Retour à la Base: the first race for Nicolas Lunven at the helm of Holcim-PRB

On Friday, November 30th at noon, the picturesque Port-la-Foret in Martinique turned from a quaint Caribbean paradise into a place abuzz with sailing professionals and enthusiasts. It was the start of Retour à la Base, a solo race where the fleet of 30 IMOCA sailing boats was gathered to start the race across the Atlantic back to Lorient, the ‘Base’ of IMOCA sailing. 

For GO CIRCULAR, it was a special day: it marked the first regatta for Nicolas Lunven at the helm of Holcim-PRB. Nico has great experience in solo racing and is known as one of the best navigators in the sailing world. It presents a great opportunity for him to measure himself against some of the fiercest competitors who he will face during the Vendée Globe. But his main priority is to get the boat back to France safely during this first solo race on an IMOCA racing boat.

Earlier in November, the French skipper delivered the boat to Martinique together with skipper Rosalin Kuiper and two members from the technical team. This delivery was the ultimate training for the skipper to familiarize himself with the new boat, but now he is ready to race:

One sentence to sum up my state of mind: the desire to go for it! It is good to be back in racing mode. It was a good delivery, very interesting, and it was good to take some time to discover the boat. But now, it is time to race against competitors and to qualify for the Vendée Globe!

Nicolas Lunven

The final race of the season is set to keep us on the edge of our seats, with a world class line up at the start. Bearing in mind that the race is long, the skipper did not take any risks and started in the middle of the pack, quickly moving up in the standing as the first hours passed. The fleet will be passing the southern point of Martinique before setting course to the Azores. The race will be one of strategic decision making and of finding the right balance between speed and safety.

This course is really an upside-down transatlantic. We're used to crossing the Atlantic from Europe to the sun. Here, we'll be doing the opposite. In principle, the weather situation looks set to favor the development of fairly hollow and violent lows, a factor we'll have to take into account. We'll have to find the right compromise between speed and safety!

Nicolas Lunven

Fun sustainability fact: the race’s organizers are collaborating with Belco, a company specialized in importing and distributing coffee and cacao. What makes them unique is their dedication to raising awareness around sustainable transportation and the transition to carbon-free freight transport. To support this mission, each competitor will transport a 20-kilogram bag of cacao beans during Retour à la Base from Martinique to France.