boite à outils

Carantec, the sea and sailing

Man and the sea: an endless relationship, source of inspiration for Baudelaire, Corbière and so many others. People from Carantec peninsula are rocked by the rhythm of the sea from their earliest days, living with the tides, tempests and mists. It is entirely natural, then, that Carantec people look to the sea – admired and feared in equal measure – when they seek sensations, thrills and freedom.

‘Take to the sea’ is an expression that summarises the act of adventure for a long line of seafarers who have left Morlaix Bay to confront the elements and define the maritime history of the region. Let’s look at the stories of just a few of these mariners and adventurers.

Armand Léon, a far-from-ordinary maritime story

Born in Callot in 1912, Armand Léon became part of Carantec’s maritme legend in the 20th century. Other times, other winds, as they say in France: whereas today’s sailors look for sponsorship, our forebears followed great captains of industry. Armand Léon became the skipper for the banker Edmond de Rothschild, while brother Robert worked for the Gallimard publishing house.
Before becoming skippers for millionaires, Armand and Robert Léon grew up in a large family of seaweed harvesters in Callot, so it’s natural that we find their names in the pages of history aboard the Amity, a seaweed-gathering vessel measuring 6.75m, that rescued 22 Allied soldiers on 14th February 1944 and managed a 22-hour crossing to Falmouth in a terrible storm.

It was in Cannes that the two brothers met Edmond de Rothschild, who later wrote ‘I discovered sailing thanks to these two skippers from Carantec.’ And when the passion evolved into a great dream to conquer the seas, supported by a considerable fortune, it led to the creation of some of the most beautiful single-hulled yachts of the last century: the Gitana. Sunsets, idyllic landscapes and prestigious trophies were highlights of the seafaring life of Armand Léon. It was aboard Gitana IV, for instance, that he garnered all his trophies in the 1960s, notably breaking the world record for the Irish Fastnet (which he held for 19 years) and outpacing such illustrious contemporaries as Éric Tabarly and Gaston Deferre.

Louis Bernicot, solo sailor

One other remarkable seafaring achievement from a Carantec lad – going further back in time - was by Louis Bernicot, a solo navigator who left Carantec on 26th August 1936 aboard his 12.5-metre vessel Anahita. He was the first solo sailor to succeed in crossing the straits of Magellan, stopping at Chili, Tahiti, then La Réunion to land at Le Verdon on 30th May 1938.

Carantec, capital of competitive sailing

There must be magic in the water of Morlaix Bay.
In 1968, at the Optimist World Championship, 6 of the 10 young sailors in the national French team were from Carantec. In competitive terms, Carantec has always bred champions. Carantec Nautisme - the watersports and sailing school – has played its part in the careers of many brilliant sailors, whether helping with first outings or fine-tuning expertise, here in the Morlaix waters. To name but two:

Jeremie Beyou
Jérémie Beyou, a Carantec man through and through, is a fine example. Hero of 2011, we proudly watched him through to victory in the Figaro and in the Transat Jacques Vabre, which he won in 15 days, 18 hours, 13 minutes and 54 seconds with his friend Jean-Pierre Dick.

Armel Le Cléac’h, born in Saint-Pol-de-Léon and raised by the waters of Morlaix has achieved various successes, not least the Solitaire du Figaro on two separate occasions (2003 and 2010) as well as coming in second on the Vendée Globe 2008-2009, his first ever attempt at the race.

Bruno Jourdren, going for Gold at the Olympics

In September 2012, Carantec will be buzzing to watch the Olympic Games. Skipper and sailor Bruno Jourdren, whose family has lived in Carantec for 5 or 6 generations, will be representing France in the Paralympic Games in London, 1st – 6th September, and he’ll be going for gold. While waiting for the big event, this sailor (who is as energetic as he is eclectic) will be racing on the open seas, and as soon as he has a moment, he’ll be overseeing the future champions of Carantec in their Optimist sailboats.

This passionate competitor has an impressive record: Vice-champion of the World 1994, Triple champion of Europe and France of the First Class 8, Champion de France in open sea racing in 1996, winner of the Transat Ag2r 1998, and silver medallist at the Paralympic Games in Peking. He keeps taking home the trophies, despite losing the use of his right arm 32 years ago.

Bruno Jourdren

Jourdren hasn’t yet finished sharing his love of sailing, whether between two buoys or two continents, and he never forgets his roots: ‘My strongest link here is the Bay, naturally – it’s magnificent, rich. It’s where I learnt to sail. I know it off by heart yet I’m always amazed by this place. I’ve been tremendously lucky to have been able to learn and train my sport in such a setting. For cruising, it’s brilliant, too. You can stop off almost anywhere along the coast, on the islands... it’s total escapism.’