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Might new foils be Beyou's passport to victory?

To some seasoned observers, and indeed a handful of IMOCA skippers, French racer Jérémie Beyou is narrow favourite to the win the Transat CIC, not least because on his Charal he showed devastating upwind speed during the early, windy stages of the Transat Jacques Vabre last October. He has nearly two decades in the IMOCA class under his belt and last year finished second on the Retour à La Base and third on the Transat Jacques Vabre racing with Franck Cammas. He and his team have worked hard through the winter to make upgrades to the Sam Manuard design.

Martin Leroux photo

“We dismantled all the key parts of the boat to check for wear and change some bits and pieces”, explains, Beyou, “ We changed a few aspects in terms of fittings, made modifications to the overall weight of the boat and added volume to the deck.”

And Charal2 has been fitted with a new pair of foils, designed by Martin Fisher from the America's Cup scene, now with Sir Ben Ainslie’s Ineos Team Britannia and built by C3 Technologie. “With these foils, the flight is a little lower and we control our heel better. We were looking to be more stable and to sail flatter on fast angles.”  Beyou made the choice to fit the foils before these two back to back Transatlantic races “We know that it takes time to build reliability and accurately measure performance gains”

Charal 2 was put back on the water on April 2 and he has trained with the group at Port La Foret as well as a 24-hours offshore trial. “I feel really comfortable with the new foils even if we haven’t yet seen all the benefits.

Now Beyou, who won the New York Vendée four years ago is itching to start tomorrow, “It’s a very interesting and complex course because it goes directly into the weather phenomena (which go from West to East) and these sequences will be very rapid. There will be a lot of changes in pace, sailing and having many big changes in pace. You'll have to be on it all the time.”

He adds, “The final goal is the Vendée Globe. Mentally we are looking at where we set the cursor between the desire to win and the desire to preserve the boat because we know that a major breakage can be devastating a few months before the Vendée Globe. Depending on the circumstances, I might have to slow down.”