Romain Attanasio and Sébastien Marsset have kicked off the transatlantic with conviction and zeal, quickly asserting themselves in the lead group among the IMOCAs. After a bracing start and a night where sleep was scarce, they are in 3rd place in the 13:00 UTC ranking this Monday, less than 2 miles shy of 2nd place.
As ever, Romain Attanasio kept smiling right to the last on Sunday morning on the pontoons of Le Havre. The final dockside ‘farewells’ to loved ones, team members and partners, the adrenalin of the start and the desire to get going did not distract from the sense of responsibility as they prepared to lay their cards on the table in this oceanic sprint. Indeed, for the first time in his career, having already contested three Transat Jacques Vabres and one Route du Rhum, Romain was about to cross the Atlantic aboard a ‘foiler’, a flying boat.
Boasting foils and dynamic forms, Fortinet-Best Western has the capacity to jockey for position at top of the leader board. Well aware of this fact, Romain has spent several months tirelessly training with Sébastien Marsset to be able to fine-tune the trimming and get the best out of the boat. Both of them know that nothing can be taken for granted though and that even the most prestigious starts require the utmost vigilance. Indeed, back in the summer, in the opening tack in the Rolex Fastnet Race, they had to contend with a ripped mainsail. Fortunately, yesterday, there were no such mishaps to report, quite the contrary in fact.

“We’re flying, we’re slamming and we’re continuing to make headway westwards”

Powered up in good conditions – between 15 and 20 knots of breeze – Fortinet – Best Western was soon taking flight. “The important thing will be to quickly ensure we’re in the right pack”, assured Romain. The two skippers devoted themselves to this mission from the off, straightaway entering the ‘top 10’ and never leaving it. Overnight, the boat continued to ‘fly’, battling it out with the leading boats. “We’re rounding the Cotentin peninsula, we’re flying, we’re slamming and we’re continuing to make headway westwards”, enthused Romain in a video.

Like the rest of the fleet, the duo kicked off the day in a windless zone, which proved to be particularly tricky to negotiate. The IMOCA was making an average speed of less than 5 knots in the early hours. However, the Attanasio-Marsset duo has managed to hold onto a favourable position in the fleet. At 14:00 hours, they were ranked 3rd. Admittedly, APIVIA (Charlie Dalin-Paul Meilhat) has stretched out its lead slightly – some 31.7 miles ahead of Fortinet – Best Western – but their pursuers are quite tightly bunched. In fact, Romain and Sébastien are only 1.7 miles shy of the 2nd boat (Arkea Paprec)! Plenty to build on then after a very confident start as they patiently wait for the tide to turn, so they can rack up a better cruising speed and continue making headway along the Breton coast.


“We haven’t been able to get a lot of sleep”

(Sent this morning at 09:00 UTC)

“Yesterday, exiting port was particularly full-on. There were heavy seas and 20 to 25 knots of breeze. Together with the team, you get caught off guard exiting port in such muscly conditions! At the start, we were punching into the wind a bit more, so we couldn’t fly as we’d have liked. However, we put in a nice tack as far as Étretat, which enabled us to catch up with the leading group. Next, we rounded the mark and linked onto a beat. At that point, we cracked off a little and rounded the Cotentin peninsula at 22 knots! Things were a bit lively, but it was nice to get the boat flying along under the cover of darkness. It was very dark, very cold and we didn’t get a lot of sleep. With the wind proving to be very shifty, we had to constantly trim the boat and sails and adjust the trajectory.

 This Monday morning, we are making headway along the coast, just protected from the current and we’re back with the leading pack. We’re not displeased to be alongside them. We had a good night in the end; our option to take a more inshore option doesn’t seem too bad! Right now, we need to quickly decide whether to head westwards or dive further south. Next, we’ll be setting a course towards the north-west tip of Brittany! All’s well, we haven’t broken anything, we’re making good speed, the sky is overcast but it’s brightening up. We have high hopes that we’ll be able to warm ourselves up! I’d like to spare a thought for Louis and Davy (Bureau Vallée 3), who dismasted yesterday. All the best to them. We’ll be glad to see them back on the dock.”