Thursday, October 14, 2010

Class40 Groupe Picoty prepares for a big Route du Rhum send-off

Jean-Edouard Criquioche and Groupe Picoty: ready for the Route du Rhum - Photo Bertrand Duquenne

In mid-June this year, the Class40 Association President, Jacques Fournier and his Global Ocean Race 2011-12 (GOR) co-skipper, Jean-Edouard Criquioche, took delivery of a new Finot-Conq Design Class40, Groupe Picoty. While the French duo are fully focused on the GOR circumnavigation, the forthcoming, single-handed Route du Rhum from St. Malo to Guadaloupe provides 40 year-old Criquioche with an opportunity to fully test and develop new systems on Groupe Picoty and move ahead of the game.

Since taking delivery of their new Pogo S² Class40 at the Structures yard in Bénodet, Brittany, Fournier and Criquioche have been occupied familiarising themselves with the boat: “You can never sail enough,” confirms Criquioche. “We’ve spent more time tuning and adjusting the boat than actually sailing her,” he admits. However, some pre-Route du Rhum offshore tuition was achieved: “Despite everything, we had a good session of race training in Lorient with Tanguy Leglatin, so everything’s good.”

For Criquioche the transition from an older generation Class40 to a third generation boat has been a massive leap in terms of performance: “The first impressions that come to mind are the boat is very strong, aggressive to sail and very fast,” he reports. “I’m really, really super-happy with the boat, especially compared to the older generation. The new boats are much stiffer and each slam into a wave reverberates over the entire length of the boat. So, sailing the boat is fairly violent and very physical.” Criquioche is also astonished by the boat’s re-acceleration capability: “As soon as you slam into a wave there’s an immediate impact which slows down the boat. But before the wave disappears behind the transom, we’re off again picking up speed rapidly.”

There are 46 Class40s entered in the Route du Rhum representing 50 percent of the entire race fleet with numerous third generation Class40s on the start line. In addition to Groupe Picoty, there are three other Pogo S² entries, all launched this year: Nicolas Trousell’s Crédit Mutuel de Bretagne; Régis Guillemot’s Regis Guillemot Charter and Damien Grimont’s Monbana. Meanwhile, Akilaria are fielding three, third generation Akilaria RC2 boats: Thierry Bouchard with Comiris - Pôle Santé Elior launched last year; Pete Goss on DMS (Tony Lawson’s Concise chartered for the Route du Rhum) and Philippe Fiston’s Territoires Attitude. Fellow GOR entry, Conrad Colman from New Zealand, has also chartered Peter Harding’s new, 2009 Owen Clarke Design Jaz40 Mk2 40 Degrees for the Route du Rhum.

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