Beneteau America will sponsor the Sailing for ALS campaign, led by Beneteau dealership owner Charles-Etienne (Charly) Devanneaux of Naos Yachts in Marina del Rey, Calif.
On July 8, Devanneaux and his racing partner, Fred Courouble, will embark on a 2,070-mile journey from San Francisco to Hawaii as part of the annual Pacific Cup ocean race.
Their inspiration might have started from friendship and love of speed, but this year they are sailing to honor the memory of a dear friend, Gilles Galerne, who in 2012 lost an eight-month battle with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease.
“I met with Gilles for the first time in 2007, when I moved to the U.S.,” Devanneaux said in a statement. “We shared two passions — sailing and good wine. We sailed many times together: to Hawaii, Mexico, in the sea of Cortez and, of course, the Santa Monica Bay, which held no secrets for us.”
Devanneaux and Courouble — a naval architect and aerospace engineer — participated in the 2011 TransPacific Ocean Race on a Beneteau First 40 with other friends, including Gilles Galerne, and finished second in their class.
In 2012 they sailed in the Pacific Cup double-handed on their Beneteau First30 and won first place in their class.
“Gilles was supposed to be waiting for our arrival in Hawaii with mai-tais, but he never made it because he had been diagnosed with ALS/Lou Gehrig’s disease,” Devanneaux said. “We decided to return this year with the ALS Association’s logo on the hull and sail, and name our voyage ‘Sailing for ALS’ to honor Gilles’ memory and all the good times we have had together.”
This joint awareness and fundraising effort among NAOS, Passage Yachts and Beneteau America has set a goal of $100,000 to benefit the ALS Association Golden West chapter.
The race will begin in the San Francisco Bay Area at the Richmond Yacht Club and end at the Kaneohe Yacht Club in Hawaii. Crewmembers already are sharing their adventures as they prepare to set sail and they will continue to update followers throughout the race via social media with video and photos.
“We are proud to sponsor Thirsty and the Naos crew to help raise awareness of ALS,” Beneteau America president Laurent Fabre said. “The Pacific Cup is always a great opportunity to prove the seaworthiness and performance of Beneteau’s vessels. This year we are very fortunate and honored to stand behind both the boat and these ambassadors, who embody our shared values of loyalty, friendship and giving back to the community.”