For his first solo trimaran sailing experience, Thierry Duprey du Vorsent suffered a succession of technical problems: computer playing up, then bow ripped by a whale, mainsail torn above the third reef, repaired than re-torn a few miles from the finish… What's more, the weather conditions encountered by the Gitana 12 skipper were not as favourable as for his Gitana Team stablemate, Lionel Lemonchois, the winner of this eight Route du Rhum – La Banque Postale. The arrival of a tropical depression on his route very significantly disrupted the end of Thierry's course, but he had above all sought to protect his trimaran after the “head butt” given to his craft by a cetacean in the ocean off the Azores. But despite all these travails, Gitana 12 still managed to finish within eight hours of the previous record set by Laurent Bourgnon in 1998 (12d 08h 40' 06''), a fact that testifies to Thierry's single-mindedness during his twelve and a half days at sea.
Thierry Duprey du Vorsent (Gitana 12):
“This transat has been overwhelmingly positive for me, despite some very tough moments. It's been a tremendous experience but a few days before the finish, I felt as if it was never going to end! When I finally caught sight of land, it was a fantastic feeling: I was arriving despite all the problems… I had at least managed to install the gennaker again before rounding Guadeloupe, as there wasn't a lot of wind and the sea was calm. Going round Guadeloupe gave me mixed feelings: on the one hand, sailing together with Bilou (Roland Jourdain), the first monohull to finish, was very nice, but on the other, it was just about the last straw when the mainsail tore again! Especially as the wind was picking up gradually as night fell… The finish line was still a long way away: it just didn't seem fair.
But solo sailing is really great! I thought it was going to be harder being all alone, with no one to share things with, but now I know I like it. I've still got work to do, but at least I'm comfortable. In fact I felt more and more so as the miles passed. It's a very specific exercise, of another type altogether that forces you to take your responsibility and rely only on yourself, to manage the technical problems without losing your grip. It's fantastic! I never let my head drop, even when I had one problem after another.
I wasn't able to race along like Lionel, primarily because the weather conditions weren't the same behind. But finding yourself in the dead of night amid the stars and that incredible full moon… I'm really lucky to have made the crossing, to have gone all the way and learnt so many things. I can't wait to do it again! There were moments when I felt down in the dumps, but they never lasted: I never lost the desire to sail, to do my best. The only thing that really got to me was the sail ripping again: the last fifteen miles almost drove me nuts… But it's already forgotten now.
I've had a brilliant sleep to help me recover, but I think it's going to take a bit of time to learn how to live back on land, to recover. I feel so great, I could almost go for a jog!”
1-Lionel Lemonchois (Gitana 11) in 7 days 17 hours 19 minutes 06 seconds at an average of 19.1 knots over the 3,550-mile course, 4d 15h 22' better than the record time set by Laurent Bourgnon in 1998
2-Pascal Bidégorry (Banque Populaire IV) in 8d 04h 25' 07'', 11h 06' 01'' behind the winner
3-Thomas Coville (Sodeb'O) in 8d 13h 39' 02'', 20h 19' 56'' behind the winner
4-Michel Desjoyeaux (Géant) in 8d 13h 48' 24'', 20h 29'18'' behind the winner
5-Franck Cammas (Groupama-2) in 8d 17h 55' 17'', 1d 00h 36' 11'' behind the winner
6-Yvan Bourgnon (Brossard) in 9d 00h 40' 15'', 1d 07h 21' 09'' behind the winner
7-Alain Gautier (Foncia) in 9d 16h 14' 40'', 1dj 22h 55' 34'' behind the winner
8-Claude Thélier (Région Guadeloupe-Terres de Passions) in 11d 11h 56' 51'', 3d 18h 37' 45'' behind the winner
9-Antoine Koch (Sopra Group) in 12d 00h 59' 41'', 4d 07h 40' 35' behind the winner
10-Thierry Duprey du Vorsent (Gitana 12) in 12d 15h 52' 00', 4d 22h 32' 54'' behind the winner
11-Gilles Lamiré (Madinina), 1,170 miles from the finish
12-Stève Ravussin (Orange Project) abandoned