From Christel Durand of the French Class - After twelve fantastic races, of which ten counted, Rémy Arnaud and his crew aboard Dyneema/Liros won the 2005 Open French National Championship sponsored by Challenge Partner & Partners, which took place this weekend in La Rochelle by 7 points from the local team of Maxime Paul who also sailed a brilliant regatta. The English Gill Team of Quentin Strauss took a beautiful third place in front of Switzerland’s Jean-Marc Monnard on board Poizon Rouge.

The Championship opened on Thursday May 5 with three races in a North-West oscillating wind varying from 8 to 15 knots. Quentin Strauss (Team Gill) won the first race from Cédric de Kervenoel (Still) and the Breton Antoine Albaret (Dimensions of Armor/Prerros Guirec). As of the second race, however, Rémy Arnaud (Dyneema/Liros) made his voice heard, taking the race from Jean-Marc Monnard (Red Poizon) and Maxime Paul (Big Ship/SRR). In the third race Team Gill again took the lead from Dyneema/Liros and Red Poizon.

Four races were run on Friday and Maxime Paul (Big Shipp/SRR) quite simply flew through the day, giving a splendid sailing lesson to the whole fleet to win 4 races! During the first, in a light variable wind, settling gradually into the North West, second place went to Dyneema/Liros with Red Poizon third. In the second race, with 15-20 knots from the North West, Team Gill were runners up followed by Denyeema/Liros. Team Gill were runners up again in the third race followed by Red Poinzon. Finally in the fourth race second wend to Dyneema/Liros and Cotes D’Amore/Perros Guirec. Hats off to Maxime!

On Saturday the wind was again from the North West from 5 to 12 knots. Under these conditions the influence of the current is important and the crews require extreme concentration. Maxime Paul (Big Ship/SRR) won the first race of the day from Dyneema/Liros and Red Poizon. Dyneema/Liros fought back in the second race to lead Team Gill and Cotes D’Amore/Perros Guirec. Rémy Arnaud consolidated in the third race, finishing first in front of Antoine Albaret and Nicolas Minos (Titou). Finally in the fourth race of the day it was again Rémy Arnaud who preceded Maxime Paul and Denis Infante (Eurovoiles). After the lesson of Mazime, that of Rémy!

The final day started under radiant sun and calm waters with a small postponement. The first race went ahead in very variable weak winds and was won by Jean-Mark Monnard (Red Poizon) from Quentin Strauss (Team Gill) and Maxime Paul (Big Ship/SRR). Despite a 7th place Rémy Arnaud held his overall lead and although a final race in the series was started it had to be abandoned.

The prize-giving brought together the many happy liberally rewarded competitors, thanks in particular to sponsor Challenge Partner & Partner, the very happy President of the French Melges 24 Class Association, Denis Infante, following a beautiful 2005 Championship with many new entries to the class and finally the very happy Rochelais, who showed the outstanding quality of both their sailing waters and their organisation of sailing events.

For Rémy Arnaud this title is a pleasant surprise and comes on the anniversary of his first sail in a Melges 24, which took place at the Semaine de la Rochelle in 2002. Having started sailing in dinghies before moving into IRC and keelboats, Rémy discovered the pleasure of international one design sailing on the J24 where he competed for 5 years. He and his crew then decided to move up to the Melges 24 and after three years of training and racing their efforts have been rewarded with their first major title. This is also a very satisfactory result for their sponsor, the Dutch fibre manufacturer Dyneema. Speed and very good tactics were the key of this success according to Rémy, and then a “mayonnaise which took well” he joked! Their projects for 2005 include the Europeans in Torquay in September, then the Champoinnat de France at Hyeres in November and of course the 2006 Worlds in Hyeres as well.