Please select your home edition
Edition
Mackay Boats

Nicolas Bérenger, the little demon of Angel Bay

by Kate Jennings - Expression on 14 Sep 2008
Alpes Maritimes: Nicolas Bérenger, the little demon of Angel Bay.

He said 'in the Mediterranean you have to know how to react quickly.' Nicolas Bérenger, skipper of Kone Elevators, applied this conduct to the letter during today’s prologue of the 'European Capital of Culture – Cap Istanbul'.

Whilst the whole fleet crowded around the committee boat waiting for the sea breeze to kick in, the sailor from Sanary sur Mer dived to the pin end to set off from the left hand side of the race zone on his own… A clear sign that we can’t discount this particular Mediterranean solo sailor.

'At my place in Sanary, my family were forecasting 50 knots of Mistral this morning. In this configuration there is often what you call the return of the E’ly in the bay of Nice, and the wind kind of loops around. I thought of that and headed off to the pin end of the start line…' It proved to be an inspired option since the skipper of Kone Elevators ended up in the right wagon on the approach to the first windward mark just behind Fred Duthil, still as sharp as ever aboard his Distinxion Automobile… With a hint of craftiness, Nicolas went to hunt down the puff of air which would enable him to be carried upwind of his fellow escapee and slipped by him during the spinnaker hoist. Following this devilish move, the sailor from the Var region of France was inevitably able to make good his escape at the mercy of the gusts of breeze which were sweeping across the particularly capricious race zone. Behind Nicolas, the mark off the Vieux Port of Nice saw an incredibly motivated Romain Attanasio (DCNS 62) chipping away at second place, which he eventually snatched from Fred Duthil thanks to a great gybe at the mark.

Among this group there was one sailor who was particularly happy to have been invited to the festivities, namely Paul Meilhat, the skipper of TS Régate Créteil Val de Marne. Arriving in Nice with the carefree attitude of the newcomers, he has been battling since the start of the week with a demanding class measurement; a necessary part of this professional one-design circuit. After having prepared his boat on a knife edge, with a limited budget, he made it to the start line, already satisfied with having made it that far when the start gun sounded. Less than two hours later he finished the race in fourth place ahead of some top names including Drouglazet, Chabagny, Morvan, and Troussel. Suffice to say that it was a great surprise for the sailor from Val de Marne who, thanks to some resourcefulness and elbow grease, was able to show off his potential for the first time.

In fact it is as well to note the behaviour of the Mediterranean sailors in this event since, in addition to Nicolas Bérenger, there was a fantastic return to the circuit by Marc Emig, following a spell without a partner. He took fifth place. Two other sailors from southern France, François Gabart from Nice and Jean-Paul Mouren from Marseilles, also made it into the top ten in the prologue. Will the 'European Capital of Culture – Cap Istanbul' become a new ‘poacher-free’ race, such as the Solitaire du Figaro was a ‘Breton only’ realm for years. Nicolas Bérenger said it all: 'I’m coming here to win, not for a spot of tourism.' The Baie des Anges (Angel Bay) is not yet the gateway to paradise, but it would certainly seem as if certain sailors have a few ideas on how they might purloin the keys…

The minute the prologue was completed, it was time for the sailors in the Cap Istanbul to pour over the grib files and the routing software for the first leg. The least you can say about it is that the situation is far from simple. A W’ly air flow generated by the remains of the Mistral sweeping across the zone to the west of the longitude of the Presqu’île de Giens, with the winds remaining light along the coast of Corsica. It remains to be seen whether the sailors should agree to extend their course to hunt down this air flow or instead consent to sailing in light winds but on a direct course.

Eric Péron (l’Esprit d’équipe), a familiar face along these routes, as his radical trajectory bore witness in the last Transat AG2R, was no less perplexed. Should you agree to extend your journey by nearly 100 miles on a 300 mile leg?

Skipper of Athema, Erwan Tabarly summed up the situation rather laconically: 'that’s what the Mediterranean is all about.'

Quotes from the Boats:

Nicolas Bérenger, Kone Elevators
'I applied a real Mediterranean strategy: benefit from the puffs of breeze, make do with what there is and be an opportunist. What I’m pleased about is that I am undefeated in Nice. The last time I came here was twenty-one years ago in an Optimist and I won! I’m fortunate to be able to count on our supplier and on Jimmy Le Baux, my préparateur, who got my boat back in shape again after it was dismasted.'

Paul Meilhat, TS régate Créteil Val de Marne
'I’m really happy as we’ve had difficulty getting a project together. In addition, it was my first big race in a Figaro and a result like this clearly boosts your confidence. This is heightened by the fact that we’ve had some hard moments during the week with some dips in morale. We’re setting out with very little: the mainsail is what Droug (Eric Drouglazet) lent me, so we get by…'

Erwan Tabarly, Athema
'The race zone was a real headache but you have to expect that kind of thing here. Right now I’m not really bothered about it. One day it’s one bunch that do well, tomorrow it’ll be the others. You have to accept that when you sail here.'
PredictWind.com 2014Zhik Yachting 660x82Helm Events 660x82

Related Articles

Hotting up at the Star Sailors League Finals
Three light airs races were held for the penultimate day of the Qualifying Rounds in Montagu Bay Nassau. Three light airs races were held for the penultimate day of the Qualifying Rounds in Montagu Bay Nassau. Getting a good start and having the boat speed to hold a lane was paramount today.
Posted on 2 Dec
America's Cup - Tech Tuesday - AC50 One Design sails by Norths + Video
North Sails are making all the soft sails for the 2017 America's Cup fleet. North Sails are making all the soft sails for the 2017 America's Cup fleet. In this Tech Tuesday feature, Oracle Team USA shows the sails being made as a batch at North Sails facility at Minden Nevada.
Posted on 1 Dec
America's Cup - Video tour of an AC45S by Artemis Racing
Crew member Francesco Bruni gives an exclusive tour inside the cockpit of the team's first development boat, Turbo 1 Artemis Racing crew member Francesco Bruni gives an exclusive tour inside the cockpit of the team's first development boat, Turbo 1. Skipper, Nathan Outteridge, provides an update on the state of play with less than 8 months to go to the finals of AC35, and Loick Peyron provides the inspiration to a squad of young aspiring sailors in Toulon
Posted on 1 Dec
Sailing World Cup Final brings the best to St Kilda
Thirty-six nations have registered sailors across a combined 22 Olympic and Invited classes for next week’s World Cup Competitor numbers are predicted to reach 800 across the two competitions - the final stage of the international body World Sailing’s six-part Olympic class international circuit that will come to a head at St Kilda for the 11 classes, and the 11 Invited classes.
Posted on 1 Dec
Volvo Ocean Race - Future Fibres furling cables on board 8-boat fleet
Volvo Ocean Race has chosen the latest generation of Future Fibres high performance furling cables Volvo Ocean Race has chosen the latest generation of Future Fibres high performance furling cables for the fleet of eight one-design yachts in the thirteenth edition of the gruelling race around the world starting in October 2017. Each of the eight identical boats will use Future Fibres TorqueLite 2.0 furling cables in their seven-headsail inventory, ranging from a 29.7 m2 storm jib up to a 420
Posted on 30 Nov
Battle commences at Star Sailors League Finals
The early exchanges confirmed the amazing quality and depth in fleet, which contains no less than 16 Olympic medallist The early exchanges confirmed the amazing quality and depth in the fleet, which contains no less than 16 Olympic medallist among the skippers alone.
Posted on 30 Nov
Volvo Ocean Race - Southern Spars export first batch of masts
Southern Spars is forging ahead on the first batch of new masts, scheduled to leave their Auckland factory in early 2017 As the fleet of Volvo Ocean 65s undergo refits in Europe, Southern Spars is forging ahead on the first batch of new masts, scheduled to leave their Auckland factory in early 2017. There are currently four more build slots available for early next year which will fill up as teams continue to commit to the race. Completing a full set of rigs will take the company's tally up to 46 masts for Volvo
Posted on 30 Nov
Volvo Ocean Race - Team AkzoNobel arrives home after 2,000km sail
Skipper Simeon Tienpont and the team AkzoNobel training crew arrived in the Netherlands earlier this evening Skipper Simeon Tienpont and the team AkzoNobel training crew arrived in the Netherlands earlier this evening following a four-day delivery from Lisbon to The Hague onboard their Volvo Ocean 65. The journey of nearly 2,000km was the first opportunity for Tienpont to put his potential crew through a series of offshore training tests ahead of the next edition of the Volvo Ocean Race 2017-2018.
Posted on 29 Nov
A Q&A with Nick Bice about the recent changes for the 2017/2018 VOR
I caught up with Nick Bice, the VOR’s director of boats and maintenance, to learn more about the VOR’s new directions. I recently had the pleasure of hearing Nick Bice, the Volvo Ocean Race’s director of boats and maintenance, deliver a keynote speech to an audience of marine-industry professionals and official Volvo Ocean Race suppliers at the 2016 METS trade show in Amsterdam. I caught up with Bice after his presentation to learn more about the new directions that the race is taking for its thirteenth edition.
Posted on 28 Nov
Predictwind release improved racing and cruising routing function
PredictWind has released a major upgrade to its Routing function, taking a much more graphic and interactive approach PredictWind has released a major upgrade to its Routing function, taking a much more graphic and interactive approach to what has been a black art of weather routing, used to chose the fastest route for racers or most comfortable route for cruisers.
Posted on 28 Nov