Thursday, March 28, 2013

J/Teams Ready For SPI OUEST

J/80 one-design sailboat fleet- sailing SPI Ouest France regatta J/70 Debut & Big J/80 Fleet Training for Worlds
(La Trinite sur Mer, France)- The 35th edition of the SPI OUEST-France Intermarch√© starts on March 28th and goes for four days of racing in the Bay of Quiberon off the famous seaport of La Trinite sur Mer.  SPI OUEST France is one of Europe's largest regattas, and certainly the premiere regatta of the spring sailing season, and over 150 volunteers from the Societe Nautique La Trinit√©-sur-Mer have been preparing for several weeks to host the 423 registered sailing teams and several thousand sailors. And among the skippers, some of the biggest names in French sailing will once again take part in SPI OUEST; including none other than Thomas Coville, Franck Cammas (Volvo Ocean Race winner on GROUPAMA), Vincent Riou, Michel Desjoyeaux, Nicolas Troussel Souben Daniel, Nicolas Lunven, Franck-Yves Escoffier and others.

The weather scenario is a bit uncertain as a huge depression in the North Atlantic is expected to arrive Monday in the late afternoon, but is preceded by a trough carrying winds. The path it will takes varies from hour to hour based on the various weather models.  Explained Christophe Gaumont (renowned meteorologist), "yesterday, we predicted 35 knots Friday and this morning, we did not expect more than 10 kts!  We should have a weekend with a wide range of conditions, sustained wind Friday and Monday and low to moderate Saturday and Sunday. The east, west, south, a little rain, a little sun. In short, an Easter weekend of varied, colorful and variable weather." Now that's a weather forecast all the sailors can rely upon, isn't it?

J/80 sailing team Le Juptiens from Oman Sail of the United Arab EmiratesOf the 423 boats sailing, over 130 alone are J/Teams (31% of the entire fleet) which makes "J" the dominant sailboat brand at the biggest regatta hosted in France!  Amongst those teams will be an all-women OMAN SAIL team sailing their J/80 LES JUPTIENS in the enormously competitive fleet of 108 J/80s.  This team of women came from Oman to rub shoulders and learn from the biggest names in French offshore and one-design sailing.  Joining them are many familiar names at the top of the J/80 Worlds and most all top French teams will be using SPI OUEST as part of their "tune-up" and training efforts for the J/80 Worlds Marseilles down on the Mediterranean later in July. Amongst those teams are familiar French J/80 names like INTERFACE CONCEPT's Eric Brezellec, INTERFACE CONCEPT 2's Simon Moreceau, ATLANTIS's Louis Sambron, GANJA's Luc Nadal and JIBE SET's Herve Leduc.  One of Spain's top teams, GOLD SAILING with M. Jauregui, will be testing the waters on the Baie de Quiberon.  Alongside him will be Italy's Massimo Rama sailing JENIALE!

This event marks the debut of one of the world's fastest growing one-design classes in recent history-- the J/70.  The class was first introduced in America in the spring of 2012 and now one year later sports a one-design fleet in France produced by J/Composites from nearby Les Sables d'Olonne.  With nearly 400 J/70s sold worldwide,  the European circuit is just starting to get off the ground as boats started delivering to continental sailors in late Fall 2012.  The first J/70 European event was the Primo Cup hosted by Yacht Club Monaco about a month ago.  For SPI OUEST, a fleet of nine J/70s will be sailing for French class honours.  Like Key West Race Week in January, it's difficult to predict who may be front runners as all teams sailing are quite competitive.  For example, Philippe Delaporte of J/122 RORC winning fame is now sailing his PEN AZEN with friends and is apparently incredibly excited and enthusiastic for racing in the class.  Fred Bouvier of J/Composites is sailing J BECRE, M Gosset is racing SAILS CONCEPT and M Gellez is sailing ECSAIL DUNKERQUE and finally M Thomas is skippering OEUST GREEMENT.

In the handicap world, SPI OUEST is sailed almost entirely under IRC handicap TCF rating system (as the French UNCL merged with the British CHS to form IRC).  In the "big boat" IRC 1 Class with 24 boats, there are two J/111s raced by top teams, including LE JOUET's Stephen Blanchard and past SPI OUEST winner J LANCE 8's Didier Le Moal.  Making life difficult for the 111's will be the J/122 MADE IN LOVE sailed by Jm. Patier.

The always competitive IRC 2 class has 30 boats and included in the mix are six J/Teams.  The fastest boat around the track should be the J/120 RHAPSODIE V sailed by J. Godet.  Not far off the pace will be a duo of J/109s that include BAITA IV's D. Correze and FRANJPANE's P. Mouert.  Another duo of J/105s looking forward to more reaching courses, will be led by BO GOSS's P. Allain and J-SQUARED's V. Jomier.  Then, not minding what the weather throws at them will be the J/100 TRIFLE helmed by G. Fournier.

The biggest handicap fleet is generally IRC 3, with 53 boats starting.  Hoping to hold their own against this rogue's gallery of 28-33 footers is the J/92 SABOT sailed by M. Demazure.  We wish them well, not easy going solo in that crowd!

With just 18 boats, IRC 4A may well be one of the smaller IRC divisions, but it's incredibly competitive.  And, up to that task is one of the giant-killers in the J stable of IRC weapons, the J/97 MISPICKEL V sailed by B. Fagart.  If you recall, the J/97 won this class going away in previous SPI OUEST's.

Finally, the "little boat" division is IRC 4B with 40 boats thrashing around the race track.  And, none other than the "classic" J/24 is sporting a fleet of six boats to duel it out for J/24 "bragging rights", but also handicap honors.  This group includes JINETTE's C. Gury, J'ADORE's E. Richard, INSULARIS's A. Garcia, MARTA's P. Lemaistre, BOLERO's P. Ravel and EL NINO's B. Le Marec.  For more SPI OUEST France Intermarche sailing information