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Route des Princes fleet assembled in Valencia

by Sabina Mollart Rogerson on 5 Jun 2013
Prince de Bretagne arrives in Valencia © Route des Princes
In the 2013 Route des Princes, the only boat to not have arrived is Rennes-Métropole Saint-Malo Agglomération skippered by Gilles Lamiré. The Multi50 has been struggling with a power problem and has been forced to wait in Lorient for the delivery of a new alternator. They will not make the start on Sunday but instead will join the race in Lisbon and anticipate being ready in the Portuguese city a couple of days before the fleet finish Leg 1.

The first of the Route des Princes fleet to arrive was Erwan Leroux’s FenêtréA-Cardinal which docked in Valencia back on the 26th of May, whilst Jean-Pierre Dick’s Virbac-Paprec, the newest MOD70 of the class, only arrived very first thing this morning (Tuesday) at 0500hrs.

Lamiré’s boat suffered an alternator failure last weekend whilst early on the delivery trip to Valencia, Spain for the start of the Route des Princes. The boat has had to wait in Lorient until a new alternator arrives, probably on Wednesday morning.

As a result they will not make it to Valencia on time for the start but instead will route direct to Lisbon where they should be in good shape for Leg 2 from Lisbon to Dun Laoghaire.

'We had to make a decision and I took it.' the skipper said, 'It’s a disappointment but we did not want it all to end in tears. Our goal was not just to be at the start of the race, but to be in a position to do well, to be in the game.'

The skipper had made every possible effort to make a repair, driving back from Lorient to Saint Malo to disassemble the engine of his 60 foot trimaran to try and find a solution which would work for the Multi 50. And so meantime he has been forced to wait for the new alternator to arrive. He will not only ensure the repair is completed but find a reason for why the unit, which was new, failed.

'It was brand new and so the team has been bench testing the engine this morning to see if we can find out what the problem has been. The good news is that tomorrow it all should be repaired.

They will be credited with points equivalent to non-starters in Leg 1, so 12 points which is not too weighty to ruin their dream of being on the overall podium when they arrive in Morlaix Bay on June 30th .

For Sébastien Josse last year’s learning from a first season with the MOD70 has been invaluable. Edmond de Rothschild now have a line up for the Route des Princes which is more multiskilled, with more stronger helmsmen and it includes Volvo Ocean Race winner Charles Caudrelier as navigator.

He explains that, since re-launching the boat in April their early season training has been compact and focused:

'We have not done so much sailing against the other boats. We sailed a little bit against Oman for four days and we did three days with Spindrift and did the ArMen race. So we have done much less training this year but then we know the boat much better with the group. After one season we are much more confident with the boat.'

'After the European Tour we did not feel so good. It was a season which we did some good stuff and some bad. That, I suppose, is normal when you are just starting out in the class. We needed to have more consistent, regular results. But then, also, we did not break anything on the boat. That was a question before the start of the season and over the whole European Tour we did not know who would win overall until the last five minutes of the race. That makes interesting for the future of the fleet and we have a good feeling about it.'

When they review the first season objectively, Josse considers their relative inexperience in Multihulls, compared with some of their rivals, meant they were always playing catch up:

'In the end we look back and know we had a young crew which did not have enough experience in these type of boats. And we are against Mich’ Desj’, Yann Guichard, Pascal Bidégorry and guys like that who have more than 10 years in multihulls. So we tried to sail as much as we could all working to grow up in the class very quickly. And so we had a good start to the season with a good Transat and a bad finish as the race was shorter and the crew was put together for more offshore sailing. The others had a lot of drivers with a lot of experience. So we have changed a bit for this season. Now we have Charles Caudrelier who is a helmsman too and Jean Christophe Mourniac who has done the Tornado and F18. So these are changes which are good choices I think, otherwise it is the same. We had a good group last year. Everyone was at a good level but we were forced to grow up quick, focused and motivated but we lacked time.'

Caudrelier is a talented allrounder, a helm as well as a navigator: 'Charles will do the navigation and is my co-skipper for the Transat Jacques Vabre. I have known him for 15 years. He is a great sailor and we have a good feeling together and we have a small group in Port La Fôret who have been together for more than ten years and we have not yet had the chance to sail together on a race like this. I needed someone strong and smart. He has won the Transat Jacques Vabre, the Figaro and the Volvo with Groupama, so he is not just crew. He is a co-skipper and because of that I know he is motivated, he’s good fun and physically strong. And so he is more back up for me. Last year I maybe did not have so much back up on board. It was like an inshore crew with each having a specialisation and so when we had to rotate to different jobs it was a mess. So now we are more multiskilled and capable'.

(Read the whole interview with Sébastien Josse here)

La Route des Princes was officially presented today at Lisbon’s City Hall. Among those leading the ceremony were, Manuel Brito, Councillor for Sports for Lisbon, Louis-Noel Viviès, the General Organization for Territories, John Fonseca Ribeiro, Director General of Policy and Andreia Mar Ventura, Member of the Board of Directors for the Port of Lisbon .

The Portuguese capital welcomes the finish of Leg 1 of La Route des Princes, which starts from Valencia on Sunday 9th June.

The first boat should arrive at the start of the massive St Anthony’s Day celebrations.

During the stay in the River Tagus, the multihulls will be berthed at Palace Square and Alcântara during the Saints Day celebrations.

At the press conference held today, Manuel Brito, Councillor for Sports for Lisbon, stressed the importance of La Route des Princes: 'Lisbon very much welcomes this event. The city grew from the port and is an important entry point into Europe.'
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