Five weeks before the start of the 10th edition of the Route du Rhum....
- Destination Guadeloupe, the training sessions are non-stop for the Safran monohull in Southern Brittany between La Trinité-sur-Mer, Port-la-Forêt and Lorient. For his fifth Route du Rhum – and third in the colours of Safran - Marc Guillemot has not been shy in stating his goal: to win this revered title in Pointe-à-Pitre.
Marc Guillemot and the Route du Rhum, the whole story
In just one month, the 90 competitors taking on this famous transat will take up residence in the malouine city. The Route du Rhum and Guillemot; it's a long story. From the first edition in 1978, the young man, then 16 years old, skipped class to help his friend Yves Le Cornec prepare his boat. After that, Guillemot made his passion his profession and since 1998, the sailor has lined up at the start of this race four times, twice in a multihull and twice in a monohull. The skipper of Safran has already been on the podium of the Route du Rhum twice, but aged 55 for his fifth start, Guillemot has his eyes firmly on victory. "If I didn't believe deeply I could win, I wouldn't be leaving," the sailor with years of offshore racing experience and who has not lost his spirit as a competitor says. "That's my mindset, I play to win. I also know that if I feel good in myself and fight to the finish, that will already be a victory in itself."
Alternating solo and crewed sailing to improve
The preparation for the Route du Rhum began in June for Guillemot, with the Transat New York - Barcelona, a transatlantic double-hander with Morgan Lagravière, which allowed him to further improve his knowledge of the boat. "Sailing with a crew means you can push the monohull to its maximum to learn even more about its limits," Guillemot says. "This is an advantage for the next solo. On these IMOCA, you can quickly get into the red, so it's good to master the limits - that allows you to perform better. This quest for harmony between the sailor and the boat is really exhilarating." Since early September, the skipper of Safran has also put together technical trips and participated in some solo training sessions at the Pôle Finistère Course au Large (the offshore training group) in Port-la-Forêt. It was a chance, after a last summer in the boatyard, to measure up against some of his future opponents in the Route du Rhum. "We worked on some manoeuvres and it was particularly an opportunity in a fleet to get into a solo frame of mind and the right habits," the skipper of Safran says. "We measured ourselves against each other, it was a good exercise."
Safran, starting the Défi Azimut this weekend
Tomorrow (Friday), Guillemot will compete in the Défi Azimut. Starting from Lorient, the event brings together 13 competitors, all committed to the next Route du Rhum - Destination Guadeloupe (8 IMOCA 60 and 5 Ultimate Class). After a first round of solo offshore racing on a 250-mile course, the Safran monohull will compete, with a crew, over sprint courses on Sunday in Lorient harbour and around the île de Groix.
Safran will leave its home port of La Trinité-sur-Mer on October 21 to arrive in convoy with a small crew at the Vauban basin in Saint-Malo. That will be the last offshore sailing for Guillemot before lining up for the start of the Route du Rhum - Destination Guadeloupe on November 2.
Start: from St Malo (Bretagne): Sunday the 2nd of November at 14h00
Arrival: Pointe à Pitre (Guadeloupe)
Safran's category: IMOCA (9 entries)