Transat Jacques Vabre 2011 starts on 30th October from Le Havre, France. More than 30 duos will set off from Le Havre aboard both multihulls and monohulls across the Atlantic ocean bound for Costa Rica.
In a month and a half from now in Le Havre everyone will be watching Marc Guillemot and Yann Eliès and their monohull Safran, the title-holder of the Transat Jacques Vabre.
Second in 2007 and the winner in 2009… How much more can Safran add to her list of achievements in the Transat Jacques Vabre? This time, it is not going to be a matter of 'doing better than finishing second,' but doing as well as last time or in other words winning the race. Charles Caudrelier Benac, co-skipper in 2009, has now moved on to other projects (with the Groupama team to compete in the Volvo Ocean Race), so Marc Guillemot has now called upon Yann Eliès to accompany him in this ambitious venture. The two men have already met up before: who can forget Yann Eliès’s accident off the coast of Australia in the 2008-2009 Vendée Globe, when Marc Guillemot came alongside him to offer his support and friendship during the incident? Today, it is together that the two men will be competing in the major race of the 2011 Imoca calendar. Races, training courses and short excursions…
Over the past few months, Yann Eliès has managed to become fully integrated into the Safran Sailing Team. The double-handed team has had an intense schedule. To replace the Europa Race, which could not be organised this year, Marc and Yann competed in the Ar-Men Race together (with Safran winning) and the Douarnenez Grand Prix. They smashed the Round Britain and Ireland Record, winning their duel with PRB and took part in the Rolex Fastnet Race (fourth). At the same time, they went through some special double-handed training courses run by the French Training Centre in Port-la-Forêt. A real team spirit can be found in the pairing and all those, who contribute to this project within the Safran Group, as well as in Marc Guillemot’s team. With a month and a half to go to the start, the two skippers tell us more about their preparation…
Marc Guillemot: 'We’ll both be setting off feeling confident'
Safran - Transat Jacques Vabre 2011 - © Jean-Marie Liot
'Earlier this summer, we did a training course with Yann in Port-la-Forêt. We’ve got one or two more coming up before the start in Le Havre. We’ve always tackled our schedule with the same outlook: getting in as much sailing as we can together to be as well prepared as possible. We always feel that we could have done some more sailing, but there are times, when you have to hand the boat over to the team to make a few of the improvements we have suggested after sailing. The goal has been to ensure everything comes automatically, to make sure we don’t waste time on manoeuvres, changes and decision-making, or in other words, this has been a running in period for the crew. The more we sail together, the more we are able to make the right decisions in a short space of time. Both in terms of racing and our relationship, it’s all going well with Yann. We get on well together and he appreciates how good the team is working around the boat. We can both set off feeling confident. As for who will be doing what, we’ll be copying the format which worked well with Charles: Yann will be concentrating more on weather and strategy, while I’ll be focusing on getting the most out of the boat and ensuring she is sailing well… without forgetting that double-handed sailing is above all an ongoing exchange of ideas.' Yann Eliès: 'A fast-track training period'
'The Round Britain and Ireland record was a great idea. It looks like an easy course, but in reality, it is very difficult. We had winds in excess of 50 knots in the Shetlands, experienced a wide range of conditions with the sort of rough weather we can expect too in the Transat Jacques Vabre. This was a fast track training period for me on the boat. I went through a similar experience in the Fastnet, where we could se the real potential of Safran, as she is clearly able to keep up with the most recent boats. As for Marc, we get on really well together. I feel like I’m sailing with a sailor from the same sort of mould as Lemonchois or Tabarly… He shows enormous determination, is very talented and has a huge experience. We talk things through a lot and each time we go out, we pick up some interesting tips about sailing together.' Safran website Transat Jacques Vabre website