The Safran monohull is back in the water after four months of work. The relaunch went successfully and Marc Guillemot and his team are now looking towards the future with a busy schedule ahead of them. It all begins with an attempt at the prestigious solo North Atlantic record.
'The whole of the team and our partner suppliers – I’m thinking in particular of JPS - did a great job during this refit: that’s one bit of work out of the way.' Marc Guillemot was in a good mood on Thursday evening in La Trinité-sur-Mer, after spending the whole day relaunching the Safran monohull: a high precision operation. 'The mast was almost a formality, but for the keel everything was down to the nearest millimetre,' added the skipper of Safran. 'That’s the reason why I am so pleased this evening. The day marked the successful conclusion of a four-month long refit, which began back in February. It was in fact, a fairly demanding job, as we started out with Safran’s first keel and this had to go through several milling operations.'
Following this successful relaunch, Safran will soon be back out there sailing. 'As early as next week, we will be starting with eight days of training sessions.' Pascal Bidégorry will be on board to navigate with Marc Guillemot to get ready for the double-handed race, which is the main goal this year: the Transat Jacques Vabre, which begins in Le Havre in November.
But before that from the end of May, Safran will be taking the route to New York. Marc Guillemot has decided to tackle the prestigious solo North Atlantic record between Ambrose Light and the Lizard at the southernmost tip of England. 'We shall be setting off on the delivery trip just after our training session. The goal is to be in New York in early June to go on stand-by from 8th June to tenth July. It is during this period that we will be looking for a weather opportunity to hope to smash the record time held by Alex Thomson since 2012.' Or in other words improve on the 8 days, 22 hours and 8 minutes it took to sail solo the 2850 miles of the North Atlantic. Which means that he will need to keep up an average speed of 13.5 knots in the mists and shipping that you find during this crossing.
'The Record is a goal in itself, but we shall also learn a lot from the delivery trip: we shall have an engineer on board, Clément Duraffourg, who has fitted the keel with sensors and who will be in charge of gathering information throughout this first Atlantic crossing.'
After that? 'If the weather opportunity quickly appears and we get back early enough, we’ll give the crewed Round Britain and Ireland record another go. But only if we can do that without having to worry about not competing in the Fastnet in August.' The Rolex Fastnet Race will be the priority this summer. Quite logically, as this race is also a prestigious one and will allow them to do battle with other IMOCA boats before the major date on the calendar, the famous Transat Jacques Vabre in which Safran has done so brilliantly in previous years: second in 2007 and winner in 2009.