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2018 season is well and truly underway for Team Arkema Lalou Multi

by Team Arkema 3 May 2018 19:32 BST
Arkema's fleet © Vincent Olivaud / Team Arkema Lalou Multi

Since it was refloated in early April, the Multi50 Arkema has been clocking up nautical miles, and the first battles are just days away. Lalou Roucayrol and his crew are about to take part in the Grand Prix Guyader in Douarnenez (4-7 May) followed by the Grand Prix de l'École Navale in Brest (8-12 May).

Two great opportunities to validate the technical choices and gauge themselves to keep on making progress six months away from the Route du Rhum race. As for the Mini 6.50 Arkema 3, Raphaël Lutard has already taken part in two races, and is now raising his game and taking stock of his novel "machine".

The Multi50 Arkema enters the race

Launched a month ago following a major optimization refit, Lalou Roucayrol's Multi50 has already been tried and tested in training, in particular on a 400 mile course with Quentin Vlamynck, the trimaran's boat captain. "We have been able to validate the modifications made last winter", Lalou is delighted to say. "The boat's potential has increased in particular thanks to the new sails which are a real plus. The sails are the boat's engine, and for me they matter a lot. The boat is sailing well, but we'll have to 'play' with our competitors to truly evaluate our performance level."

The first battles are now upon us. The inaugural event of the season will be the Grand Prix Guyader, in Douarnenez from 4 to 7 May. Alternating speed runs with coastal races, this event will be a great way to get back into the swing of things. "The battle helps you push ahead, realize the boat's capabilities and the phases where there's room for improvement", explains Lalou Roucayrol. The crew will consist of Quentin Vlamynck, Karine Fauconnier, César Dohy and Romaric Neyhousser, the architect of the Multi50 Arkema. Three tough opponents will also be in the running: Solidaires en Peloton (skipper: Thibault Vauchel-Camus), FenêtréA-Mix Buffet (Erwan Le Roux), and Réauté Chocolat (Armel Tripon).

Lalou and his crew will then go on to Brest for the Grand Prix de l'Ecole Navale, from 8 to 12 May. Romaric Neyhousser will be replaced on board by Yannick Bestaven. With Gilles Lamiré's Multi50 (La French Tech Rennes Saint-Malo), there will be four competitors on this occasion.

Raphaël Lutard takes stock of the Mini 6.50 Arkema 3

The Mini 6.50 Arkema 3 has already competed in two events since the beginning of the year. Raphaël Lutard kicked off his season with the Plastimo Lorient Mini 6.50 in a double-handed race with Quentin Vlamynck.

"There was truly hardly any wind, 8-10 knots at the most, and this is not at all the best conditions for this boat which is much more at ease in a breeze. We covered 140 miles in 48 hours, which is very little. But we sailed correctly and finished in an honorable 10th place", declares Raphaël. This race was above all the opportunity to pass on the reins to Quentin Vlamynck, the former skipper of the Mini 6.50. "Quentin told me plenty of things about life on board and gave me tips. It was very instructive to have him with me for my first race in a Mini", explains Raphaël, who then took part in the Pornichet Select, a 300 mile solo race which he finished in 9th place.

"I'm happy with this result for my first solo competition. I coped with life of board rather well, including rest periods, meals. I didn't use my reserves and there was no technical problem with the boat. There's still a lot I need to learn to make sure things come more naturally to me. But I'm happy which what I have achieved and I'm quietly confident for the future."

The next milestone will be the Mini en Mai, a 500 mile race setting off from La Trinité-sur-Mer on 22 May. Raphaël will later embark on a 1,000 mile off-race qualifying course before tackling the high point of the 2018 season, Les Sables-Les Açores-Les Sables (a 2,600 mile solo race) starting on 22 July.

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