There was lift off today at Martinique Flying Regatta, the Caribbean’s first regatta purely for foiling boats. Conditions on the Baie de Fort de France for day one could not have been better with 18-20 knots and flat water, the palm tree-lined bay protected by the mountainous island. The ‘boats’ sailed three races, while on a separate course the Windfoil and KiteFoil classes raced four.
Top ranked Moth sailor here, Benoit Marie came out on top, winning two races out of three to lead the field of 19 flying singlehanders, ahead of Aymeric Arthaud and Dutch former 470 Olympian Kalle Koster. This result was despite breaking his port wing bar on the way out to the start today.
“There was a little panic for me - my wing bar was about 10° higher than it should be, so the mast was canted to leeward all of the time,” admitted Marie, the former Mini Transat winner, most recently crowned French A-Class catamaran National Champion. “It was quite challenging to sail on port, because the boat was trying to fold in half! The game was to keep it in one piece, so I wasn’t pushing too hard.”
In the first and second races, Marie capsized. In both he was leading at the time. In the first race this led to him being beaten by Switzerland’s David Holenweg, but in the second he was sufficiently far ahead to right the boat and go on to win. Marie was working late in the boat park tonight, busy fixing his boat ready for tomorrow.
The Moth-like, one design Onefly class started their races five minutes after the Moths. Among the eight competitors, it was Solitaire du Figaro and Tour de France a la Voile sailor Julien Villion who dominated, winning all three of today’s races while only Hugo Feydit in second showed any similar sort of consistency.
In the 12-strong KiteFoil fleet, Axel Mazella also scored four straight bullets, while Kieran le Borgne was en route for a string of seconds, but was let down by a 12th in race three. Former Vendee Globe competitor Morgan Lagravière currently holds third behind Olivier Blotiere.
In the Windfoil class of seven competitors, it is Trevor Caraes, who is dominating with three bullets and a third, finishing the day two points ahead of Thomas Lequesne, who scored straight seconds.
As expected Volvo Ocean Race and Route du Rhum winner Franck Cammas is leading the GC32 class on NORAUTO powered by Team France, the two flying catamarans hurtling around the course today at speeds touching 36 knots. The performance was very even between the two boats, with just five seconds separating them in the first and third races. Team France Jeune, skippered by Robin Follin even managed to win today’s third race.
“It is very nice here - the best place for foiling, because the water is so flat and the wind is hot!” said Follin. “Today we had 15-21 knots of wind and we could sail at very high speed.” Franck Cammas is not quite at his usual GC32 Racing Tour-winning form as he too has several young sailors in his crew this week.
“We progress a lot each day,” continued Follin. “Today we did lots of foiling gybes with the gennaker and we had good racing with Franck.”
Today’s fabulous conditions are expected to be repeated tomorrow in this French Caribbean foiling paradise.
Martinique Flying Regatta has been created and is organised by Sirius Events in partnership with the Comité Martiniquais du Tourisme and the city of Fort de France city plus Corsair International, Grand Port Maritime de Fort de France and Ligue de Voile de Martinique.
20 November: Race day 1
21 November: Race day 2 – long-distance, followed by skippers dinner
22-23 November: Race days 3-4
24 November: Race day 5 – prize-giving – special dinner
Follow the races: www.martinique-regatta.com