At the end of October, I attended the 2018 Yacht Racing Forum. Organised by Geneva-based MaxComm Communication, this year’s edition visited Lorient, in a part of Brittany that is marketed as the Bretagne Sailing Valley because of the huge impact that sailing has on the local economy (see the tweet below).
#YRF2018 We published a study “The economy of competitive sailing in Brittany”. Key figures : 162 businesses identified, representing sales of €205 million including €56 million directly linked to the competitive sailing sector.
Read the survey : https://t.co/3XIY20lrMk pic.twitter.com/e7hD0lpNSE
— BDI (@BretagneBDI) October 22, 2018
The Sailing Valley
Taking the forum to Lorient was an excellent decision, but taking it there just a fortnight before the start of the Route du Rhum was a master stroke. Thanks to the location and the timing, the organisers attracted dozens of the key players involved in the race, including a good number of the actual sailors.
Among those attending the forum just two weeks before their single-handed race across the Atlantic were two household French names, Armel Le Cléac’h and Loïck Peyron. Completing the star-studded line-up were some of the biggest names in the history of sailing, including former Route du Rhum and Vendée Globe winner Michel Desjoyeaux (for my British readers unfamiliar with sailing, it was Michel who pipped Ellen MacArthur to win the 2001 Vendée Globe), Alain Gautier and Franck Cammas.
France and the rest of the world – the divide
Several talks addressed the divide between sailing in France and in the rest of the world and discussed how it can be bridged. The main differences that casual viewers will notice is that single-handed racing is far more popular in France than in the rest of the world.
— Pierre-Yves Lautrou (@PYL) October 23, 2018
The way French sailing operates to some extent in a bubble, separated from the rest of the world, is both a blessing and a curse for a French-English sailing translator. On the one hand it means that plenty of material is written in French. However, because French sailing attracts such a large domestic audience, it often seems like there is little interest in attracting a more global audience by translating material into English. When translation does take place, it is often a half-hearted effort, on a budget too small to produce the kind of quality that will be taken seriously.
Those in the French sailing industry clearly understand the importance of producing well-written material, as their French copy is always excellent. The challenge, for me, is to convince them that, just as they invest in professional writers for their French documents, they should do the same for their English translations if they want to attract more customers in the English-speaking world.
Offshore Olympic sailing
There was plenty of discussion about the World Sailing meeting that was taking place the following week, especially regarding which events would be added or removed to the programme for the Paris 2022 Olympic Games. Based on the discussions that took place in Lorient, the vast majority of people at the Yacht Racing Forum would have been delighted to hear World Sailing’s announcement that the Paris 2024 Olympics will include an offshore event.
The Nations Gold Cup
The forum is an opportunity for event organisers to showcase their events. This year, Mateusz Kusznierewicz, of the Star Sailors League, presented the Nations Gold Cup, a novel competition that seeks to tap into the way events like the FIFA World Cup bring together entire nations in support of their teams. National teams will compete against each other in one-design boats. The format of the qualifying competition will ensure that some emerging nations will take part in the final phase.
Innovations in rigging and hydrofoils
One of the many innovations showcased during the design symposium was the idea of using elliptical rigging. Jonathan Duval of Future Fibres presented research showing that elliptical rigging reduces drag. He also showed an excellent video demonstrating the strength of multistrand rigging. In offshore racing, marginal gains can make a huge difference in an offshore race lasting several weeks, so I’m sure it won’t be long before the world’s fastest yachts start adopting these new technologies.
As was the case two years ago in Malta, foiling remained a hot topic at the 2018 forum. Earlier in the year it had been announced that foiling monohulls would be used for the 2021 America’s Cup. The AC75 boats raised quite a few eyebrows when they were unveiled, and are bound to attract a lot of media interest when racing gets under way thanks to the innovative design, with one of the two foils hanging above the water.
Hydrofoils are now being fitted to more and more boats and are becoming more accessible. One of the companies in the exhibition area was SEAir, a French firm that manufactures RIBs that can foil smoothly over the water at speeds of just 15 knots.
The exhibition area
SEAir was just one of the many companies and organisations with a stand. One company presenting a particularly interesting and unique concept was ALL4ONE Consulting. Based in Belgium, ALL4ONE organises a business game based around the sport of sailing. Teams take part in a sailing race simulation and must work together to strike the right balance between taking risks and achieving goals.
The exhibition area is also an opportunity for me to meet my existing clients. This year, I was able to meet Charlie Carter at the Spinlock stand. Charlie had contacted me a few weeks earlier in the year asking me to translate the Spinlock’s trade guide.
As was the case two years ago in Malta, there was no shortage of networking opportunities, including during the coffee breaks, lunch breaks, the drinks reception, and the gala reception at the fabulous Cité de la Voile Eric Tabarly.
Sailing Valley tours
As I explained earlier, the venue was in the heartland of French sailing, and MaxComm made sure we made the most of our trip to the region. Its partner, Bretagne Développement Innovation, organised three tours of local companies operating in the sailing sector. I chose to go on the tour to Vannes as it meant I could visit some of the companies who work with Spindrift 2: North Sails, VPLP and Multiplast.
— Timothy Barton | Anglo Premier Translations (@anglopremier) October 24, 2018
Looking forward to Bilbao 2019
The one negative side of going to Lorient is that getting there was quite a challenge for many of us. I had to fly to Roissy then take a train to Orly to get a connecting flight to Lorient. To make matters worse, the plane taking me to Paris on the way back was diverted to Quimper, so we had to travel there by road to get our flight.
Getting to Bilbao will be much easier, as the airport is much better connected to the rest of Europe. Expectations will be high after such an excellent, well-organised event in Lorient, but I’m sure the team at MaxComm will put on another great show next year in the capital of Biscay.