The long standing in the water Grand Pavois International boat show finished up last week in La Rochelle France with sunny skies and plenty of participants. The normal cruising, sport boats, engines, local regions, equipment providers were on hand, but there were also new industries and like the slew of Solar boats and “green power” projects, celebrities, and boat yards. And a story about the boats above.
There is a great kids “test pool” on the beach overlooking the bay, complete with reggae music and it is one of the best boat shows to “try before you buy”. Open waters with 8-10 knot breezes is ten minutes from the dock, or straight off the beach which is very convenient. Just walking around you can see projects being born, people jetting in, or just the curious Sunday crowd.
One celebrity on hand was Alessandro di Benedetto, with what was left of his sponsor heavily logo-ed customized mini 6.50 working the crowd hard to sell his book to finance his next adventure. Alessandro started on 26th Oct 2009 from Les Sables d’Olonnes in France, and sailed around the world solo, non-stop in 268 days in a 21-ft boat, this after having broke his mast off the coast of Chile into three pieces, and finishing the rest of the trip under a jury rig.
In the beginning, he bought he bought a second hand wood/epoxy Mini over glass because he wanted 100% confidence in the structure and the ability to fix what ever broke. He took out and reinstalled the watertight bulkheads and increased his living space with a fabricated aft-compartment. The weight and trim were not as important as having enough provisions for 13-14 months of sailing. Because minis don’t have a motor, his electrical energy needs came from solar panels, a wind turbine and hydro generator to power is small computer, navigation equipment, and an electrical desalinator.
Why the mast came down off the coast of Chile isn’t sure. It was deck mounted with a support post that might have kicked out or it simply didn’t like the treatment from being laid over into the water. After getting the three pieces back onto the boat and reconstructing a spar, he lifted it up with a crain stepup and fabricated a bowsprit. It made reefing easier. When he took a second away from hawking his book, which was priority over interviews, he quickly recounted a little and described his next mission. Did you ever ask yourself why? “No, but there were some moments of fear”. What was the worst? “In the Pacific with 50-55 knots and the water at 2-5 degrees, at night, big waves” What are your next plans? "We are giving ourselves 12 months to find a sponsor for the next Vendee globe." What would you do different? "Nothing, the boat structure was perfect, but the mast was made for a sixty foot boat."
Your next project is the Vendee Globe on a Imoca 60, what kind of budget do you envision for that? "If we find a sponsor interested in the adventure aspect I don’t know, minimum budget 1 million for anything else." Would you be interested in the Barcelona World Race? "No, we are focused on the Vendee Globe for the next 12 months." Will you be at the Velux start? “No but maybe the Route de rhum start because I have some friends in the race."
He is quite proud of Publishing his own book, high quality photos. You would expect a stoic unapproachable, holier than thou attitude, Not this guy, he is on a mission and full press into sales, marketing, and his next project.
The La Rochelle Maritime Museum has been nearing completion but its living activity has been going on for some time. They restore donated boats, large and small but one of the best deals for all concerned is for classic wooden boat owners. The Maritime Museum offers free protected dockage for in the interior La Rochelle harbor in exchange for becoming temporary living members of the Museum. The boats owners have access to so many services close by and the public can see so many wooden boats being worked on. It is a win win. One boat being worked on is Ring Anderson which I jumped on for an afternoon was around the Caribbean when I around. It is also a natural for the Classic Association who has an office there now.
Voiles de Nuit
Every year, during the boat show, there is a music and fireworks show which is called the Voiles de Nuit. All types of former sail work boats, classics and others parade out through the La Rochelle towers to music, light show, and fireworks. Its a popular show for all.
The boat show is fairly international as well. I ran into a group of guys who had come from the United Emirates for some training on sail design software they had invested in. They were like kids in a candy shop… I want this .. this… and that winch etc. Their primary shopping frenzy came from prepping for the upcoming seasonal Dhow races in Abu Dhabi. The racing takes place in October starting with the 24 ft boats, then a couple of weeks later the 40 footers and the finale at the end of the month with the 60 footers. The boats are a mix of high tech and classic. From a distance, they are lateen rigged skiffs with crew hanging off the sides. Up close, it is carbon tubed masts, and light rigging but restrictions maintaining vertical panels trying to keep a traditional style. See attached photo or PhotoAlbum