Double deckchair Concarneau – Saint-Barth ‘
In Saint-Barthélemy, a 24 km² confetti island, popular with American billionaires and other showbizz stars, life is still just as good: 30 ° in the air, 27 ° in the water. Of course, the effects of the health crisis are still being felt, but with more than 55% of the population already vaccinated, we are slowly approaching collective immunity. Wearing a mask? “Yes, obviously because these are the sanitary rules”, we are told each time. In reality, masks are rarely worn.
Whether you get there by air, on a passenger boat or aboard a Figaro 3, the French-speaking island always offers the same magic. With this pleasant feeling of being on another planet. This Sunday, Nils Palmieri and Julien Villion, both 33 years old, were preparing to switch to another world after passing through the Pointe de Colombier, synonymous with the end of the race.
Their northern option was the right one. It is rare that it does not pay off in the south and yet … It is in Lorient, with the training group led by Bertrand Pacé and the router Marcel Van Triest, that the Swiss-Breton duo, 8th in the score of La Palma in the Canaries, spoke at length about this choice of route. The north was calculated, anticipated.
“We are not favorites”
Nils Palmieri and Julien Villion, sponsored by TeamWork, a service company based in Geneva, have somewhat similar backgrounds. Jack-of-all-trades who know how to move any boat with a mast and sails, or even foils, forward. Few of the bookmakers have bet on this Franco-Swiss duo. Villion, the eclectic Trinitan sailor, had noted before the start: “We are not favorites, that’s normal. It suits us very well because no one is going to pay attention to us. And since it is rarely the favorites who win in this transatlantic race… ”.
The first ten muscular and wet days, sustained trade winds, a tactical choice to be made after passing La Palma, this 15th edition was lively. The management of the Figaro 3, an Atlantic rookie, added a little more spice in terms of trajectory.
Sargassum, it annoys
The sailor from Geneva, passionate about outdoor sports (skiing, climbing, paragliding), and the sailor from La Trinité-sur-Mer, where it was the first transatlantic, did not win by chance. Their northern option was taken six days before arrival. Yann Chateau, assistant to the race director, finds an explanation: “There were really much less Sargassum in the north than in the south”.
Sargassum, which is to the Caribbean Sea what green algae is to Brittany, poisoned the course of the 18 duos from 30 ° West, that is to say well beyond the usual zone. Several times a day, the 36 sailors had to pass the rope with knots to remove these bundles of algae, stuck in the pins of the Figaro 3. Like huge speed bumps on the Antilles highway.
In 2021, a transatlantic can always be won with the trade winds. By avoiding algae too.
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