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The French attack the Ocean Globe Race

by Ocean Globe Race 8 Sep 13:12 PDT 10 September 2023
McIntyre Ocean Globe Race 2023 - The five captains of the French boats registered in the OGR, along with some of their crew members, gathered for an impromptu afternoon tea hosted by the 'Esprit d'Equipe' on the dock in Southampton © Aïda Valceanu / OGR2023

96 French at the start of the McIntyre Ocean Globe in England to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the original 1973 Whitbread.

Of the 218 sailors forming the 14 crews from 23 nationalities who will start the McIntyre Ocean Globe this Sunday, September 10 in Southampton UK, almost half are French! Five boats, including the legendary Pen Duick VI and L'Esprit d'Equipe, will sail around the world under the French flag and many French sailors are crew on the other boats. The youngest is 21, the oldest almost 70. Why this enthusiasm? Let's delve deeper.

To celebrate the 50th anniversary of the first Whitbread, Australian sailor Don McIntyre, a BOC Challenge solo circumnavigator and organizer of the Golden Globe Race in Europe, imagined a crewed round-the-world race in the conditions of yesteryear. No GPS, no computer, no weather files, to choose your route just a sextant, a barometer and radios. Almost like it was 1973!

"The French sailors were a dominant force in the early Whitbread races, so it's very exciting to have them back in the OGR today! The numbers speak for themselves, so let's see who takes home the prize in the end! Big names and big reputations are at stake. Marie Tabarly has already launched challenges, declaring to the whole world that she has the best boat in the world! " smiles Don McIntyre, the race organizer.

The history of the French with the Whitbread has been strong since the first editions, and the race has been very popular in France. Well known French sailor Jean-Luc Van den Heede, pioneer of the MiniTransat, the first Vendée Globe and winner of the 2018 Golden Globe arrived this Friday in Southampton to encourage them and watch the start this Sunday. He was already looking at the early Whitbread rankings even though he has never done the race: " I followed the adventure of the 1973 Whitbread with passion. Some sailors brought their guitars and the atmosphere was rather post-sixty-eight!! Sailing around the world is the ultimate dream for sailors, the OGR is an extraordinary opportunity to make this dream come true! I'm going to follow the sailors I know, Lionel Régnier on the Esprit d'Equipe, Marie Tabarly, of course, Dominique Dubois on the Pink Floyd Swann 65 and Tapio Lehtinen, who I know well from the Golden Globe Race."

If we ask them the question why are they leaving England, some have fun "The Bretons are here to smash the English, we've been trying for seven generations!" Tanneguy Raffray, skipper of Neptune which he found almost abandoned and put back afloat with a lot of passion, little money and many hours of work on board. His boat was built in 1977 by former teammates of Eric Tabarly who had raced the first Whitbread with him on Pen Duick VI and by journalists from the much-loved Neptune magazine, hence its name.

For Lionel Regnier, skipper of the Esprit d'Equipe, the first French boat to have won a Whitbread in 1985/1986, it's just as simple: " Because it's still a fucking challenge to find the boat that won and try to make it win a second time! It's my last race, a world tour with a legendary boat! "

There are so many great stories in this great adventure!

  • Maiden, the first all-female boat in a time when women were often relegated to cooking for the crew, will be skippered this time by a young 26-year-old captain who wants to be the first female crew to win a round the world race;
  • Marie Tabarly, 50 years after her father, wants to take revenge on Pen DUICK VI
  • The Translated boat, which is the boat of Clare Francis, the first female skipper in the Whitbread adventure, will fight for first place with a Malingri on board. This father and son who will relive the sensations of other Malingri on board, the uncle and father of Vittorio Malingri both in Whitbread
  • Lionel Regnier will try to win with Esprit d'Equipe for a second time (winner in 1986 with Lionel Pean. In 1986, the Esprit d'Equipe became the first French boat to win this Tour of the Whitbread Race in 111 days and 3 hours in corrected time (132 days in real time) But will the weather be the same in 2023? And are the crew good enough!

French boats in the race

Triana FR (66) - Swan 53. Business leader well known to the French media, but a lifelong lover of sailing, former crew member of Olivier de Kersauson among others, the skipper of the boat, Jean d' Arthuys, is making his childhood dream of sailing around the world. His second, Sé bastien Audigane, no longer needs any introduction in the sailing world because his track record is so good! Six passages of Cape Horn in races already under his belt, suffice to say that he knows the dangerous southern seas more than well. And his records, we don't even count them anymore: Jules Verne Trophy in 2005, Route de la Découverte in 2007, 24 - hour distance record in 2007 and 2009, Tea Route in 2018 or even the last Jules Trophy Verne with Francis Joyon in 2017. Co-holder of the 5 main sailing records, take note of the name of this boat, it can surprise us with some good speeds.

Evrika FR (07) - Swan 65. When he heard of the re-creation of the Whitbread 50 years after the first, Dominique Dubois, the owner of the Multiplast shipyard in Vannes, sold his company which builds the fastest sailboats in the world, and signed up for the OGR. He has his family and friends on board and is aiming for the podium. He will not leave with one of his carbon monocoques. He will take the helm of a Swan 65 which belonged for 25 years to Richard Wright, the former singer-pianist and co-founder of Pink Floyd. With Dominique, 25 alternating crew members will race the sailboat around the world.

Pen Duick V1 FR (14) - 73ft Bermudan Ketch. Helmed by Marie Tabarly, Pen Duick VI, the flagship of The Elemen'Terre Project, raising public awareness of major environmental and social issues, will bring its powerful and majestic profile once again to the starting line. The sailboat has a long history with the Whitbread, designed specifically for the 1973 race and skippered by Marie's father, the legend Éric Tabarly, he had to abandon the race after two dismastings. Marie is here to take revenge and has already told the Italians of Translated 9 and the girls on Maiden to "be careful!"

Neptune FR (56) - Aluminum Sloop 60. One of five French competitors, Neptune took part in the 1977 Whitbread. After a complete restoration, the boat has a new mission. Crew member Bertrand Delhom, who suffers from Parkinson's disease, is participating to deliver a message of hope to the seven million Parkinson's patients around the world, including 200,000 in France. For its skipper, surgeon Tanneguy Raffray, carrying a beautiful message of hope around the world was completely natural, but his boat is there to sail and race, not just to finish it! They have the ambition to go quickly and come very close to the first!

Team Spirit FR (85) - Export 33. Team Spirit knows the route well via the three capes ! He has already participated in three Whitbreads and won in 1985 with Lionel Péan! She has been lovingly restored to her former glory by her dedicated crew and skipper Lionel Regnier, hoping to repeat their previous successes. Designed especially for the Whitbread by the architect Philippe Briand, it also took part in the 1981-1982 edition of this race under the name 33 Export and in that of 1989-1990 under the name Esprit de Liberté. L'Esprit d'Equipe will make its return to racing under this name for the 2023 Ocean Globe Race with skipper Lionel Regnier and his very motivated crew.

Boats that have already raced a Whitbread

Of the five boats entered in the McIntyre Ocean Globe, three have already raced a Whitbread: Pen Duick VI, Neptune, L'Esprit d'Equipe, it promises to be very moving to see them together again on the start line this Sunday September 10 for a departure from England!

Why the interest of very young navigators growing up with a GPS in a world tour which is covered with a sextant

"I joined this adventure for the human experience and above all to know what it is like to live in an era without social networks, without smartphones. I was born with

completely disconnect, which is almost impossible today. Tom Dhyser 21 years old, youngest French crew member on the Spanish boat White Shadow.

"It's really part of our life, having the phone in your hands, being able to go to sea without it and experience 40 days without it, I'm very curious to see how it is, maybe that will teach me how to use it otherwise when I return, who knows? "says the young naval architect Mathias Lestienne, the youngest sailor aboard Team Spirit.

The OGR sports field (French) in figures

Which boats should you follow to sometimes hear French spoken on radio broadcasts?

  • Evrika: French flag, 25 French people on board
  • Neptune: French flag, 19 French people on board
  • Pen Duick: French flag, 17 French people on board
  • Team Spirit: French flag, 14 French people on board
  • White Shadow: Spanish flag, 10 French on board
  • Triana: French flag, 7 French people on board
  • Explorer: Australian flag, 2 French people on board
  • Outlaw: Australian flag, 1 French on board
  • Translated 9: Italian flag, 1 French on board

The stages and the journey

Fourteen boats, coming from eight different countries, including seven former boats having raced the Whitbread, accepted the challenge with 23 nationalities represented. They will sail on production boats, or ex-Whitbread, divided into three classes. Adventure Class 46-55ft, Sayula Class 56-65ft and Flyer Class, former Whitbread boats from the first three editions.

Epic challenge divided into four stages and sailing around the three great capes, the Cape of Good Hope in Africa, Cape Leeuwin in Australia and the famous Cape Horn in South America:

  • Leg 1: September 10, 2023 - UK to Cape Town, South Africa.
  • Stage 2: November 5, 2023 - Cape Town to Auckland, New Zealand.
  • Stage 3: January 14, 2024- Auckland to Punta Del Este in Uruguay
  • Stage 4: March 5, 2024 - from Punta Del Este to the United Kingdom
  • Arrivals: between April 5 and 15, 2024.

Spetember 10th, 13:00 hrs SUNDAY - RACE START - Royal Yacht Squadron start line, Cowes, UK

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