The 2020 Mauritius Sailing Championship: an extraordinary season

February 5, 2021

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An extraordinary event in a unique year: the Championship was marked by unexpected and unwelcome twists due to the Covid-19 pandemic and its aftershocks. In such an uncertain time, race schedules had to be changed and several players were unable to come to Mauritius after the borders closed.

OCEAN VOX – BANK ONE had to deal with the absence of skipper and owner Luc Billard and of team mates Pierre Josserand, Olivier Daguin and Jérôme Thomas. A new A-team of core members had to be recruited and trained for the season.

Yann Jacobee was named skipper, and he was aided by sailing regulars Benjamin Turquois, Frédéric Mayé, Elodie Jacobee and Vincent Portugal. Marc Israel, Quentin Parpin and others joined the team on occasion.

The new team took on the challenge of a very unusual season, and earned 5th place on the Far East Challenge Cup. It was far from the team’s goal, but it gave the team necessary training and experience. Our 3rd place in the ANAIK Challenge Cup showcased real progress, even though some particular manoeuvres weren’t performed to the expected standard and penalised the team.

It’s important to note that the upheaval in schedules also unexpectedly placed the Championship in turbulent weather conditions; the change in dates meant that our newly-formed team had to navigate harsh winds and rough seas. There was barely time to take one’s bearings.

Intensive training sessions were then organised, and they bore fruit: we were the Two-Time Winners of the Méphis Cup (round trip) and earned 2nd place on the Blue Shadow Cup!

As leaders of the moment in the overall ranking, OCEAN VOX – BANK ONE was about to take on the season’s peak challenge: a round trip around the island in three stages. Unfortunately, after the pandemic came the Wakashio oil spill disaster, which made the great loop around the island impossible.

The 2020 Tour was then replaced by three heats in the Northern lagoon. With ease, the team won the first two heats; mid-way during the third race, we believed we’d pull off a triple win…Until the weather intervened.

The last day of the WEDLV will undoubtedly be seared in the minds of many. Shocks and surprises came one after another. Aeolus played his tricks and set the team’s nerves on edge, alternating with whispers of wind that barely moved the boat to great gusts that threatened the team’s safety. In the end, the team finished 4th, dropping from first place to last. Four boats abandoned the race that day, too, after the weather conditions proved too harsh.

In the overall rankings, OCEAN VOX – BANK ONE had consolidated its position as leader of the table, but was threatened by “Spry”, “Wasabee” and “Aldebaran”.

With two challenges to go, the equation was simple: if the team won the Suffren Cup they would win the season, even if they failed to win the TBS Challenge (the regatta that closed the season).

The team went on to win the Suffren Cup in a beautiful day in Port Louis: OCEAN VOX – BANK ONE crossed the finished line at the harbour and became CHAMPIONS OF MAURITIUS 2020. From sea sprays to champagne sprays, celebration was in order – and a certain Guillaume Passebecq, Head of Private Banking and Wealth Management at Bank One, handed us the trophy.

Our 3rd place in the last race can remain an anecdote for another day – the title, after all, was ours!

In a nutshell: OCEAN VOX – BANK ONE finally dominated its adversaries – and not by a small margin, either. The championship was won after intense work by our team, and the excellent synergy of the new members who joined us.

We’ll be the favourites for the 2021 season, but also the team to beat. We’re up for the challenge. The next season’s programme hasn’t been unveiled yet, but you can be sure that we’re the only team that’s organising extra training sessions at the moment. 2021, here we come!