This Friday 13th July saw the inauguration of the Tonnerres de Brest 2012 and festivities kicked off with a bang. This morning the official inauguration delegation climbed aboard the new tramway and travelled as far as the ‘Recouvrance’ stop, before passing through into the Penfeld military enclosure, and the historic heart of Brest, as the sirens and horns of the Arsenal celebrated this entrance in unison, a symbol of the start of festivities. In the midst of this general furore created by the 1,000 boats present at this year’s event, there was a tack-about by those boats which are emblematic of Brest 92 and involved in the event’s 20th century celebrations, along with the small local craft from France’s coast such as the skiffs of Bantry, the shellfish boats from Brest’s harbour as well as the MOD 70s. Festivities have truly begun!
Some fine guests to open the Porte Jean Bart
This morning to open Brest 2012, a meeting had been arranged at Porte Jean Bart, the gateway to the port of Brest and hence the Tonnerres de Brest 2012. As such, at 0800 UTC, the French Navy, represented by Jean-Pierre Labonne, Brest’s Maritime Chief, notably accompanied by the Admiral of Briançon and the General Fitting Out Engineer Bruno Frachon, joined the official delegation in order to proceed together with the opening of the Arsenal. For this special occasion, the Mayor of Brest François Cuillandre’s entourage included: Pierre Maille, President of the Finistère Departmental Council, Pierrick Massiot, President of the Brittany Region, Marylise Lebranchu, Minister, and Olivier de Kersauson, patron of the Tonnerres de Brest. With the opening of the gate, an animated group of costumed actors, who would have been among the members of the Lapérouse expedition. The delegation then continued on to the Penfeld Quay to embark aboard Nyami, electric boat in the Azénor company.
An inaugural morning on the water
After embarking on the Nyami, the members of the official delegation, joined by Laury Thilleman, Miss France 2011, a native of Brest and proud of it, criss-crossed the waters of the Penfeld and the Commercial Port to greet the various fleets and the villages erected on the site. At around 0900 UTC, whilst the Fée de l’Aulne was suspended from the strops in the Port of Brest, the officials climbed aboard the Suzanne, a small steam boat, before stepping aboard the Recouvrance. Meantime, the crowd massed along Quai Malbert, on the very site where the carpenters of the Guip yard express their expertise, patiently waiting for the Fée de l’Aulne to be launched. At 0945 UTC it was a done deal. Warmly applauded by the spectators and accompanied by the tunes of the Ploudalmézeau pipe band, the sand lighter, a symbol of Brest’s resurrection after the war, returned to the liquid element. And who better than Monsieur the Mayor to round off the speeches: “Let the party being!”
La Fée de l’Aulne, testimony to Brest’s history – Launch one
Built in 1957, the lighter, Fée de l’Aulne, played an active role in the reconstruction of the city of Brest by transporting sand from the nearby islands, before serving the Pen Ar Bed Maritime Company for 25 years. After being laid up in 2000, she was saved from being demolished by the “Fée de l’Aulne, Fée des Îles” (Fairy of the Aulne, Fairy of the Islands) association. In January 2012, Brest Métropole Habitat, Brest’s public housing office, launched a project to restore the boat to her former glory in collaboration with the celebrated Guip yard, which notably included the total renovation of her two masts and gunwales. It was a challenge, which was taken up in just three months. With her launch in the context of the inauguration of the Tonnerres de Brest, today the Fée de l’Aulne is testimony to the fact that nothing is impossible.
The Saint-Guénolé shellfish boat – launch two
There was an emotional launch on Quai Malbert on this rainy Friday afternoon. The 1948 Belbeoc’h designed shellfish boat, Saint-Guénolé, a project managed by the Centre Nautique Armorique (CNA) in Plougastel, hit the water again after nine months on the hard being completely renovated, bar about 1% of her symbolic features. A very worthwhile job given that she is one of the last shellfish boats remaining of the large fleet that used to harvest scallops in Brest’s harbour.
Among the crowd, was a chap who saw the boat being built 64 years ago: “The boat belonged to my parents. I was 10 years old when I saw her launched for the first time”, recalled Jean-Claude Laurent. The Saint-Guénolé was the last shellfish boat built in Brest harbour. For Dominique Cap, Mayor of nearby Plougastel, her renovation is evidence of something worthwhile passing from one generation to another. Tonight the Saint-Guénolé will lead the way in the general parade alongside La Recouvrance.
Friday spotlight: Tall ships: Götheborg
The Götheborg is the replica of an 18th century vessel of the Swedish East India Company of the same name. The original sank in the port of Gothenburg on 12 September 1745 when returning from a 30 month voyage to China. Its crew and most of its cargo of porcelain, tea, silk, and spice were able to be saved. From 1986 to 1992, a team of marine archaeologists progressively uncovered the wreck’s remains and suggested rebuilding the ship. In 1993, the Svenska Ostindiska Companiet AB (SOIC) was created to collect the funds needed to build a replica. Built between 1995 and 2003, the Swedish Royal family were intrigued by the project, so when she was launched in June 2003 she was christened by the Queen of Sweden on 3rd September 2004. 47m long, she is one of the largest wooden yachts in the world so inevitably she attracts great attention wherever she goes, both visibly and audibly when her heart-stoppingly loud cannon shots fire across the commercial port in Brest. Back in the day, the boat was used to transport iron from Sweden to Cadiz, where she would exchange iron for silver, which she would then transport to China. As such it was only logical for the Götheborg to make for China on her first trip, this time via Brazil, Cape Town, Freemantle and Jakarta. On arriving in China, news of the ship had spread far and wide and there was a 5-hour live broadcast on national TV. The Chinese were anxious for autographs and a chance to touch the crew, who they considered to be heroes. Indeed their arrival on a replica of a ship that would have made the same journey back in the 18th century was heralded as an incredible and much appreciated symbolic gesture, heightened by the fact that all the crew are in costume. The idea behind the project is essentially to promote Sweden and Swedish business and you certainly couldn’t wish to make a finer statement!
Friday spotlight: Classics and their architects:
Attending the Tonnerres de Brest 2012 are a vast range of classic boats, with no less than two beautiful designs by the legendary Swedish designer Olle Enderlein: Dione and Golden Dolfin. The lowdown on the architect and his creations:
Olle Enderlein (1917–1993) – Enderlein is one of the few Swedish boat designers who has achieved worldwide fame. He had an infallible feeling for lines, proportions and details and was particularly well known for his brilliant talent for designing beautiful boats. His opinion was that beautiful boats also sailed well. His interest in form not only applied to the boat’s exterior, but also very much so to the interior fittings, where he was a groundbreaking pioneer. An outstanding feature of Enderlein was also his ability to bring about changes in design to combine both function and safety. Born at Norrköping in 1917. His relatives were Finnish, but his ancestors descended from Sachsen in Germany. His father was the chief Customs Inspector in Norrköping and it was also here that he grew up. The family had a summer house on an island in Bråviken (a bay close to Norrköping) and it was there at an early age that Olle Enderlein got in contact with the archipelago, the sea and boat life
After high school, he trained as an engineer. For Olle Enderlein, boat designing was a hobby that gradually became his profession. When he was 27 years old he left his position at Archimedes engine factory in Gothenburg to try to become a professional boat designer. According to him, ”he stopped working”. Boat designing was much more like a way of life than an occupation. He was a reserved person and he rarely made public statements. His designs were his means of communication. He was as much an artist as he was a constructor. He was a born aesthete.
Enderlein kept and developed an interest in boats and boat construction for his whole life and he himself designed a couple of hundred different boat designs. The blueprint archives are comprised of a hundred or so designs. The inventory covers a wide range – from small canoes and skiffs up to the Hallberg-Rassy boats HR 35 ”Rasmus”, HR 352, 38 and 382, the ketch HR 41 together with the HR 42, 45 and 49.
In the register, spanning these designs, is a whole row of what may well be his most loved designs. Among these, of course, belong the “OE-boats” (OE 32, OE 36 and others) but also the motorsailers Monsun and Najad, as well as the sailing boats Misil, Mistral, HR 26, HR 312, Nord 80, Shipman 28, Mistress 32 and several others. Many of these boats are still sailing today.
One of those boats still sailing today and attending Brest is Dione. Dione was built over two years, between the autumn of 1957 and the spring of 1959, for the then Commodore of the Royal Swedish Yacht Club, Ola Wettergren. The lead designer was Olle Enderlein with significant input from Rod and Olin Stephens who were good friends of Ola Wettergren. It is no coincidence that Dione has striking similarities to Anitra, designed by Sparkman & Stephens and the only Swedish yacht ever to win the Fastnet Race. She was built in the Gronsta yard at Lidingo, just outside Stockholm and only ¾ mile from Ola Wettergren’s house. Supervised by Mr Schold, the work was carried out by three, sixth generation Estonian shipwrights and two Swiss cabinetmakers. Her hull planking is glued, all cut from a single Honduras mahogany tree, and fixed to laminated oak frames. The deck is teak on a plywood sub-deck. The original spruce spars were replaced with aluminium in the late seventies. The turtle-back coach-house and hatches are teak and much of the fine interior is in walnut.
QuoteFrançois Cuillandre, Mayor of Brest and President of Brest Métropole Océane
“Les Tonnerres de Brest is an extraordinary festival which has represented a huge amount of work and nearly four years of preparation. It capitalises on the previous editions, but it is important to introduce some innovations too and today we have all the ingredients for an excellent festival. Since 1992, the concept of the festival has evolved. We were keen to gradually expand things so as to truly present all Brest’s savoir-faire.”
Programme 14 July Bastille Day
The onshore activities for the Bastille Day celebrations inevitably include a special programme in the Moroccan Village, with musical entertainment on the village podium and a large concert on the 20 YOH stage, sea shanties, pipe bands, the Norway Royal Navy Brass Band, Celtic pop, Brazilian dance music and some so called Breton kitsch.
On the water
Hitting the inner and outer harbour from 1030 to 1130 hours will be a host of flotillas and, together with the boats open for charter to the public, they will do a tour of the harbour, complete with running commentaries and onboard music. Essentially, they’ll do a tour of the inner harbour, from the 5th basin to the East to Guesdon Bridge (or the entrance to the Penfeld for the largest boats) to the West, before filtering through into the Grande Rade or outer harbour.
Between 1130 and 1300 hours there will be a wealth of entertainment in front of the Moroccan village including manoeuvres by a selection of small Moroccan craft, some small lateen-rig craft from the Mediterranean, some small open boats from Brittany’s shores and small fishing fleets from other villages crossing tacks…
From 1400-1530 hours, Tack-about No.2 “by the French Navy and other professionals of the sea” will cast off, all of which, in their various shapes and sizes, provide their own unique service.
The star of the show will be the Moroccan Royal Navy patrol vessel (OPV70) – see article as XXX, built just down the coast of Brittany in Lorient. There will also be music from the crews of the fleet, including Breton band Bagad de Lann Bihoué, with ten or so chartered boats, which will take part in a downwind sail-past.
2000 hours will see the prize-giving for the Krys Ocean Race
2200 hours Presentation of the Krys Ocean Race crews to the public.
Special French Navy programme for Bastille Day
0930 hours: Installation of the troops in Cours Dajot
1000-1130 hours: 14th July ceremony, military procession, fly past by a number of aerial elements
1200 hours: Canon salute from the frigate to the Commercial port
1400-1500 hours: Demonstration of minesweeping with a towed sonar in Penfeld
1500-1600: Helicopter winching demonstration off the sea wall at La Pérouse and a drop by the Falcon 50 surveillance aircraft
1600-1700 hours: Demonstration of submarine work by the mine-clearing experts in Penfeld (post 2) relayed to the giant screen in the French Navy Village on Penfeld’s right hand bank
1700-1800 hours: Aerobatics demonstration by Cap 10 planes
1800-1900: Gathering of the boats to pay homage to the LibertyShip: between 10 and 15 Navy ships, Maritime Affairs and the Coastguard, will leave the Penfeld and group together in the 5th basin to participate in the ceremony… The staggeringly impressive “BEM Monge”, the French Navy’s Measure and Test Ship, will be lit up with its light radar in operation from sunset to 0200 hours in the morning.
1800-1900 hours: Ceremony to commemorate the exploding of the “Ocean Liberty” Liberty Ship on 28 July 1947, and pay homage to the 32 victims. In memory of this event, the street on the western corner of the bottom of the 5th basin has been baptised Rue François Quéré (after the sailor who died alongside Yves Bignon, director of the Cie des Abeilles, as he made one last-ditch attempt to sink the burning cargo of nitrate. The Abeille Bourbon, the tugs and all the service launches from the commercial and military port will group around the 5th basin for the ceremony and after the speeches, all the ships will sound their horns.
From 2130 hours: “Fest-Noz cuivré” Fanfare evening (Breton singing and dancing) in the Terre & Mer Village.
2300 hours: Special Bastille Day Fireworks Display
Throughout the day visitors will also have the chance to visit the group of Navy training yachts. To go out on the water there will be: -L’Etoile and La Belle Poule, twin schooners from 1932 (37 and 50m)
-Le Mutin, a Dundee from 1926 (33m)
-La Grande Hermine, a 1932 yawl (18m)
As well as:
L’Eridan – a minesweeper, the De Grasse – a frigate, Le Buffle – a tug, Le Telenn Mor – a port barge and the Beautemps-Beaupré.
On shore there will be four themed marquees exhibiting ‘Army professions’, ‘Marine Schools’, ‘Naval Aviation professions’ and ‘Ropework demonstrations’.