Atlas Ocean Racing – A Team Built by Trust
There are some who relish the taste of salt on their lips. These sailors cheer as a wave breaks ferociously over the bow of their boat. They throw back their heads and join in with the excited laughter from their boat mates. These individuals are steadfast, and as a crew, they thrive on teamwork and trust.
This is Atlas Ocean Racing
Based in Canada and led by two friends, Atlas Ocean Racing (AOR) is a community of amateur and expert sailors who join forces to compete in the highest levels of the sport. Atlas welcomes all levels of sailors, as the sport provides countless opportunities to gain experience in regattas and international races with their fleet. Together as a team, these crew members from all backgrounds of life work together to make one successful unit. Lessons are learned, incredible memories are made, and lifelong friendships are built.
As with all well-oiled organizations, AOR was once little more than an idea. Two men made Atlas what is it today and from their vision, this group of hearty sailors was born.
The Minds Behind Atlas
Adventurous by nature, Gilles has been leading team expeditions with corporations in the wilderness for the last 20+ years. In 2010, he found that he was longing for the sea and rekindled with his boyhood passion for sailing. He attained national level sailing experience in France and soon after, Esprit de Corps (his company) acquired their first boat. Since 2014, Gilles has been the primary race skipper and leads team preparations for AOR in international races. He frequently enjoys other endeavors, including coaching executives off dizzying ledges or building forts with his five children.
As manager of Atlas Operations, boat captain and back-up skipper, Maxime is a man who knows how to get it all done. In 2014, he was brought on board (pun not intended!) by Gilles as an addition to the AOR management team. Gilles knew that Maxime was perfect for the role, and Maxime showed his commitment to the AOR team immediately – by delivering a boat across the vast Atlantic Ocean! It’s doubtful that many would embrace such a commute, and this solidified the men’s trust in one another. Since then, Grimard has had many more incredible experiences with Atlas and has dedicated himself to the development of the team, both on and off the water.
A Friendship Formed at Sea
Together, these two men form a unique duo. Their friendship not only stems from their passion for ocean racing, but also their background in high-level basketball, and their belief in the power of a good meal at sea. Sounds like a crew we’d like to sail the seas with!
Since 2015, Gilles and Maxime have taken Atlas Ocean Racing to new heights, and the team has been one of the few Canadian representatives competing in international events. Through the dedication of this organization, the team has successfully attained many line honors and podium finishes. In 2017, AOR turned heads at the Lake Ontario 300 Challenge, a long-distance race that tests even the most experienced of sailors. The Atlas crew rose to the task and completed the race in a record-breaking time of 42 hours and 22 minutes. Incredibly, most of these participants were amateurs who started with very little experience. This speaks to the sense of achievement and the merit of Atlas as a cohesive team. The crew made waves (groan… another pun) again in 2017 after rescuing the crew of the Monterey during the first edition of the Antigua to Bermuda Race. In recognition, they were awarded the Sail Canada’s President Award, which recognizes individuals or groups who have made outstanding contributions to the sport of sailing.
There is Only Trust
Trust in Yourself
Any crew worth their salt knows that there are infinite lessons to be learned from the ocean. It demands the respect of all who venture upon it and is quick to caution those who become complacent. We feel the most alive when the sea makes us feel small. Offshore sailing inspires us to grow and to step up to the challenge. We’re forced to trust in ourselves and our abilities.
“The ocean is the ultimate teacher. When you are at sea, you cannot pretend. You know or you do not know. You feel alive when you fully own your actions.”
Trust in Your Team
Principles dictating a team’s ability to perform are even more evident at sea. This means recognizing that the strength of your crew comes from the collective efforts of every individual on the team. It means showing up on a race day well rested and prepared to perform at maximum capacity, or properly preparing for a longer voyage through research and planning. Often, it centers around communication and knowing where the responsibilities land among the team. When a crew member does not follow these principles, they put themselves at risk, as well as the rest of the team and the boat. Trust is the foundation that lends itself to AOR’s pursuit of success.
“You feel alive when you earn the trust of others and when you know you can give it back to them.”
Trust in your Vessel
With two VOR 60 yachts in their fleet, the Esprit des Corps ll and lll, Team Atlas emphasizes the need for constant care and year-round boat maintenance. The vessels are viewed not just as racing machines, but as actual members of the team. These yachts must deliver the crew to safely through frequently unpredictable and extreme conditions, and trust is paramount in these instances.
When preparing your vessel, you go through a checklist to guarantee the safety and performance of the boat. She is your lifeline, and you listen to her. You intuit what she needs and connect with her core, so while at sea you understand her every movement as though it was your own. You feel alive when you are in a state of FLOW. When you surf a wave at 25kts, handling the boat as one cohesive unit is imperative. A single mistake can cost you the ultimate price – the loss of the boat or a life.
“You feel alive when everything is on the line and everyone is focused on the same objective.”
“There are also magical moments when you share a meal with your team after braving the elements and you feel as though you can all share the same breath of relief and satisfaction at being home safe and at having tested your limits.”
Beyond the Border
Always looking far beyond the months and years in front of them, Atlas Ocean Racing is preparing to embark on their first circumnavigation within the next few years. It’s through a journey such as this one that friendships will be built, tested, and ultimately stand the trials of the sea. Crew members will challenge themselves to grow individually and as a unified entity. They will experience the highs and lows of a round-the-world-voyage and will emerge more resilient than ever. The one constant that guides a crew is trust, and this team continues to show us just how strong this foundation is.
Images by Marie-France L’ecuyer
Would you like to become a member of Team Atlas? To keep up with the crew and share in their joy of the sea, check them out on social media:
Facebook: Atlas Ocean Racing
Want to look as good as Team Atlas? check out the Aegir Collection here
– For amateurs and offshore sailing pros alike