Stage 27 – Torch Relay – A day that lit up the Finistère and kicked off the Ocean Relay!

Photo credit: Paris 2024 / Cédric Michel / Sipa Press

The Olympic Torch Relay experienced a particularly festive day in the Finistère before leaving Brest to begin the unique chapter of the Ocean Relay which will illuminate 5 overseas territories. The relay continued its sporting tour of Brittany, from surfing to hiking, this Friday. The enthusiasm was palpable between Port-la-Forêt and the stage host city of Brest with the Olympic Torch Relay sponsors, Coca-Cola, Banque Populaire and Caisse d’Epargne bringing the relay convoy and celebration site to life, giving spectators an unforgettable experience. The former winner of Miss France, Laury Thilleman, lit the celebration cauldron on Quai Malbert, before the Olympic Torch embarked for an unprecedented Transatlantic crossing to Guadeloupe, with Armel Le Cléac’h and a legendary crew at the helm of the Maxi Banque Populaire XI trimaran. Paired up with Sébastien Josse, the two yachtsmen, who between them have sailed around the world 7 times, set off accompanied by four budding sailors, namely Marie-José Pérec, Marine Lorphelin, Alexis Michalik and Hugo Roellinger, for what promises to be the adventure of a lifetime!

The Olympic Torch burns bright in Finistère!

The day in the Finistère began in a musical atmosphere in Port-la-Forêt, opposite the Glénan Islands. This part of Brittany, nicknamed “crazy valley” by famous French sailor Olivier de Kersauson, has been the training ground of many renowned skippers, such as Jean Le Cam. The Olympic Torch also illuminated Quimper, passing alongside the Stade Pierre de Coubertin stadium and the quays bordering the Odet River to the historical city centre. The Spires of the Saint Corentin Cathedral overlooked this day of sporting and cultural events. In the heart of the Bigouden area, the Point de la Torche cape, a windswept peninsula which attracts surfers and hikers alike, played host to the collective surfing relay, admired by the spectators present on the immense white sandy beach. After a breath of sea air, the Olympic Torch headed for Plougastel-Daoulas, which is famous for its strawberries and boasts the “active and sporting town” label. Since it has been chosen as a training centre for the Olympic Games, it was an essential visit for the relay.

In the afternoon, the Olympic Torch Relay visited the Pointe du Raz cape, which welcomes approximately 800,000 visitors per year. Almost 600 pupils from Cap Sizun watched the show, accompanied, to begin with, by the Bagad Beuzeg Ar C’hab traditional musical group, as the relay passed in front of the Notre-Dame des Naufragés memorial to all those lost at sea. The approaches to the Raz de Sein straits also played host to a magnificent parade of old sailing ships. The Olympic Torch Relay then headed to Mont Saint-Michel-de-Brasparts, in Saint-Rivoal. From the chapel, it overlooked the heath landscape that is characteristic of the area, showing that the Finistère has more to offer than just its 2,263 kilometres of coastline. After the Monts d’Arrée hills, the Olympic Torch Relay then set off towards Brest, the “capital of the oceans”. It meandered through the city from the Moulin Blanc port, in front of a formation in the water of the letters “JO 2024” (JO: Jeux Olympiques / Olympic Games) created by one hundred water walkers. It then passed near to the Pont de Recouvrance bridge, which overlooks the arsenal and military port, before visiting the castle in Brest, which is home to the French national navy museum.

Almost 140 torchbearers helped the Finistère shine well beyond its borders

Jean Le Cam, nicknamed “King Jean”, was the first person to carry the Olympic Torch today, in Port-la-Forêt. At the age of 65 years old, he is preparing to start his 6th Vendée Globe round the world race in November. All along the route, other celebrities took it in turns to carry the Olympic Torch, such as French women’s handball team goalkeeper, Cléopâtre Darleux. Sébastien Flute, a French archer and Olympic champion in 1992, was present in Brest, as was Mariamma Merandon. This native of Brest, who won the French Nationale 3 division title in wheelchair football, also takes part in boccia and is dreaming of representing France at the Paralympic Games. Arnaud Kergosien, a para-table tennis champion and 7th best French player, carried the Olympic Torch at the Espace Avel Vor venue in Plougastel. At the day’s end, many spectators were present to encourage Laury Thilleman in Brest. The former Miss France, who is now a television presenter, was the last torchbearer of the day, before the Olympic Torch takes a journey overseas.

Today, as on previous days, was punctuated with inspiring stories. Claude Courgeau, the day’s oldest torchbearer, carried the Olympic Torch in Brest and has been working for over 30 years in the voluntary sector to help vulnerable young people. Jacques Barreau, with his company, uses cargo sailing ships to transport coffee and chocolate from one side of the world to the other. Marie-Louise Quinault, who carried the Olympic Torch in Quimper, is a veritable bundle of energy and contributes to the dynamism of her region through charitable and sporting activities.

The best-known surfing spot in Brittany plays host to the collective relay

La Torche, a famous surfing spot in Brittany, welcomed the collective surfing relay. This peninsula made a name for itself when the funboard world championships were held here in 1986. Its Dantean weather conditions, with 40-knot winds, have forged its legend. Located to the south of the Audierne Bay, this site has witnessed the beginnings of future champions, such as the native of the Bigouden area Louka Tirilly de Vera. As captain of this collective relay and a pillar of France’s surfing academy team, he embodies youth and cross-generational oceanic heritage. Alongside him, 23 other torchbearers were present, including the day’s youngest, Salomé Delaporte. Marc Emmanuel Dubrana demonstrated that visual impairment is in no way an obstacle for enjoying your passions to the full. Other athletes distinguished themselves on the water during this relay, such as shortboard champion Gaspard Larsonneur and Amandine Chazot, an elite level stand-up paddle athlete who has also shone in her medical studies, not forgetting Ronan Chatain, a former longboard champion, who shone in the world championships between 1997 and 2002.

The Olympic Torch sets sail for an exceptional crossing aboard Maxi Banque Populaire XI!

On Friday 7th June, a unique chapter of the Paris 2024 Olympic Torch Relay began, with the Ocean Relay. Thanks to Banque Populaire, one of the sponsors of the Olympic Torch Relay, the Ocean Relay involves a major sporting event: a crossing of the Atlantic Ocean aboard Maxi Banque Populaire XI, the famous Ultim class trimaran skippered by Armel Le Cléac’h, who is a major figure in ocean yacht racing and the quickest sailor to complete a tour of the world in a monohull boat. Alongside him during the crossing will be another yachtsman, Sébastien Josse, who is also a major figure in sailing, as well as a legendary crew made up of personalities who embody French success and know-how.

Marie-José Pérec, the only Frenchwoman to become a triple Olympic champion in athletics, Marine Lorphelin, an Olympic Torch Relay ambassador, Alexis Michalik, a star of French theatre and Hugo Roellinger, a chef with two Michelin stars, set sail this evening with a mixture of excitement and emotion alongside the two yachtsmen.

The imposing maxi-trimaran left Brest, with the Olympic Torch carefully preserved in a lantern on board, heading to the West Indies to experience a historical adventure. The images of this giant of the seas sailing down the Goulet de Brest narrows were breathtaking on this Friday evening. By transporting the Flame to France’s overseas territories, the Ocean Relay is enabling French people all over the world to take part in this great popular festival and celebrate the Games. The Ultim boat is expected to arrive on 15th June in Pointe-à-Pitre in Guadeloupe before heading to Martinique on 16th June with a new crew on board, made up of overseas sportspeople, to celebrate the success of the overseas French sportspeople of the past, present and future.

At the same time as the great crossing undertaken by Maxi Banque Populaire XI to the West Indies, the Olympic Torch, transported in lanterns, will successively illuminate French Guyana on 9th June, La Réunion on 12th June and French Polynesia on 13th June.

Photo credit: Paris 2024 / Cédric Michel / Sipa Press