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Route des Princes yacht race unveiled in artichoke country


It is not often that the sports public is asked to celebrate artichokes, but that was one of the sub-plots of the unveiling of the Route des Princes yacht race in the former host city of the America’s Cup.

Jean-François Jacob, organiser of the tour which takes multihulls from Valencia to Lisbon, Dublin and Plymouth before finishing in Morlaix, France, was keen to point out that his Brittany neighbour of St Paul de Léon was the artichoke capital of France and, just north of the start city of Valencia, the same accolade has been given to Benicarlo.

But more focus is likely on the battle among the four MOD 70s with two sailors well known to British and Irish ocean racing fans, Neal McDonald and Damian Foxall at the heart of the scrap.

They will be on the Oman Air yacht skippered by Sidney Gavignet and against them will be Sebastien Josse, Yann Guichard, and what is already beginning to look like a high volume blast from the three tenors of, usually solo, round the world yacht racing.

Jean-Pierre Dick has switched from 60-foot monohull racing for Virbac-Paprec to 70-foot multihulls and brought in both Roland Jourdain and Vincent Riou to boost his personal firepower.

There is also a five-strong class of 50-foot trimarans and the scratch boat is a stretched, to 80 feet, former 60-foot tri carrying the Prince de Bretagne flag and skippered by Lionel Lemonchois.

Lisbon to Dublin brings in the Fastnet Rock and the leg from Dublin’s Dun Laoghaire to Plymouth includes going anti-clockwise round the whole of Ireland.