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Figaro • Trophée BPE

Sam Davies prepares solo transat to Cuba

Jeanne Gregoire will this time be one of Sam’s biggest rivals

lundi 28 mars 2005Redaction SSS [Source RP]

On April 3rd at 1300BST Sam Davies will be on the start line of the Trophée BPE - her first solo transatlantic race onboard SKANDIA Figaro. Of the 12 competitors, Sam is the only British sailor taking part, and will be up against former Figaro winner Eric DROUGLAZET as well as Charles CAUDRELIER, winner of La Solitaire du Figaro Solitaire du Figaro #LaSolitaire last year. Also, Sam’s team mate in last years top 5 result in the 2-up Transat AG2R, Jeanne Gregoire (Banque Populaire) will this time be one of Sam’s biggest rivals.

The course is an interesting one, with the great circle route taking the boats very far north - potentially an upwind race, before the descent towards Cuba. It promises to be a very tactical race, without the prospect of the downwind surfing conditions usually experienced in transatlantic races that head towards the Caribbean. This transatlantic race is the first of three events for Sam in the Figaro circuit this year - with the Generali Soli in the Med in June and the big one, La Solitaire, in August.

What have you been up to this week ?
- "This week has been pretty busy. In fact, I am loosing track of which week is which because time is going so fast. At the end of the "stage" of on-the-water training we did an overnight training race, which was really good for me (and the others who are doing the BPE) to get everything up and running in "race mode" for the Transat The Transat #thetransat #ostar . Erwan and I had made it our goal that "Skandia" was race ready - in configuration for the BPE, so as well as racing (like normal) I spent a fair amount of time running the weatherfax, Iridium, sending e-mails (trying to send photos !) receiving weather forecasts etc. - I even chose the worst point (upwind, big swell, really uncomfortable !) to cook my spaghetti bolognaise !!! I was really happy at the end of the race because everything was great on board. I had sailed a good race too, making a small tactical error in the night, but generally good. The only thing that was strange was that I was having trouble with my water ballast...
- So, Erwan checked out the ballast, and found that the entire Port tank had delaminated with water inside the balsa core - pretty serious problem. So we called Beneteau and they have begun straight away to help us re-construct a new tank ! One of the guys at Beneteau worked all weekend to prepare the work, which is underway whilst I write. Luckily, Skandia is so well prepared and ready, apart from this, that it is not too stressful to have such major work going on one week before we start ! It is just a little inconvenient ! I am really lucky to be part of Offshore Challenges, because I have the support of the team - when one person has a problem, everyone in the team works together to help the "priority skipper" (i.e. whoever has the race the closest) get through. And in this case, Oli and Rob have come down from Lorient Lorient L’actualité du port de Lorient et de sa région. (where they are working on Ellen’s tri - B&Q Castorama) to help Erwan supervise the repairs."

How did your Sea Survival course go this week ? What did it involve ?
- "The Sea Survival is a course / certificate that is compulsory for those of us who are doing the Transat The Transat #thetransat #ostar - part of some new rules that are coming into force. We’ve done it before, but it is always good to re-cap and refresh the memory and learn any new techniques. It comprised of first aid, fire-fighting, general safety tips, liferaft, survival in the water, flare firing...
- We were messing around a bit in between survival in the water (conserving body heat, floating properly, getting in, out and under obstacles) and liferaft practise - launching, re-turning, getting in and out of liferafts...)
- It is good timing to do it just before leaving on a Transat because it makes me think about how I would deal with situations on board, and whether I need any extra kit (other than what is defined in our rules.)"

How are you feeling about leaving Port La Forêt ?
- "It seems strange that our training is nearly over - time passes so quickly. I feel like I could do a year of this training and still have LOADS left to learn. At the same time, I have learnt a lot in the last two months. I am IMPATIENT to start the BPE. It feels like AGES that I have not raced properly ! And having watched my teammates race around the world this winter I have extremely itchy feet ! It is good that the first race is a Transat because I need to do a long one !!"

How are preparations going for the race and for the delivery trip to St.Nazaire ?
- "As I said above - preparations are great - I have never felt so ready to go this early. I even have all the food sorted ! I am trying to do as much as possible now so that I can concentrate on weather and strategy as much as possible in the last week, at St Nazaire. This week, Jeanne Gregoire and I are "sharing" a day with Jean-Yves Bernot to study the course in detail and really get my head into the race. Some of the day will be in the classroom, some in our boats - to optimise our chart table, and make our lives as easy as possible on board.
- The only slight thing holding us up is the ballast tank problem, which should be all fixed by Friday night, which is when I plan to leave on the delivery to St.Nazaire. The delivery trip is the last time I will sail offshore and overnight before the start. Romain will come with me - I want to have someone to try to help me get into the sailing a bit - we have done a lot of sailing this winter, but not much offshore or overnight (it has been too cold) and I feel that I need to push myself back into the rhythm of being offshore. I felt a bit "rusty" last week (everyone said the same thing - phew !) so it would be good if Romain is there to "coach" me a little ! I really want to make the most of this last trip. At the same time as we take the boat, Erwan will be driving the cradle to St.Nazaire to drop it off for the ship to go to Cuba for the return of the boat...Life is complicated !"

JEAN-YVES BERNOT, one of sailing’s top weather experts has been spending time at the Finistere Course au Large centre teaching the team how to read the weather, the best way to use the routing software on maxsea and advice. We caught up with him to find out more...

Can you explain how you have been working with Sam and the team at Finistere Course au Large to improve their knowledge ? What kind of work you have been doing ?
- "In such a competitive fleet, strategy will be a key part of the game. Sailors need to be familiar with the weather tools they are allowed to use during the race - weather charts by weather fax and GRIB files from the internet these are basis for on board weather routing. This needs timely analysis to be sure the tools give more answers than questions...
- However, sailors need to know what the general weather is on the course and what kind of strategy they will have to handle. Remember the ultimate goal for a navigator is not weather, but to make a good course in a difficult working environment. Key words are "autonomy in decision making."

How is the weather looking for the start of the race ? and during the race ?
- "It’s too early to give accurate weather forecast for the start, but we can say the systems of travelling low pressure will be at work. This means westerlies, and a lot of decision making about how the front will cross the fleet & how to manage the low pressure centre... Be dynamic..."

What weather systems will the fleet experience during the race ?
- "The big picture is 3 main systems :
- 1. From start to Azores - the fleet is in the range of North Atlantic low pressure systems. Expect SW to NW wind medium to strong, and quickly changing weather. Aggressive strategy is needed to try to make a break before the Azores.
- 2. From Azores to West Indies - the question is how deep to go to the South to get the Trade Winds. Heading directly to the South will ensure steady downwind conditions at the cost of a longer course. Sailing a more direct course will ensure short distance at the price of more difficult weather patterns, and the threat of being trapped in the Azores high pressure system with it’s infamous light winds.
- 3. The Caribbean sea is normally the domain of steady NE trade winds. Some trade winds failure related to US coast cold fronts may put some spice in the game."

The Route du Rhum Route du Rhum #RouteDuRhum is another transatlantic race with a similar route (St.Malo - Guadeloupe) which takes places in November on 50ft & 60ft mono & multihulls. How is this race different from a race like the Route du Rhum Route du Rhum #RouteDuRhum  ? How will this affect the weather & the race ?
- "Compared to Route du Rhum, this race is somewhat different :
- The race is longer because it is sailed in a smaller boat. This means between 3 weeks and 1 month at sea alone, with hard racing. Being in good condition in the last part of the race will be paramount for both boat and sailor.
- This is a one-design race, with so little difference from boat to boat that any mistake will be paid for
- Starting in April means a vigorous first part from the Bay of Biscay to the Azores, together with cold weather in Northeast Atlantic. On the other hand, the tropical part should be more steady than what we may expect in November. 
- The long coastal part in Caribbean Sea needs awareness after an Atlantic crossing. It will probably be difficult after 3 weeks offshore to have the stamina to deal with all the traps we can expect in coastal sailing : navigation, changing coastal weather, tactics with close competitors etc..."

Info Offshore Challenges

Voir en ligne :


skipper / boat name/ sail number*
- 1. BESTAVEN Yannick / AQUARELLE.COM / 34
- 2. CAUDRELIER Charles / BOSTIK / 3
- 3. DA CRUZ Antonio Pedro / LITTLE BLACK SHARK / 47
- 4. DAVIES Samantha (GB) / SKANDIA / 10
- 6. EMIG Marc / TOTAL / 30
- 9. MORVAN Gildas / CERCLE VERT / 5
- 10. RAISON David / not communicated / 93
- 11. TRIPON Armel / GEDIMAT / 57
- 12. VITTET Dominic / ATAO AUDIO SYSTEM / 22

(*If a skipper’s finishing position in the Championnat de France 2004 is in the top 10 this determines the number on their mainsail)

Official race website :


- 3 April : Trophée BPE 2005 (St.Nazaire - Cienfuegos, Cuba)
- 6-25 June : La Generali Solo 2005
- 1-28 August : La Solitaire Afflelou Le Figaro 2005

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