Krys Ocean Race - Team Foncia prepares for battle

On Saturday morning, Michel Desjoyeaux and the Team Foncia crew will cast off from Port La Forêt, North-West France. Destination Newport, USA. For the MOD 70 Foncia, the route will be reminiscent of The Transat course as a prequel to the Krys Ocean Race itself. The idea is a gentle 2,900-mile North Atlantic practice run to get into the swing of things. ETA in the United States around 26 June.

It’s been just a year since Michel Desjoyeaux took possession of his one-design trimaran. After a gradual start-up over the course of the winter, Team Foncia has moved things up a gear over recent months. Since February, the team has been sailing virtually one week out of two and won no less than two races this spring: the Grand Prix Guyader and the ArMen Race. In total they’ve racked up 6,500 miles on the water and can boast a well-coordinated crew and a well-prepared boat.

Things will start getting serious in early July with the first major event of the MOD 70 circuit, the Krys Ocean Race, a crewed transatlantic race (Six persons) on equal terms, between New York and Brest (start on 7 July). Five trimarans will be battling for supremacy.

Before they set off though, they first have to get the boats to the other side of the Atlantic. Initially scheduled for the middle of the week, Foncia’s departure date has been rescheduled to this weekend to avoid a deep depression, which is circulating to the South of Ireland.

First landing place: Newport (Rhode Island), America’s sailing Mecca, where the fleet will be berthed from 28 June to 2 July. Following on from that it’ll be destination The Big Apple. 'I’ve never made New York under sail before, admits Michel. It’s been my biggest regret so far, but I’m going to be able to tick that one off soon.'

Antoine Carraz (boat captain), Xavier Revil, Sébastien Col, Nicolas Texier and Alban Rossolin will be alongside Michel for this delivery trip, with the latter two sailors being replaced by Manu Le Borgne and Jérémie Beyou for the race itself. 'The idea is to go about it in a relaxed, calm manner, explains Michel. The boat needs to arrive on the other side in good condition, with the guys fresh and ready to attack the next stage.' These 2,900 miles are similar to the course for The Transat and will enable the crew to refine the boat’s speed polars (reference performances according to the point of sail, the wind and sea conditions, and so on.)

For the sailors it will be an opportunity to familiarise themselves with some long sessions at the helm, both day and night, because as Michel tells us, 'everyone needs to be capable of helming the boat during the race'. Finally, and most importantly, these 10 to 12 days of sailing will be the perfect test to familiarise themselves with life aboard the boat: 'The inside of the boat is the real guts of the machine. The living space is smaller than on a 60-feet Imoca. It’s not very comfortable and you need to be able to organise yourself, stow your things away and put up with the others to remain efficient!'

The weather isn’t very settled as yet, but according to Michel, after a rather boisterous climb up to Ireland with the tail of the depression, the crew is set to adopt a southerly course, practically level with the latitude of the Azores, in some very manageable winds. 'In the usual run of things, we race the outward leg and return with a delivery trip, but the reverse is true here. All that will enable us to calmly get into the swing of things. However, the pace of the outward leg won’t be the same as the return leg! If we have some exceptional conditions, we could take five to six days to make Brest.'

The programme

28 June – 2 July: berthing of the boats in Newport
2 July: 120-mile 'Prologue': delivery of the boats to New York
5 July : New York Speed Match
7 July, 1100 hours local time: start of the Krys Ocean Race

Team Foncia website