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North Sails Performance 2023 - LEADERBOARD

Promise of epic battle in Bermuda-Lorient challenge

by Robin Clegg 25 Feb 2023 01:21 PST 7 May 2023
Bermuda-Lorient challenge © Phil Maybury

The fourth edition of the Pure Ocean Challenge, between Bermuda and Lorient, will set off from the western Atlantic island on 7th May, it has been announced.

Organised by the Pure Ocean Foundation, Absolute Dreamer and Advanced Tracking, entries are now open for the multi-class event where entrants will try and beat a record crossing time that has stood for 40 years.

The race will once again include four-times Transat Jacques Vabre winner Jean-Pierre Dick, in his JP54 monohull 'Notre Méditerranée - Ville de Nice'. He was forced to retire last year due to engine problems.

Pure Ocean ambassador Dick will be competing against the TS42 multihull 'Banzai', skippered by Vincent Willemart who has a record of one win and one loss in his previous battles against the JP54.

The event aims to raise awareness of the need for increased ocean conservation with entrants encouraged to collect data, during the 2900nm crossing, to help scientific ocean research and raise awareness and funds for ocean conservation.

Jean-Pierre Dick said: "It will be a great challenge and I'm hoping for good conditions so we can finish the job and beat the time which has stood for 40 years. It can be a difficult crossing, as we found last year, so we are hoping for lighter winds this May."

The crossing time of 12 days 23 hours et 16 minutes was set in 1983 by Euge`ne Riguidel and Jean-Franc¸ois le Menec, in the catamaran William-Saurin. The fastest time recorded for a monohull is just 12 minutes slower and was set by Jean-Claude Parisis and Olivier de Rosny aboard Fernande in 1979.

Dick will be accompanied by professional sailor Fabien Biron as well as four amateurs. They will begin training in Nantes in March before heading to Bermuda to continue with preparations. Boats will set off from St George's Island.

Jean-Pierre Dick added: "I'll be taking amateur sailors this year which is a great opportunity to pass my experience and knowledge on to others.

"My boat is called 'our Mediterranean' and this is a sea I grew up around and am deeply concerned about. It's important to address some of the major issues affecting it, such as pollution and through this race we are highlighting the fact that more needs to be done there and elsewhere. We would like more boats that share our values to sign up and join us this year."

Vincent Willemart, with a TS42 crew of five, is looking forward to battling against Dick in what will be their third race together with honours currently even.

Vincent said: "We've had some great battles against the JP54 in the RORC series and despite him racing a monohull, our speeds are similar so it promises to be a great race. The challenge is to beat the time set over 40 years ago but that all depends on the weather conditions."

Whilst race entry is free, participants are being encouraged to make a 1000€, or more, donation to Pure Ocean. Race fans will be able to track the boats' progress on the Pure Ocean website, where they will be able to make donations to help fund its future work.

Pure Ocean raises funds to support state-of-the-art applied research projects to conserve marine biodiversity, protect and restore fragile marine ecosystems and increase knowledge of the ocean

David Sussmann, founder of Pure Ocean, said: "Now in its fourth year, the Pure Ocean Challenge is not only an adrenaline-fuelled race to beat a long-standing record but it also allows us to combine science with the sport of sailing.

"The money raised through the event goes towards supporting vital research to increase our understanding of the ocean and protect and restore its biodiversity."

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