Paul Fenn

The Transquadra Race, Where Old Guys Rule

Transquadra 2014-2015

Last Sunday, my 11 year old daughter competed in a local indoor track meet. There were a ton of kids there of all ages competing in everything from the 100 meter dash to the 200 meter relay to the shot put to the long jump to the pole vault. Mollie ran the mile crossing the finish line in 6:35; not too bad considering she hasn’t been training.

The meet was billed as an “all comers” meet meaning that it was open to everyone, kids and adults alike. As a runner myself, I’ve competed in plenty of road-races where it’s common to see people who are well into their 70s and even their 80s truckin’ along in good style. I was surprised however when a group of mature and seasoned hurdlers stepped to the starting line and blasted down the track leaping along like a group of high-schoolers. It was a wonderful thing to see and proves the point that you’re only as old as you feel.

Like those older hurdlers, the Transquadra race is reserved for those sailors over the age of 40 who still lust for adventure and the feeling they get when racing under full sail across the open sea. The other requirement for racing in the Transquadra is that it is only open to those racing either single-handed or double-handed.

The race is broken into 2 legs. The first leg is held in the fall and begins in either St. Nazaire, France or Barcelona, Spain. Both legs finish on the island of Madera. The second leg started earlier this week and will finish on the French island of Martinique, some 3,500 miles away in the Caribbean.

YOLO at the start of the 2nd leg of the Transquadra race from Madera to Martinique.
YOLO at the start of the 2nd leg of the Transquadra race from Madera to Martinique.

Racing this year in the double-handed fleet aboard the Jeanneau Sun Fast 3600, YOLO, is my good friend and colleague, Jean-Francois de Premorel. In the first leg from St. Nazaire, Jean-Francois along with the help of Philippe Laperche finished 2nd, only 14 minutes behind the leader and getting 3rd on corrected time; not bad for a couple of old guys in a 7 day race!

“The Sun Fast 3600 proved incredibly stable and powerful in strong winds, and we were able to keep the spinnaker and mainsail under full sail at above 40 knots of wind.  Nothing broke, and we had very good camaraderie aboard, which made for a beautiful first leg of the race!” Jean-Francois de Premorel

YOLO, along with an impressive number of other Sun Fast 3200s and 3600s, left Madera this past Saturday and is currently in 2nd place. They are racing day and night and are due to arrive in Martinique sometime around February 7th. A race like this is not for the weak of heart but just like those older hurdlers racing down the track, they are only as old as they feel and they are going for it and loving every second of their journey.

On we go…

I invite you to track YOLOs progress at www.transquadra.com/positions.php

The Jeanneau 64 – You Gotta See it to Believe it

The Newly painted Jeanneau 64, Trois Vignes, sits in the factory Poieter.
Dressed all in black, the newly painted Jeanneau 64, Trois Vignes, sits at the factory in Poiré. She is scheduled to sail in mid-March from Les Sables- d’Olonne to Chicago by way of the St. Lawrence Seaway.

Just about a year ago, I took a trip to France to the town of Le Poiré Sur Vie in the Vendee region to see the first 64 being built. As you can easily imagine, building a 64 foot sailing yacht is not exactly a small accomplishment and in fact due to the dip in the economy, the project had been started and stopped more than once. Seeing the boat for the first time had been impressive. Construction had been about two-thirds of the way along and while the deck had not yet been installed, a good part of the interior had been. Seeing the boat at this stage of the build process was ideal because it provided an unobstructed view into the hull and all the equipment that is required on a boat of this size; generator, engine, water-maker, batteries, washer/dryer, wine cooler, etc. It was pretty much all installed and easy to see.

The true guts of the boat were easy to see and understand at this stage of construction.
The true guts of the boat were easy to see and understand at this stage of construction. You can see much of the front cabin was installed at this point.

Fast forward six months to June 2014 and that same boat, hull #1, was now strutting its stuff around the island of Corsica in the Mediterranee. Once again I was fortunate enough to travel to Europe to see this boat and actually got the chance to help sail it from Corsica to Marseille, about a 24 hour passage. It was an amazing feeling to see and sail the finished product after seeing it on the production line with all its guts hanging out just 6 months before. Right from the beginning I was totally awed by this yacht from her gracious lines to her sailing characteristics to her interior accommodations to her overall quality. It was truly Love at First Sight!

With the light just starting to fade, the Jeanneau 64 sits quietly at anchor off the coast of Corsica
With the light just starting to fade, the Jeanneau 64 sits quietly at anchor in a snug little harbor just off the coast of Corsica.

Fast forward again to last month when I made A Return Trip to Le Poiré to again visit the 64 on the production line. This time, instead of seeing just one boat under production, there were more like four or five. These boats were all in various stages of construction from the very beginnings to pretty much finished and ready to go. What’s more, I learned that 20 boats had already been sold and that the lead-time to get a boat was now stretching out some 18 months. It was also interesting to learn that many of the 64s that have already been sold were going to current Jeanneau owners, especially to owners of the extremely popular Jeanneau 54DS. I found this to be a great testament to the brand, the company, and to the Jeanneau staff. The bottom line is that anyone looking to purchase a 64 foot yacht and spend between one and two million dollars is going to look around at other boats and the fact that so many of these people chose the Jeanneau 64 is really quite a compliment.

The 64 starts life out in the form of 2 separate hull molds. They are each laid up with fiberglass cloth, joined together and infused with resin. The 64 starts life out in the form of 2 separate hull molds. They are each laid up with fiberglass cloth then joined together and infused with resin. From here, the true building begins.
The 64 starts life out in the form of 2 separate hull molds. Each are laid up with fiberglass cloth then joined together and infused with resin. It’s quite a process with first-rate results.

One of the major selling points of the 64 is that the boat has been designed and engineered for choice. What this essentially means is that a number of well-thought-out, highly engineered layouts and features have been pre-designed giving customers a wide choice of interior configurations and options to choose from. And because these were all engineered into the design ahead of time, it literally saves thousands of dollars of expense allowing the boat to be sold at a price well under that of other yachts of this size and quality.

Working for Jeanneau as I do, I have probably visited the factory at least 50 times over the past 18 years. And while seeing a 36 footer roll down the production line is one thing, seeing a 64 go together is quite another. I’m biased I know but I have to say with complete sincerity, the 64 is one impressive machine. But as the title of this story suggests, you gotta see it to believe it.

On we go…

P.S. Stay tuned for more on the 64 when I travel back to France in early March for the christening of the Palmer’s 64, Trois Vignes and her send-off across the Atlantic.