Doublehander makes Annapolis to Newport Race history
Published on June 10th, 2019
Newport, RI (June 10, 2019) – Laurent Givry went into the 2019 Annapolis-to-Newport Race with no expectations other than to gain experience.
“I swear I did not care about the result. To me, this was all about becoming a better sailor by learning as much as I could,” Givry said.
Givry learned quite a bit by doing a 475-nautical mile inshore-offshore passage along with one of the world’s most renowned sailors. Famed French racer Sidney Gavignet agreed to partner with Givry for this race and together they made history.
Gavignet and Givry became the first double-handed team in Annapolis-to-Newport Race history to capture line honors. They were both on deck when La Defonce, a Beneteau-designed Figaro 3, crossed the line off Castle Hill Light at 9:38 this morning.
“We are very happy because we pushed the boat very hard and sailed very well,” said Givry, a resident of Fairfax Station, Virginia who berths both his racing boats in Annapolis.
Givry bought the Figaro 3 last year and has only competed in a handful of races since then. Last month, Givry embarked on his longest journey with the 32-footer – entering the Down the Bay Race and finishing last among six entries in PHRF A Spinnaker class while competing double-handed with Fred Probst.
The Beneteau Figaro 3 is the first production foiling mononull ever designed and Givry realized he needed someone familiar with such boats to teach him how to properly sail it. Mark Sims, owner of True North Yachting in Annapolis, connected Givry with Gavignet.
Gavignet, who has competed many times in the Figaro singlehanded race, came to Annapolis for a total of two weeks to train Givry. Gavignet is a four-time veteran of the Volvo Ocean Race, winning the 2005-2006 edition aboard ABN Amro 1.
Most recently, Gavignet earned overall victory in the Route du Rhum solo transatlantic race aboard the 50-foot Café Joyeaux. The 50-year-old legend declared that event the end of his 25-year professional sailing career.
“Laurent was looking for a Figaro sailing specialist and Mark Sims put him in touch with me. I was very happy to help him learn the boat and about single-handed sailing,” Gavignet said. “Laurent is very enthusiastic and really keen to learn. We have done a lot of sailing on the Chesapeake Bay and I’m onboard just as a coach.”
Prior to starting the Annapolis-to-Newport Race, Gavignet engaged Givry in studying weather models and conducting advanced routing. “Sidney makes sure I understand everything he tells me. We did the routing together with software and he talked about why we were making the decisions we did,” Givry said.
As one would expect of a wildly successful sailor with thousands upon thousands of ocean miles under his belt, Gavignet developed a wise game-plan. Upon entering the Atlantic Ocean and rounding Chesapeake Light off Norfolk, he and Givry took La Defonce directly offshore.
“We were very, very organized and knew exactly what we wanted to do,” Givry said. “Everything was meticulously planned in advance. We knew our game-plan when we exited the Chesapeake Bay. Our route was dictated by the research we did beforehand.”
La Defonce sailed approximately 60 miles offshore and entered the Gulf Stream at the beginning of a low pressure system. Gavignet said the wind clocked around from 50 degrees to 120 and that is when he and Givry decided to tack. It proved to be a brilliant move as the Figaro 3 reached Newport on just one tack.
“It makes me smile because I don’t understand why no one else did it. It really is pretty straight-forward. By going outside we had more right shift and more pressure,” Gavignet said. “We picked up a big right-hand shift in the stream and went straight into Newport. We wound up sailing a lot less distance than any of the other boats.”
Gavignet said La Defonce sailed in 25-30 knots of wind for at least 20 hours and rarely saw less than 11 knots. It was a rough ride as the 32-footer pounded into 12-foot waves with two reefs in the main and carrying the J3 genoa.
“When we were in the Gulf Stream with big waves and 30 knots it was very demanding,” Gavignet said. “Laurent was alone on deck for long periods and did fantastically well.”
It was a two hours on and two hours off watch system with Givry and Gavignet helping each other only during maneuvers and sail changes. Givry acknowledges he took a beating along the way, at one point getting tossed around the cabin while taking off his foul weather gear and suffering a severe gash to the head that spilled blood everywhere.
“It was extremely tough physically and I got totally beat up,” the 52-year-old said. “I hurt myself pretty bad when I fell and hit my head, but I feel very good now.”
Givry spent a lot of time on various boats while growing up in the south of France and served in the French Navy. He moved to the United States in 1991 and is the owner of Elite Wines, an importer and distributor of fine wine. He skippered Jeroboam, his Annapolis-based Farr 400, to victory in PHRF 1 class for the 2017 Annapolis-to-Newport Race.
Capturing line honors aboard a 32-foot boat was more rewarding and satisfying than winning aboard a 40-footer, he said.
“This was the toughest race I’ve ever done in life and I put 110 percent of my effort into it,” Givry said. “We were always trimming, trimming, trimming for speed, speed, speed. We worked harder during the night than we did during the day. We pushed the boat nonstop and Sidney made me realize how a professional races a boat. We finished first because of Sidney, there’s no question about that.”
At present, the Yellow Brick Race Tracker predicts that La Defonce will finish seventh overall on corrected time. Apparently, the boat takes a massive rating hit because of its foils, but Gavignet said La Defonce never lifted out of the water at any point during the race.
“I am very happy and feel this accomplishment is great for Laurent. Any time you make history it is nice,” Gavignet said. “However, it is not fair that we are not the winner on corrected time after sailing such a great race. I told Laurent he needs to fight for the right rating. He needs to get that corrected.”
Gallant, one of the Naval Academy’s Mark II 44-footers skippered by rising senior Christian Hoffman, was the second finisher. The Pedrick-designed and Pearson-Tillotson-built Navy 44 crossed at 3:06 p.m.
As of 7 p.m., another Mark II Navy 44, was two miles from the finish off Castle Hill Light.
The 37th Annapolis-to-Newport Race had staggered starts on June 7 and 8 for the biennial 475 nm contest.
Source: Bill Wagner