Cold, wet, frustrating, tiring and insane were just some of the words the Artemis Offshore Academy squad used to describe the Solo Concarneau Trophée Guy Cotten.
Finishing the 330-mile course on Saturday 9 May, the Solo Concarneau was the sailors’ toughest race yet and their final test ahead of the 2185 mile Solitaire du Figaro – Eric Bompard Cachemire at the end of this month.
The Solo Concarneau Trophée Guy Cotten was won by Corentin Horeau (Bretagne Credit Mutuel Performance), with Gildas Mahé (Qualiconfort The Beautiful watches) in second and Yann Eliés in third (Groupe Queguiner Leucemie Espoir). The race spanned 330 miles and took just under 48 hours to complete.
Comprised of long legs between islands, through rough waters and around rocks and fish farms, the Solo Concarneau course allowed for very little sleep. Add to that shifty winds and 30-knot gusts caused by two weather systems passing over the course, the skippers were lucky if they got a 10 minute nap in almost 48 hours – a real baptism of fire for the 11 Rookies taking part, including three Brits.
Relishing in the rougher weather along the rugged Brittany coastline, Sam Matson (Chatham) put in his best performance of the season so far. Securing a strong position early on in the race, Sam saw it through all 330 miles to finish 11th overall – one up from his 12th position in the race in 2014.
Fellow Academy Alumni sailor Henry Bomby also put in his best performance of the season, finishing 12th overall and giving himself a much needed confidence boost ahead of his fourth Solitaire.
GAC Concise skipper Jack Bouttell was next in the ranks in 18th. Describing the race as “frustrating”, Jack enjoyed the competition, but not his result.
Robin Elsey (Artemis 43) was first of the British Rookies and third Rookie overall in 20th, reporting that he could have cried because he was so tired at Île d’Yeu and that the Raz de Sein, an infamous rocky and tidal passage, is insane: “It’s probably the most insane place I have ever sailed. Imagine going through rapids with 30 other boats that could crash into you, with very little control. Crazy, fun and difficult at the same time.”
Just behind Robin was Academy Alumni skipper Nick Cherry (Redshift). After a number of top 10 finishes this season already, Nick was a little disappointed with his 21st in the Solo Concarneau Trophée Guy Cotten.
Andrew Baker (Artemis 23) finished 25th overall, the second British Rookie in the ranks. Wet cold, tired and exhausted, this was Andrew’s first solo offshore race in ‘proper’ offshore conditions.
The Solo Concarneau was an real eye opener for all three of the British Rookies, including youngest of the three Rob Bunce who finished just behind Andrew in 28th : “It was a bloody long way and bloody cold, but I felt such a massive sense of achievement at the end of it.”
The race was the final warm up race for the Classe Figaro Bénéteau skippers competing in the 2015 Solitaire du Figaro – Eric Bompard Cachemire, starting 31 May from Bordeaux. Eight British skippers will take part.
Leaders and British results: Position/Skipper/Boat name/Rookie*/time
1. Conrentin Horeau/Bretagne Credit Mutuel Performance/ 1d, 20h, 38m, 02s
2. Gildas Mahe/Qualiconfort The Beautiful watches/ 1d, 20h, 43m, 38s
3. Yann Elies/Groupe Queguiner Leucemie Espoir/ 1d, 20h, 44m, 30s
11. Sam Matson/Chatham/1d, 21h, 11m, 37s
12. Henry Bomby/Rockfish Red/ 1d, 21h, 15m, 12s
18. Jack Bouttel/GAC Concise/1d, 21h, 31m, 40s
20. Robin Elsey/Artemis 43 *3rd Rookie/1d, 21h, 38m, 19s
21. Nick Cherry/Redshift/ 1d, 21h, 39m, 13s
23. Alan Roberts/Magma Structures/ 1d, 21h, 48m, 46s
25. Andrew Baker/Artemis 23 */ 1d, 21h, 52m, 02s
28. Rob Bunce/Artemis 37 */ 1d, 22h, 20m, 22s
more info ……. soloconcarneau.blogspot.com