The View
from Here:

    Ellen Lampert-Greaux lives in Petite Saline and is the editor-in-chief of Harbour Magazine for Saint Barth and Saint Martin. When she's not organizing the St. Barth Film Festival, or writing for various magazines including Live Design, MACO, and All At Sea, she turns her all-seeing eye upon local happenings.

    May'08
space

The Great Race

I couldn’t help myself. Everyday from early May until May 13, I kept clicking onto the official website for the Transat Ag2r to see how our local heroes were doing. Let me explain. Every other year, in about mid-to-late April, a fleet of small 33’ identical Figaro Beneteau sailboats sets out from the chilly waters of the Northern Atlantic on the French coast of Brittany and heads across the Atlantic for the warm waters of the Caribbean—The Port of Gustavia in Saint Barth to be exact! This year there were two “local” boats—the first dubbed Concarneau-Saint Barth, in honor of the sponsoring ports that host the start and finish of the race. Aboard this boat was a young native Saint Barth sailor, Miguel Danet, in his first transatlantic race, and also the youngest participant in the 2008 Transat—the 9th edition of this transatlantic challenge which set sail on April 20. In the second “local” boat, seasoned sailor Luc Poupon, a Frenchman who lives in Saint Barth, and was one of the oldest sailors in the race. Spirits were high when Danet, and his racing partner, Eric Peron from Concarneau, won the prologue to the event, a short race in The Bay of Biscay. Then the serious racing began: 3,710 miles to cover on the open seas. How to ration food and water in case the winds die down and the race is longer than expected? How to stay alert mentally for 22 days at sea? And most importantly, what route to take? This question turned out to be of utmost importance this year, as lo and behold, our local heroes both opted for a southern route, and that tuned out to the wisest thing to do. At first our boats were near the bottom of the ratings, but on one fateful night, Concarneau-Saint Barth came out ahead—in first place—as the boats on the southern route caught the trade winds and those in the north stalled with head winds rather than tail winds to help them across the ocean. After winning a few of the daily time trials (the most miles covered in a 24-hour period) it looked as if the young Miguel Danet and his buddy might stay in the lead, and the entire island of Saint Barth was routing for them, and of course for Luc Poupon, the other local hero. In the end, another boat, the SNEF et Cliptol Sport picked up some speed and crossed the finish line first at 3am on May 13 after 22 days at sea. But wouldn’t you know, Poupon was not far behind for second place, and Danet was right on his heels for third place. What a fabulous race for them, and for Saint Barth! Our local heroes did good! It was positively thrilling and total pandemonium broke loose in the port and on the dock for days! Now that it’s over I’ll have to find something else to keep me busy on the web…

        More to come,

    Ellen Lampert-Greaux
  News & Comment   |   Editorial Archive   |   A Visitor's Guide