It could hardly have been any closer, the final standings in the 2022 Pro Sailing Tour remained in the balance until the closing moments of the ‘Final Rush’, when the Quentin Vlamynck skippered Arkema crossed the finish line off Roscoff to take a hard-earned well-deserved victory.
The French skipper, at 28 the youngest skipper in the history of the Ocean Fifty class and the Pro Sailing Tour runner-up in 2021, went into the finale of offshore sailing’s most exciting new competition a single point ahead of defending British champion Sam Goodchild on Leyton.
With all to play for the high-intensity season came down to a challenging 940 nm course from Cowes to Roscoff which Vlamynck and his crew of Etienne Carra and Mayeul Riffet took in their stride to claim the overall prize.
“It was very intense, and we were match-racing from the start – it came down to pure speed,” Vlamynck said.
“Along the English coast we had to fight hard, Leyton got caught in a patch of light air and were able to take advantage and move into the lead. Then we tried to control the situation, but each time Leyton came back.
“We had a 14-mile lead on the way down from Ireland and when we arrived in Penmarc’h, we were not going to hang around! We had a lot of doubts about strategy and had to really stay focused. It was a constant race and we just had to keep on top of it at all times.”
And he concluded: “The team was great, and we have made a lot of progress with everyone working hard and the boat is really good too. We are really happy because the competitiveness and level in the Ocean Fifty fleet is very high.”
Leyton crept across the Roscoff finish line in a falling breeze 24 minutes behind Arkema – and only 18 seconds ahead of Erwan Le Roux’s Koesio after a match-race around Brittany.
“We gave it our all to try and catch Arkema but keeping up was not easy – we managed to catch up a bit and then each time they would just to get away,” said Goodchild, who raced with Aymeric Chappellier and Pierre Pennec.
“They sailed very well, made very few mistakes and they always go very fast. We gave it our all. We were aiming to win the overall but at least we were able to save second place.
“Arkema has raised the level since last year when we were able to take advantage of some small mistakes but this year they are going even faster and making fewer mistakes. Congratulations to them, they sailed very well,” he added.
“Koesio was in much better shape than last year and we’re always happy to have the competition. Second place is not so disappointing. The balance of the season is still positive.”
The leading trio were followed home later by Thibaut Vauchel-Camus on Solidaires En Peloton-ARSEP, who placed third in 2021, and Tour newcomer Eric Peron on Komilfo who is due in on Sunday.
Gilles Lamiré on Groupe GCA-1001 Sourires did not complete the Final Rush after dismasting southwest of the Scilly Isles when a forestay fitting failed. Meanwhile Sébastien Rogues’ Primonial did not start the final Episode following a grounding in The Solent which required repairs in Cowes.
Speaking at the end of the racing, Julien Mauriat, CEO of the Pro Sailing Tour, said: “Our second season has been a great success across all three of our focus areas: performance – the difference in performance between Season 1 and Season 2 is obvious.
“This year there were four or five teams capable of reaching the podium. Performance has been a major draw of this circuit for the skippers. Diversity, being able to show the diversity of the places and the story of these sailors through our documentary series, and to share this with as many people as possible.
“ We have managed to achieve contact with the public at every venue that we have visited. There has been a lot of curiosity and it changes each time, whether it is in the Mediterranean, or in the Atlantic between Bonifacio, Brest, Saint Brieuc, Cowes and Roscoff. We were able to introduce more than 1,000 children to sailing and the Tour.”
Amid the celebrations ashore in Roscoff, a conference was held on the theme ‘How does sailing and competitive sailing in Finistère take into account environmental issues?
From education to action…’, followed by a Prize-Giving for the Final Rush. On-going events on Sunday are set to include a chance to meet and get autographs from the skippers in the Race Village, and a Prize-Giving for the overall Pro Sailing Tour 2022 followed by an afternoon Parade of Sail in Morlaix Bay.
The closely fought Pro Sailing Tour 2022 started with Episode 1 in Bonifacio, Corsica, back in May, with Vlamynck making his intent clear by claiming an early lead during the opening seven inshore races and then taking his first Episode win after clinching victory in the 24-hour Challenge around southern Corsica ahead of Goodchild and Le Roux.
In Episode 2 in Brest, there was a change in the order, with Goodchild’s Leyton on a fightback, winning four of the six inshore races and then the triple-pointed 24-hour race around Finistère. Overall Leyton finished ahead of Rogues’ Primonial with Arkema in third place.
Then the pendulum swung back once again at Episode 3 held in the Brittany port of Saint-Brieuc. Here Vlamynck and his crew had the best of the inshore races with four wins and two seconds and went on to take second place in the Offshore Challenge to Cowes behind Leyton which put them back on top of the overall ranking by a single point… with only the ‘Final Rush’ to come.