While seven 60ft trimarans engaged in the 2000 Europe 1 New Man STAR, the more remarkable fleet was that of the Open 60s of which a phenomenal 24 were entered. The reason for this incredible growth was because many were using the event as both a shakedown and a qualifier for the Vendee Globe the following November.
In the end the race produced two surprise winners. First trimaran was Francis Joyon’s Eure et Loir. Joyon had been leading the 1996 race until it came to a premature end following the pitch pole of his trimaran. Come 1999, the burly French man had lost his sponsorship from Banque Populaire who had passed the reins over to Lalou Roucayrol and were building a new boat especially for the 2000 race.
Coming into the 2000 race, Joyon was the least favourite of the six trimarans to win, having just scraped together enough sponsorship to charter his old boat back. Pre-race he worked on his boat tied up to a mooring as the heavily sponsored, high profile boats with their full shore teams enjoyed the convenience of the marina. However, it was with some irony that Joyon went on to win the race, while once again the Banque Populaire trimaran experienced a capsize.
In the Open 60 fleet, picking a pre-race favourite was hard with a line-up including solo sailing heavy weights such as Thomas Coville, Michel Desjoyeaux, Yves Parlier, Mike Golding, Roland Jourdain and Dominique Wavre. Who would win? In the event it was none of them. Sailing a brand new boat in its maiden race, few were betting on a 23-year-old English girl. However, on day nine of the race Ellen MacArthur monitoring the weather like a hawk, spotted a lull ahead and by taking an unfavourable tack north neatly sidestepped it putting 75 miles on her competition that she would hold until the finish. This result was a defining moment in MacArthur’s career, the first occasion when the sailing world realised that she was not out there simply to take part, but despite her tender years she had the ability to win.
By coincidence both Joyon and MacArthur went on to take up single-handed record breaking, Joyon setting an extraordinary new record time for sailing solo non-stop around the world then eclipsed by MacArthur.