• Gabart On Pace To Crush Record!



    CHART


    With less than 800 nautical miles to sail to the finish of the 2018 Route du Rhum-Destination Guadeloupe solo transatlantic race – from Saint Malo in Brittany to Pointe-à-Pitre in Guadeloupe - the French sailor François Gabart is on course not only to win the ULTIME class but to smash the outright race record.

    After just six days at sea Gabart, at the helm of the maxi-trimaran MACIF, is now within a day-and-a-half of finishing the 3,542-nautical mile race and estimates published by the race director’s office suggest he could break the existing seven-day, 15-hour record by as much as 19 hours.

    Gabart is a sailing superstar in France – he has many victories to his name in single and double-handed ocean racing and has won the Vendée Globe solo round-the-world race and also set a new non-stop solo round-the-world record.




    But the diminutive 35-year-old from La Forêt-Fouesnant in Brittany wants this win in the ULTIME class to follow his victory in this race four years ago in the IMOCA division. He knows that his fellow Frenchman Francis Joyon on IDEC Sport has been on his tail all the way across the Atlantic and that – at around 120 miles behind – Joyon is ready to pounce on any mistake.
    “Francis never lets go, but that is normal and, if it were me, I’d be the same,” said Gabart today, as his boat continued heading west in the northeasterly trade winds. “Until the finish line is broken the game is open. You need to give it your all to the end.

    “I will do everything to stay in first,” he continued. “This lead in these boats that do 30 knots of speed is nothing. And having Francis on my tail is pushing me hard but I am still managing the risk, all the time. I could gain a few knots here and there if I took more risk, but I am pushing as hard as I can – there is no more on the gas pedal.”

    This race is being contested in six classes and while Gabart heads serenely on, hundreds of miles behind him there are intriguing battles going on in the smaller boats in the 123-strong field.

    In the Multi50 class the early race leader Thibaut Vauchel-Camus (Solidaires En Peloton-Arsep) has now made a very quick and efficient pit-stop in the Azores where his shore team fixed his broken mast-track and mainsail.

    He has now rejoined the race in second place behind the new leader, Armel Tripon in Réauté Chocolat who is nearly 200 miles ahead and a whopping 600 miles further south than Vauchel-Camus.

    A nice sporting touch was that when Vauchel-Camus stopped in the Azores, the shore team of his other main rival in the class – Erwan Le Roux (FenêtréA-Mix Buffet) who made a pit-stop after him – helped the Solidaires team to dock his boat.

    n the IMOCA monohull class the leading group is south and west of the Canary Islands and well into the trade winds with Alex Thomson now comfortably ahead on Hugo Boss, from Paul Meilhat on SMA and Vincent Riou on PRB.

    Meilhat is sailing a 2011-vintage boat with a distinguished history but it does not have foils and is equipped with daggerboards. By rights the 36-year-old Frenchman should be further back in this fleet but he has held position against Thomson all the way through the bad weather in the opening stages and kept pace with Riou.

    Marcus Hutchinson who managed the SMA project until Christmas last year says that if the wind angles in the trade winds over the next week see the boats reaching then it will be very hard for Meilhat to hang on in the top-three as the others get up on their foils and race away. However if the wind is further aft then Meilhat has a good chance of making the podium.

    “Paul is sailing extremely well,” said Hutchinson. “He knows that boat inside out in its current configuration and he is a bloody good sailor – even in the tough weather in the early stages there has been no drama because he was very well prepared.”

    In the Class40 fleet, the leading bunch is following the IMOCAs south towards the Canary Islands before the skippers turn west under the Azores High. Yoann Richomme on Veedol-AIC continues to set a fierce pace ahead of second-placed Phil Sharp on IMERYS CLEAN ENERGY who is around 70 miles behind.

    harp is relieved to be out of the westerly storm track in the north Atlantic and settling into calmer conditions further south and says the routing predictions give him a 10-day passage to the finish.

    “The good news is that the new Lombard Lift Veedol rocketship is now going slightly slower than me for the first time in the race,” quipped Sharp referring to Richomme’s boat. “He could well be in lighter winds at the moment, but it’s a relief to see that the boat can actually sail at less than 10 knots!…I have a lot of work to do to catch up but I am hungry for it.”

    In the two amateur Rhum classes – divided between monohulls and multihulls – the boats are spread far and wide and there are still many skippers taking shelter from the rough weather in the Bay of Biscay who should begin re-joining the race tomorrow.

    In the Rhum Multi division Pierre Antoine on Olmix remains the runaway leader. Behind him Loïck Peron on Happy, a sistership of the small trimaran that won the first Route du Rhum back in 1978, is now up to sixth place as he heads towards the latitude of Cape St Vincent.

    In the Rhum Mono class, spare a thought for 58-year-old Dominique Dubois on the 50ft GHEO who has been battling three storm systems in the Biscay and has struggled to make headway south. His track from the start shows Dubois heading west, then north as he runs downwind from the worst of the weather, then back south, then north again and so on. After six days at sea, he is still 160 miles north of Cape Finisterre and remarkably still in sixth place in the class. What is more he is still in good spirits despite his trials and tribulations.

    In a recent message to the race organisation he was sounding pleased to be finally heading south after five days of “hell” as he rode out the worst of the weather. “He sounded fine, a bit tired but on good form, but his aim was just to ride out the storms until he felt it was time to go south,” said a race official.

    As the first finishers near Guadeloupe, OC Sport Pen Duick, the owner and organiser of the Route du Rhum-Destination Guadeloupe, is delighted to announce a new commercial partnership with the world leading deckware and safety equipment manufacturer, Spinlock, which becomes Official Life Jacket Supplier to the race.

    Spinlock is providing 50 of its award-winning lightweight lifejackets – the Deckvest LITE - to race staff and volunteers in Guadeloupe. They will be worn by local fisherman and other marine professionals, whose boats and crews are assisting the event management team with course marshalling, filming race finishers, ferrying race officials and hosting VIP spectators.

    The partnership with Spinlock, which is based in Cowes in the UK, reflects the importance of safety for all the many staff and volunteers who help to make this four-yearly solo transatlantic race a success.
    *******************************





    With about 700 nautical miles to go to Guadeloupe, Francis Joyon is taking full advantage of a strong trade wind blowing from the east-northeast at around 20 knots.

    IDEC SPORT and her skipper are really enjoying themselves with speeds permanently above 30 knots, which is way in excess of the boat’s polars, but also better than the performance achieved in the Jules Verne Trophy on the non-stop round-the-world course with a full crew.

    Joyon is not hiding the fact that he is pushing his boat hard and for this Route du Rhum-Destination Guadeloupe is in the same mode as for the records, which built his reputation. He is keenly chasing after the blue boat. The MACIF trimaran is still within reach and is keeping IDEC SPORT in check, with the latter regaining 50 miles yesterday.

    “We’re in typical trade winds. The boat loves it,” said Joyon. “Twenty knots of wind and we’re speeding along at 30-36 knots all the time. It’s great and the boat isn’t suffering at all. It’s really fantastic. We chose a tactic to deal with MACIF, as she is a bit further south. I’m trying to play with them,” he added.

    “I’m still under full mainsail and gennaker, giving it my all. I’m pleased with the boat and when I look at how she performed with a crew, I can see I’m doing better, as IDEC SPORT is much lighter now and that’s an appreciable difference.”

    In sprint mode, Joyon is doing his utmost. He knows all about the Route du Rhum and having sailed several times around the north of the island of Guadeloupe, he also knows that anything can happen until they have passed Basse-Terre.

    I can smell Guadeloupe coming up. The finish is traditionally very tactical and you can find yourself stopped for several hours. I have seen that happen to my advantage and disadvantage. In 2014 with Yann Eliès, I made it through, but in another edition, I got completely stuck.”

    At the helm and under the protective cover on his boat after a quick spell out on the deck, Joyon is focusing on his obsession - speed. “The protective cover is my rest area, but I am spending more time at the helm and trimming the sails. I only go under the cover to grab a bite to eat, look at the weather and take a short nap. That is something that hasn’t changed for the better either.

    “I’ll be completely out of it by the time we get to the finish,” he continued. “I tend not to restrain the boat. She can take it, as she was well prepared and I’m really pushing her like crazy. I have narrowed the gap slightly to MACIF. I like that. It’s never over on a multihull until it’s over. It just takes a thundery calm and in our trimarans, it only takes a few hours to catch up what we have lost.”
    This article was originally published in forum thread: A Record Number Of Single Handed Rum Runners started by Photoboy View original post