by Soazig Guého
What it is likely the best Multi 50 line up yet is in Le Havre, primed and ready to take on the eleventh edition of the Transat Jacques Vabre. The level of boat design and preparation is higher than ever ready to be driven by some of the most experienced and successful sailors in the fleet, means that this will be one of the most competitive classes.
Multi 50 Actual
The partnerships are an interesting mix, some of more recently forged duos match a very experienced co-skipper who runs the programme and has optimised the boat, along with a successful co-skipper coming in from another ocean racing discipline, such as Kito de Pavant and double Solitaire du Figaro winner Yann Eliès. But this race, two handed, is a human challenge as well as a sporting endeavour, often testing the strength and efficiency of the partnership as much as it does the boat itself.
'We have never seen such a line up', concludes Erwan Le Roux (FenêtréA Cardinal). Six of these 15 metre multihulls will participate in the 11th edition of the Transat Jacques Vabre and it is hard to pick a potential winner.
FenetreA Cardinal - 2013 Transat Jacques Vabre
'There are sailors who know their machines, duos who are great, experienced competitors and overall a really high level of competition with real strength in depth which has not always been the case in the Multi 50 in this race.' Adds Lalou Roucayrol (Arkema - Aquitaine).
There are six boats, but realistically probably four potential winners. With an older boat Eric Nigon/Samy Villeneuve aboard the trimaran ‘Vers un monde sans SIDA’ aims to be the first of the older boats and not too far from the newer generation Multi50’s. But for the likes of Gilles Lamiré and Andrea Mura on Rennes/St Malo Agglomeration (launched in 2009) a place on the the podium is the main challenge. Three other Multi 50 are also 2009 launches, FenêtréA Cardinal, Actual and Maitre Jacques while the latest, Arkema - Aquitaine, was only launched this year and already won the Route des Princes this summer.
'Four boats really stand out. The new Arkema - Aquitaine, a development of Actual is probably superior on paper but then we do know that the boats often suffer from early teething problems. Correspondingly Maitre Jacques and FenêtréA Cardinal are very well optimized,' admits Kito de Pavant co -skipper on Actual alongside Yves Le Blevec. So there are four boats thought able to win into Itajai in Brazil but there is no outstanding favourite.
An emotional choice? A competitive choice? A tough decision… We definitely have a wide range of crews, where the sailors work well together. Certainly the Multi 50 crews this year are interesting to say the least. When you choose a crewman, there’s always a lot to consider: someone who can adapt and is able to sail quickly, someone who sees the project in the same light as you, and of course, he has to be available.
'The name of Kito very quickly came to the top,' explains Yves Le Blevec (Actual). The Transat Jacques Vabre is not merely a top class race across the Atlantic Ocean. It is also a human adventure. 'Yann (Eliès) was a choice that came from the heart. I know he has a lot to offer, as he always shows determination,' admitted Erwan Le Roux. To which Yann Eliès responds: 'I fully trust Erwan, as he knows his boat well. I know that in this transatlantic race, there are going to be some extreme human emotions.'
Mayeul Riffet and Lalou Roucayrol (Arkema - Aquitaine) - 2013 Transat Jacques Vabre
As for Lalou Roucayrol and Mayeul Riffet, they know each other by heart. They work perfectly smoothly together already: 'I tend to take care of the charts and weather, while Lalou likes being at the helm and trimming.' For Kito de Pavant, the skipper remains the person in charge of the technical aspects: 'Yves (Le Blévec) designed and built his boat and knows her by heart. He is best placed to take care of her, watch what’s going on and make sure everything is working on board.'
And of course the Multi 50 are not exactly palatial, there is an acute lack of space. They are cramped, difficult to get inside and out and they are noisy.
'Downwind it seems that the boat will explode' Says Lalou Roucayrol. 'At 20 knots you can just stand up at 30 to 40 knots you’re on your knees you crawl!'
Erwan Le Roux adds: 'I know there are more uncomfortable boats', to which Yves Le Blévec adds, 'And you have to work the Multi 50 to their strengths and weaknesses. We must adapt our courses to avoid conditions that would not favour us.'
After the arrival of the Class 40’s Solidarite en Peloton and Concise 8 Platoon this Tuesday afternoon all 44 boats which comprise the Transat Jacques Vabre are now all moored in the Paul Vatine basin.
2011 Title Defenders
Jean-Pierre Dick and Jérémie Beyou
15days 18h 15min 54sec
Yves Le Blevec and Samuel Manuard
17days 17h 7min 43sec
Yannick Bestaven and Éric Drouglazet
21days 17h 59min 8sec
Transat Jacques Vabre