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Gwénolé Gahinet to co-skipper MACIF Trimaran with François Gabart in Brest Atlantiques

by Trimaran MACIF 21 Jul 10:44 BST 3 November 2019
Francois Gabart on the maxi trimaran MACIF training off Belle Ile ahead of The Route du Rhum - Destination Guadeloupe © Vincent Curutchet / ALéA / Macif

The MACIF trimaran will be skippered by the round the world single-handed record holder and co-skippered by the co-holder of the Jules Verne Trophy, in the race that sets off in a loop from Brest on 3 November. A dynamic duo!

The secret of success is reliability

Sailing single-handed or double handed on an Ultim' 32/23 is a challenge of which few sailors are capable. This is because of the level of commitment and concentration that these highly demanding boats require and because of the risks involved in sailing at high speeds in places so distant from land masses. However, although the trimarans are highly technological, they are also stable by nature.

So, François Gabart has chosen his companion from a limited number of skippers, taking into account the length of the Brest - Rio de Janeiro - Cape Horn - Brest loop, as well as their ability to live together for nearly a month, in the hope of taking the Brest Atlantiques by storm on 3 November. And his co-skipper will be Gwénolé Gahinet, one of the six fastest round-the-world sailors, since he is the co-holder of the Jules Verne trophy with Francis Joyon.

"We are of the same generation, Gwénolé and I," said the skipper of the MACIF trimaran. "This is new. Most of the time, I have sailed double handed with more experienced sailors, such as Pascal Bidégorry, Michel Desjoyeaux, and also Sébastian Col. He has also dabbled in everything and it's fabulous to have done that at his age. He's raced in the Figaro, in the IMOCA class and double handed in the Transat Jacques Vabre with Paul Meilhat, done some Class40, kite foiling, and sailed for 40 days in a round the world on Francis Joyon's Ultim' trimaran. And, since Francis sailed short-handed in the Jules Verne, Gwéno did a bit of everything and encountered all the problems of an Ultim. He sailed for hours at the helm, all alone on deck at 40 knots. This is quite uncommon as experiences go.

Naturally, Gwénolé Gahinet came back with some specific skills after this experience on Francis Joyon's trimaran, and also has different methods to those of the MACIF team. "Francis has his own methods that you cannot copy because there is only one Francis Joyon on Earth. As our team was not drawn up in the same way, it is obvious that there will be things to learn from his way of doing things and sailing, as evidenced by his results."

A few days ago, Gwénolé Gahinet took up residence in Port-La-Forêt, close to the MACIF trimaran. "It's impressive," said the Breton. The MACIF team has 40 members. There is a multitude of projects and the atmosphere is really dynamic. I am going to be able to share and discuss things with the team before taking on this racing challenge and I'm very excited. I will need to get back into physical shape and brush up on the technical side. It's quite thrilling.

There's a big psychological barrier with these trimarans, because they are extreme and require a lot of energy, but it's not an impossible task. Anyway, that's what François says and he is always reasonable about risk taking. Getting to grips with this world really requires experience."

Getting to know each other

François and Gwénolé barely know each other. This is quite astonishing really, because they have several unusual things in common. One of them loves being airborne, the other has his head in the clouds, they are both engineers and nuts about figures. They share the same love of the sea, speed and the same desire to foil and are keenly aware of the environment.

"A short time ago," said Gwénolé, "I prepared for a public debate on the environmental theme of "Plastic is fantastic". I really got back into scientific studies on the consumption resources and ecology and I was fairly devastated by it all. There is no easy solution, but offshore racing is a good channel for communicating about the state of the planet Earth, and the MACIF trimaran team is committed to this. I love being together when we make speeches."

"It's true that we don't know each other very well," continued François. But we have lots of friends in common who have lots of good things to say about Gwénolé and we have frequently discussed sailing in race car parks." For the Brest Atlantiques, François and Gwénolé will be assisted by Jérémie Eloy, the MACIF media man during the race, who will do his best to tell the public the inside story. He is a new crew member, who has previously worked with Gwénolé. "Even though Jérémie will not be allowed set fingers on the boat, we will need to be careful as there will be three of us in a confined space, sailing at great speed, for near on a month."

The duo, and even the trio, will have an opportunity to sail for the first time in the Rolex Fastnet Race, in which they will race in early August. This is a legendary race "as loved by the British, with crew, and which will be an opportunity for us to push the MACIF trimaran to the limit, before beginning preparations for the Brest Atlantiques", said François. As of this week, the MACIF trimaran is all ready to go. The second foil was installed late last week.

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