ANNAPOLIS, Md. -- Beneteau America is thrilled to support and sponsor the Sailing for ALS campaign, led by Beneteau dealership owner Charles-Etienne Devanneaux (Charly) of NAOS Yachts, in Marina del Rey, California.
On July 8, Charly and his racing partner Fred Courouble will embark on a unique 2,070 mile journey from San Francisco to Hawaii as part of the annual Pacific Cup ocean race. Their inspiration may have started from friendship, love of speed, as well as the emotion brought on by a magnificent sunset out on the ocean. But this year, there is a much stronger motivation for crossing the finish line - to honor the memory of their dear friend, Gilles Galerne, who lost an eight-month battle with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease) in 2012.
“I met with Gilles for the first time in 2007 when I moved to the US,” said Charly. “We shared two passions - sailing and good wine. We sailed many times together: to Hawaii, Mexico, in the sea of Cortes and, of course the Santa Monica Bay, which held no secrets for us.”
Charly and Fred – a naval architect and aerospace engineer – participated in the 2011 TransPacific Ocean Race, on a Beneteau First40 with other friends, including Gilles Galerne, and finished 2nd in their class. In 2012, they sailed in the Pacific Cup, double-handed on their Beneteau First30 and won 1st 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,” shared Charly.
After their 2012 win on NAOS30, they wanted an even faster boat, selecting the 2013 Beneteau First-30 R, built in France. “‘THIRSTY’, as she is called, is built for offshore passage, communicating via satellite to receive weather data and emails during her crossing to Hawaii” shared Charly. “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 between NAOS, Passage Yachts and Beneteau America has set an ambitious 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 will end at the Kaneohe Yacht Club in Hawaii. The crew is already sharing their adventures as they prepare to set sail, and will continue to update their 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,” said Laurent Fabre, President of Beneteau America. “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.”
“We are grateful to NAOS Yachts and Beneteau America for their extraordinary efforts on behalf of the ALS community”, said Fred Fisher, President and CEO of the ALS Association Golden West Chapter. “Their participation in this year’s Pacific Cup will help increase public awareness about ALS, fund global cutting-edge research and important public policy initiatives, as well as provide compassionate care and support to families touched by the disease. All of these achievements play key roles in developing new treatments, and ultimately a cure for ALS.”
The crew of Sailing for ALS is clearly united in their passion for conquering challenges and this effort remains a personal one. “I had no prior knowledge of the disease, until I was faced with watching my dear friend fighting it,” shared Charly. “I have seen the damage it causes. We are doing this for all of the people who have this disease today, so that his life will not have been lost in vain. Gilles is with us on this journey. He is still our Captain.”