During this morning's radio chat session, Fred Le Peutrec explained « This should be the last day in the race for me, but there are still loads of pitfalls ahead ! On Tuesday night / Wednesday morning, I hit something and the dagger board is damaged… This morning, I'm on the starboard tack in a 20-knot wind on a straight line bound for Boston, staysail up front and a damaged dagger board. I should be making it into Massachusett Bay tomorrow. ». The skipper of Gitana 11 wil therefore have taken a little more than ten days to race his first single-handed transatlantic. Gitana 11 is far from being at the maximum of her potential as since the Solent jib was damaged in the first low four days into the race. After that, the problems piled up and the latest damage to the dagger board has not made things any easier for Fred.
The Transat 2004 has been marked by an incredible series of collisions with UFO's (unidentified floating objects) of varying degrees of gravity. The violence of the impact has depended upon the type of object encountered, be it a log, a fish, a whale or even a container floating just under the surface. Almost all the multihulls have been affected :
- On day two of the race, Karine Fauconnier tore away the fittings which held her central rudder on but managed to repair.
- Less than 48 hours after the start of The Transat, Marc Guillemot broke his daggerboard, lowered at the time, probably right after having hit a UFO (unidentified floating object).
- Stève Ravussin ran into a hard object which broke his central rudder but the Swiss skipper kept going in spite of the fact that this incident gave rise to others (cracked crossbeam).
- Yves Parlier struck a log damaging the trailing edge of his dagger board along a length of 40 cm.
- Franck Cammas noted a small crack on a level with the dagger board casing after having hit something.
- Thomas Coville collided with a whale, immobilising his trimaran for several minutes without a y apparent damage to the boat.
- Philippe Monnet hit a whale and damaged his float.
- Fred Le Peutrec touched an object of some sort which turned his dagger board round and damaged the crash box.
- Alain Gautier ran into a whale just before his Boston finish and lost a rudder form one of his floats…
In previous ocean yacht races (Route du Rhum, Jacques Vabre…), several boats were damaged after having collided with various objects and on The Transat, even the monohulls have not been spared… A problems which remains to be resolved. As for the race, the very northerly course steered by the multihulls was favourable to improving – pulverising – the event's reference time on the Plymouth-Boston route this year, the Boston finish reducing the route by no more than 50 miles compared to the Newport finish of previous editions. Francis Joyon took 9 days, 23 hours in the last 2000 edition with its Newport finish. This time round, the first six boats across the line took less time than the previous winner, with Michel Desjoyeaux reducing the race record by 38 hours, for an average speed of 13.61 knots taking the orthodromic (direct route) line as a reference and more than 16.4 knots really covered in more than eight days … Amazing !
Lastly, this edition of the race has been true to its image. In the first single-handed ocean race to have been created (by Blondie Hasler, and dating back to 1960), five low pressure systems swept across the fleet. One of the lows was particularly rough, giving rise to a fair amount of damage in the multihull fleet but also reaping havoc with the monohulls - Jean-Pierre Dick capsized (Virbac), Vincent Riou dis-masted (PRB), Bernard Stamm was flipped and had to be rescued (Cheminées Poujoulat-Armor Lux)… a heavy final total.
Boston finisher :
1-Michel Desjoyeaux (Géant) in 8d 08h 29' 55'' (13.61 knots average speed re. orthodromic course)
2-Thomas Coville (Sodebo) in 8d 10h 38' 00'' - 2h 08' behind the winner
3-Franck Cammas (Groupama) in 8d 14h 16' 02'' - 5h 47' behind the winner
4-Alain Gautier (Foncia) in 9d 07h 05' 10'' - 22h 25' behind the winner
5-Karine Fauconnier (Sergio Tacchini) in 9d 12h 36' 47 ‘' – 1d 04h 06' behind the winner
6-Lalou Roucayrol (Banque Populaire) in 9d 14h 05' 27'' – 1d 5h 35' behind the winner