The Drheam Cup / Grand Prix de France: A high quality and quantity line-up

The 2024 edition of the DRHEAM-CUP / GRAND PRIX DE FRANCE AU LARGE, held from 11 to 21 July, will welcome some 90 participants. The fleet includes Class 40, many IRC crews and duos as well as mythical multihulls.

For its fifth edition from 11 to 21 July, THE DRHEAM-CUP / GRAND PRIX DE FRANCE DE COURSE AU LARGE will once again offer a particularly outstanding line-up, with the wide range of participants that is this race’s DNA, open to all. Like every two years since 2016, it will once again be a success, with a particularly busy schedule this year (with IMOCAs undergoing refits after the New York-Vendée, the finish of the Quebec-Saint Malo for Class 40, the Tour Voile, Ocean Fifty Series, etc), 85 boats are entered with over one month until the race between Cherbourg-en Cotentin and La Trinité-sur-Mer.

It is a real satisfaction to see so many boats entered in this context, proving that LA DRHEAM-CUP / GRAND PRIX DE FRANCE DE COURSE AU LARGE is now fully part of the offshore racing landscape, in France as well as abroad, as the trend is proving this year“, delights Jacques Civilise, adding that entries are possible until the end of June. Of the 85 boats entered this year, 30, representing 11 nationalities, are from abroad, with many British entries, mostly in IRC Double Handed – the most represented class, with 34 boats lined up. This year, la DRHEAM-CUP / GRAND PRIX DE FRANCE DE COURSE AU LARGE, in addition to being part of the RORC Championship, will serve as the second leg of the IRC Two-handed European Championship (after the Cowes Dinard St Malo Race), as well as the sixth and before last stage of the UK Doublehanded Offshore Series, launched in 2021 to promote two-handed sailing across the Channel.

One of the reasons why so many overseas boats are taking part in the race us because we are in the UK Doublehanded Offshore Series calendar this year”, confirms the co-founder (with Henry Bomby) and manager of the circuit Kate Cope, who will be at the start in Cherbourg-en-Cotentin on 15 July on the Sun Fast 3200 Purple Mist, with her Irish co-skipper Conor Corson.  “We found out about the DRHEAM-CUP via Henry Bomby and James Harayda (candidate for the 2024 Vendée Globe) who took part a few years ago. They really loved the race and recommended. Because we love racing against competitive crews on similar boats, which is the case with French sailors, the answer was unanimous when we suggested that our members enter the DRHEAM-CUP this year. 19 boats of our boats will be lined-up on the start!”  15 British, 2 American, one Polish and one Dutch duo will battle it out with a few experienced French competitors on the DC 600 course.

© Thierry Martinez / DRHEAM Cup 2022
© Thierry Martinez / DRHEAM Cup 2022

On the same course, the competition will be just as challenging for the 20 boats entered in the IRC crewed class, including the formidable Teasing Machine, Eric de Turckheim’s 45-footer, taking part in the race for the second time, as well as for the ten Sun Fast 30 One Designs. The DRHEAM-CUP / GRAND PRIX DE FRANCE DE COURSE AU LARGE is the new one design class’ first fleet race with a distinct ranking (*). Among the ten pioneer crews taking part, four are from overseas, including the Red Dolphins Espoirs crew led by Jonas Gerckens. The skipper is leading the project conjointly with the Volvo/Curium Class40, with a dual aim, preparing the offshore mixed double-handed offshore racing world championships due to be held in Lorient on the Sun Fast 30 OD (which he will compete in with Djemlla Tassin) and training young Belgians in offshore racing.  “It is an accessible yacht to train young sailors who do not necessarily have the means to race in the Mini or Figaro Class, so we wish to give them a leg up and spot new talent”, confirms the skipper. “The DRHEAM-CUP course is perfect, it will be the first race with other Sun Fast 30s, I am excited to see what will come of it.

The same excitement is shown by Ludovic Gérard, the title holder in IRC double handed, who chose to return to THE DRHEAM-CUP / GRAND PRIX DE FRANCE DE COURSE AU LARGE on the Sun Fast 30 OD Alwena for Pure Oceans, leading a crew of young Marseille sailors. “It is important to me to transmit, that is the aim of the Massilia Sailing Academy, which I lead and which promotes sharing and protecting the ocean. We are delighted to take part in the DRHEAM-CUP, a very well organised race, with a really great atmosphere. It will be an opportunity to test ourselves on a great course, with boats racing on the Atlantic and Channel coast.”

This spirit of passing down is important to Jacques Civilise, the founder of the race, has also motivated Charlie Capelle for many years. He has not missed a single DRHEAM-CUP / GRAND PRIX DE FRANCE DE COURSE AU LARGE since the very beginning, he was the very first to cross the line in 2018, each time sailing his mythical Walter Green design ACapella-Proludic La Chaîne de l’Espoir with trainees from his boatbuilding yard Technologie Marine. He will be there once again this year on the DRHEAM-CUP 600 course. “I have a boat that is built for offshore sailing, it is important that races such as the DRHEAM-CUP enable us to sail many miles against other multihulls in the Multi 2000 class, even though the fleet is quite eclectic. I think it is great that this type of race is also accessible to less experienced sailors, it is like a French Fastnet race” comments the six-time Route du Rhum participant, who is aiming for a seventh in 2026.

In the same Multi 2000 category, another boat will not go unnoticed this year, Océans, the former ORMA Eure et Loir, raced by François Joyon, with which he won the 2000 edition of the OSTAR. “I bought the boat from a Portuguese person who had modified the boat for cruising, but hadn’t yet had time to take care of her. I began a major refit this year, trying to bring the well-deserving boat back to her prime, and into her lines by lightening her” plans for the 60-foot trimaran launched in May include a few offshore classics, such as Round the Island Race, the La Trinité-Cherbourg and the DRHEAM-CUP / GRAND PRIX DE FRANCE DE COURSE AU LARGE, which Francis Joyon will be taking part in for the first time. “I had intended taking part in the race for a while, but hadn’t had the opportunity, it is a bit like the Fastnet, which I won on this boat in 2001, it’s a great memory“, explains the 68-year-old sailor, who intends to take part in his eighth Route du Rhum in 2026 on this legendary boat.

Another multihull to follow during this fifth edition is the MOD 70 Drekan Energy, skippered by Eric Defert on the DRHEAM-CUP 1500, who aims to set a reference time on the 1500 nautical mile race if conditions are good. Ten Class40s will be on the starting line, including the title holder  Groupe Snef, helmed by Xavier Macaire, and in the large monohull class, the Volvo 60  Libertalia, first in real time in the 2022 edition, will be taking  (paying) crew  who wish to take part in the DRHEAM-CUP / GRAND PRIX DE FRANCE de COURSE AU LARGE with four professional sailors, on the DC 1000 course, which will sail up to the Fastnet lighthouse. A unique experience in an already legendary race.

(*) It is still possible to hire a Sun Fast 30 One Design to take part in the DRHEAM-CUP / GRAND PRIX DE FRANCE DE COURSE AU LARGE, contact  Cap Regatta, a company that hires boats in France and the United Kingdom.


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