The sea’s answer to Formula 1

With Gilles Lamiré, a skipper on the Route du Rhum race

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In the port of Cancale, the skipper, Gilles Lamiré will welcome you aboard the legendary trimaran that carried him on the Route du Rhum solo yacht race. As you speed above the waves on board this elegant, majestic yacht, you’ll see the Côte d’Emeraude (Emerald Coast) and the Mont-Saint-Michel Bay in a completely new light.

Welcome aboard

A little road leads from the centre of Cancale to the secluded inlet of Port-Briac. In the early afternoon, there’s a light mist on horizon, but the weather’s fine. You soon spot the large grey trimaran out at anchor. Gilles Lamiré has done the solo Route du Rhum race from Saint-Malo to Guadeloupe twice aboard this yacht.  And here comes the skipper, a native of Cancale, with a member of his crew, Loïc. They quickly welcome today’s crew aboard – Francine, along with her family who have given her a trip aboard this sea-going equivalent of a Formula 1 racing car as a birthday present. What a great way to celebrate your 60th! While Loïc and Gilles are getting ready to sail, we have a tour of the boat. We’re a bit wary at first, but we’re soon having fun jumping up and down on the trampolines.

Faster than the wind

Gilles gives us a few safety instructions, and we’re off. Some of Francine’s family are yachtsmen and they’re very excited to be helping Gilles and Loïc to manoeuvre the boat. Four of us hurry to pull the rope – oops! sorry, to haul on the halyard – to hoist the mainsail. It’s amazing to think that Gilles does this all by himself. Our efforts are well rewarded: the mainsail is magnificent. It’s attached to 28.5 metres high mast, and the sail itself measures 200 square metres. Even though our trimaran is 20 metres long and 15 metres wide, it weighs only 6.6 tonnes. It’s a featherweight colossus. “Just the wind in the mast is enough to drive it along,” Gilles explains. “It’s like a boat out of a legend that can fly faster than the wind.”

Flying over the sea

As we sail past the Pointe du Grouin towards Granville, we also hoist one of the foresails. The boat starts to go even faster. “We just have a slight breeze and we’re doing 13 knots,” Gilles explains. That’s nearly 25 kilometres an hour. The trimaran skims over the sea as if it weighs nothing at all. Quite often the hull that we’re sitting on rises above the water without us even noticing.  We take turns at the helm. The boat is very manoeuvrable. After a few hours, we move the foresail across, Gilles turns the helm, and we’re going back the way we came.

Seeing the coast in a different way

Sailing on this boat is so comfortable that you could almost fall asleep on the trampolines, if there weren’t so many things to see. On one side, Mont-Saint-Michel looks as if it has been set down in the middle of the ocean. Looking seaward, a traditional, three-masted sailboat passes close to the Chausey Islands. I stretch out on the trampoline to look at the deep green water and now I can see why they call this the Emerald Coast. Gilles tells us some of his own adventures and those of other skippers he knows. Before returning to Port-Briac, we pass by Cancale harbour. I see it in a different light now: how it faces the sea to welcome sailors. This trip has really opened my eyes to the beauties of the coastline where I live.

Text : Julie Durand

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