The Pro-Am Cup statement is simple : six professional skippers with different backgrounds – offshore racing, match racing, multihull, Olympic sailing – meet amateur skippers on their home ground.
The professionals have a sailboat put at their disposal : a Mumm 30 (one-design racing 30-footer with a crew of 6 or 7 members) which is strictly identical to the one owned by an amateur, who knows inside out a boat he steers all year long. For the first time, a female skipper will be participating to the event, on the "pro" side. And she is not a newcomer ! Dawn Riley's list of achievements is impressive : first woman to play an active part on an boat in the America's Cup (1992 winner America3); skipper of Heineken all-woman crew in 1993-94 Whitbread; skipper of America3 all-woman crew in 1995 America's Cup; first woman to head an America's Cup challenge (America True in 2000). She will have to face stiff competition starting with the professional side.
Italian Vasco Vascotto and Flavio Favini will be a serious threat. They both collect world champion titles in one-design classes (including Mumm 30's, which is a transalpine speciality). Jean-Pierre Dick, Tour Voile 2001 winner, is the Mumm 30 best French at the time. Thierry Péponnet, 470 Olympic Champion and regular tactician for all French America's Cup challenges since 1995, won last year - in Marseilles - the One Ton Cup, one of the toughest one-design fleet inshore regattas. Last but not least, Christophe Auguin is one of the best solo sailor in the world : he won the BOC Challenge (now named Around Alone) twice and the Vendée Globe Challenge four years ago.
It's anyone's guess. Last year's Pro-Am was won by Bertrand Pacé, a top match racer. Solo and multihull specialist Franck Cammas came 3rd, ahead of many one-design fleet racing star performers, like British Adrian Stead. Things get even more complicated when you know that amateur boats often manage to reach the top five places and to kick some of the « pros » out of the first ten places overall ! 5th Pro-Am Cup first round on 26 October at 10:00.