Fabrice Beer-Gabel - Around Bréhat
Île-de-Bréhat circumnavigation (clockwise)
10.8 km (6.7 miles)
3 hours, 15 minutes on 4 August 2021
Observed and documented by Gwendal Tomasi
First Documented Swim
- Name: Fabrice Beer-Gabel
- Gender: male
- Age on swim date: 52
- Nationality: Israel
- Resides: Ramat Hasharon
- Christophe Tardivel - pilot
- Elisa Bertein - nutrition
- Talia Beer-Gabel - nutrition
- Eric Raynaud - support
- Avishag Turek - remote support
Observer: Gwendal Tomasi
Mr. Tomasi is an experienced sailor and sailing instructor with thousands of hours spent at sea in the Atlantic ocean, English channel and Mediterranean sea. He has been boat owner, skipper and crew member on dozens of boats and has participated in sailing competitions (Hedec, Classical yacht Regata). He is also an accredited instructor for people with disabilities and has organized sailing tours for people with handicaps. His sailing experience in the area includes sailing around Brehat where he first learnt sailing and the channel islands Jersey, Chausey and Guernsey.
|PLE38091||Dervenis aluminum, 250hp||Paimpol|
- Category: Solo, nonstop, unassisted.
- Rules: MSF Rules of Marathon Swimming, without exception or modification.
- Equipment used: Textile swimsuit (Turbo), swim cap, goggles, ear plugs.
- Body of Water: English Channel
- Route Type: circumnavigation
- Start & Finish Location: Guerzido Beach (48.837721, -2.998034)
- Minimum Route Distance: 10.8 km (6.7 miles) (map)
Paimpol Immersion organized an annual event from 2011-2016. No known previous unassisted circumnavigations of the island.
- Start: 4 August 2021, 09:01:00 (Europe/Paris, UTC2).
- Finish: 4 August 2021, 12:16:08
- Elapsed: 3 hours, 15 minutes, 8 seconds.
Summary of Conditions
|Water Temp (C)||17||19|
|Air Temp (C)||18||22|
|Wind (Beaufort scale)||1||2|
Trackpoint frequency: 10 minutes. Download raw data (CSV).
Nutrition: See log.
by Fabrice Beer-Gabel
Why this swim
Brehat is an island of stunning natural and man-made beauty. I used to spend summer vacations here as a teenager and enjoyed the freedom of wandering around this small car-free island with my friends. It offers amazing views of granite rocks carved by erosion, lighthouses, wild ferns fields, beautiful stone houses, flowery gardens, pine trees and creeks surrounded by dozens of rocks. Altogether, the archipelago offers wonderful changing colors as the tides change, the sea fills or empties creeks and the sun sets on the sea behind pine trees and surround rocks. The island’s permanent population is 350 strong and attracts 380,000 visitors each year. It is a very popular touristic destination that mainly brings daily visitors. Painted by famous 20^th^ century artist Marc Chagall (“La fenêtre de l’ile de Brehat”, 1924), Brehat is also known as the flower island because of its mild climate (neither freezing nor desert hot) and past sailors often returning from long journeys with exotic seeds that could be planted and grown on the island.
Brehat has seen many sailors over the centuries. The many rocks surrounding the island, strong tides, currents and unpredictable weather patterns have made this place a test of sailors’ skills.
As I developed my passion for adventure marathon swimming in the past years, the thought of circumnavigating the island became a dream and a wonderful challenge. I realized it could be achieved with proper planning and knowledge of the tricky currents in the area.
Key to success was the ability to assemble a team that knows the area well. I was blessed to be introduced to Christophe Tardivel, born and raised on the island, past fisherman, fireman and boat owner with an extensive knowledge of the area. Christophe was enthusiastic about this swimming adventure and joined in as pilot. Gwendal Tomasi, long time sailor from Brehat, educator and instructor also joined in to learn marathon rules and act as observer for the swim. My daughter and her cousin were enrolled as the nutrition team. My friend Avishag Turek, triple crown swimmer, followed and advised remotely. We had the perfect team for success!
A swim course was available from Paimpol Immersion, a nearby sailing association that has organized an assisted swim around the island (fins, wetsuits, etc.) in the past. I used this as a basis to plan my solo unassisted swim.
to start the swim and remains accessible no matter the tides.
tides during both the south-to-north and north-to-south sections of the swim. For this, we needed to reach the northern most point (Phare du Paon - Paon lighthouse) at the turn of the low tide. We picked a day with a low tide coefficient (sub 60) to avoid tricky currents at the change of tide to the North.
Southern Guerzido beach, which based on my swim speed and tidal current estimates, should allow me to reach the Paon lighthouse at low tide and take advantage of the reversing currents on the way back South. We favored a morning swim to give more chance to a calm weather.
options of August 3,4,5 for the swim. We were onsite on August 1 and decided on August 4 based on the weather forecast taken from site “Meteo Marine Consult” (also available as a mobile phone application).
since I usually swim in Israel where no cold water is found during the summer months. I decided to arrive a few days in advance to swim daily on site and planned my nutrition to include frequent feeding stops with warm drinks.
island. A beautiful and always accessible beach no matter the tides. It is on the more weather protected and popular side of the island.
[Kerpont channel] : A natural channel formed between Brehat and the Beniget island at the south West. It offers shallow waters and beautiful underwater scenery at low tides.
islands at the end of the Kerpont channel. There can be boat traffic there.
[Tour Blanche] : An iconic white tower to the West of Brehat. Beautiful site that marks the entrance into the channel facing side of the island where the sea gets more agitated and deeper.
[Phare du Paon] : The lighthouse at the northern tip of the island marks mid point in the swim. This is the most exposed area in terns of weather and sea.
[Chambre] : a corridor on the Eastern side between Brehat and many small rocks. In rough weather, boats can come here to take refuge from the weather. Currents can be tricky at the entrance into the Chambre. We planned for the swim include these rocks as part of the circumnavigation and therefore stay outside of the chamber.
The swim went extremely well. Timing estimates were right and it took exactly 1h45 to reach the Northernmost point (phare du Paon).
We were lucky to have quiet seas, calm weather and non-disturbing currents overall. The dark grey cloud that covered the sky during most of the swim cleared up towards the end. The arrival at Guerzido beach was under beautiful sunny weather.
It was beauty all around. Changing views of rocks, cliffs, lighthouses, houses and boats made it a wonderful swim as I challenged myself in Brehat’s waters.
It was such a joy to see a few friends holding a banner with a huge “Go Fabrice” at the Tour Blanche. I could see them from a distance and stopped to wave back to them. It was heartwarming and perfectly timed as I was starting to feel cold.
My nutrition plan was too high on sugar. Concerned by the cold water I had planned for 800 calories per hour which felt too much after the first hour at which point I lowered the calorie intake. The warm drink every 20 minutes was helpful. The feeling of cold was mostly felt during the second quarter of the swim (3km-6km).
A word of support to people suffering from ankylosing spondylitis (AS). At the age of 20 I was diagnosed with AS. Besides taking Voltaren, I was told the best thing to do was to swim to keep my back straight. I went to the pool and got out of breadth after the first lap. Fast forward 30 years. I developed a passion for open water swimming adventures, switched to biologic medication after a painful crisis. Marathon Swimming is now part of my life, helps me stay fit and strong body and mind through connection to nature and cold(er) water. Not everyone's AS allows for this but I highly encourage those who can to explore this activity. Swimming is gentle on articulations. When in real pain, I used hydroptherapy, when feeling better I go to the pool, sea and lakes to energize. I hope this post encourages you to put more water into your life.
Click to enlarge.