Gulf Week 2023. An extraordinary maritime celebration imagined around a small coffee

Gulf Week 2023. An extraordinary maritime celebration imagined around a small coffee

La Semaine du Golfe was created in 2001 to restore the image of Morbihan, damaged a few months earlier by the sinking of the Erika. But this maritime festival was born above all around a coffee, from the meeting of two men, Polig Belenfant and Jakez Kerhoas, passionate about beautiful boats. Encounter.

It was almost by chance that on this sunny Tuesday morning during Gulf Week, we found ourselves on board the boat of Jakez Kerhoas and Polig Belenfant, the two founders of the event.

Forty minutes of crossing towards the island of Arz, in the middle of skiffs, small sailboats or mythical boats like THE married. The two accomplices have a mischievous and satisfied smile on the corner of their lips. The smile of those who have succeeded in a nice bet.

This stroll in the Gulf gave us the opportunity to come back to the history of the creation of these unique maritime festivals. While Jakez Kerhoas, the silent pilot, Polig Belenfant tells the great adventure.

“It’s an idea that’s been in our heads for a long time. We saw the big gatherings in Brest or Douarnenez. There were small events in the Gulf but we didn’t have a big party like today’s. , relates Polig Belenfant. Afterwards, it’s a story of meeting… With this gentleman who is there.” He looks at Jakez Kerhoas.

“Actually, he continues, we didn’t know each other and then one day at “Mille Sabords”, the second-hand boat show at Crouesty, I came across Yann Guesdon, a journalist friend at Chasse-Marée and I told him about this idea. There are other friends who are there, and over a coffee, they tell me about Jackez. ‘It would be good if you met him’, they tell me. I had never seen him, but I knew that it was he who had created the very first maritime festivals in Brest, at Pors Beac’h in 1980. And we met in a bistro for a coffee. And then we started talking like that.”

“There were so many people, Polig remembers. We said we’re going to eat in a restaurant in Port Navalo, quiet. There were several of us and we started to phosphorize and imagine Gulf Week. Jakez had been working for two years on a project in the harbor of Lorient, but it was not progressing. In short, we got on familiar terms right away and then we started sketching like that, seeing how the Gulf worked, because the navigation there is still very special. And then at some point a waitress came to ask us what we wanted for dinner. We had spent the whole afternoon in the restaurant, without noticing the time passing.

“At the time, says Polig Belenfant, I was Deputy Director General of the Departmental Council of Morbihan. When I got home on Monday, I went to see my boss. He told me : Ah bah it’s not stupid! But maybe we should do a little feasibility study!”.

We first thought of having a larger party, and in the end, we quickly said no, this party had to take place only in the Gulf, because it is a very special entity. The only problem is that there are no major ports. Only anchorages and small shelters.

And so the idea was to say, we’re going to use the whole navigation basin and we’re going to separate the boats into flotillas and then we’re going to sail them. We’re going to make them change port every day.”

The concept was born. And in 2021 the first edition of Gulf Week was born. She had to be unique. But the success was such that it was quickly decided to organize it every two years.

For this 12th edition, the success is undeniable. 1,300 boats from all over the world are registered. So when we ask Polig Belenfant if he is proud of this success, he just smiles a little while looking at the dozens of boats on the water, then turns to Jakez Kerhoas with a knowing look and answers “Yes, quite”.

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