2023 Transpac - Meet the Crew of SV Lenny

In June 2023, a few days before SV Lenny started the 2023 Transpac, we spoke to the crew about the race, the boat and their connection to the legendary BENETEAU First boats. 

SV Lenny is a brand new First 44, one of the newest First boats in a long and prestigious line of sailboats from world leader BENETEAU. 

Of the two versions of the First 44 offered, the racing lay-out was chosen by Charles Devanneaux, skipper and owner of Naos Yachts for the 2023 Transpac. The boat was commissioned in a very short time at The Boatyard, in Marina del Rey, like most boats arriving at Naos Yachts. 

Charles has assembled a crew of seasoned sailors, all originally French but living in different parts of the world, who have all sailed extensively together. 

Can you briefly introduce yourself and talk about your experience sailing Beneteau Firsts?

Charles: I love boats and I’ve managed to turn my passion into a job! I launched Naos Yachts in Los Angeles in 2009 and today we are a major Beneteau dealership in California. The earliest memory I have of sailing on a First goes back to 1982, it was a First 32 named Fovea, and we sailed with my father’s best friend in Brittany. 
The First line is elegant, the boats sail well and are simply elegant on the water. 

Pierre Follenfant, finisher of the original Vendée Globe in 1989/1990: I’ve been racing on major offshore world races for a long time, and still enjoy sailing with friends and family when I’m not racing. In 1979 I sailed on a First 30 for the very first time. I was solo sailing this boat from La Rochelle to Concarneau along the Western coast of France, and I wasn’t sea-sick. Before then, I had always been sea-sick on boats, and after that time I never was again. 

Romain Ingouf, racer on Artemis Racing and CTO for ArtemisTechnologies: I started sailing when I was very young, and I managed to turn my passion for sailing into my job. My dad, Eric, was “Mr. First” with Beneteau, he was the main designer for the line and I remember racing the Spi Ouest France sailboat regattas on Firsts that he had designed. I also remember spending our free time helping my dad improve on the designs and work on the boats together. I learned so much with the Firsts.

Thomas Anglade: I’ve been sailing since I was 8 and haven’t stopped since. I now live in Quebec and race locally there. I grew up in St Gilles Croix de Vie, which is the home of Beneteau and was lucky to sail on Beneteau boats from the start. For me Firsts represent a cross between comfort and performance.

Clément Devanneaux: I’m Charles’ eldest child, I have been sailing with my dad since childhood. I’m pretty sure I sailed on a First when I was really young with my grand-father. But my real strong memory is of the First 40 that my dad sailed on his first Transpac race, I sailed with him in the Santa Monica Bay before the start of that race.

Fred Courouble: I live in Los Angeles, CA. I am a Naval architect and aerospace engineer. I love speed and  innovation. My first race was in Italy for the Sardegna Cup in 1998 on a First 40.7. in the Mediterranean circuit  in IMS class; that boat was excellent in rating and was winning a lot of regattas in class. A good compromise of rating/speed/fun racing.

Olivier d’Enquin: I worked with the Beneteau group for 40 years, including preparing 60’ Imoca and Orma boats. During the 10 years I was involved with the Beneteau Sailboats division, I had many opportunities to sail on First 45F5 and 52F5. Outside of work, I also sailed and raced often with my brothers on First Class 10 and First 41S5.

This will be the first Transpac race for some of the crew while others have raced a Transpac together before.

We asked them to share some of their best memories, and for the first-times to tell us why they are embarking on this adventure.

Charles: This will be my third Transpac, I have also raced 5 PacCups (San Francisco to Hawaii). My first Transpac was on a First 40 with a crew, including Fred and Thomas. 
For me, Transpac represents a great time on the water, a beautiful sailing experience and an extraordinary arrival to Hawaii. 

Romain: This is my first Transpac, it is a dream come true. 2 weeks without a computer (smiles)… I am expecting long surfs in the trade winds, storms at night, and a great time shared with friends. I learned how to race with Pierre, and racing on a Transpac with him 25 years later is just fantastic. 

Clément: it is my first Transpac, it is definitely a challenge and a golden opportunity. It is the possibility of doing something special the year I turn 25, a break between the end of my college education and the beginning of my professional life. 

Thomas: This will be my second Transpac, I crewed on my first one in 2011 and we finished second! We were the uncontested “fastest wine cellar on the sea” during that race (laughs).
A Transpac race for me is simply 13 full days making beautiful memories that will link the crew together forever, images that will remain in my head long after we land, and an amazing arrival to Hawaii. 

Fred: I have raced 3 transpac and 4 Pacific Cup. The Transpac race was on my bucket list since I started racing big boats. It is a race, so we will be pushing the boat as much as we can. And it is also a great time at sea, with no TV, no  phone, no mind pollution  … unlimited time for long and true exchanges with all the crew members while we can see the beauty and the immensity of the ocean around us.
I hope and wish to arrive in the daytime, the best would be an early morning arrival, seeing the island after days at sea.
I have many memories from my previous Transpac races - On my first Transpac we had an early morning arrival… I felt like an explorer in the middle of that blue Pacific Ocean, seeing that incredible light green patch growing as we  got  closer…
Another great memory was in a double-handed Transpac with Charles, racing in the middle of the night at full speed, soaking  wet in the cockpit, it felt like we were in a dinghy by the beach…  
And I should also mention the amazing night sky, full of bright stars… the big waves as we get closer to  Hawaii… 

Olivier: It will be my first Transpac, and I am extremely happy to race on the Pacific Ocean, an ocean that I don’t know very well. 

Pierre: This is my first Transpac… I have sailed in the Pacific before, along the California coast, from Mexico to California, and in the Marquesas, but this is a Pacific crossing, it’s mythical in the small world of ocean racers…and I really want to win!



Fair Winds and Following Seas to SV Lenny and her crew, we will follow them on the race tracker and gather their impressions on the race in the next chapter. 

Published on 03.07.2023