North Sails LOFT NEWS
DOUBLEHANDED TEAM WINS ANNAPOLIS TO NEWPORT
Taking Home Line Honors & Sportsmanship Trophy
Sailing the innovative 32-foot Beneteau Figaro 3, Laurent Givry and Sidney Gavignet raced from Annapolis to Newport in just under three days. They say nice guys finish last, but for the 2019 Annapolis to Newport Race, Laurent Givry and Sidney Gavignet won line honors over the entire 23 boat fleet – and they were also awarded the C. Gaither Scott Trophy for Sportsmanship by Annapolis Yacht Club’s Race Committee.
“It was totally unexpected,” Laurent says, still digesting his quick transition from self-described “regular guy” to a name in the week’s sailing news. “I was quite shocked, but very, very happy, obviously.”
Laurent grew up sailing on the south coast of France and moved to the United States in 1991. He took delivery of his Beneteau Figaro 3, La Défonce, in the fall of 2018. Over the winter, while North Sails designers in France were doing their homework and testing new designs to prepare for the professional Figaro circuit, Laurent told North Sails Annapolis expert Will Keyworth that he wanted to buy the new sail package. “To me it was important that I am part of this batch,” Laurent explains, adding that his new upwind inventory is 3Di RAW. “My boat is exactly to the rules for the class. I buy everything like the class Figaro. So when they make a bunch of sails for the Figaristes in France, they make mine too. Exactly the same.”
The new mainsail is much flatter, he says. “The shape of the gennaker is much flatter as well. And the clew is much higher on the new A2. I’m very happy with my new set of sails, and also happy they were designed by a French designer. Will did everything right for me, so I’m very grateful.”
Laurent gives full credit for the line honors victory to teammate Sidney Gavignet, a retired professional on the shorthanded sailing circuit. “Sidney is the best person. Because we are French, we have a very close connection, and I learned from him to be a better sailor. I was always trimming my mainsail much too open on the top. Now I will definitely take a reef instead of twisting more.”
The team at North Sails has also been a big help, he says. “Anything I need, they do it. I ask for something, it’s done. I always buy my sails from North Sails, because I have a very good service.”
And there’s plenty more to learn. “I want to become better, I want to learn all the time. The day that you say that you’re good, it’s over. Do I put all myenergy into it? Yes, no question about that. I’m doing my own tuning, doing everything myself. I love it, you know, so I’m really into it 100 percent, no question about that. This is who I am as a person—I don’t do stuff halfway. Go full in, or nothing.”
While resting up between the Annapolis-Newport finish and the start of the New York Yacht Club Annual regatta, Laurent’s made several new friends. “I’m meeting lots of very famous sailors. And those guys are like me, they’re regular guys, even though they’re very famous in the sport. They’re very keen to share their experience. They teach me, they tell me tricks. Steve Benjamin, I met him two years ago. I have a few beers with him, we have a great laugh. Next thing you know, he’s sending me an email with all the tricks, all the current. And I’m a nobody! It’s super cool,” he continues. “It’s like in a movie.”
What’s next for Laurent, Sidney, and La Défonce? “There is great news—we’ve been invited by the Chicago-Mac to go compete there. Everything is going like in a dream, like in the movies!” he repeats. The boat will be trucked to Chicago, after a careful rig check and thorough cleaning; “I have salt everywhere.”
“I’m a better sailor today than I was a year ago,” Laurent concludes.
“It’s a great sport. I’m a regular guy, maybe not a beginner anymore, but I am not a big shot. My goal is to sail with very, very good sailors. So I can progress. This is what I want to do.” Nice guys can sometimes finish first after all.