Route des Princes - Multihull only race attracts exceptional teams
by Sabina Mollart Rogerson on 4 May 2013
The inaugural edition of the Route des Princes, a new race which is solely for racing multihulls, has attracted the best crews of the Multi50 and the MOD70 classes who will take on a challenging new course over three weeks of racing, starting on June 9th from Valencia in Spain to the Bay of Morlaix in France via Lisbon, Dublin Dun Laoghaire and Plymouth.
The Maxi 80 Prince de Bretagne / El Maxi 80 Prince de Bretagne © Marcel Mochet
The 3045 miles course will be opened by the flagship new Maxi 80 multihull Prince de Bretagne during a race which seeks to mix exciting competition on the water with engaging activities and festivals ashore.
The Multi50 fleet musters amateurs, well known skippers and highly skilled crews. Given that the racing spans three weeks of competition most of the teams are professional. One of the most watched will be Lalou Roucayrol whose new Multi50 Arkema-Région Aquitaine has just been launched in March. A regular on the podium of Multi50 races is Yves Le Blevec, winner of the tenth edition of the Transat Jacques Vabre on Actual, just weeks after losing his mast.
Erwan Leroux of Fenêtré A-Cardinal is a serious contender in this fleet on the helm of the former Crepes Wahou! 3, a boat which he knows well after supervising its development and build and with which he has already done well, especially in the 2012 Quebec St Malo race.
Another key competitor will be Gilles Lamire on Rennes Métropole - Saint-Malo Agglomération (ex-Prince de Bretagne), a skipper who has two Route du Rhum races in the Multi 60 fleet under his belt.
Since it was launched in 2011 the MOD 70 race has attracted some of the top exponents to compete in the exciting one design fleet of identically matched high performance multis, created to race on equal terms inshore and across oceans.
Sébastien Josse, Yann Guichard, Sidney Gavignet and Jean-Pierre Dick skipper the MOD70’s which will follow a reciprocal course to the European Tour that most followed in September 2012. This time it goes from the south to the north, from Mediterranean Spain to the Atlantic coast of France. There might still be an air of revenge again as the challengers face the 2012 Multi One Championship winners, Yann Guichard and the Spindrift crew.
Newest boat is is Dick’s Virbac Paprec 70 which has just been launched and which will have a stellar team on board including Vendée Globe winner Vincent Riou, Roland Jourdain and Thierry Duprey du Vorsent.
Sidney Gavignet’s crew proved a talented, tough outfit when they raced last year on Musandam-Oman Sail. This season Gavignet has the highly experienced Briton Neal McDonald and Ireland’s Volvo Ocean Race and Barcelona World Race winner Damian Foxall on board.
Erwan Tabarly and Pascal Bidégorry sail alongside Guichard and Charles Caudrelier, Antoine Koch, Thomas Rouxel and Sébastien Col are with Josse on Groupe Edmond de Rothschild.
With the depth of talent shared between the Multi50s and the MOD70s the assembled fleet will be of an exceptional calibre. They will be complemented by a perfect ambassador to open the course, Lionel Lemonchois on the new Multi 80 Prince de Bretagne.
The objective for the double Route du Rhum winner Lemonchois is to fly the flag for all of the values which the brand represents, excellence of taste, the collective strength and loyalty of its constituent members whilst also publicising the region itself. These are just some of the reasons that Lemonchois and his team will race the course throughout June, from Spain to Portugal, Ireland, England to finish in their native region of France, setting a reference time for each leg. The aim for the future is also to attract more of the Ultimate multis to compete in 2015. Lemonchois’ 80 footer, developed from a 60 foot multi, will be in ‘record mode’, building miles on the Route des Princes as a prelude to a series of records which Lemonchois is expected to challenge.
Jean-François Jacob, Secretary General of St Pol Sica, one of the leaders of Prince de Bretagne: 'The basic idea is to combine the maritime world and the local recgions... After discussion with various European countries, the decision was taken to create this event. We want to foster friendly and sportsmanship, to develop the regions connected to the sea. On this first edition we will want to do more, our desire is to build the Route des Princes to become an internationally renowned European festival. The ambition is to make it a top ten European events.'
Yves le Blevec, Actual: 'It's a real race, a course that really excites me. I'm really happy to participate. This alternation of inshore and offshore stages will resemble the likes of the Solitaire du Figaro. The boats will sail in sight of each other intensity from beginning to end, it'll be great. We will invite Luc Alphand on two stages, and perhaps some skippers from the Mini Transat.'
Erwan Leroux-Cardinal FenêtréA: 'The goal is to sail hard, spending hours on the water, and just racing will allow us to take on the best in our class to get a better understanding of the boat. This course provides a true competitive test in the multi class 50, this year the circuit is very interesting ... '
Yann Guichard, Spindrift: 'It's great that there is a new race which is organized. This year there will be four boats, it will be a great tour of Europe, the city stage races are great the course is very interesting. From Mediterranean north, usually it is the other way! We have various conditions, little wind in the Mediterranean and Gibraltar is an interesting passage, as is the tour of Ireland. Inshore and offshore Mod 70, this is the perfect program ... Here, the game is very open it will be close.
Lionel Lemonchois, Maxi 80 Prince de Bretagne: 'Yes, I'm the standard bearer. I am fortunate to have a partner that has given me a beautiful boat and organizes a nice race. The Route des Princes is a big thing in terms of my goals. Even if we sailed the boat since the beginning of the year this will be a great chance for discovery and development towards the Route du Rhum. It will be five, it was the largest ship but it will be the least likely to edge! '.
The general organization of the event will be provided by the Commercial Society for the land promotion, a subsidiary of Sica St Pol de Léon in Route des Princes