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ETF26 series attracting top international sailors

by Robin Clegg 21 Nov 2020 02:32 PST
France © Adrien François

The EFT26 class completed a shortened 2020 season, despite the cancellation of a number of inshore sailing events, giving valuable on water time to top professional sailors, up and coming youth foilers and amateur racers.

Competitors including SailGP's French and Danish team skippers Billy Besson and Nicolai Sehested battled to take home the ETF26 title over four events staged off the west coast of France.

In the team's first season Billy Besson by Ethik's crew of three claimed first place overall in their super-light foiling, one design catamaran.

Billy Besson said: "Our French SailGP crew wanted to work better as a team and looked for a multihull class that was easy to foil. The ETF26 race format is like SailGP's and the boats enabled the crew to work together in a similar way. Over four regattas we raced 37 times so it was a great experience that helped us improve for next season with SailGP.

"For the next generation of professional sailors it's a great training ground for foiling and to learn from their mistakes and I hope to be back racing against them and the other teams next season."

Nicolai Sehested, one of Denmark's top sailors, heard about the ETF26 series through French SailGP team manager Bruno Dubois.

"We wanted to do some racing and put ourselves in a new class where we could learn quickly as a team and ETF26 was accessible and the budget relatively low so it fitted our needs perfectly. The race is similar to that of bigger competitions and it's improved our ability to work as a team and communicate with each other. It's also a perfect boat for young sailors who want to get into foiling and develop their team skills. It's a perfect circuit; fast, fun and accessible," said Sehested.

The series was launched in 2018 by Jean-Pierre Dick, the four times winner of the Transat Jacques Vabre Race, whose Ville de Nice-ABC Arbitrage team placed second overall this year.

Jean-Pierre Dick, said: "The ETF26's have proved their capabilities as top foiling catamarans in some epic battles. The teams have improved and the competition is getting stronger and we look forward to racing against them next season."

Amateur sailor Thorkild Juncker has been involved with ETF26 since the series launched in 2017. After watching the America's Cup in 2014 he tried the GC32 before moving to the cheaper and easily transportable ETF26.

Mr Juncker said: "There is no going back after you've been on the ETF because of the sheer thrill, level of excitement and speed, it adds a completely new dimension to sailing. It's great to be able to compete against sailing legends such as Billy Besson and Jean-Pierre Dick in some tight races."

"With the EFT26 you can learn how to sail on foiling catamarans at the highest level but for a reasonable budget. Competing with the best of the sport is really raising our level. Next season we will have new sails, more training practices and hopefully more results," added Yvan Bourgnon, skipper of Team Bourgnon.

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