Sebastien Simon escapes, the leading pack battle it out

This Saturday, the competitors in the Bermudes 1000 Race Douarnenez-Brest have each rounded Fastnet, to the South of Ireland, in turn. Sébastien Simon led the way this morning, followed by Sam Davies and nearly all the fleet of 17 IMOCAs, which is still complete after 48 hours of racing. Using a very opportunistic strategy, the leader has managed to make good his escape whilst his pursuers have been slowed by a windless hole lounging across the route shortly after Fastnet. Astern, the fleet is bunching up. Indeed, at 17:00 hours French time, there was just 12 miles separating Sam Davies, 2nd, and Clément Giraud, 9th. However, the course has doubtless still got its share of surprises in store and deficits can very quickly be reduced in IMOCA. The next mark to round is a waypoint positioned 820 miles off Fastnet, to the North of the Azores.


After 48 hours of racing in the Bermudes 1000 Race Douarnenez-Brest, an initial hierarchy is taking shape. Though the favourites are in the expected lead roles, this first event in the Globe Series 2019 has some fine surprises up its sleeve.


Fastnet in all her glory
This Saturday, the sailors rounded Fastnet lighthouse in ideal conditions, with glorious sunshine, around ten knots of breeze and smooth seas… and dolphins too! Everyone has made the most of the magical moment, sent some great images and shared their enthusiasm, including Stéphane Le Diraison (Time For Oceans): “It’s the first time I’ve seen Fastnet looking so stunning!” Sailing in this zone isn’t often a walk in the park that’s for sure… The first to round this legendary rock was Sébastien Simon (ARKEA PAPREC) at 9:15 hours, followed an hour later by Sam Davies (Initiatives Cœur). Then it was the turn of Boris Herrmann (Malizia-Yacht Club de Monaco) at 11:00 hours, Yannick Bestaven (Maître CoQ) at 11:15 hours, Maxime Sorel (V and B-Sailing Together) at 11:30 hours, Damien Seguin (Groupe Apicil) at 12:30 hours, Stéphane Le Diraison (Time For Oceans) at 13:00 hours, Clément Giraud (Envol by Fortil) and Fabrice Amedeo (Newrest-Art & Fenêtres) neck and neck at 13:15 hours… At the 17:00 hours polling, 12 skippers had rounded this course mark.


Sébastien Simon: “Stay vigilant”
As wonderful a spectacle as it was, the racers have had to stay concentrated as the air wasn’t very clean once they were around Fastnet. Sébastien Simon has sailed a blinder of a race nonetheless. Opportunistic, he managed to maintain his speed, whilst his pursuers, starting with Sam Davies, got stuck fast for a fair old while in a windless hole. “I’ve come off well, but that doesn’t mean anything. You really have to stay vigilant as IMOCAs quickly accelerate. A 20-mile lead is nothing; these boats can quickly catch up”, reasoned Sébastien. Maxime Sorel also did well, squeezing up into 4th place, between Boris Herrmann and Yannick Bestaven. In fact, we learned today why Yannick had a complicated start to the race before powering back up into contention: “I lost a bit of time as I hit something with the keel and the rudder kicked up. I had to bring the boat to a standstill to effect repairs, but I’ve made up the lost ground nicely, the boat is tip-top and I’m in good shape too.”


Behind them, the fleet is bunching up again thanks to a strong comeback by a group led by Damien Seguin, the latter enjoying a very nice start to his race, corroborating his fine performance in the Route du Rhum Destination Guadeloupe 2018 (6th place). In contact with Damien, Stéphane Le Diraison and Clément Giraud are also really getting the best out of their machines first launched over ten years ago. In the midst of this group is Fabrice Amedeo who, by his own admission, has pulled some very fine moves since the start… and a lot of less fine ones!

Heading for a change of atmosphere on the way to the Azores
The next course mark is a waypoint offshore of the Azores. Sébastien Simon and his rivals have to traverse a zone of high pressure and its light, shifty winds before they hook up with a SE’ly wind of 12-15 knots in the middle of tonight. This breeze is set to increase to 25 knots early tomorrow night. According to the routing, the leaders could reach the Azores waypoint on Tuesday evening. At that point, the pace is set to pick up dramatically. In close-hauled conditions with eased sheets, the solo sailors will be able to make headway at a good speed, making for a fun but also stressful ride…


The Top 5 at 17:00 hours (French time) Saturday 11 May:

1. Sébastien Simon (ARKEA PAPREC): 1,643.5 miles from the finish

2. Sam Davies (Initiatives Cœur): 23.6 miles behind the leader

3. Boris Herrmann (Malizia - Yacht Club de Monaco): 25.6 miles behind the leader

4. Maxime Sorel (V and B - Sailing Together): 26.2 miles behind the leader

5. Yannick Bestaven (Maître CoQ): 29 miles behind the leader