New Caledonia Groupama Race: Open For Business
The New Caledonian borders are completely open to international travellers, and more flights are being added every week, so competitors and their families and friends will find it even easier to travel to enjoy the beauty, hospitality and spirit of the Groupama Yacht Race.
With a full program of social activities and warm up events leading into the official race start on 19 June, the Race in Paradise is set to make a brilliant come-back to the racing calendar in 2022 for what officially stands at 21 boats, including three two-handed teams.
Geoff Hill, the owner of Antipodes said that the Groupama Race has been on his list of races, high praise given that the boat and it’s crew have competed in the Rolex China Sea Race, Hong Kong to San Fernando, Hong Kong to Puerto Galera, Hong Kong to Hainan, Hong Kong to Vietnam, Subic to Boracay, Darwin to Dili and Darwin to Ambon, currently holding race records in the last two.
“We are looking forward to sailing the long legs of the race in warm water and spending time in Noumea” Hill suggested, on “their way… sort of” to Sydney.
“Geoff’s prefered program for Antipodes is for longer passage and offshore races, so the timing and tropical setting of the Groupama Race fits perfectly with the program” said the boat manager Alan Tillyer.
After a two year break from racing Geoff’s plan is to take Antipodes to the east coast of Australia and compete in regattas and offshore races, culminating in the Rolex Sydney Hobart Race of which six of the crew have done fifteen plus times.
“Over the past ten years, Geoff has built up a strong crew base of experienced offshore sailors and friends. Richard Hudson (tactician), Paul Heyes, Doug Sallis, Grant Chessell, Willy Roberts, and of course Geoff, are all scheduled for the Groupama Race along with myself”.
“Many of our friends have competed in previous editions of the race, so the stories of superb sailing conditions in the SE trades with challenging navigation through the scenic Islands and round the reefs. Combined with warm hospitality ashore, it will be an idyllic way to restart our race program!”
The boat were in Philippines, 3600nm away. The passage will take them down through the Philippine Islands, across the top of Papua New Guinea and then through the Solomons to reach Noumea in early June.
There are three double-handed entries representative of the move toward short-handed sailing over the COVID pandemic.
Alan Quéré is a co-skipper and co-owner of Motorboat II with Vincent Trinquet. “I [have] sailed all the other Groupama races” he said. “I grew up in New Caledonia. Even if I live in New Zealand I still have some family and friends over there, but I don’t do that only for the race but also for the adventure”.
“We have bought this boat to do this kind of race” Quéré commented on his and Trinquet’s purchase, which interestingly, the latter hasn’t seen in person yet.
“We have sailed together and against each other for more than fifteen years. The boat is based in Auckland, and Vincent hasn’t seen it yet. It’s gonna be the first race together on this boat. Exciting! Long course, offshore, two-handed”.
“The boat was basically built for offshore racing but fully crewed, now she is set up for two-handed; good auto-pilot, nice sails and water ballast”.
“Sailing two-handed is really exciting for us. We have to do a lot of things by ourselves”.
“Most importantly we are looking forward to sailing in the lagoon, the big surf and the sun”.