Concarneau - Saint-Barth départ 22 avril 2018
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English Corner

01/04 - 17h38

Sam Matson and Robin Elsey gear-up for the start of the Transat AG2R La Mondiale

British sailors Sam Matson and Robin Elsey, both of the Artemis Offshore Academy, will embark on their first transatlantic crossing together on Sunday, as they take on the 3,890-mile Transat AG2R La Mondiale. Sailing from Concarneau on the French Brittany coast to St Barts in the Caribbean, competitors will face everything from the big waves and winds of the north Atlantic, to the humid temperatures of the tropics.

The AG2R is a key race on the French professional short-handed circuit and has been a proving ground for some of the best sailors of the last 15 years and can take up to 25 days to complete.

Boasting a formidable line-up of Figaro favourites, the AG2R is the only double-handed, one-design race of its kind and Matson and Elsey, on board their 33ft Figaro Bénéteau one-design, Artemis, will be up against some tough competition.

“The weather for the start is looking quite tricky,” Matson explained. “We're looking at light airs out of Concarneau for the first night, but once into the Bay of Biscay it gets pretty wild.”

“The forecast is predicting a fast downwind reach across the Biscay with winds of up to 35 knots,” added Elsey. “Things calm a little once around Cape Finisterre, but we're still looking at around 20 knots, which will be nice and fast. We should reach our first waypoint at La Palma in around six to seven days.”

For Matson – whose personal sponsor is Chatham Marine Footwear – and Elsey, the Transat AG2R La Mondiale will be the longest race they will have attempted. At just 25 and 23 respectively, and both from the south-west of England, the Brits are two of the youngest skippers taking on this transatlantic challenge.

“We only finalised our entry six weeks ago,” Matson explained. “So we haven't really had a chance to think about it. Come Saturday night, I'm sure there will be feelings of apprehension. We are ultimately sailing into the unknown. This is a race you can prepare your boat for, but you can't really plan it to the finish line, we are Rookies again.”

In the build-up to the start, the pairing have been busy in Concarneau, attending press conferences, photo calls and meeting school children and local groups. They have also been preparing themselves mentally for the ordeal ahead, putting the final touches to their boat and attending pre-start weather, safety and official race briefings as Elsey explained:

“We've been working hard to prepare the boat, renewing what we can and getting ready to sail her 3,890 miles. Planning what to take has been difficult. We could be on board for up to 25 days so we need to make sure we have enough food and water, but equally we don't want to over-pack and be hauling unnecessary weight."

“We're taking 70kg of food, mostly wet pouches, boil in the bag and then the usual tins of tuna, dried fruit and nut mixes that we would take on the Solitaire.”

Artemis is the only British entry in a French-dominated 15-boat fleet. Turkish sailor Tolga Ekrem Pamir is the only other international competitor.

This year's edition is the 13th staging of the biennial race. The inaugural race in 1992 race was won by two-time Vendée Globe winner and ocean racing legend Michel Desjoyeaux, alongside Jacques Caraes, in a time of 24 days, 8 hours, 40 minutes and 34 seconds.

“We're looking to finish in the top half of the fleet, that is our aim,” said Matson. “The experience among the fleet is varied. There are some top Figaro sailors, four Rookie teams including us and a good range of ages taking part. We're expecting quite a widespread fleet by the time we reach St Barts, but it's always tight at the front."

As first-timers to the race and about to set sail on a transatlantic crossing that is double the length of the entire four-leg Solitaire Bompard – Le Figaro, Matson and Elsey know they are up against a challenge.

“Compared to the intensity of the Solitaire, the AG2R is a long game of endurance and skill,” Elsey concluded. “Each Solitaire leg is relatively short, and you can pretty much plan for the whole race. With this race, we can only plan for the start and then get prepared to react to the forecasts we receive. It's a different way of racing.”

Both Matson and Elsey have had their own successes on the solo Classe Figaro Circuit and the Transat AG2R La Mondiale is the next step in their training and development.

The 15 boats will cross the Transat AG2R La Mondiale startline at Concarneau at 13.08 local time (12.08UK) on Sunday.

You can track the race here.

Click and register here for access to photos from the Transat AG2R La Mondiale.

Click and register here for video from the Transat AG2R La Mondiale.


2016 Transat AG2R La Mondiale entries
Co-skippers/Boat name

Sébastien Simon & Xavier Macaire/Bretagne – CMB Performance
Gildas Morvan & Alexis Loison/Cercle Vert
Thierry Chabagny & Erwan Taberly/Gedimat
Nicolas Lunven & Gildas Mahé/Generali
Nicolas Thomas & Arthur Prat/Les Saintes
Arthur Bouwyn & Alienor Fleury/Guadeloupe
Yannig Livory & Erwan Livory/Lorientreprendre
Charlie Dalin & Yoann Richomme/Skipper Macif
Martin Pope & Eric Peyron/Bellocq Paysages
Tolga Ekrem Pamir & Stéphanie Jadaud/Freedom Services À Domicile
Tanguy Le Turquais & Hervé Aubry/Cuisine Ixina
Adrian Hardy & Vincent Biarnes/AGIR Recouvrement
Milan Kolacek & Pierre Brasseur/Fulgur – Evapco
Keni Piperol & Benjamin Augereau/Marie Galante
Sam Matson & Robin Elsey/Artemis

Thrilling finish in two-handed transatlantic marathon

Thrilling finish in two-handed transatlantic marathon


Close finishes to marathon ocean yachts races are becoming standard fare these days and the Transat AG2R La Mondiale proved it was no exception with an incredibly dramatic finish at the Caribbean island of St Barts today. Lire la suite
The Transat AG2R La Mondiale: all set-up for a thriller to the finish at St Barts

The Transat AG2R La Mondiale: all set-up for a thriller to the finish at St Barts


The Transat AG2R La Mondiale race from Concarneau in Brittany to St Barts in the Caribbean is turning into a thrilling test of stamina and nerve with the leading seven crews looking set for a fight to the finish for the podium places. Lire la suite
Temps de course
  • Saint-Barth
  • Concarneau
Trophée de
la performance
Trophée de la performance / Jeudi 10 mai 2018
Le Trophée de la Performance du jeudi 10 mai est remporté par Guyot Environnement (Pierre Leboucher & Chrsitopher Pratt) avec 219,7 milles parcourus en 24H Tous les trophées
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