After the first four events of the season, the eight teams which make up the ETF SERIES are making a stopover in La Rochelle from Wednesday 28 September for the Grand Pavois La Rochelle Foiling Event, the final clash of the 2022 season.
Who will take victory in the ETF SERIES 2022?
The fifth and final leg of the season, the Grand Pavois La Rochelle Foiling Event kicks off on Wednesday and rounds off with the grand finale of 2022 on Saturday. After the first four competitions hosted in venues ranging from Brittany in France to Lake Garda in Italy, Team PRO skippered by Jean-Christophe Mourniac is heading the fleet in the overall ranking ahead of Charles Dorange’s Youth Foiling Team, the latter hoping to thwart this domination on home waters.
Matthieu Salomon’s ETF11-Entreprises du Morbihan, winner of the event in 2021, is also keen not be outdone. “Naturally, the aim will be to take things up a notch from Quiberon, which means we’ll have our eyes on the prize,” says Franck Cammas, who’s joining the crew for the second time this season. “Certain teams have really raised their game, that’s for sure! However, the boat and the crew will be raring to go, and I’m thrilled to get the chance to come back and perform with them.”
A new crew
For the fifth event of the season, the ETF26 fleet will once again be joined by a new British team, Athena Pathway. This new programme, led by Hannah Mills and Ben Ainslie, has been set up to boost the number of women on professional sailing circuits. The female team, who will also be joined by Ross Banham for the event, has been training in France for several weeks in a bid to gain a better understanding of this flying boat. “I’ve done a lot of sailing on a variety of foiling craft, but all of them were monohulls, so the ETF26 has been a steep learning curve for me,” explains Hattie Rogers, recent winner of the SailGP Inspire WASZP selection. “Learning to divide up the roles aboard properly and carry out manoeuvres with a whole team is a new challenge for me and I’m really enjoying it.”
Tomorrow, the crew will take the start of their first ETF26 race alongside seven other teams, who are already into their groove. As a result, it wouldn’t be hard to imagine that they’re feeling rather apprehensive about their first foray, but actually the reverse is true. Indeed, they’re all eager to get their teeth into the kind of pressure that only competition can offer them. “We’re coming into this in the last race of the season, but we’ve been training hard in Weymouth, so we can’t wait to see how the crew handles itself and where we’re at within the fleet when we’re under pressure,” explains Ross Banham, WASZP champion at the UK Nationals 2022. The team is keen to point out that this initial clash is not about a prizewinning performance, rather it is another step forward in their apprenticeship. “For us, this first event isn’t geared around results, it’s more about stepping up our campaign, because we’ll learn a lot from competing at this event,” explains Hattie. "This experience will boost our training programme so we can continue moving forwards.”
Onwards and upwards
Yes, it’s fair to say that the standard is improving with every season as the summer’s activities confirmed. Indeed, a great many of the ETF26 sailors made the most of the summer break in the ETF SERIES to get out on the water on other circuits, ranging from the Nacra 15 to the Nacra 17, Nacra 20, 49er FX, 69F, TF35 and the Sail GP no less! Amongst the performances, we can salute Lou Mourniac (Lady Team PRO) who won the Nacra 15 World Championships and John Gimson and Anna Burnet (Toroa Racing Team) who won the Nacra 17 World Championships. Paul Melot and Yvan Bourgnon (#TEAMBOURGNON) broke the Channel crossing record by crossing in just 8h 37mn 19s on a Nacra 20. Then, Liv Mackay, a New Zealand sailor, won the SailGP Copenhagen Grand Prix in an F50 with Team New Zealand.
The teams will be present throughout the week in La Rochelle, on the occasion of the Grand Pavois La Rochelle Foiling Event, at the Port des Minimes.
The weather conditions are expected to be rough on the water tomorrow morning with more than 25 knots expected on the water with gusts to 30. A first decision will be taken at 12:00 to determine the start time of the first day's races.