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François Gabart entrusts the helm of the MACIF trimaran to Pascal Bidégorry

by Trimaran MACIF 25 Feb 17:15 GMT
François Gabart entrust the helm of the MACIF trimaran to Pascal Bidégorry © Alexis Courcoux / Macif

Following a tough Brest Atlantique race, François Gabart has momentarily decided to give racing a break this season, despite having learnt a lot from this event. The MACIF trimaran's skipper will use this time to focus on projects in a different way and to recharge his batteries to return stronger than ever next year.

After talking about this together, the MACIF group and François Gabart have decided to hand over the helm of the MACIF trimaran to Pascal Bidégorry for The Transat CIC, which will set sail from Brest on 10 May 2020.

François Gabart has competed in ocean races alongside Macif for 10 years running and has built up an outstanding record of achievements. However, skippering an Ultim trimaran is extremely demanding physically and mentally, since sailing at these amazing boats' incredible speeds is a challenge that demands perpetually pushing the boundaries.

All the recovery and preparation time the skipper needs in between races is essential to maintain the pace required by these multihulls, remain vigilant and withstand the impact of the waves, the constant noise, and the endless manoeuvres, while performing well in the race.

The safety of the skipper depends on his being on form

Over the winter, François Gabart realized that he had overextended himself. He lagged behind in his physical preparation for the upcoming season and didn't have enough time to recover from the exhaustion that had accumulated over recent seasons before the next date set for early May - The Transat CIC.

François knows that it is essential not to underestimate the problems this represents, particularly when putting to sea again single-handed for another Atlantic sprint. After due consideration with the MACIF group, the decision was made to allow the boat to take part in The Transat CIC, without François at its helm.

Naturally, this decision does not affect the partnership between the skipper and MACIF, for which, as an insurance group, prevention is a core value. The firm fully backs his choice, knowing that he will return much stronger next year at the helm of the new MACIF trimaran, which is currently being built.

Pascal Bidégorry, a safe choice!

Three months before the start of The Transat CIC, the MACIF group and François Gabart have decided to entrust the helm of the MACIF trimaran to Pascal Bidégorry. His multihull experience and his approach to performance, in combination with the fact that he has been working on and supporting the MACIF trimaran project since the boat was launched in the summer of 2015, naturally make Pascal the inevitable choice to skipper the boat in The Transat CIC.

Winner alongside François in the Transat Jacques Barbara in 2015, then the Armen Race and The Bridge in 2017, Pascal Bidégorry has also taken part in a large number of training sessions on board to develop performance and advise François. Already there for the first transatlantic race, he will therefore enjoy the privilege of leading the trimaran in this its last race under the colours of Macif, since it will be sold this summer.

Moving forward by stepping back

This year, François Gabart will take the time he needs to recharge his batteries, but that doesn't mean he won't help out onshore. His passion for ocean racing remains unaltered and his desire to contribute is stronger than ever. The four coming months will be devoted, among other things, to helping Pascal Bidégorry with his preparation for The Transat CIC, since François will be part of the team working with him to achieve the best performance possible at sea. He will sail with him during training sessions and will also be part of the routing team during the race.

By taking an external view of the project, François hopes to gain new experience that will help him rethink the way he sails, with a view to 2021, which is already looking full of crew-manned sailing events. He will then be at the helm of the new MACIF trimaran, whose launch is planned for early next year. François intends to get fully involved with the teams for this new project, both with regard to making the technical performance decisions yet to be implemented, and the overall organization of the project with Macif, to ensure that racing remains rewarding in the future and fulfils their common goals between 2021 and 2023.

Jean-Bernard Le Boucher, Manager of Sea Operations for the Macif Group: "The 2020 season represents a transitional year for the Macif group: the MACIF trimaran will line up for the start of the race, before being sold, and the new trimaran build will continue. François experienced a tough season in 2019, from which he learnt a lot. This year he will work to regain his physical condition and devote himself to supervising the build of the new boat. Pascal Bidégorry will be able to count on the support of the group's employees, representatives and shareholders in this race to Charleston. See you on 10 May in Brest, together with François, to support and encourage Pascal!"

Fred Vianas, Strategy and Performance Manager for the Macif Group: "The partnership between Macif and François Gabart is based on trust and communication. Over the years François has become a real ambassador for our brand and the group's 12,000 workers and representatives. It is always been important to him to share his accomplishments and experiences with everyone. Our partnership goes well beyond the racing project. The MACIF trimaran programme has become the standard-bearer of the Macif values of commitment, community spirit, and performance. As a responsible insurer, we naturally pay attention to ensuring that François casts off in the right conditions and we believe that it is important that he should be able to sail safely. This is why we have decided to entrust the helm of the MACIF trimaran for this race to an equally skilled skipper: Pascal Bidégorry."

François Gabart, Skipper of the MACIF Trimaran: "Naturally, I would have preferred to end the MACIF trimaran story differently, but I will continue to sail aboard even if I will not be racing. I have had some incredible experiences on board, single-handed in the route du Rhum in 2018, or before this in the Round the World Record in 2017, and even with a crew in the Brest Atlantiques a good few weeks ago, and I am fortunate to have all these memories to treasure.

It's a good thing to be leaving the commands of the boat to Pascal who knows it well and raced in the first race with me. I trust him completely to finish the trimaran's story in style under the Macif colours. At the same time, my story with MACIF continues with the building of a new trimaran and today I would really like to get involved with the design office to study some of the features that will clinch the performance choices we make in the future and I would like to help out the Macif teams with defining the priorities we must act on to deliver a rewarding project in the years to come."

Pascal Bidégorry, Substitute Skipper of the Trimaran MACIF: "It is an honour to sail on board the MACIF trimaran and for François and the MACIF group to have placed their trust in me for The Transat CIC, which, like the route du Rhum, is a legendary French race. I was there in 2015 with François when the story of the MACIF trimaran began and I am here again to end the story. I hope we will enjoy the same kind of success! My experience means that I am aware of what I'm taking on. Sailing single-handed on this kind of boat has considerable implications, but for me it is reassuring to know that I am not alone in this story, even if, at a given time, I will have to skipper the boat with my own two hands. For all the preparation beforehand, I know that I will be surrounded by people with lots of expertise and in whom I trust completely. From a personal point of view, I have always loved difficult competitive challenges that involve a mixture of passion and fighting spirit. I am fully aware of the task at hand. We are going to do everything possible to make this race a successful one."

*François Gabart, Gwénolé Gahinet and Jérémie Eloy crossed the finishing line of the Brest Atlantiques in second position, on 7 December 2019, behind the Edmond-de-Rothschild maxi. The MACIF trimaran trio spent 31 days and 20 hours at sea to complete the 14,000-mile course in the North and South Atlantic, after encountering several technical difficulties.

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