In 2017, Beijaflore Sailing took on a 3-year young crew, just 26 years old, to help them achieve their ambition and ultimately win the “Sailing Tour de France”.
Last year, the crew competed in 6 Grands Prix and finished the season with the title of monotype French Champion and a 3rd place in the “Sailing Tour de France”. The crew started the 2018 season in February with a first victory on the Arabian Tour.
Interview with Pierre Mas, Project Director
Why did you choose this crew?
Diam 24 class has been marking a real turning point in the history of the “Sailing Tour de France”. Not only is the boat more demanding from a sporting point of view, it is more suited to young crews, and has had an impact on the format of the races. In the wake of the last America’s Cup, “stadium” courses have appeared with side wind departures where boats can gain their full speed from the start to establish a clear intermediate ranking from the first buoy. The young sailors from Olympic sailing and light catamarans were naturally the fastest to adapt to this new class and racing format.
How did you recruit the crew?
We wanted a crew composed of individually strong sailors, but at the same time wanted true team spirit. After selecting candidates on file, we gathered a group of a dozen potential team members in October 2016 at La Trinité sur Mer aboard two identical Diam 24 sailboats. For the skipper, my choice fell on Valentin Bellet, world champion of sport catamaran, and whose personality seemed to suit a group. To select other team members, we wanted to build an open group, with a positive state of mind and the ability to live together for several weeks. This was the case in 2017 where the attitude of the team was evident during their victory in the Arabian tour in July.
Diam 24 sailboats only require three team members. Why have you selected five?
On an event as long and demanding as the “Sailing Tour de France”, it is essential to have a versatile and complementary crew. It is also important to be able to rotate to maintain freshness and a consistent level of performance. However, we wanted to have a sustainable team over three years. There were 5 of us in 2017, and there will be 4 of us in 2018. Because the 2018 tour will take place over just 2 weeks, a crew of 4 is suitable. As of this year, we all believe that victory is possible. The team will deliver a high-level performance with consistency against competition that has also improved.
The Tour de France Team
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Diam 24 boat
Not for the faint-hearted!
This 7.25m one-design trimaran sailboat is designed by VPLP architects, who hold all the ocean records (Jules Verne Trophy solo and crew) and have been unbeaten in the Trans-Atlantic races (Route du Rhum, Transat Jacques Vabre, Single-Handed Trans-Atlantic Race…) for several decades. They are built in Brittany by Adh Inotec using state-of-the-art technologies.
This nice vessel, a model of Macif Ultims trimarans or Idec Sport, is very suitable for its size (33sq m of sails upwind and 61sq m downwind) and weighs only 510kg. Sporty, technical and spectacular, the Diam 24 is not equipped with foils but with a central drift. It does not take too much of three teammates (helmsman, tactician and trimmer) to lead the race and demonstrate its quintessence. It is transportable, disassembled in two stages, and quickly seduced an audience of young sailors, mostly from light sailing. www.diam24onedesign.com