Description:French skippers Gwenole Gahinet and Paul Meilhat are training off Lorient on their Figaro SAFRAN - GUY COTTEN prior to the AG2R transat on March 06, 2014 - Photo Jean Marie Liot / DPPI
The finish of the Generali Solo concludes the Figaro Bénéteau season and also marks for Gwénolé Gahinet, 5th in the Championnat de France Elite de Course au Large (France’s elite offshore solo sailing championship), the end of his two-year partnership with Safran and Guy Cotten. Time to look back on a successful collaboration.
“This project gave me the tools to improve”
Starting in late 2013, the partnership between Safran and Guy Cotten was born of the desire of both companies to support a young talent on the Figaro Bénéteau circuit, a championship that has always been the school of offshore racing. Then aged 29 and a revelation in the Mini Transat 2011, Gwénolé Gahinet was chosen to wear the colours of the two companies and joined the Safran Sailing Team with Marc Guillemot and Morgan Lagravière. The sharing of knowledge and acquisition of skills on such a project are closely related and complementary to the innovative approach at both Safran and Guy Cotten. “These have been two intense and rewarding years,” Gahinet said. “I feel like I’ve made progress on the water but also in how to manage a professional project. Safran and Guy Cotten gave me the tools to improve, the way ahead is clear.”
A great sporting success
The skipper of Safran-Guy Cotten made his mark immediately by winning, double-handed with Paul Meilhat, the Transat AG2R La Mondiale 2014, his first official race on the Figaro Bénéteau circuit. Talented and very hardworking, Gahinet progressed rapidly. He was the leading rookie of La Solitaire du Figaro 2014 and finished 5th in the race in 2015, and as a result of the Generali Solo, took a great 5th place in the Championnat de France Elite de Course au Large (France’s elite offshore solo sailing championship). “I’m really pleased to finish there, it shows my consistency over the entire season,” Gahinet said. “I feel like I’ve moved up a level and it makes me really want to do another Figaro season. It’s often said that the third is crucial. I think I have to follow through on this process started with Safran and Guy Cotten.”
Safran-Guy Cotten: a great adventure
Beyond the sporting side, the two years of partnership have been full of great encounters for the young sailor. “The Guy Cotten and Safran teams have been involved from the beginning of the project,” Gahinet said. “I remember the conversations with employees of Guy Cotten in Concarneau and visits to Safran sites, where I met dozens of young engineers, all like me. I felt supported, lifted by the two companies and it was all really new to me.”
A fair wind Gwénolé!
Benefitting from the new experience, the young 31-year-old sailor, is approaching the coming months with plenty of ambition. “Obviously, I dream about the Vendée Globe, it's a challenge that I want to take on,” Gahinet said. “That takes time and resources, my goal will be starting in 2020. Until then, I will focus on a third season in the Figaro Bénéteau and try other boats like the Flying Phantom. I have some great projects in the pipeline, you will know more soon.”
Nadine Bertholom, President of the Management Board of Guy Cotten: “The results from these two years with Safran and Gwénolé are very positive. We made the right choice backing Gwénolé. He has great sporting and human qualities and we’re proud that he has raced for Guy Cotten on the Figaro circuit. He has continually improved throughout the project and he was able to share his adventures with our internal teams. It’s been a great success, we wish him the best for the future and will continue to support him.”
Gérard Le Page, CEO of the Safran Sailing Team: “We’re proud of the success of this Figaro experience, conducted jointly with our friends from Guy Cotten. For two years, there has been a fine alchemy between Safran and Guy Cotten working alongside Gahinet Gwénolé, who beyond his talent has a great and engaging personality. We achieved our objectives, which were to support him and give him the means to progress to the highest level. We all hope he continues his sporting projects and we look forward to his future success.”