Standing at North Head, watching the start of the 2011 Sydney to Hobart race and dreaming of
participating, three French sailors decided, ‘Next year we have to do it’. And so the team began
the search for a boat, a sponsor and a cause. The ‘Protect our Playground’ project resulted in the
partnership between the sailing team, Peugeot and Surfrider Foundation Australia to, firstly, race
into Hobart, and secondly, raise awareness of the marine debris so often seen in our oceans on their
Read what the crew had to say about their experience.
Crew: Sebastin Guyot, Nicolas Lunven (Surfrider Foundation’s ambassador in Europe), Jean-Pierre
Nicol, Julien Villion, Nicolas Graveline, Max de Mongolfier, Cyril Delorme, Bertrand van de Voorde,
Guillaume Valdant, Hubert Maréchal and two Australian Sailors; Nick Scott Perry and Dave Taylor.
They are telling us a bit more about the highlights of their race.
Disappointed by your second place?
We were entered in two different categories. In ORCi 2, we finish second at only 2mns from the
first place. In IRC 3, we finish in the third place, 1hour out of the first place (after time has been
corrected). It is disappointing as we believe to have done a great race, the crew was amazing. But
overall 2nd for our first participation is good.
What have been the different phases in your race?
First, there is the departure in beautiful Sydney Harbour on Boxing Day: so many boats on the water
and so many people on the cliffs! Just amazing. However on the boat, we actually had very limited
time to look around and enjoy the show; we were simply very focused on making a safe but good
start, which we successfully did, being one of the first boats to cross the second start line (the first
one is for the bigger boats). Being under spinnaker made for fantastic images for spectators and
media; and for a pretty technical first run for us! Things can quickly go wrong when under kite!
We did get to see our spectator boat though and hear the cheering! That was a very emotional
moment for us; just making it clear that we were on for something quite special and that we had a
lot of people behind us. That gave us a big motivation boost… that’s probably why we managed a
very good first afternoon and evening of navigation, battling it up with bigger boats than ours into
the first night!
As we sailed along the NSW coast our shift system got into place, with shifts being 2 hours ‘on’, 2
hours ‘off’ and 2 hours ‘stand-by’ (sitting on the rail to help the boat balance and speed, helping in
manoeuvers, providing food to the ‘on’ shift, etc.). When the first night comes it is actually difficult
to find some sleep: the adrenalin rush from the start is still there and the bodies are only just getting
used to being at sea. In the morning we hit a shift in weather pattern and hit a no-wind zone before
getting some W-SW wind. The speed is slower, which can play a bit with nerves. During the day,
shifts increase to 3 hours. As we head to Bass Strait the wind shifts to the N-NE and picks up. Surfing
on the swell and making the most of the downwind conditions we hit some 15-16 knots speeds.
Although this wind allows us to sustain good speed, we know it favours more our competitors and
they are catching on us. Plus downwind is very demanding on the helmsman and trimmers. Soon a
dark night falls on us, no lights, nothing to steer to apart from that electrical storm in front. Passing
through it went rather smoothly but the fact that the boat is now charged with static electricity,
Max our bowman unexpectedly took one shock for the team. The Northerly then eased from 25-30
knots to nothing and when the morning comes no wind is there, hard to believe such a change. We
achieve 100m in 2 hours, a new low. Those conditions are mentally exhausting, but eventually the
wind shifted and builded up from the South West.
Tasmania Here we come
With Tasmania in sight comes also one of the most exciting moment of this race. With the wind
turning South-South-West we are now working to windward along the coast under a cheering suns
which make this North-Western part of Tasmania look even more inviting. For most of us on board
it recalls sailing along the Irish coast; narrow capes, strong currents, choppy seas and cliff falling
abruptly into the sea and idyllic beaches protected in bays surrounded by breathtaking grassy hills
Our boat is being checked regularly by the locals with first a large school of dolphins, followed by the
gliding masters of the region, the albatrosses and finally the seals pop their head out of the water to
check from the distance that our sails are trimmed to their taste. No sign of human life, though; not
a house, not even lighthouses, no antennas on the highest points of the hills , it’s nature in its purest
state. Sailing in these difficult conditions, in this thrilling nature is completely overwhelming.
The sun leaves us when we pass Tasman Island and enter Storm Bay. The 30-35 knots of wind
with gusts over 40, could be the condition seen by those who first named this bay. The very shifty
conditions, a rough sea and the cold air is slowly dissipated when we get closer to the Derwent.
The Derwent with no wind
Early on Sunday, entering to the Hobart river, we were in the best position to get the 1st place.
However, that was without paying attention to the most famous proverb about the race “never
arrive in the morning”. Indeed, the topography of the area makes the water as flat as a mirror in
the early hours of the day and the breeze grows with the day. Thus our competitors, with lower
handicaps than us, caught up the difference in corrected time and our advance just vanished!
One of the most stunning moment was obviously when we crossed the finish line. 8 months of
hard work with the team to make this happen. Whilst we were disappointed not to finish in the
first position 2nd is very good. The team really worked well as we were very supportive of each
other. Moreover, our skipper, Nicolas Lunven, who is one of the European ambassador for Surfrider
Foundation, is very competent and manage the crew amazingly well. We are sure that you will hear
about him in the future.
We did our best to sail well and to promote our partners. Further we are happy to have worked
out a good relationship with Surfrider Foundation Australia and Peugeot. We did our best to
be professional in our project management and we think that we did a good job. We hope that
Surfrider has now a better visibility in Australia and that our message of Protect Our Playground
with Surfrider has been heard, whether it be on radio, TV, or at CYCA and more broadly in the
Australian sailing community. In addition we are very proud to have been able to raise more than
$5,000 for Surfrider.
Overall we have the feeling of a good accomplishment. This was possible thanks to our
determination, a great team and great partners!