A stone’s throw from the army base of Île Longue, in the harbor of Brest, it was a actual naval battle that fought, from May 19 to 23, the six trimarans of the Ocean Fifty class (ex-Multi50 ), boats with a size of fifty ft (15 meters). Despite the repeated gales and a closed session imposed by the well being disaster, the thirty sailors engaged on this unprecedented competitors had been capable of race and launch their new competitors, the Pro Sailing Tour.
Change of identify, new circuit: the guess could seem daring for the skippers of those multihulls little recognized to the basic public, and usually in the shadow of the Ultimes or Imoca throughout the nice transatlantic races equivalent to the Jacques-Vabre or the Road transatlantic race. rum. “The Ocean Fifty class is known in the ocean racing world, but it must now be made known to the general public, explains Erwan Le Roux, class president and skipper of Ciela-Village. To do this, we had to invent a race of our own. The Imoca have their Vendée Globe, the Ocean Fifty now have their Pro Sailing Tour. “
At the center of the thinking of skippers, values which, according to them, characterize them: the crew and sharing. The arrival in 2019 of new sailors in the group, Sébastien Rogues (skipper of Primonial) and Fabrice Cahierc, today without a boat, allowed the project to move forward. The two sailors are approached by audiovisual production, events and sports marketing company Upswing Prod, owned by Charles de Raincourt, Julien Mauriat and Edouard Mauriat.
Upswing Prod and the Multi50 association have defined an original concept: a documentary, Ocean Fifty, which gives the class its new name. Five episodes behind the scenes will be broadcast on Canal + at the end of the year or at the beginning of 2022. “Innovation is our documentary gaze. We wanted to avoid the professional communication side of high-level sport, which does not allow for sincerity of expression. And it is the truth that attracts the public ”, explains Julien Mauriat.
Offshore racing and coastal courses
From May to the end of July, from Brest to Marseille via La Rochelle and Las Palmas de Gran Canaria (Spain), the six Ocean Fifty will compete in a twenty-four hour offshore race, before racing for two days on short coastal routes. At the end of these four episodes, the crews will meet for a grand final between Toulon and Brest, at the beginning of August.
This new event is part of the calendar of races in which the Ocean Fifty are already participating. Thus, the Pro Sailing Tour becomes a must for skippers who want to run the Jacques-Vabre transatlantic race with their multihull this fall, or the Route du rhum in 2022. The Ocean Fifty class and Upswing Prod are committed to two cycles of four years of regattas, financed in equal parts by the local communities, the distribution of the documentary and the private sector.
“The Pro Sailing Tour permits us to have a structured and enticing championship”, notes Sébastien Rogues. “The plateau is very high. All crews can win, all rounds count and the level will rise as you go. We will have to be regular ”, explains Quentin Vlamynck, skipper of Arkema-4. A vision shared by Sam Goodchild (Leyton) who won the Brest stage, with six victories out of the seven races completed. “Every mistake might be very costly in the rating”, he confided after a round.
An evolution deemed necessary
“This goes past a easy competitors, explains the new president of the French Sailing Federation, Jean-Luc Denéchau. The skippers and Upswing Prod have the frequent need to offer visibility to the class. “ Indeed, the Pro Sailing Tour project is also based on sharing with the public.
Even if the sanitary conditions impose, for the moment, a closed door, the sailors are eager to go to meet the public and to share their feelings. The organizers go even further by allowing guests of the sponsors to embark in the coastal races without however participating in the maneuvers.
“We have always wanted to bring guests on board. This is something that does not exist in other sports ”, explains Quentin Vlamynck.
Thus, in Brest, round thirty friends had been capable of expertise the weekend regattas aboard the Ocean Fifty. “We have always wanted to bring guests on board explains Quentin Vlamynck. This is something that does not exist in other sports. ” The creation of the Pro Sailing Tour is an evolution considered necessary by the sailors of Ocean Fifty, who meet in many points to ensure their future. “We are strongly considering setting a budgetary barrier, to maintain reasonable budgets and remain accessible to SMEs, the public and seafarers”, explains Erwan Le Roux. Limit the technological race, and therefore the financial one, so that the real battle takes place on the water.
“Continue to innovate”
Another basic subject, the environment. “There is an ecological cost to building our boats, explains Sébastien Rogues. We try to be less impactful, we want to reconcile performance and environment. “ Several avenues for this: limit the number of boats built but also focus on eco-construction and recycling of materials.
While many races have not been able to take place since the start of the health crisis, announcing a new race may seem risky. “We had to start no matter what. Otherwise, we never would have. The Covid-19 has allowed us to refocus. Ultimately, it will have been positive, because it gave us the time, the freedom of mind to build the project and work on it ”, confides Erwan Le Roux.
However, the class does not refrain from changing the format, from finding new host cities. “We have to remain agile and continue to innovate. We don’t always want to tell the same story and fall into a routine “, says Erwan Le Roux.
After a first stage, marked by the dismasting of the Primonial from Sébastien Rogues, the six groups are anticipated from May 26 to 30 in La Rochelle for the second stage. In the rating, Leyton (Sam Goodchild) forward Arkema-4 (Quentin Valmynck) and Ciela-Village (Erwan Le Roux).