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Wednesday, february 28, 2024

The Pole Finistere Offshore Racing Center in Port-La-Forêt, the Sailing Excellence Center in La Rochelle, Lorient Grand Large in Lorient, and Orlabay in La Trinité-sur-Mer, along with a Pole France and many training centers, accompany Figaro racers each year in their performances in major races on the calendar. This season, they have resumed training to offer exciting battles on the water. Starting on March 11, at the Solo Guy Cotten – Concarneau, 35 sailors will be expected at the start line, including 10 rookies. This first event, some of whom will be at home, marks the beginning of a busy season with 5 Elite French Offshore Racing Championship events, 6 Academy Figaro Beneteau races, and 3 special events.


Credit : Tide / Classe Figaro Beneteau


Two months after the resumption of training, we interviewed the key players who train and accompany the sailors of the Figaro Beneteau Class.


Jeanne Grégoire, Director of the Pôle Finistère Course au Large:

"This year, it was mainly Erwan Tabarly and Yann Elies, who occasionally intervenes at the center, who led the sailors' training. We offered 3 training sessions to the sailors, the first on restarting, maneuvers, and boat operation, the second on long stretches with a round trip to Quiberon, with a stopover at Port Haliguen, and the third on sailing in breezy conditions.

We had between 9 and 12 boats at each training session. We host 4 rookies at the Pôle, in addition to 3 former sailors and all those who have been at the forefront of the field for several seasons. The integration went smoothly for them. We have Tom Goron, a young sailor of 17 who studies alongside, like Violette Dorange when she was in the Figaro Beneteau, Louise Acker, who has a real work culture but is discovering offshore sailing, Jacques Delcroix, who has an engineer's vision and a calm demeanor, and Jules Ducelier, who represents the reputation of former sailors from Région Normandie!

In addition to on-water training, the sailors benefited from onshore training, which they requested. For the past 3 years, we have been offering technical training, which is not only the work of the preparers. 2 years ago, we had a rigging training, last year an engine training, and this year a composite training at the INB.

In a week, our sailors will be on the starting line of the Solo Concarneau, a race at home that will kick off the season, with a more training-oriented approach for the rookies.

I want the group to be the best this year, but also for the Figaro Beneteau Class to shine with its rebound, well present since the return of the Tour Voile, there are lots of new recruits. It should be noted that the Figaro Beneteau Class is the only monotype class and Charles Caudrelier, winner of the Arkea Ultim Challenge, spoke at the pontoon about the first real victory of his career in the Solitaire du Figaro!"


Etienne Saiz, coach of the Center Excellence Voile:

"At the Center Excellence Voile in La Rochelle, we train Romen Richard, Romain Bouillard, Romain Le Gall, Alexis Thomas, and Anthony Quentin who have already sailed on the Figaro Beneteau circuit, and we welcomed Quentin Vlamynck, a former Ocean FIFTY circuit racer and an amateur, Thierry Levayer.

We started training on January 15 with sail testing and the resumption of offshore navigation. Our group's main objective is to provide quality work. They are a good bunch of friends who don't forget about competition. There are 8 individuals but everyone has the intelligence of the group, the pleasure of working together and sailing, which is an important element in offshore racing.

To conclude these preseason training sessions, we went to Ile d'Yeu to test offshore navigation, outdoors with cross-seas. We will do other sessions during the season according to each one's race schedules, we also plan to do crew training sessions to prepare for the Tour Voile, we will have 3 sessions between the Gascogne 45/5 and the Tour Voile.

For the Tour Voile, we have 4 boats, including Léo Bothorel's, winner of the internal selections, who will skipper the Figaro Beneteau 3 CEV. Léo will be Romain Le Gall's co-skipper on double-handed races, and will take over the project from the National Figaro 3 in crewed format.

The first race of the season starts with the Solo Guy Cotten. The group expects this race to gauge themselves against the competitors, but everyone is well prepared! Financially, they are at a turning point, but they all have the means to sail, they give their all with what they have, they play their cards to the fullest!

The objectives for the season are to be at the forefront in speed and not to be surprised by the pace set by the leading group. At CEV, we remain focused on their way of sailing, performance comes when navigation is clean. The watchword: a collective and positive dynamic!"


Kevin Bloch, trainer at Lorient Grand Large:

"This year, Tanguy Leglatin asked me to take charge of part of the Figaro sailors' training. We split the sea sessions into 3 parts: boat familiarization, speed tests and settings, and finally courses. All this over a total of 19 days, including 5 stages of 3 days and 2 stages of 2 days. The last two stages before the first race of the season are based on speed, sensations, settings, and the course.

The group is great, we have 14 Figaro sailors, including 9 rookies, at Lorient Grand Large and there were about ten at each session. The rookies all have very good basics, we accompany many former mini sailors, profiles that do not have a culture of racing but are all enthusiasts. The training group is serious and they are progressing well. The sessions have been intense these past two months, we gave them a week to rest, assimilate what they have learned to come back stronger, with a higher level, for the last session next week.

During the year, we will offer other sessions in April, June, and July, and will also go to the first events of the championship to analyze their performance in real race conditions."


Daniel Souben, Director and Trainer of Orlabay:

"Orlabay is an offshore training center that welcomes sailors with their own boats. Before this year, we didn't have a Figaro Beneteau, but we decided to equip one to set up a Tour Voile project, which fits into our training mission. The organizers took the risk in 2023 of relaunching the Tour Voile and we want this event to be sustainable. This support is brand new for us, so we have surrounded ourselves with several Figaro sailors like Pep Costa, Estelle Greck, and Basile Bourgnon who are carrying this crew project with us for the Tour Voile. We do not define a main skipper, we build a team, to which we will add other sailors from the Mini6.50, dinghy sailing, etc. We have already received a lot of resumes, we organize training sessions to test crew members, whether they sail with us this season or next season. For now, we rent a Figaro Beneteau 3 for a year, we are waiting to find out what the support for the Tour Voile will be after 2025.

We did 2 double-handed training sessions in Lorient, Tanguy Leglatin welcomed us into the group, I sailed a bit with Pep to perfect my knowledge of the support. We then brought the boat back to La Trinite sur Mer to train alone, last week. We are moving on to a second stage next week before working on the boat's technical preparation, then a final session at sea before the Trophée Laura Vergne.

We plan to participate in the Trophée Laura Vergne, the Spi Ouest France, and the GPEN, but we will do other training sessions before the start of the Tour Voile. We are convinced that for all sailors who want to embark on a solo career on the Figaro Beneteau circuit, our crew training project is a good springboard."