Team Edenred

Basile Bourgnon : « I want something bigger, wider and faster »

After the Mini 6.50, the Figaro (a project still underway this season) and the Class40, Edenred announced this week its commitment into the Ocean Fifty circuit from the 2025 season onwards, with a new boat to be built by Neo Sailing Technologies (formerly Lalou Multi)The skippers will be Emmanuel Le Roch and Basile BourgnonTip & Shaft spoke to the latter.

► Let’s start with the Figaro: you’re coming off a second successful season (second in the Solitaire du Figaro Paprec and the French Elite ocean racing championship), so much so that we’ve got the impression that for this third season, which began in March with the Solo Guy Cotten (4th place), you’re already a major player on the circuit, do you accept this status?
It makes me laugh when I hear people talk about a class leader when I’m only 21 and sailing alongside Alexis (Loison), for whom this is the 18th Solitaire this year! I don’t know about a major player, but what I do know is that I’ve learnt an enormous amount since joining the Pôle Finistère course au large, so much so that I feel capable of playing up front and I think I’m one of those who are aiming for victory. So yes, I accept this status, which doesn’t worry me all that much.

► What would you say are your strengths and weaknesses?
My strengths, I’d say, are my serenity and my ability to hurt myself at times when it’s hard and you don’t necessarily want to. It’s often when things get tough over time that I’m able to bounce back. As for my weak points, they’re linked to some of my strong points, i.e. I’m not afraid to dare. So far I’ve been pretty happy with that, and if I did well last year, it was because I dared, so I don’t intend to change that. Now, daring is a quality as well as a flaw, because it can also throw me for a loop from time to time and lead me into situations where I’m going to lose a lot.

► You’ll be switching to Ocean Fifty in 2025. After three years in a Figaro, you’ll have the impression that you’ve come full circle?
When I started out, I thought that three years was a good time to come up with a lot of skills in the final year and I think that’s the case. The Figaro was the turning point in my career, thanks in particular to the training centre in Port-la-Forêt, where I discovered the demands of training and preparation, but also group life. I tend to be a bit of a frivolous artist, but putting a bit of rigour into everything has helped me a lot. I’ve learnt so much that I think that at the end of this season, I’ll be ready to go and discover something else. It’s thanks to the Figaro that I’m going to embark on this new project. Now, maybe I’ll miss one-design racing and go back to it one day.


“Multihulls have always been
an obvious choice for me”


► How did the Ocean Fifty project come about?
Manu and I (Le Roch, who, like him, has been supported by Edenred since 2018) have been talking about it for as long as we’ve known each other. Multihulls are our dream, and he’s had the opportunity to sail an Orma in the past (with Basile’s father, Laurent), while I feel it’s a bit in my genes (smiles). I also grew up too quickly, so at the age of ten, the Optimist was finished for me and I quickly switched to the Hobie Cat 16, the multihull has always been an obvious choice for me. Manu and I decided that it seemed like the right time to present this project to our partner, with whom we’ve worked our way up through the ranks. Edenred gave me the time to grow and perform on small boats, but now I want something bigger, wider and faster. And the Ocean Fifty is a good transition, it’s still a project that’s technically accessible and in terms of the team, it’s not as if I found myself with a big Imoca team to manage at the age of 21.

► Was it easy for Edenred to say yes?
We’re lucky in that, from the outset, they’ve followed us on the boat we propose. We’re progressing step by step, we’re not getting carried away. Bertrand Dumazy, the CEO of Edenred, who loves sailing and knows the business well, I think that he too felt that it was the right time, that we were ready; and after a period of reflection, which is normal because these are boats that are starting to cost money, particularly in terms of construction, he said yes quite quickly.

► How high is the budget?
We’re going from two projects (Figaro and Class40, which is for sale) to just one, so we’re concentrating everything on the Ocean Fifty. After that, it’s obviously a big gap for Edenred, which five years ago had never sponsored a sailing project. There are three hulls and it’s almost three times the price in terms of operating budget compared to the Class40, but if it’s possible to do it, it’s because the company, which has also developed over these years, is doing well.


“Right from the start, we wanted
to build a boat”


► Why did you choose a new boat and Neo Sailing Technologies?
Right from the start, we wanted to build a boat. But we realised with the numerus clausus rules of the class that we couldn’t build as long as there were boats on the market. It was a bit frustrating, but we started to make enquiries about boats for sale, and when we got back from the last Jacques Vabre, we realised that all the Ocean Fifty boats were sold. Finally it opened the door for us to build. As the same rule stipulates that only those who have taken part in the 2022 Route du Rhum, as owners, skippers or sponsors, can build a new boat, we didn’t tick any of the boxes, so we approached an owner, in this case Neo Sailing Technologies (formerly Lalou Multi, which owned Quentin Vlamynck’s Arkema 4 in 2022 ), which is going to fit out the boat. It’s a yard that also has solid experience in 50-footers, as it has built two of them, which have always done well and are still on the circuit [the current Upwind by MerConcept and Solidaires en Peloton – ex Arkema 2 and 4 – launched in 2013 and 2020, editor’s note], which is proof of their know-how.

► What will Edenred look like ?
We started out as a sistership to Solidaires en Peloton and Primonial 2 [Sébastien Rogues’ current boat, built from the same moulds, editor’s note], trying to retain all the advantages and, if possible, none of the disadvantages of the two, with on the one hand a boat that is perhaps less ergonomic in terms of space, but more aerodynamic and lighter, and on the other, one that is more protected and more offshore-oriented. For us, this notion of comfort is quite important, because these are challenging boats, so we’re going to have to find the right compromise between weight/aerodynamics and space in terms of layout. Then we’re going to work on the little details, like the position of the foils, the sails and the mast, to try and make a boat that performs a little better. We’re lucky enough to have Quentin Vlamynck at NST, who’s going to help us a lot with the project, and personally, I’m really excited about this design phase.


“The copy looks good for the moment!”


► Mini 6.50, Figaro, Class40 and Ocean Fifty in a year’s time, we’re not far from the ideal sequence, are we?

It’s clear that we’re doing pretty well at the moment! But you also need to be lucky enough to have a partner who’s behind you. I have to admit that when I told Edenred that I wanted to do a Mini 6.50 after doing the 2019 Jacques Vabre in a Class40 with Manu, they were a bit surprised. It wasn’t necessarily the most media-friendly event for them, but they understood that it was important for me to do things in the right order and not to rush things. That’s a huge mark of confidence on their part.

► How long is the project scheduled to run?
We should be able to go on until 2028, by which time Edenred will have been into sailing for ten years. We’ll see what we want to do after that, but there are a lot of great races on the programme between now and then.

► Could the Vendée Globe be next?
That would be the perfect continuation
. Right now, I’m more interested in a double-handed or single-handed transatlantic race in sprint mode on very fast and fairly fickle boats than in a Vendée Globe, which is a completely different exercise on complex boats, but I have it in the back of my mind, yes. When I think I’ve got enough maturity and experience to manage a project like this, maybe we’ll get there!

Photo: Jean-Marie Liot

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