The Round Martinique Regatta Crédit Mutuel AG got off to a great start today in the sumptuous setting of the Bay of Fort-de-France. The first day of this Tour of Martinique, back in a renewed and diversified format, got off in ideal racing; superb wind, sea and sun. The race management were handed ideal conditions to set the courses, in a building North Easterly breeze, which saw up to four races for some of the larger fleets of the 28 entries. The windward-leeward courses set in the Bay of Fort-de-France and right in close to the shore between Fort Saint-Louis and the Virgin headland provided a great spectacle of twirling sails. The Surprise Class was put through its paces with 3 races whilst the Racing, Cruising and Cruiser Racing, each had slightly longer courses for their two races.
Course set in the heart of the bay
What makes the Round Martinique Regatta so special is the variety of courses and navigational challenges the event set crews. The 28 entries lined up on the first day against each other in a series of in-shore races that required clever tactics and navigational boat skills. With a level playing field each was able to demonstrate their inshore racing abilities. The sheltered bay offered stable conditions that gradually built throughout the afternoon testing the crew’s ability to read the sudden wind shifts. Flat seas and relatively stable wind conditions provided some close finishes across the different classes.
Race favourites compete
The hotly anticipated rivalry in the Racing Class between Nicolas GILLET’s J111 GFA Caraïbes, and the fast SunFast 32 SGS Crédit Mutuel directed by Marc EMIG was evident today on the water. Both fought off challenges by Virginia Zurawski’s IMX 40 Idefix and Rodolphe SEPHO’s Class40 Rêve de large. With two tough races, the claws are out and there is all to play for.
The Surprise Class fleet, truly competitive and as a one-design fleet racing in real time, also saw close racing. One of the hot favourites, Tristan MARMOUSEZ (La Morrigane), who overshot the start and was forced to return and repair found himself in a favourable shift towards the end of the final race to actually win in the building North Easterly breeze; putting him in the overall lead. Vianney SAINTENOY’s Digilife had led the start of the day’s racing and now eagerly awaits the long race around the island to make a come-back. The fleet should enjoy some great conditions with a long downwind spinnaker run to the finish in Saint Anne.
The Class40 Colombre XL last forced to pull out
Charles-Louis MOURUAU suffered an injury at the beginning of the week and has been forced to withdraw from the event: "After having run the Grenada Sailing Week with a crew of four, including top British sailor Miranda Merron, we delivered the boat from Grenada to Antigua. During the trip to Martinique, I injured my back doing a manoeuvre. An accumulation of fatigue is surely related to this back injury. On a simple manoeuvre I have blocked my lower back." Explains a disappointed Charles-Louis.
Claude GRANEL (SGS Crédit Mutuel): "There was a great variety to the racing today with lots of reaching in the 15-knot building breeze. We enjoyed two races in our class, and both were hugely competitive in ideal fun sailing conditions. We had to dig deep and work the thermals in each corner of the bay; we all loved it!”
Tristan MARMOUSEZ (La Morrigane): "A great day for our crew, with two second places and a win. The stronger wind works suits us. We sailed well, especially to win the third race after over-shooting the start. Our crew, with Charlotte and Audrey on bow, Quentin and Damien trimming, work well together and meant we were able to react fast and recover well. The starts were key this morning because on these type of short courses, there are few opportunities to come back from behind. We love this new format of the Round Martinique Regatta! Tomorrow should be a great day with the long coastal race round the island.”
Nicolas GILLET, Caribbean GFA: "We had a great day on our new boat. GFA has backed us for 15 years and this is the first year that we sail the new J111. We had very good day all round and have our work cut out with a formidable opponent SGS Crédit Mutuel. We will battle it out tomorrow on the round the island race to try and be in the lead at the finish in Marin.
All the seaweed on the windward side might be an issue ... "
Unofficial ranking after the first day :
Group Racing : 2 courses
1- GFA Caraïbes (Nicolas GILET) = 2 pts
2- SGS Crédit Mutuel (Claude GRANEL) = 4 pts
3- Persévéraré Diabolicum (Jean-Michel FIGUERES) = 6 pts
Group Surprise : 3 courses
1- La Morrigane (Tristan MARMOUSEZ) : 5 pts
2- Digilife (Vianney SAINTENOY) : 7 pts
3- Dénébola-Didier (Délice NOUEL) : 9 pts
Group Racing Cruising : 1 course
1- L'Autane (Jean-François TERRIEN) : 1 pt
2- Valentin Lindor (Ludovic JEDRE) : 2 pts
3- Foxys (Max VOLNY) : 3pts
Group Croisière : 1 course
1-Thunderboat (Frédéric DUPONT) : 1 point
2-Canquin / ARTECNA / APIPD (Valéry PLATON) : 2 pts
3-Criss (David THALMENSY) : 3 points