Transat Bakerly 2016 – At 10.43 pm (French time) on Monday 16th May, Arkema skipper Lalou Roucayrol crossed The Transat Bakerly finish line New York to finish second in the Multi50 class.
Finishing one day and 23 hours after class winner Gilles Lamiré, Roucayrol put in a courageous performance, completing the final 1000nm of the grueling solo transatlantic race without his daggerboard. Well known for his fighting spirit, Roucayrol has once again demonstrated the raw determination he applies to reaching his end goal – in this case to get to New York and finish The Transat Bakerly. Finishing runner up after 4190 miles, Lalou Roucayrol can be very proud of his performance.
Leaving from Plymouth on Monday 2nd May, the Multi50 skipper knew that The Transat Bakerly was not going to be a walk in the park – crossing the North Atlantic never is. With the harsh, cold, wet and windy conditions of the Atlantic, combined with very little sleep and exhausting maneuver after manoeuvre, The Transat Bakerly is known as the toughest solo transatlantic race in the world – Roucayrol spent 14 days under these conditions.
Off to a great start, Arkema lead the Multi50 fleet for a large majority of the race to New York. Then, on Wednesday 11th May, Roucayrol’s race took a cruel twist when he lost his daggerboard following a collision with an Unidentified Floating Object. Without this vital equipment to control the trajectory of the boat upwind, Roucayrol could have made the decision there and then to retire from the race, but as the skipper declared: ‘Lalou and Arkema never give up.’
The skipper’s navigators (Karine Fauconnier and Eric Mas) have worked hard to decipher a new path for the skipper, allowing the damaged Arkema to reach New York on the safest and smoothest route possible as Fauconnier explained:
‘Lalou never considered withdrawing from the race. It would have been easier for him to head to Boston or Portland because we would have had a better wind angle to the coast without drifting, but Lalou was not for that opinion.
His objective was clear: to finish the race despite the storm that was forming in front of New York, forcing himself to sail upwind in 35 knots of wind without a daggerboard. We managed to find the right routing to enable him progress to the finish line. This, combined with Lalou’s ability, helped him reach his final destination. Lalou is a good sailor and he knew how to handle the damaged boat in the strong weather conditions. What he has achieved is incredible!” she concluded.
Lalou Roucayrol on his arrival in New York:
One of the biggest things I will remember about his race is the successful trio made up of myself, Eric Mas and Karine Fauconnier – together we worked superbly well. Eric provided the technical aspect of the weather analysis and Karine is a very experienced sailor and my navigator. Apart from losing my daggerboard, the boat is perfectly intact. The autopilot worked very well, and all of the changes and improvements I made to the boat this winter were validated during the race.
Taking the more northerly route we experienced harsher conditions, but the boat tried really hard. However, things got more difficult after the damage to the daggerboard – it was a bit of a hassle! Daggerboard free for six days, the boat just does not handle in the same way. I managed to find a setting that worked in 25 to 30 knots of winds under two reefs ORC with the mainsail a little open. This set up helped to balance the boat, but the central hull was always glued to the water. Like this the shocks of hitting a wave are much harder, it was pretty violent onboard. The arrival was slow, the last few miles to New York were like a deliverance!
by Marieastrid Parendeau