the ninth race of the 13 race series for the RORC Season's Points Championship and bar next month's Rolex Fastnet Race, is likely to have the largest entry of the RORC season.
Cowes Dinard St Malo 2013 - Maitre Jacques
Four multihulls will be racing to St Malo including two French Multi 50s: Etienne Hochede's Pir² Port De Fécamp is a vintage trimaran built in 1983 but the hot favourite to take line honours in St Malo will be Loic Fequet's Maitre Jacques, which has finished in the top three in class for both the Route du Rhum and Transat Jacques Vabre. The Multihull record has stood since 2002, an extraordinary time of 5 hours 23 min 33 seconds was set by Maxi Catamaran Maiden 2 and Maitre Jacques is unlikely to beat that.
Mike Slade's ICAP Leopard returns to RORC racing for the first time since taking line honours in February's RORC Caribbean 600. ICAP Leopard set the monohull record for the Cowes Dinard St Malo Race in 2008, averaging 11.61 knots, and the 100ft canting keel maxi is very capable of improving on that. ICAP Leopard's current form in both the RORC Caribbean 600 and last month's record run in the JP Morgan Round the Island Race has them averaging over 13 knots.
'ICAP Leopard was built to set records and take line honours, but to do that we need the yacht in good condition, a top class crew and the right weather. Leopard is in great shape and the crew for the race is very capable, so we just need the third part of the recipe. At the moment, our weather routing is showing a slow start but we could see much more favourable conditions as the race develops, so record pace is a possibility.' Mike Slade, ICAP Leopard.
There are 20 yachts racing to St Malo in IRC One including Piet Vroon's Ker 46, Tonnerre de Breskens 3, and Edward Broadway's Ker 40, Hooligan VII, which are currently placed first and second overall for the 2013 season.
With 49 yachts entered, IRC Two is the largest class racing and Géry Trentesaux's MC34 Patton, Courrier Vintage, has been in superb form this season. Courrier Vintage was runner up last year by just seven minutes on corrected time and will undoubtedly feature in the race. Nine First 40.7s and seven First 40s will also feature in IRC Two enjoying a close battle within the class.
Chris Jackson, boat captain for First 40, Lancelot II Logic, spoke about their season. 'Stacy Vickers and a number of his friends have chartered the yacht for a Fastnet campaign. Over half the crew have done the Fastnet before and we have high ambitions for the race. It is great to see seven First 40s racing to St Malo, I have never seen that many racing offshore before and the racing is incredibly close; we managed to get the better of La Réponse in the last offshore race by just nine seconds and it is really exciting to have so many boats around you. That pressure really raises the game. The St Malo race will be our last RORC race before the Fastnet and we are determined to get a good result.'
In 2012 French yachts dominated the race winning four IRC Classes with Olivier Pesci and his crew on Grand Soleil 40, Beelzebuth 3, overjoyed to win the King Edward VII Cup for the best corrected time overall.
'It was a difficult race to win and we were all very tired but there were important decisions that needed to be made and we got our tactics right at key moments,' commented Olivier Pesci 'For a crew who come from Brittany, it was a fantastic experience to win the race. Although the firework display at St.Malo was to celebrate our national day, 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.'
The race to St. Malo from Cowes is one of the oldest yacht races in the world and has always been a popular event with competitors racing with the Royal Ocean Racing Club. The timing of the race coincides with the celebration of the storming of the Bastille in 1789, a symbol of the uprising of the modern French nation. Bastille Day is one of the biggest celebrations throughout France and the fortress village of St Malo will be a hive of festivities and cultural celebrations culminating in an impressive firework display.