End of the race
La Route du Rhum - Destination Guadeloupe came to a halt very quickly, too quickly, for Sébastien Josse and the Maxi Edmond de Rothschild. At the helm of the latest addition to the Gitana fleet, an emblem of the new generation of flying maxis, the sailor from Nice set sail as one of the race favourites. However, on the first night, his starboard float suffered major damage, the bow ripped off across an 8-metre section. Positioned at the head of the fleet at the time having demonstrated the incredible potential of his machine, the skipper had no other option than to retire from the race and make for La Coruña, the closest and most suitable port to accommodate him when the incident happened, in a bid to preserve the Maxi's integrity.
Put the race to one side, get the man back and then the boat... when there is major damage, the team and the sailor rarely ask any questions. The safety of the solo sailor always takes precedence over the hostile nature of the elements, as was the case earlier this week in the Bay of Biscay. On Monday evening, shortly before 21:00 GMT, the Maxi Edmond de Rothschild arrived at the entrance to the Galician port of La Coruña, to the North-West of Spain. Thanks to his composure and his seamanship, Sébastien Josse brought to an end a long sixteen-hour journey at a reduced speed to make terra firma. It came as a great relief to the owners of Gitana, who were kept informed in real time about the situation offshore, as well as to all the members of the team based in Lorient.
The first words from Sébastien Josse offshore of La Coruña
The day after his arrival in La Coruña, after several hours struggling to get some sleep, the skipper of the Maxi Edmond de Rothschild gave us the low-down on his race. Airborne from the start to Cap Fréhel, on a reach that will remain etched in ocean racing history for a long while to come, he discusses the passage off Ushant and the mindset he was in before getting into the teeth of the low pressure system. As usual, the sailor tells us exactly how it is in these few hours of racing in the Route du Rhum - Destination Guadeloupe prior to his retirement.
This retirement has come as a tough blow for the members of the five-arrow stable, who demonstrated unfailing commitment in their preparation for the major meeting that is the Route du Rhum. Every one of them was keen to offer Sébastien Josse a steed that was on a par with his talent. It's a massive disappointment as we had to do a lot of work to be present and relevant at this race However, offshore racing is and will always be a mechanical sport where breakage is sadly one of the risks. The damage suffered on the starboard float will force us to call ourselves into question, to try to find out and understand what's happened and effect repairs so we can come back stronger. We are in no way seeking to discard the work that has gone before. The quest for innovation we've launched into with the support and enthusiasm of our owners and associates of the Edmond de Rothschild group is no easy task, but the game is worth the candle. Calling into question our pioneering spirit and the vision we have of tomorrow's sailing is not on the agenda, admits Cyril Dardashti, the director of the team.
We have a heavy heart for our pontoon neighbours, Team Banque Populaire, who are today trying to recover their boat from offshore of the Azores. These are very hard times, and though the most important thing is that Armel will soon be back amongst his nearest and dearest, my thought have been focused a great deal on Ronan Lucas' team since Tuesday.
Sébastien Josse and all the Gitana Team thank you for your support and the numerous messages received over the past few days expressing your sympathy.