Cap Martinique

Cap Martinique: boats review

60 boats have entered the second edition of the Cap Martinique, which sets off this Sunday 14 April from La Trinité-sur-Mer bound for Fort-de-FranceThe 100 sailors will be competing, either solo or double-handed, on a majority of JPKs, Sun Fast and Figaro 2s. Who are the best placed to perform? Tip & Shaft takes a look.

“The Cap Martinique is the holy grail for a number of amateur competitors.” That’s how Jean-Philippe Cau, co-organiser of the event, describes the Cap Martinique, whose second edition brings together 60 boats (38 in the first), 40 sailed double-handed, 20 single-handed. This non-stop race, more performance-oriented than the Transquadra, is “complementary to the latter,” explains Jean-Philippe Cau. “We are also very fussy about the controls to ensure that the sporting fairness is faultless.”

Among the 60 boats competing, which must have a TCC coefficient of between 0.977 and 1.081 under the IRC rules, there are three main families: the JPKs, the Sun Fast and the Figaro Beneteau 2s. The IRC rules favour boats that are stiff under sail, have a good ballast ratio, average displacement and are well covered, but without being extreme,” explains Jean-Philippe Cau.

On the starting line, the Jeanneau yard will be well represented with three Sun Fast 3600s, six Sun Fast 3200s, six Sun Fast 3300s and one Sun Fast 30 One Design, the new one-design by VPLP Design, for which this will be “the first big test in a regatta, and therefore a great showcase for this boat with a very powerful hull, points out Louis Vaquier, head of commercial development for this one-design at Multiplast and general secretary of ClassC30.


The launch of the Sun Fast 30 OD


Laurent Charmy, who is racing double-handed with Pierrick Letouzé, explains: “As the boat is not an IRC oriented boat, we have reduced the sail plan to be more competitiveWe have a J3 instead of a J2 and symmetrical spinnakers instead of large asymmetrical spinnakers.” With the boat launched only a month agothe crew has had little time to sail, but Laurent Charmy believes he has “a card to play with this very fun and very sporty semi-scow, which glides quite quickly.”

This is confirmed by Jean-Philippe Cau: This boat has the ability to overspeed under spinnaker from 17-18 knots of wind, whereas boats like the Sun Fast 3300 need 20 to 22 knots for that.” On the other hand, the Sun Fast 30 OD requires a great deal of commitment, as Laurent Charmy explains: “The boat is quite demanding at the helmHer rudders aren’t very big and we’re going to have to steer a lot more than on other boats to anticipate her trajectory in the roll and waves.”

One of the most popular boats on this Cap Martinique is undoubtedly the Sun Fast 3300, which skipper Adrien Follin, entered double-handed with Pierre Garreta, has chosen especially for this race. “I previously had a 3600 on which I raced in the Transquadra,” he explains. “But as the architecture evolves, I think that on a transatlantic race, the 3300 has more chance of performing well than a 3600, which is a heavier boat and a little less easy to sail downwind in a breeze.” As for the Sun Fast 3200, which is also popular among skippers, Jean-Philippe Cau points out that “it can do well with its low coefficientIt’s a relatively easy boat to sail, with good average speeds and no holes.”


“The JPK 1030 likes
swell and strong wind”


In the JPK family, the Sun Fast 3300’s direct competitor is the JPK 1030, with Jean-Pierre Kelbert, founder and boss of the JPK Composites yard, believing that the two are extremely close and equal on offshore courses. And while the JPK 1010 has a very fine record, “since it has won absolutely everything, that was before the new boats, such as the Sun Fast 3300 and JPK 1030, arrived”, explains the man who finished second in the first edition of the Cap Martinique on a 1030. This boat, which also won the Transquadra 2022 double-handed, “is bulkier and more powerful than the 1010As soon as there’s a bit of wind, it glides earlier”, describes Jean-Pierre Kelbert.

Hervé Aubry, who previously owned a Figaro 2, opted for the JPK 1030: The Figaro 2 is very handicapped,” he points out. “If you want to reduce its IRC handicap, and therefore its TCC, you have to clip its wings, and I didn’t want a restricted boat, I wanted a boat that could go fast without any handicap constraints. The JPK 1030 is very well built, she likes swells and strong winds, so she’s ideal for transatlantic sailing.”

JPK Composites is currently working on the 1050 – due for completion in February-March 2025 – a model that “will be even more planing and more extreme, with a higher rating”, describes its builder. Asked about the importance of a race like the Cap Martinique for his shipyard, Jean-Pierre Kelbert replies: “A boat that performs well in a race gives the shipyard a big reputation. If the first boat performs well right from the launch, that gets the ball rolling and makes other customers want to have her. For example, when the 1030 won the Fastnet in 2019, it clearly boosted sales. From then on, we sold ten a year for four or five years. The same goes for the 1010 when she won the Spi Ouest France as soon as she was launched. And that reputation then spilled over to the other boats.”


Figaro 2, Beepox 990,
the choice of lightness


Another type of boat favoured by the sailors on this course is the Figaro 2“versatile, very seaworthy and very fast downwind, because it’s light”, emphasises Jean-Philippe Cau, who believes that if there is “a lot of downwind sailing, and there’s bound to be quite a lot, the light boats will come out on top. But for that to happen, they’ll really have to be in the leading pack in Madeira. And the lighter a boat is, the harder it is to sail 100% round the clock.

Alexandre Ozon, winner of the first edition of the Cap Martinique on a Sun Fast 3300, has opted for lightness by racing his Bepox 990on which he already won the last Transquadra. “It’s a narrow boat, fairly light, very comfortable downwind, but a little technical to sail,” he explains. “This design, which dates from the early 2000s, is quite handicapped, just like the Figaro 2s. But as the rules are not too bad, all the boats can defend themselves.”

The result in Fort-de-France after around twenty days at sea.

Photo: Jean-Marie Liot

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