Multihulls romp home, make way for battle of the Class40s
Transat Québec Saint-Malo 2016 – The hot summer night in Saint-Malo yesterday belonged to none other than the fast multihulls racing in the Transat Québec Saint-Malo presented in collaboration with the City of Lévis. In magnificent style, Spindrift 2 succeeded in its twofold challenge to claim victory in the Ultimate Class fleet and set a new all-time race record.
Three of the Muti50 boats in the race crossed the finish line at daybreak in a spectacular grand finale. Lalou Roucayrol and his trimaran Arkema romped home to glory with a comfortable two-hour lead over Ciela Village (Thierry Bouchard) and French Tech Rennes Saint-Malo (Gilles Lamiré), which both crossed the line neck-and-neck as the sun was rising over the walled city of Saint-Malo. Nineteen Class40 boats and Luc Coquelin’s Open 50 are now converging toward the entrance of the English Channel in the wake of the remaining Multi50 contender Pierre Antoine (Olmix).
Spaniard Gonzalo Botin (Talès II) continues to strengthen his lead ahead of the grand battle that’s expected to unfold in the faltering winds off Brittany. No fewer than eleven of the boats are now working every angle, hedging their bets on the fickle weather patterns and hoping to get the better of the Iberian trailblazers as the next chapter in this truly remarkable Transat Québec Saint-Malo looks set to draw to a close as early as Friday evening.
A record-breaking Transat
Spindrift 2 takes the overall record hands-down! Yann Guichard, Dona Bertarelli, and their twelve-strong crew have steamrolled the record set by Loïck Peyron in 1996. Their remarkable time of six days, one hour, seventeen minutes, and 41 seconds and average speed of 20.99 knots over the 2,897-nautical miles of this fabulous course are going to be a tough nut for future record-breakers to crack. All three of the Multi50s crossed the finish line under the benchmark time set in 2012 by Erwan Le Roux (FenêtréA Cardinal).
With an average speed of 13.6 knots and a time of nine days, nine hours, zero minutes, and 58 seconds, Lalou Roucayrol, César Dohy, Etienne Carra, and Karine Fauconnier are the new class record holders. This is the second Transat Québec Saint-Malo win for Karine, Arkema’s onboard navigator, on the heels of her 60-foot trimaran victory in 2004. As proof of the astounding performance these 50-foot trimarans are capable of, Thierry Bouchard set a new 24-hour distance record on Sunday, July 17 of 523.4 nautical miles—that’s a blistering average speed of 21.8 knots!
The Class40 contingent is flexing its muscles too. The uncontested leader of the pack since the monohulls entered the Atlantic, Spanish skipper—and two-time Class40 world champion—Gonzalo Botin logged a run of 373.6 nautical miles and clocked an average speed of 15.56 knots over a 24-hour period on Saturday, July 17. The benchmark time for this Transat set by two-time race winner Halvard Mabire (Campagne de France, in 11 days, 17 hours, and 30 minutes) may still fall.
Final act for the Class40s
Records aside, it’s the thirst for victory that’s driving the seven key players in the class. Not one of the skippers in the leading group of seven—from Gonzalo Botin out ahead to young sailor Jules Bonnier (Cora – Moustache Solidaire) at the rear of the pack is ready to give up the fight just 370 nautical miles from the finish. All the players are scrambling to enter the English Channel in prime position with the narrowest of gaps and all their tools at the ready. Phil Sharp (Imerys), thrown off his game somewhat since his big spinnaker—the sail of the day—ripped in two, is calling on every last scrap of skill his fellow crew members Adrien Hardy and Milan Kolacek can muster up to repair this ultimate weapon.
Isabelle Joschke, bolstered by Alain Gautier and Pierre Brasseur aboard Generali Horizon Mixité, is closing in from a more northerly position upwind of the leading group. Sailing a closer angle to the wind powering them toward Brittany is ideal for their boat, which isn’t as comfortable reaching across the south-southwesterly wind. Isabelle is neck-and-neck with the only other female skipper in the race, Catherine Pourre, who’s pushing her Mach 40 Eärendil to the max. Every one of the sailors is giving it their all ahead of the roulette wheel in the English Channel that will reshuffle the deck. There are plenty of surprises still in store, as well as all the makings for a thrilling grand finale.
Here’s what the competitors had to say:
Isabelle Joschke – Generali Horizon Mixité
“We’re moving fast and having a blast! I’ve never sailed like this before, so fast for so long. It’s easy to get addicted to surfing the swell and clocking the high speeds. I hope it’ll last as long as possible. We’re not paying too much attention to the rankings. We’re staying true to the line we’ve taken since the beginning to hang on the leading group for as long as we can, conserve our energy, and keep the boat in good shape so we can play our best hand once we get to the English Channel when the conditions get trickier. For the moment, we’re right on track with our roadmap. We’re ready for anything in the final leg, and the boat is 100%. We have all our sails at the ready.
We’re thrilled to be contact racing alongside ultra-quick boats like Talès II and the Mach40s. It was a good thing we headed way north to get a good downwind angle, since we know our rivals are unbeatable on the reaches. The sun is coming out again and we can see some blue skies. This is a great Transat, and Pierre, Alain, and I are getting on famously. We’re taking turns to get some rest in between the times when we need three pairs of hands on deck. It’s hard to say anything about an arrival time, since all the ups and downs of the weather in the English Channel in July are tough to figure out.”
Mikael Ryking – Talanta
“The wind came up strong last night and we were flying, taking buckets of water in the face. We’re happy with our race on the whole, but we’re pretty bummed to have fallen into a trap in the St. Lawrence. We let the leading group get away when we got caught in a hole in the wind. We’re not in the same systems any more, but we’re holding our own. The crew is really getting to know one another, with a Frenchman, an Englishman, an American, and a Swede on board, and we’re managing to communicate a lot among ourselves. We’re going to see some fast conditions in the days ahead and are hoping to make land on Saturday. The boat is in top shape. We’re only mourning the loss of two of our buckets we were using as toilets—and Sam (Holiday) managed to put a crack in the third one, no pun intended…”
Pierre Antoine – Olmix
“The weather is shaping up nicely for us to arrive as early as tomorrow evening, that’s Thursday. The southwesterly wind is expected to hold. We’ve been sparring alongside the Class40 Talès II ever since Saint Pierre. They’re so fast, they’re really putting the pressure on. We’ve been alternating between the big gennaker and the Code Zero. This is an ultra-fast Transat. We’ve broken all the records for the boat, averaging 15.5 knots some days. Today we’re on track for another 350-mile day, and we’re going to shave a whole day off our boat’s time for this Transat! Physically we’re all doing well and it was the right decision to set sail with a crew of four as opposed to 2012, when there were only three of us.”
Phil Sharp – Imerys
“Since we lost the use of our big spinnaker, it’s hard for us to picture catching up with Talès II. We repaired the sail once, but it didn’t hold. Milan et Adrien have just stitched it up again and we’re hoping to fly it again in the English Channel. The race isn’t over yet. Things are going to slow right down once we hit the Channel, and we’re hoping to overtake a few more boats. Milan and Adrien are happy. Just like me, they hail from a Mini background, and a Class40 is just like a great big Mini. They’ve had a whale of a time pushing the boat hard. This has been such an ultra-fast Transat, it’s unbelievable. We hoping to arrive on Friday…”
All programming information and details on registered crews can be found online at website.
by Dominique Jobin