On November 2, the skipper of Safran will line up at the start of the Route du Rhum-Destination Guadeloupe. This will be Marc Guillemot’s fifth appearance in the queen of the transats. It is a race he has particular affection for and for which he will be preparing hard after his IMOCA went back into the water on August 27 in La Trinité-sur-Mer.
Launched in 1978 with Michel Etevenon (the advertising executive who introduced sponsorship into competitive sailing) at the helm, the Route du Rhum is held every four years, drawing together professionals and amateurs on board monohulls and multihulls on the same start line. This solo transat introduced talented sailors to the public and created a profession. “I particularly love this race,” Guillemot says. “The duel between Michael Malinowski and Mike Birch, who won by just 98 seconds at the finish in 1977, made a deep impression on me. I am part of the generation of skippers who started offshore racing just after that. The course is beautiful, dotted with intense moments like the big surfing in the trade winds. That takes incredible energy solo.”
Intense preparation for destination victory
After a complete overhaul this summer, Guillemot’s IMOCA has begun a series of solo and crewed tests. On the programme are: three courses at Port-La-Forêt to have some competition, the Défi Azimut on September 26, 27 and 28, and as much solo sailing as possible to get some miles under the belt to be ready on November 2 in Saint-Malo. Guillemot does not beat around the bush when asked about the goal: “Victory! I feel good, Safran is going fast and really well,” he says. “The competition will be tough with Macif and PRB, which have also been completely overhauled, but I know that with Safran there is a real chance of getting to Guadeloupe first.”
Morgan Lagravière and Gwénolé Gahinet alongside Marco
The strength of the Safran Sailing Team remains in the communication and sharing, no matter what the project (the Figaro circuit, the construction of the new IMOCA or preparation for the Route du Rhum-Destination Guadeloupe). Despite, or perhaps because of his 25 years of racing experience Guillemot did not hesitate to call on his two young team mates. “I suggested to Morgan and Gwénolé that they work with me on the weather for the start, particularly for leaving the Channel. I like to have a different view, a fresh eye on the route, it’s always beneficial.”
– Safran Media