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A crewed Drheam Cup to kick off the 2020 season

by Gitana Team 11 Jul 06:23 BST 19 July 2020
Maxi Edmond de Rothschild © Yann Riou / Polaryse / Gitana SA

After a start to the season that was completely turned on its head by the global COVID-19 health crisis, offshore racing's protagonists are gradually returning to the 'school benches'. In this way, on 4 July, the Vendée Globe's Imocas set sail from Les Sables d'Olonne for a unique warm-up lap bound for the far north and Iceland.

A week on Sunday, on 19 July, it will be the turn of the big boats to hook back up with the delights of competition. Indeed, the Maxi Edmond de Rothschild and two of her Ultime playmates will take the start line of the Drheam Cup. Despite there only being three of them to take on the long 1,100-mile course specially created for their giant dimensions, there will be nearly a hundred boats in all setting sail from Cherbourg-en-Cotentin.

For the skipper duo on the latest addition to the Gitana fleet - Franck Cammas and Charles Caudrelier - this first clash of the season is perfectly in line with their plans to ramp up their preparations for their attempt at the Jules Verne Trophy record, the stand-by for which is set for 1 November.

An important date

A regatta involving multiple classes, this 3rd edition of the Drheam Cup Grand Prix de France de Course au Large is open to both multihulls and monohulls, Ultimes and Multi 50s, Figaros, Class 40s and also IRC boats, which make up the bulk of the fleet.

The first to head out to sea on Sunday 19 July at 13:00 local time, the Maxi Edmond de Rothschild and her fellow Ultimes will naturally benefit from the longest course with some 1,100 nautical miles to cover from Cherbourg, on the Cotentin peninsula, finishing in La Trinité-sur-Mer.

Launched in early June, after a six-month refit, the Maxi Edmond de Rothschild is now ready for things to get serious and the skippers of the 32-metre giant cannot conceal their eagerness to rediscover the adrenalin rush of a start line and the emulation of what promises to be a thrilling sports clash, as Franck Cammas explains: "The course for the Drheam Cup created for our category of boats - the Ultimes - is very interesting. The format is sufficiently long for us to begin to exploit the true potential of our machines and the fairly technical route promises some varied and demanding conditions. The initial coastal section is very familiar, it's essentially the start of the Rolex Fastnet Race or the major transatlantic races like the Jacques Vabre. We know that these miles are treacherous (current, shipping...) with some crucial tactical choices to be made in order to make best use of the local effects that may or may not be offered up in the English Channel. The second section will be more of a journey of discovery, as we rarely get the opportunity to explore these areas."

In fact, the special feature of the course for the Ultimes is that it involves a return trip around the Isle of Man, with the turning point located at 54 degrees North once the boats have navigated the waters of the Saint George's Channel and the Irish Sea.

This relatively narrow channel between Wales and Ireland will call for the utmost vigilance aboard the giant, all the more so if it involves high speeds: "I haven't often had the opportunity to sail in this area aside from on a MOD where we had a leg that went to Dublin and even further back in the Figaro class. I'm imagining a bit of stressful passage with numerous shallows and hugging the coast to benefit from the effects of the land. It's quite well protected from the Atlantic swell, but you can be faced with fairly short seas there and it won't necessarily be easy to negotiate with our boats", adds the skipper of Gitana 17.

The third and final section between the legendary Fastnet rock, at the southern tip of Ireland, and the finish which will be decided in Trinité-sur-Mer will pack plenty of punch too with its semi-offshore profile.

With ten days to go until the start, and even though the forecast is not yet set in stone, Franck Cammas has already run the routing software: "We should be able to complete the course in 48 hours I hope, if the wind plays ball!"

In Jules Verne Trophy mod

"This Drheam Cup is a very different exercise to the one that awaits us in the Jules Verne, but it enables us to set ourselves a clear objective in a similar crew configuration. It's very motivating and it's important after a period like the one we've all been experiencing", explains Franck Cammas.

Aboard the Maxi Edmond de Rothschild, there will be six sailors setting sail from the Cotentin peninsula. Franck Cammas and Charles Caudrelier are keen to make the most of this competition to rack up some experience with a view to their round the world passage at the end of the year and, as everyone knows, on the racetrack, the miles are worth double the points in terms of training.

"It will be the Jules Verne crew aboard the boat with one exception. Yann Eliès is coming along to replace Erwan Israël who is currently unavailable and we're very happy to have a sailor like Yann aboard, who is both a very good helmsman and an excellent racer who needs no introduction! He completes a group, which is already quite familiar with the boat from David Boileau, boat captain, who is a precious asset, a good sailor and an extraordinary technician who knows the Maxi Edmond de Rothschild inside out, to Morgan Lagravière, an extremely talented helmsman with an incredible feel for slipping along, and Yann Riou, who in addition to his role as media man will be a fully-fledged member of the crew in contrast to last year in the Brest Atlantiques", explains Charles Caudrelier.

"I adore this crew. It's an homogeneous and highly complementary group, which combines talent and technical know-how. This race is a fantastic trial run for us. It's important to head offshore to rediscover the sensations of sailing this boat. When we do day sails, everyone is in a precise position whilst here, over a three-day period, we'll be implementing our watch systems as they will be in the Jules Verne. We need to reclaim the Maxi as much as we can before the start of our stand-by. It's essential to feel at ease and in phase with her if we are to hunt down the level of performance we'll need to pit ourselves against the very fine reference time set by Francis Joyon", concludes Charles.

With a leg format reminiscent of the Solitaire du Figaro, having four sailors aboard who have won renown in this prestigious race (3 winners no less!) will, we hope, augur well for a solid performance in this Drheam Cup!

The course for the Drheam Cup 1,100 in brief

  • Start on Sunday 19 July at 13:00 French time
  • Passage across the English Channel toward the Isle of Wight and the W Shambles cardinal mark to round to port
  • Wolf Rock, south-west tip of England to leave to starboard
  • Isle of Man to round and to leave to port
  • Fastnet Rock, southern tip of Ireland to leave to port
  • Chaussée de Sein to leave to port
  • Finish in La Trinité-sur-Mer, offshore of Le Petit Trého
Crew aboard the Maxi Edmond de Rothschild

Franck Cammas and Charles Caudrelier, skippers
David Boileau, Yann Eliès, Morgan Lagravière, Yann Riou

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