History has been made in Seychelles as the first Seychelles Regatta closed with rave reviews on Saturday and professional French star sailor Michel Desjoyeaux and his crew grabbed the trophy as the inaugural champions of the event.
The regatta was nothing like the popular Vendee Globe but twice winner of the solo round-the-world race, Desjoyeaux was a true expert in the Seychelles waters as he led his team to a first-place finish on the podium.
It was a week of pure bliss and competition as the star-studded fleet of sailors raced between the Inner Islands of Seychelles whilst also witnessing the beauty of the archipelago and swimming at some of the world’s top beaches.
Besides Desjoyeaux, the colourful and exciting race also saw the participation of some of the world’s finest names in sailing, such as Samantha Davies, Romain Attanasio, Armel Le Cleach’h and Dee Caffari.
Desjoyeaux was not present at the closing ceremony but his elated crew, who have had the pleasure of rubbing shoulders with one of the world’s most famous sailors, were crowned by Vice President Joseph Belmont amid roars of applause.
Already guaranteed first position after the seventh race, Desjoyeaux and his Nicholas Feuillatte co-sailors came out ninth and last in Saturday’s eighth and final leg, but after having won five races.
They finished with 10 points onboard their Leopoard 43 catamaran to win themselves the trophy sponsored by the Seychelles Tourism Board (STB) and a week accommodation at the Hilton Northolme Resort and Spa for two persons.
Skippered by English woman Davies, CPR Decoration may have missed the elusive title this year but sailed comfortably into the runners-up spot with 18 points. They capped their successful journey with victory in the last race, after also winning two other races.
As prize, they won a weekend for two at Hilton Northolme Resort and Spa and a bottle of champagne.
Happy to make it to the top three, Romain Attanasio spearheaded his Keneos Aubriet team to third position with 26 points and took home a trophy and bottle of champagne.
There were also prizes for big game fishing and fair play and these went to Rome Team and Lady Anja, respectively.
The evening, which was graced by the presence of the reigning Miss Seychelles, Elena Angione, saw the remaining six places go to Chagneau (4th with 29 points), Lady Anja (5th with 30 points), Rome Team (6th with 31 points), C-Team (7th with 42 points), Air Seychelles (8th with 50 points) and Ter Cognita (9th with 53 points).
Thanking the sailors for putting up one of the finest competitions ever to be staged in the Seychelles waters, the Seychelles director of tourism marketing, Mr Alain St Ange said it was indeed true that the islands were made for the mariner.
“As you might have noticed, sailing is an integral part of every Seychellois,” he said.
The week long event, he continued, has allowed the sailors not only to sail the beautiful islands of Seychelles but also to spend time ashore to discover one of the islands’ two UNESCO World Heritage Sites – the Vallée-de-Mai – and the timeless islands of La Digue and Silhouette.
“This is an accurate reflection that Seychelles is not just about sailing but also about savouring the extraordinary diversity on offer,’ he said.
Mr St Ange also told the foreign sailors to take fond memories of Seychelles back home and recount to their families and friends, to in turn inspire them to come and savour Seychelles.
He also launched a formal invitation for them to come back again next year to make the Seychelles Regatta an even greater success than the first edition, as STB works to ensure that it fulfils its potential as a major event in the sailing calendar.
The event was organised by Blue Events based in Brussels, Belgium and had Olivier le Grelle and Regis Elhaouel at the head of organization