Will multihulls star in Transat Quebec Saint Malo?

Transat Quebec Saint-Malo
With three days to go before the start of the seventh edition of the Transat Quebec Saint Malo, which will start at 15h GMT on Sunday 20th July, the 28 crews entering the race will soon be facing the reality of the 3000 miles of racing, which lie ahead of them until they reach the Privateers’ City of Saint-Malo in Brittany.

The last crew members are in the process of going on board, as Thursday is the final opportunity under the rules imposed by the Race Directors to carry out the final adjustments and trials on the Saint Lawrence River. Forced to remain moored up from this evening, the 110 sailors from Italy, Germany, England, France, Belgium and Canada will be in front of the navigation charts trying to draw up their final race strategies. Whilst it still remains somewhat premature to talk about the weather, there is still a lot of discussion on the pontoons in Quebec about how to deal with the trip down the Saint Lawrence with all its inherent dangers, such as its currents and eddies, its rocks lying just under the surface and the wildlife. Everyone agrees that the 370-mile voyage on the river is a hurdle, where nobody wants to be held up.

Franck-Yves Escoffier believes that the time has come for the 50-ft multihulls…
What if luck was with the 50-ft multihulls? For a long time, remaining in the shadow of their fabulous elders in the Orma class, the small 15.24 multihulls are now doing much more than follow in their wake.

This year, the Transat Quebec Saint-Malo offers them an occasion to show what they are capable of, combining absolute performance and adaptability… as well as remaining financially accessible. Six boats belonging to the very young Open 50 class created in 2002, which is presided over by Hervé Cléris, are present in the harbour in Quebec and it would appear that the atmosphere has never been so euphoric concerning their future, which was so brilliantly highlighted by the now emblematic Crêpes Whaou! sailed by Franck Yves Escoffier, whose performances during the most recent ocean battles have not been far removed from those of the finest 60-foot boats. Convinced about the perfect suitability of his Van Peteghem - Lauriot Prévost designed boat for such a programme of top level ocean racing, which is accessible both to amateurs and professionals, the yachtsman from Saint Malo has continued in recent years with a series of wins to spread the word to racers and sponsors looking for the most exciting adventure possible. The seventh Transat Quebec Saint-Malo could well confirm his aspirations for the class and those taking part.

Yves le Blévec, following his winning 6.50 Transat, has opted for three hulls to continue his yachting career. Going on board Crêpes Whaou for the Quebec Saint-Malo was not something that just happened and Yves may well soon be announcing the construction of a new generation 50’ Open, which promises to be fast and spectacular like Escoffier’s trimaran, but with cost and development under control. Remaining open and friendly, the Open 50 Class could well offer designs and boats accessible to many more, with now the growing hope, that in the short term a homogenous fleet and very efficient collection of ocean racing trimarans will appear.

Following a request from Franck-Yves Escoffier, the designers, Van Peteghem - Lauriot Prévost came up with a simple boat in 2005: 'Crêpes Whaou! neither has foils nor a canting mast, and no daggerboard with trimmer. That however does not mean she is not a racer, as with a ratio of weight to power of 45 m2 per tonne, she is very close to the 50m2/t of the 60-ft boats. However, handling her is much less complicated. Instead of sailing on a float in just eleven knots of wind, she raises her leg up in fifteen knots of real wind,' Vincent Lauriot-Prévost explained.

Crêpes Whaou trimaran:
Launch: 2005
Length: 15.24 m
Beam: 14.55m
Weight: 4.2 tonnes
Upwind sail surface: 170 m2
Downwind sail surface: 245 m2

Focus on … Hervé Cléris, Prince de Bretagne trimaran.
Born and raised a true Breton, Hervé Cléris has what it takes to be a conqueror, never afraid of anything, and attracted by adversity. Working as an orthodontist, he has been plying the seven seas for more than twenty years. Very involved in the 50-ft class, he is convinced that his 15-metre trimarans have a rosy future ahead of them...

Hervé Cléris was born in May 1948, in Plozevet, in South West Brittany. Of Irish extract, his family moved to the northern coast of Brittany... In 1975, he qualified as an orthodontist. «This job brings together intellect and working with my hands, while bringing me into contact with people. Moreover, this job offers me independence, which is essential for me.» He opened his own practice in Brest in 1977. In 1983, he got hold of a second-hand catamaran in Vannes, and showed what he could do in the Multihull Trophy in La Trinité-sur-Mer. In 1985, he sailed two-handed around the British Isles, which he was to repeat in 1989.

In 1986, Hervé Cléris set sail on the Route du Rhum, on board his 40-ft catamaran, Fnac. 'I was the underdog in the Rhum, with the smallest boat in the fleet, where there were 35 altogether,' he smiled. For his first ocean race, Cléris capsized after 24 hours of racing, on his way into the Bay of Biscay. A difficult airlift followed as he was suffering from a fracture in both hands... A huge blow for the Breton, who lost everything. Except his desire. Four years later, he won the 1990 Route du Rhum in the fifty-foot class. Hervé Cléris has continued to believe in these small multihulls.

In 1991, he won the crewed Round Europe Race. In 1992, a second win in the Ostar (the record was still in place in May 2005). In 1995, an overall win in the Trade Wind Transat. In 1996, a win in the Quebec Saint-Malo. In 1997, a win in the Transat Jacques Vabre. In 1998, at the finish of the Route du Rhum, Franck-Yves Escoffier grabbed first place from him, leaving him as runner-up. In 1999, Cléris was forced to retire from the Jacques Vabre. In 2000, Cléris returned to winning form ahead of Escoffier by 27 minutes in the Quebec - Saint-Malo.

In 2002, 3rd in his class, Cléris got together with the other skippers of fifty-foot boats to form an association. The Open Class 50 was born.

In 2003, Cléris won the first ocean race reserved for 50-foot boats, Saguenay - Saint-Pierre - Vendée.
In 2004, a win in the Dinartica, a crewed race linking Dinard to the Lofoten Islands (return trip, in two legs).
In 2006, he was seriously injured during the Jean Stalaven / Côtes d’Armor Multihull Trophy when he dismasted... a year of physiotherapy followed.

In short…
- 7th edition of the Transat Quebec Saint Malo
- Course: 2950 theoretical miles.
- Start on Sunday 20th July at 11h (local time) for the multihulls and the FICO Class, and 11h30 for the Class 40

- 28 yachts signed up:
. 18 in Class 40
. 6 in 50’ Open (multis)
. 4 in FICO Class, 55 to 60-foot.

- Thursday 17th July 2008: Final date for the boats to leave the competitors’ basin
- Friday 18th July 2008: 11H00: presentation of the crews and toast at Quebec City Hall
- 18H00: end of checks and final date to hand in start papers to the race committee.
- Saturday 19th July 2008: 08H15: briefing reserved for skippers.
- Saturday 19th July 2008: 11H00: Brunch for skippers on board a pleasure boat.
- Sunday 20th July 2008:

11H00: start for the Class40.
11H30: start for the monohulls and Class 50’ Open.
- Sunday 10th August 2008: Prize ceremony for the Transat Quebec Saint-Malo in Saint-Malo.