Groupe Bel and Kito de Pavant – Course set for the Vendée Globe 2012/2013!

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48,000 miles travelled, 14 countries visited, 7,000 thumbprints collected from all over the world; this adventure is extraordinary and will continue to surprise you! Kito de Pavant, offshore racer with a streak of an adventurer, and Groupe Bel, with its inimitable Vache qui rit® (Laughing Cow®), have been united since 2005. This duo was born of a sound human-scale competitive project.  The year 2010 begins with new ambitions and with still the same enthusiasm. Bel Group, represented by its Chief Executive Office, Antoine Fiévet, has announced the renewal of its sponsoring program. The Group’s signature, “Sharing smiles”, will therefore travel the oceans until 2013 and take part in the next Vendée Globe. The saga continues and you will soon find Kito at the helm of his 60′ monohull Groupe Bel, as well as on board her new “little sister” on the Figaro circuit.

Info Groupe Bel / Kito de Pavant

Do you remember? In 2005, a red cow known to all, entered the Figaro circuit on the sails of the Mediterranean skipper, Kito de Pavant. End 2006, with 5 successive podiums, including 2 beautiful wins* (Solitaire Le Figaro, Route du Ponant, Transat AG2R*, Solo Med* and Cap Istanbul), behind them, and the mutually stimulating relationship between Kito and the Bel workers, the Group and its skipper decided to put together an ambitious project on the IMOCA circuit. They then demonstrated audacity in entrusting the Van Peteghem-Lauriot Prévost Office in association with the architect, Guillaume Verdier, with the design of a 60 foot monohull, now considered one of the highest-performing of its generation.  This adventure was born with the double goal of taking on the most demanding current maritime events, while creating a strong and tangible link with the workers of this Group located on five continents. Since then, the red monohull has been making the most of it! This project has become an official provider of emotions and smiles, far beyond the French borders and is shared by all the Group’s subsidiaries. Proof can be found in the 7,000 thumbprints collected from the Bel workers and united on the monohull’s mast (“Thumbprint!” campaign); or in the contagious laughter during the boat’s visits to ports of call, such was the case this summer with the subsidiaries in Egypt and Syria. 

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Smiles… but also tears when the Vendée Globe 2008 came to an abrupt end when its mast broke in the storm in the Bay of Biscay. This was a trauma which had to be overcome, to rebuild and to move forward. After the year 2009, marked by the Single-handed Mediterranean Crossing record, a second place on the Istanbul Europa Race and a memorable trial of strength between these almost sister boats – Groupe Bel and Safran – leading the Transat Jacques Vabre, all eyes are now looking towards the future. Kito is obviously preparing for the Route du Rhum (starting from Saint-Malo on 31 October 2010), however, the skipper will also take part in the next Vendée Globe 2012/2013 “to loop the loop” he says modestly. “We have a good intensive project which works. The adventure will continue for two years with the aim of taking part in the next Vendée Globe. With Groupe Bel, I am lucky to have a very enthusiastic sponsor who provides me with the means to make my dreams come true. I have a wonderful team and a very good boat. It is a daily joy that we share with a great number of people.  I am aware that I am extremely lucky”. “This programme has become an exceptional link between our teams throughout the world and goes beyond differences in language and culture,” says Antoine Fiévet, Groupe Bel’s CEO. “Alongside Kito, who is a delightful man and a talented racer, we naturally share strong emotions, but we also assist him with the demands of competitive and technical performance. For every sailor, the Vendée Globe is a Holy Grail and we cannot stop at the failure in 2008. We are going to continue this magnificent adventure with enthusiasm and ambition as we have always done.” 

  Comeback on the Figaro circuit Of course, happiness never comes alone. Kito will also be returning to his first love. In 2010, he will be making a comeback on the Figaro circuit “because it’s my job to race, to share the emotion this brings, and, in addition, the IMOCA calendar has no major event to offer early in the season. I wanted to come back to this class which brought me so much, and 2010 is the right moment to do so in the 60 foot programme. This will keep me in the thick of racing and will also help me prepare for my number 1 goal of the season, which is the Route du Rhum .” On 18 April, Kito will also be at the starting line of the Transat AG2R, two-handed race between Concarneau and Saint-Barthélemy. He has chosen to sail with Sébastien Audigane, “an experienced, talented, motivated sailor, who’s really easy to get on with”, in the words of the skipper, who already sailed with him on board Group Bel during the Istanbul Europa Race 2009. The Mediterranean skipper will then line up for the 41st Solitaire du Figaro single-handed race, end July; this important race in the circuit, a race that stands apart, which Kito won in 2002 and which has opened its doors to the world of offshore racing. “We know that the level will be very high this year on the Solitaire,” he continues. “This Figaro comeback is for me a challenge in itself”. 

 Calendar 2010 Jan-Apr: Winter yard work for the 60 footer and Figaro training sessions18 April: Start of the Transat AG2R (Concarneau-Saint-Barthélemy)May: Visit of the Bel Group subsidiary in the Azores June:  Visit of the Bel Group subsidiary in Morocco and Giraglia Rolex CupJuly: “Sharing smiles regatta”, Group Bel inter-subsidiary regatta in Port CamargueJul-Aug: Solitaire du Figaro (Le Havre-Gijon-Brest-Kinsale-Cherbourg Octeville)31 Oct: Start of the Route du Rhum (Saint-Malo-Pointe à Pitre)Nov: Bel public relations West Indies   Dec: Return trip to Port Camargue  Bel Group and Sailing  2009:Dec: Bel public relations in Key West (Florida – USA)Nov: 2nd in the Transat Jacques Vabre with François Gabart (FRA)Sept: 2nd in the Istanbul Europa Race with crew (winner of the Barcelona leg)Aug: Visit of the Bel Group subsidiary in Egypt, Syria and TurkeyJune:  Giraglia Rolex Cup, Groupe Bel 7th in real time. 4 Jun: Single-handed Mediterranean record (1d21h20’29”) 

2008:Nov: Start of the Vendée Globe, abandon due to dismasting May-June: Visit of the Bel Group subsidiary in England, the Netherlands and MoroccoMay: Withdrawal from The Transat (fracture of Kito’s left fibula) 2007:Dec: 2nd in the Brazil to Brittany Transat single-handedNov: 6th in the Transat Jacques Vabre with Sébastien Col (FRA)6 Sep: Launch of Groupe Bel, Rosignano marina Jan-Sept: Construction of the Groupe Bel monohull in Scarlino (ITA) 

2006:Sept: Launch of the IMOCA programmeAug: 10th in the Solitaire du FigaroJuly: 2nd in the Vakko Odyssée Cannes Istanbul with Alberto Spina (ITA)June:  Winner of the Solo MéditerranéeApril: Winner of the Transat AG2R with Pietro D’Ali (ITA)  2005: Sept: 3rd in the Route du Ponant and the French Single-handed ChampionshipAug: 3rd in the Solitaire du FigaroJune:  5th in the Generali SoloStart of the sponsorship with Kito on the Figaro circuit Sébastien AudiganeBorn on 9 March 1968 in Brest, father of three children, living in Port Louis (Morbihan)Experienced in Laser, Soling, Dragon, 60′ trimarans, 60′ monohulls (Jean Le Cam,Yann Eliès, Kito de Pavant)7 participations in the Solitaire du FigaroHolder of four major offshore records:Trophée Jules Verne (Orange II)Atlantic record with crew (Banque Populaire V)Record for the distance sailed in 24 hours (Banque Populaire V)

Découverte Cadix-San Salvador Record (Groupama 3)

The Groupe Bel is one of the leaders in brand name cheesesIts portfolio of different products on an international scale, such as La vache qui rit (The Laughing Cow), Kiri®, Mini Babybel®, Leerdammer®, and Boursin®, as well as about twenty local brand names (Apéricube®, Port Salut®), enabled it to make a turnover of approximately 2.2 billion Euros in 2008. Nearly 12,000 workers divided among thirty international subsidiaries, contribute to the success of the group. Its products are developed on 27 production sites and distributed in nearly 120 countries.   What is the “thumbs-up for Kito” campaign?Since June 2007, 7,000 thumbprints were collected from the Group’s 1,200 workers worldwide, in 25 countries and placed on the yacht’s mast as a sign of support for the skipper. And it’s not over yet, the count is rising. In 2009, the “Thumbs up” flood will continue! 

Video interview of Kito de Pavant