Last Ultimes finish Route du Rhum – Destination Guadeloupe

After the neatly spaced finishes of Loick Peyron, Yann Guichard and Sébastien Josse – each having time to ensure their own new race landmarks are understood and digested – through today in Guadeloupe the last of La Route du Rhum-Destination Guadeloupe Ultimes finished.

For the watchers and waiters around La Darse, Pointe-a-Pitre observing the final miles was not short of drama and heartbreak. First Sidney Gavignet had a hard earned fourth place stolen from him in the final miles by none other than Lionel Lemonchois – twice winner and erstwhile record holder. Then at the other end of the day Yann Elies suffered the same fate at the hands of wily, solo round the world and solo Transatlantic records holder Francis Joyon.

To be fair Gavignet on Musandam-Oman Air had used conventional logic and stayed offshore out of the immediate lee of the high land of Guadeloupe. And Lemonchois manoeuvred up the inside lane, close to the land, Gavignet was forced back to fifth.

Lemonchois, the erstwhile race record holder approaching his third finish, does know the course and the arrival zone well.

It was also the disturbing influence of the high land, not least the volcanic mountain Soufriere (4183 ft, 1467m), which subsequently did for Yann Elies on Paprec Recyclage when Francois Joyon broken through to sixth, Elies struggling at times

Soufrière (4,813 ft; 1,467 m) is the biggest topographical influence dominating the rugged west coast. At the finish of the last edition it also proved the source of hearbreak for the previous skipper of Elies’ Multi70 2010, Jean-Pierre Dick.

In 2010 Dick had been the long time tenant of third place in the IMOCA 60 class but he got snared by light airs for painful hours. Marc Guillemot came in from the east to steal the third step on the IMOCA 60 podium. So it worked also for Joyon, who is talking of delivering his IDEC Sport back to France himself so he can enjoy being back on good, personal terms again with his boat. He finished sixth at 17:42:04 UTC with Elies, a relative newcomer to the Multi70, left 14 miles behind. The achievements of the top three Ultimes are each outstanding in their own right: Peyron’s is self explanatory, a new race record for the late substitute stand in. He has dedicated the win to Banque Populaire’s injured skipper Armel Le Cléac’h who provided so much information and intelligence before the race and strategic, tactical and practical tips (sail changes and manoeuvres well in advance) back up. Guichard raised the bar by completing the course in second on the world’s biggest racing multihull which is designed for a crew of 14 and silenced the doubters. And Josse’s performance on the Multi70 is in itself awesome, considering he only started big Multi sailing three years ago, and that he brought one of the smallest Tris in the race on to the podium.

But Gavignet on the dock in Pointe a Pitre early this morning could not hold back his disappointment, his usual upbeat, glass half full positivity broken by the final hours:

“I made 99% of my mistakes in the last two hours.” “Sorry, but I'd like to scream with joy, but I'm still fed up. I have sailed really badly over the past couple of hours.”

“It was a great race and we were sailing fast. But I can't hide the fact that I'm disappointed. I have had to smooth things over. This is still a fantastic race with magnificent boats. I haven't broken anything apart from a windscreen I left a bit too far up and that got smashed by the waves.

We got through it. At the end there were still squalls between 12 and 25 knots, so it was a bit on the edge, but no one capsized, as they're all good sailors. But it could have been different.” “ It's fantastic to spend days sailing downwind. With Seb (Sébastien Josse), we were keeping a close eye on each other. I'm pretty certain he kept looking at the rankings. It's nice to be able to sleep when you're going along at thirty knots, when you know your boat well. But it's not something I'm going to do every day. “

The final lines of the Ultime story 10th edition were due to be written late afternoon local time by seventh finisher Elies, but their place in the race history is secure.

On the course
The Multi50s are sailing a hundred miles ahead of the IMOCAs and are expected from Thursday night. There is little change in the leading duel between the pacemaker Erwan Le Roux (FenêtréA-Cardinal) and the pursuing Lalou Roucayrol (Arkema Aquitaine) although the gap has compressed slightly. The leader does seem to have found a more stable wind pressure. The IMOCA 60 monohulls are now expected Friday with Francois Gabart (Macif) now 50 miles ahead of Jérémie Beyou (Maitre Coq). Both skippers will be only to well aware that – as endorsed by the changes in the final 80 miles over the last 24 hours – La Route du Rhum-Destination Guadeloupe is not over until the finish gun sounds and someone hands you a very large bottle of Guadeloupe Rum!

And there are no concrete clues as to the likely outcome in Class 40 where Barcelona’s Alex Pella leads once again by 19 miles this evening, ahead of Kito de Pavant. Britain’s Conrad Humphreys arrived safely into Cascais this morning after motoring 360 miles under engine after being dismasted last Friday night. Sir Robin Knox Johnston on Grey Power holds a strong sixth, within 30 miles of a podium position. The leaders are due in Guadeloupe in the middle of next week.

1-Loick Peyron (Maxi Solo Banque Populaire Sol VII): 7d 15h 08 '32
2-Yann Guichard (Spindrift 2): 8d 05h 18 '46
3-Sébastien Josse (Edmond de Rothschild): 8d 14h 47 '09
4-Lemonchois (Prince de Bretagne): 8d 17h 44 '50
5-Sidney Gavignet (Musandam, Oman Sail): 8d 19h 15 '24
6 Francis Joyon (IDEC Sport): 9d 5h 48’ 15sec‏
7-Yann Elies (Paprec Recycling)

– Race Media

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