When he crossed the finish line off Pointe-a-Pitre Guadeloupe at 18:18:46 hrs UTC/19:18:46 CET/14:18:46 hrs local time this Monday 10th November, Yann Guichard, solo skipper of the world’s biggest racing trimaran Spindrift 2, finished in second place in the 10th edition of La Route du Rhum-Destination Guadeloupe. He took 8d 5h 18mn 46sec at an average 17.95 knots, to complete the theoretical course distance of 3,542 miles at an average speed of 17.95 kts, Guichard finished 14 hours, 10 minutes and 14 seconds behind the race winner Loick Peyron. In reality the French skipper of Spindrift 2 sailed 4,334 miles at an average of 21.96 knots.
The simple act of completing the demanding Transatlantic race alone on a trimaran which was originally designed for a crew of 14 – at 40 metres long and 18 tonnes, the largest racing trimaran in the world – is a feat in itself, one which many doubted was possible before this race started Sunday 2nd November in Saint-Malo.
In finishing second Guichard returns an excellent sporting result, only outmatched over the racecourse by the exceptional combination of Peyron, Maxi Solo Banque Populaire VII and his routing team.
Peyron has first hand experience of the physical challenge that Guichard has lived over the last eight days as he previously skippered the 40m trimaran with a 14 man crew when it was Banque Populaire V. It was no surprise then that Peyron paid a rich tribute to Guichard during his victory speeches yesterday.
While Peyron had already competed in the Route du Rhum six times over more than 30 years, this is Guichard’s second. He finished fourth into Pointe-a-Pitre in the last edition, in 2010 on a 70ft Ultime and by his own admission the former Olympic trimaran racer, who finished fourth in Sydney in 2000 in the Tornado, is not an expert in Transatlantic races.
This time he proved it could be done, solo, on such a big, extreme multihull.
Spindrift 2’s race
After a cautious start in the English Channel and around the tip of Brittany, Yann Guichard became better able to harness the power of the huge tri, working up from fifth early on. And by Cape Finisterre he was up to second place, about thirty miles behind Solo Maxi Banque Populaire VII. At this stage of the course, the delta looked very tenable and the leading duo were expected to tack off, trading gybes to victory. But during the passage of Madeira, a quiet zone of light winds forced the leaders to gybe away to find wind. It was here that the leader Loick Peyron really made his telling break. But Guichard, ever the competitor, could not slacken off and pushed to the finish. And so most parts of his mission are accomplished despite some very difficult times, not least in the manouvres, some of which sap the same energy as running a half marathon.
Yann Guichard – first words: “There were some really tough moments on the race, but I managed to hold on right to the end. I knew I could race on the boat, believed that I could do it. On the second day I had some technical problems and one of the autopilots stopped functioning. This caused enormous stress.
“Where I most lost ground on Loick (Peyron) was with the maneouvers. They just took so long and had to be planned very carfully. I had a couple of scary moments, the first few days of bad weather and then off Portugal too. The maneouvers were so so tough. It is not easy to manage racing the boat and I do not think I could do this alone again. I have never pushed myself like this. It took me 4 hours to to get the gennaker up and spent over 2.5 hours on the bow trying it properly. I had tears in my eyes. The sheer physical effort was unbelievable.
“We do need machines like this to be on the podium, but it was so tough. Richard Silvani and Erwan Israel were there and supported me throughout guiding me through the best route and their help was immense. Now I am going to rest and analyse the performance because we do not have long, we are under pressure because next year we are off again.
“I am proud and believed I could do it; I was probably one of the only ones in the team to think so. Now is time to have a rest; I do not think I have slept for more than 2 hours over past week and am just shattered. It is time to enjoy the welcome and then have some rest. I am really exhausted. It was the biggest challenge of my life. I am so happy now to be in Guadeloupe. They were eight very hard days. I had a lot of manoeuvres. The speeds were incredible. It was difficult to sleep. My boat is too big for one singlehanded man. It is too heavy at 21 tonnes.
“Just after the first day it was really difficult because we had had a lot of tacks. You cannot tack with these boats every hour. When we went down the Bay of Biscay and the coast of Portugal we had 30kts gusting 45 and I pushed the boat trying to catch Loick. I had the boat flying twice and it was really crazy. I pushed the boat too hard. I tried to get back to Loick but he was too strong in this race.”
The race continues:
In the IMOCAs Gabart adjusted to the north with a gybe last night – better breeze again filled to his north and so got himself closer to the rhumb line – 1244 miles to the finish, 35.7 miles ahead of Jérémie Beyou. Macif is quicker.
François Gabart, IMOCA MACIF: “It is going well in Trade Winds conditions. At the Azores, we went from headwinds to tailwinds and so sailing has been pretty much fun since then. Jeremie is never far away. He keeps pushing on what amounts to a long speed test. And that is quite logical as there are no strategic choices to make. And I like to sail in contact it is easier and more fun. Last night I gyes and got a little more to the west to stay on the more direct route to Guadeloupe. My first Route du Rhum is very much up to my expectations, it has been good sport since the start and still is. We have had eight days of great racing and I am enjoying it. At the back of this group the battle Tanguy de Lamotte is slowly catching up with Alessandro di Benedetto. Both have had their problems. Alessandro is still 305 miles ahead of Tanguy but Tanguy is quicker with more powerful boat a dozen years newer.”
The leaders are straight lining it to Gaudeloupe
The Multi 50 are just ahead of the IMOCAs on the water Erwan le Roux on FenetreA Cardinal is 63.5nm ahead of Lalou Roucayrol on Arkema Region Aquitaine.
Class 40 Kito de Pavant is back ahead by 11 miles in front of Spain's Alex Pella in good conditions, they are in the trade winds under SE of Azores high pressure. Alex Pella is 3 kts quicker and Thibault Vachel Camus is back up to third + 16 miles ahead of Yannick Bestaven.
Damien Seguin (Class40): ERDF Des Pieds et Des Mains. “I have some strapping on my ankle and it is sore but I am OK. It is not great for me because the leaders have got first into the stronger breeze. But I am still well placed. I am happy to be here and the boat is fine, the sun has just risen. I gybed in the middle of the night but as I have connection problems with getting the weather then I am just using the barometer and working out the regime of the anticyclone and that governs my routing more at the moment than wind shifts. And I am really happy for Loick Peyron he sailed a great race.”