For some hours, the Route du Rhum – Destination Guadeloupe, in its 2014 guise, has known its winner. Loïck Peyron succeeds Franck Cammas on the list of winners of the event. Added to that, by crossing the finish line this Monday 10 November shortly after 0400 GMT, the skipper of Banque Populaire VII has stamped his mark on the event and beaten the reference time, which has been held by Gitana Team since 2006, by over two hours. Leading the fleet since the first night at sea and the passage around Ushant, the sailor from La Baule on France’s Atlantic coast held firmly to pole position throughout the 7-day race. In so doing he has secured a stunning victory, which is saluted by the whole of Gitana Team.
Gunning for the podium
Out at sea, the battle that is being played out less than 300 miles from the finish remains intense and thrilling. Indeed, since late morning yesterday, the hierarchy of recent days has been rejigged and the race for the podium is on. The skipper of Edmond de Rothschild has moved up into the provisional third place to the detriment of Lionel Lemonchois, who has since been relegated to fifth position. By gybing prior to his adversary and creating separation to the south, Sébastien Josse was able to sidestep the lines of squalls, which have cost the skipper of Prince de Bretagne so dearly. Following this episode, the solo sailor and his routing cell didn’t think twice about continuing the push southwards towards the Antilles arc last night to ensure a better angle of approach to butterfly island: “Yesterday, we decided to continue on the attack rather than covering Sidney Gavignet and matching him gybe for gybe and this morning the situation is pretty satisfactory. Not only has Sébastien sailed very well once again, his position enabling him to extend away from his pursuers slightly, but he has most likely enjoyed a more comfortable tack than them with fewer squalls and instability and that’s what we were looking to achieve. In all probability, today will involve a long starboard tack towards Guadeloupe, but we’ll have to deal with some slight oscillations in the wind and we may need to reposition ourselves if the wind shifts are significant,” explained Antoine Koch.
Tackling the circumnavigation of Guadeloupe
The rule is the same for everyone; as stipulated in the Sailing Instructions, those competing in the Route du Rhum – Destination Guadeloupe will have to round the island by leaving it to port and then head for the finish line set just a stone’s throw from Pointe-à-Pitre’s harbour basin. In this way, Sébastien Josse is set to round the islet of Tête à l’Anglais, situated to the north of Basse Terre, by leaving it to port, at which point he’ll hunt down the Basse Terre mark, which he needs to leave to starboard and then head into the Canal des Saintes to make the finish. This 60-mile course may prove to be particularly hazardous downwind of the island, especially at night, as the router explains: “this circumnavigation represents the final obstacle on this course and one not to be sniffed at. La Soufrière culminates at 1,467 metres and generates a very sizeable wind shadow, which varies a great deal according to the time of day. It’s a particularly tricky section at night, as the winds are often very light and very changeable…”
From their ‘centre of operations’ in La Rochelle, Jean-Yves Bernot and Antoine Koch naturally monitored the end of Loïck Peyron’s course in great detail so as to substantiate their observations and prepare as best as possible for the passage of the Multi70 Edmond de Rothschild: “With an ETA at Tête à l’Anglais at 1200 midnight (GMT) tonight, Sébastien has every chance of experiencing similar conditions to those encountered by Loïck, namely a fairly light section to leeward of the island level with La Soufrière. Indeed, as expected, Loïck really stalled for about ten miles between the volcano and the Basse-Terre mark. Clearly this is the most complicated section to negotiate”, concluded Antoine Koch.
On reading these few lines, we can easily grasp why this conclusion to the race is something that is dreaded by solo sailors. Sébastien Josse will have to keep calm, even if he sees his pursuers closing on the Multi70 Edmond de Rothschild. In this regard though, the skipper of Gitana Team has demonstrated for the past 7 days that he has nerves of steel!
Position report on 10 November at 1000 GMT
- Banque Populaire VII (Loïck Peyron) – finished on 10.11 at 0408 GMT
- Spindrift 2 (Yann Guichard) – 81.8 miles from the goal
- Edmond de Rothschild (Sébastien Josse) – 168.7 miles behind 2nd place
- Musandam Oman Sail (Sidney Gavignet) – 251.2 miles back
- Prince de Bretagne (Lionel Lemonchois) – 271.7 miles back
- Idec Sport (Francis Joyon) – 442.5 miles back
- Paprec Recyclage (Yann Elies) – 513.4 miles back
Abd – Sodebo Ultim’