Over the 13 and 14 of January, the Zoo regatta once more offered two days of unforgettable sailing for spectators and sailors in this, the third edition. The event mixes on-the-water competition with on-shore entertainment using six One-design Sun Fast 37’s divided into two pools on short leeward/windward courses not over 40 minutes long, just off the shore of Salako Beach resort, Gosier.
Added to the two days of exceptional sailing is a qualifying series to establish which of the Guadeloupean crews can measure up to the big visiting names, as well as an exhibition day designed to show sponsors and associates the joy of sailing.
Round one: Qualifying (10 January)
Faced with the interest of numerous Guadeloupean crews in participating in the event, the organizers and the committee decided that the best and the most sporting way to separate them would be to organize a supplementary regatta in the guise of a local qualifier.
Using the same format as the Zoo Regatta, crews submitted themselves to tough competition in a pool of six crews. In weak wind conditions, EIB Marina Bas du Fort, captained by Valentin Franc, cleanly pulled away from the pack. Three crews were subsequently entered into the competition for the weekend: EIB Marina Bas Du Fort, Les Petits Filous and Afolsa.
Round Two: the Sponsors’ Regatta (11 January).
Nobody was left out for this third edition. The next day, battle was between sponsors themselves. Skippered by local captains, sponsors were able to taste the ecstasy of regatta competition, in order to better appreciate the experience of the competitors they support in the event. All were seized by the will to win, which made for some good battles, rounded off by victory for France-Antilles, captained yet again by Valentin Franc, from Credit Moderne, captained by Eric Michel. Third place went to CAPES, 4th to Shanice, 5th to WAB Assurances, and 6th to Coupe-Colle.
An international regatta – a high level of competition.
Once again, quality was represented, bringing together offshore racers and small boat champions. To name but a few:
France: Le Cercle Vert, Gildas Morvan. Winner of the 2001 BPE trophy, 4th in the Figaro in 2005, 2nd in the 2006 Route du Rhum, 40ft Class. Des Pieds et des Mains, Damien Seguin. Member of the French Elite team since 2003. Gold medal in the 2004 Athens Paralympics.
Great Britain: Marc Fitzgerald. Skipper of Sojana, 2nd in the 2005 Superyacht Regatta.
USA: Benz Faget. Triple world champion in J22 and J24. Winner of 2006 Zoo Regatta.
Guadeloupe: EIB-Marina Bas du Fort, Valentin Franc. Guadeloupe champion and winner of numerous Caribbean regattas in Class 10. Les Petits Filous, Frederic Fernandez. Numerous Caribbean regattas. Afolsa, Philippe Fiston. Laser and traditional boat champion. 10th in the 2006 Route du Rhum in IMOCA Class.
Martinique: Port du Marin, Mathieu Moures. 2003 Caribbean Sunfish champion, 2nd in Martinique Tempest championship. Eric Baray. Winner of 2006 Around St Jean race in the Surprise.
Antigua: Bernie Evan-Wong. Two-time winner in Antigua Sailing Week. Five-time Heineken Regatta winner and also Triskell Cup.
St Martin: Simon Manley. 2nd in 2005 Electec Keelboat Regatta and in 2006 Nanny Cay Nations Cup in the BVI. Winner in 2003 Rolex and in 2005 Heineken Regatta.
Saint Barth: Luc Poupon. Winner in 2004 UK Championship. Numerous Transatlantic crossings from L’Orient to Saint Barth and Route du Figaro.
These twelve crews competed over several legs with changeable weather, giving everyone a taste of different conditions. Crews were split at random on Saturday into two pools. The level of competition gave rise to a display that was full of turn-arounds.
A protest committee on the water, back up by judges (once only and with no appeal) from the FFV, with America’s Cup judges (Gerard Bosse and Henri Menin), was more than up to anything such a high level of competitors could throw at them. The results from Saturday helped form the Gold pool, with the three best performers from each pool. The rest went into the Silver fleet.
The Gold fleet on Sunday gave rise to some tight battles between two crews from last year: Benz Faget (2006 winner) and Marc Fitzgerald (3rd in 2006). But this didn’t take into account the presence of Gildas Morvan (2nd in the 2006 Route du Rhum, 40 Class). The duel between Marc Fitzgerald and Gildas Morvan finished with victory for the latter, who was joined by many local sailors.
The Guadeloupean and Martiniquais crews were also represented by Valentin Franc, who qualified for the Gold fleet, and pulled off a good victory in the last race. Silver fleet went to Mathieu Moures without forgetting the performance of Philippe Fiston in 4th place.
A festival on the water, and on the beach.
During crew changeovers, spectators were kept busy with Hobie Tiger 18 regattas lead by the usual Marchais-Morin team. Similarly, the beach was busy with events of all types, including watersports, mini quads, Kitesurfing workshops with Mangofil, a local craft village, the legendary bikini contest, without forgetting the Sunday night Mega Beach Party and prize giving.
The third edition of the Zoo was even more sensational, with competitors leaving exhausted but delighted, and above all ready to return for the 2008 edition.
Gold Fleet: 1st Gildas Morvan, 2nd Marc Fitzgerald, 3rd Benz Faget.
Silver Fleet: 1st Mathieu Moures, 2nd Damien Seguin, 3rd Frederic Fernandez.
Website and information: http://www.zoo-regatta.com