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Ocean racing’s A-Team is French

The French are the major-leaguers of short-handed ocean racing, yet many U.S. sailors are unaware of the great French ocean races and racers.

At its core, the Vendee remains a human adventure first and a sports event second. That is what is so compelling.

I offer two comparisons:

 • Congratulations to the 90-foot monohull Rambler and crew of nearly 20 for breaking the Bermuda Race record by averaging 16 knots over 650 miles for 40 hours. Let’s be aware, however, that solo sailor Michel Desjoyeaux, aboard the 60-foot monohull Foncia, averaged 14 knots for 28,300 miles over 84 days in winning the Vendée Globe 2008-09.

 • In June in Newport, R.I., the AC45 catamarans wowed spectators at the America’s Cup World Series, presaging bigger wows from the AC72s that will sail in the Cup finals next year. Yet across the harbor was the French-born MOD70 fleet (multihull one-design 70-foot trimarans). Whereas the AC72s will never leave San Francisco Bay, the MOD70s raced from New York to France with six crewmembers aboard. Did they sacrifice speed for durability? No. The first three finishers averaged 28 knots for 3,300 North Atlantic miles, finishing within 100 minutes of one another.

See related articles:

- Jury-rigging, mentors and the call of the sea

- Enlivening classrooms

November 2012 issue