Friday night into Saturday’s early hours The Memorial ACTe, Pointe-à-Pitre’s giant structure, dedicated to the history, heritage and memories of the Caribbean slave trade, watched on as the busiest spell of finishers completed the 12th edition of the Route du Rhum-Destination Guadeloupe.
Thirteen boats – from the eighth and final Ultim32/23 Use It Again powered by Extia (Romain Pilliard), to four IMOCAs, two Rhum Multi class boats, one Rhum Mono and five Class40s – each received a passionate welcome on Friday afternoon and evening between 1240hrs UTC and 0630hrs UTC Saturday (26/11/2022) morning.
Saint-Malo’s Loic Escoffier (Lodigroup) may have crossed the finish line some 46 minutes and 23 seconds after Roland Jourdain (We explore) but it was Escoffier who won the Rhum Multi class after a broken engine seal was found on Jourdain’s boat and he received the statutory 90 minutes penalty for the class.
Jourdain’s penalty leaves Escoffier as winner by 43 minutes and 37 seconds.
Former IMOCA Vendée Globe racer Jean-Pierre Dick (Notre Mediterranné-Ville de Nice) – a four time winner of the two-handed Transat Jacques Vabre transatlantic race – finally won a major solo Transatlantic race when he triumphed in the Rhum Mono class.
Dick finishing on his JP54 Verdier designed monohull with a lead of over 300 miles on second placed Catherine Chabaud (Fomatives ESJ Business School pour un ocean in common).
China’s remarkable Jingkun Xu (China Dream-Haikou), the 33-year-old IMOCA rookie who has only one arm received a huge welcome from the Guadeloupe Chinese community when he docked in 29th place, one place behind Briton Sam Davies, whose race was hampered with technical issues.
Chinese solo skipper Jingkun Xu (China Dream-HAIKOU) crossed the finish line of the 12th Route du Rhum-Destination Guadeloupe at 21:49:00hrs in 29th position in the IMOCA class. His elapsed time of 16d 8h 34m 0s is 4d 14h 57m 35s behind the class winner Thomas Ruyant (LinkedOut).
For the 33-year-old sailor from Qingdao, who lost part of his left arm in a fireworks accident when he was 12, his is a truly remarkable achievement. He becomes the first Chinese sailor to finish the race and qualifies himself for the Vendée Globe.
Before and during the race Jingkun Xu sought to carry the worries and problems of his countrypeople with him and disperse them on the oceans, thereby relieving them of their concerns and stresses. Along the way ‘Jackie’ has gathered 160 million followers.
Upon finishing, he told the crowd, “We finish our Route du Rhum at the first time. We said we would, and we did it. I knew I had to take care of the boat. We did not damage anything, we keep the boat in good shape for the future, for the Vendée Globe. This is a big moment for me.
“The most difficult thing for me is that on the IMOCA everything is very heavy. I used all the sails and changed them and it is very difficult as I have only one hand, so everything is very heavy. Every day I was wet through, sometimes with sweat because you work so hard all the time. But it is worth it. The Vendée Globe is my dream. I wanted the Route du Rhum to be a good training for the Vendée Globe.”
Reflecting on his race and the impact in China, Xu continued, “The first week was so hard, always low pressures, big winds, upwind. The second week was so good. I really enjoyed it in the trade winds. I shared a lot of videos about life on the boat for Chinese children. Now they are learning about the Atlantic and sailing.
“I very much enjoy that. I am so excited there are so many people following us in China. They did not know about the Route du Rhum before, nobody knew what an IMOCA is, nobody knew sailing, and so now we are trying to change that. We hope that they will see sailing and it will make the children strong.”
Amongst last night’s finishers was also British skipper Sam Davies, who finished in 28th place in the IMOCA Class, after 16d 6hrs 35m. Upon reflection, Sam said, “I could have done things differently and I should have done things differently.”
Just after midnight local time, the USA’s Alex Mehran (Polka Dot) finished 14th in Class40.
To date, 62 skippers have crossed the finish line in Pointe-à-Pitre, 48 are still racing and 28 have abandoned the race.
Live race tracker: https://carto-prod.routedurhum.com/en/index.html