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Cap Istanbul

Nicolas Bérenger wins the third edition

Gildas Morvan 2nd takes France solo title • François Gabart 3rd

jeudi 9 octobre 2008Redaction SSS [Source RP]

Toutes les versions de cet article : [English] [français]

Thierry Chabagny takes the Golden Horn, Nicolas Bérenger the city of Istanbul ! Such is the conclusion of the 5th and final leg of the “European Capital of Culture-Cap Istanbul” which set off from the other side of the Marmara Sea yesterday afternoon. The skipper of Suzuki Automobiles, imperial as he made his entrance into the waters of the Bosphorus, scores his first solo victory in a leg of the Figaro circuit. Meantime Nicolas Bérenger (Koné Elevators) didn’t let success escape him after a hard fought battle and a solid performance on every leg of this major ocean racing event, which led a fleet of solo sailors from west to east across the Mediterranean, from Nice to Istanbul via Cagliari (Sardinia), Marzamemi (Sicily), Aghios Nikolaos (Crete) and Bozcaada (Turkey). At the end of a 1,660 mile course marked by the whims of the Mediterranean, Gildas Morvan (Cercle Vert) and the young François Gabart (Espoir Région Bretagne) complete the podium in the general ranking.

It was a truly spectacular finish worthy of Istanbul legend ! Thierry Chabagny (Suzuki Automobiles) put on a show which was as magical as it was unusual, which will go down in the annals of ocean racing. Alone at the helm of his one design he shot into the lead in the waters which join east and west, after a judicious and inspired navigation through the Marmara Sea and a vast number of cargo ships waiting their turn to get into port after their own epic journeys. Sailing close on the wind, he slalomed his way through the steel cathedrals, really putting his Suzuki Automobiles through its paces. After a beautiful ride offshore of the domes and minarets of this legendary city, he rounded a cardinal mark at the entrance to the Bosphorus and crossed the finish line at 1357 hours and 37 seconds. Behind him came a steady stream of arrivals at the start of the afternoon, bringing an end to this unparalleled event with its inimitable blend of fierce competition and a magical voyage.

- Thierry Chabagny (Suzuki Automobiles) : “It’s a huge satisfaction. This leg victory is my first single-handed win. The fact that it’s in Istanbul is quite symbolic : this little course amidst the cargo ships and the backdrop of mosques is something you can only find here, between the East and West, in Figaro mode. For this leg, I remembered the plans we had in the Marmara Sea last year : I really enjoyed it and I listened intently to myself. I am made-up. This victory concludes a race where I started badly, but during which I gave it my all and regained my confidence and completely reversed the trend.”

At the end of a final lap in a race, the delight of the leg winner is something to be treasured, but so too is the delight of the outright event winner, Nicolas Bérenger (Kone Elevators), who said right from the start that he was gunning for solo victory at all costs. What is particularly extraordinary is that the winner of the final leg in Istanbul and the winner of the Cap Istanbul 2008 won the 2007 event together in double-handed configuration last year ! At no point through the course of the five legs of this “European Capital of Culture – Cap Istanbul” did the outright winner ease off the pace. Today, at the age of 36, Nicolas scores his first event victory sailing single-handed, which was the only thing lacking in his bid to register his name as a top Figaro sailor. As spirited as he is tenacious, meticulous and even hardworking, the skipper of Koné Elevators clearly found the recipe to conquer the magical Istanbul in style : single-handed at the helm of a one design after sailing 1,660 miles across the Mediterranean, from west to east, served by weather conditions which were as random as they were complicated.

- Nicolas Bérenger (Koné Elevators) : “I didn’t win a single leg but I won the event : that might appear to be a little disappointing but actually what it does do is prove that in the Mediterranean you have to put in a steady performance and be a clairvoyant. My grandfather taught me that and I’ve tried to apply that to the letter. The Mediterranean is a capricious sea. You have to look more at the surface of the water rather than the models and grib files on your computer. These are doubtless the keys to unlock the mysteries. As for success, I hunted it down and I got it : I’m elated. The Cap Istanbul is a great solo race and I hope that one day it’ll have the same prestige as La Solitaire du Figaro, which to many, remains the reference. I can assure you though that we’re sailing on the same boats and the level of competition on the water is also very high. The biggest difference may well be the amount of salt in the water !”

In addition to these two great wins of the day, the “European Capital of Culture-Cap Istanbul” crowns two other great solo sailors : the first is one of the pillars of the Figaro world and the second ranks among the upcoming talents. Gildas Morvan (Cercle Vert) thus takes second place in the general ranking and, in addition to that, he takes the title of Solo Offshore Champion of France. In so doing the great Gildas confirms, if there were need, that he ranks among the most honed talents of solo offshore racing. Following this it is hard to ignore the blinding performance by François Gabart (Espoir Région Bretagne). At the height of his 25 years, this young skipper pulled off a massive coup amongst some of the top names on the circuit. He takes 3rd place in the general ranking after 5 legs. The startling performance of this young rookie lacks neither strength nor conviction : François has already made a name for himself, after his very first season, at the top end of the ranking in a solo event renowned for its demanding level of competition.

- Gildas Morvan (Cercle Vert) : “2nd, I’m really very happy about this result. It’s the first time I’ve contested this race and it was a whole new world for me. I put in a regular performance and that was the essential thing, especially as I wasn’t that far off winning it. Above all though, with this result I have taken victory in the French Solo Offshore Championship, which crowns some great names such as Michel Desjoyeaux, Jean Le Cam, as well as Franck Cammas. It’s extremely satisfying and clearly its regularity and consistency which pay. This year I won the Course des Falaises, I finished 2nd in the Solitaire and 2nd in the Cap Istanbul. I’ve ended up on the podium for each of these events… and that really makes me feel good !”

- François Gabart (Espoir Région Bretagne) : “3rd in the general ranking is obviously a huge satisfaction for me. I couldn’t have wished for more after a year participating in the circuit. If I’d been told at the start of the season that this was how it was going to be, I wouldn’t have believed them ! I’m already extremely lucky to have been able to sail under the colours of the young hopeful for the Région Bretagne. Of course I’m very proud to finish just behind Gildas, who is the French Solo Offshore Champion and with whom I’ve had the privilege of battling throughout the race. Between you and I, there wasn’t much in it ! The Cap Istanbul is a fabulous race which, beyond the competition itself, is a magical opportunity to get away from it all. Yesterday, we were in the Dardanelles, today we’ve arrived in Istanbul under sail : it’s another world.”

Press Info Welcome on board / www.capistanbul.com (Translation K.Jennnings)



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