Exit from the English Channel
As scheduled on 2 November at 1300 GMT, Sébastien Josse set sail on his first participation in the Route du Rhum aboard a multihull. Aboard Edmond de Rothschild and sharing the start line with some 90 fellow competitors, this native of Nice set off to tackle the 3,540-mile course.
At 1420 GMT, under a leaden sky peppered with spectacular squalls and buffeted by very shifty south-westerly winds, the trimaran fitted out by Baron Benjamin de Rothschild put in her first tacks in the English Channel and rounded Cape Fréhel, the first course mark, in 5th position, some eight minutes after the leader Lionel Lemonchois (Prince de Bretagne).
Despite a lively first night on the racetrack as the initial front rolled over the top of them leaving a bruised fleet, which already lamented eleven retirements by the early hours, including that of race favourite Thomas Coville (Sodebo Ultim’), Sébastien Josse had quickly joined the fray and was lying in second place overall as he passed Ushant in the wake of Loïck Peyron (Banque Populaire VII).
Cape Finisterre already
With the Bay of Biscay devoured over the course of the day on Monday 3 November, the skipper of the trimaran with five arrows began to negotiate his way around the TSS (traffic separation system and a zone forbidden to the participants in the Route du Rhum) offshore of Portugal in 4th position, some 56 miles stray of the leader, in what was still a steady breeze, oscillating between 30 and 40 knots and raging seas. Such conditions were more favourable for the large multihulls of the Ultime class like the trimaran Banque Populaire VII, which was gradually extending away from her pursuers as she made for Madeira. For his part, Sébastien Josse explained that he was still sailing under three reefs and ORC, but he hoped he’d be able to quickly free himself of the difficult conditions.
Stalling at Madeira
The morning of the third day of racing saw a change of pace for the Multi70 Edmond de Rothschild, which was significantly slowed by a zone of high pressure on passing Madeira. Making headway 5 to 10 knots slower than the leader, Edmond de Rothschild was still positioned in fourth place at the 1200 GMT ranking and was racking up 16 knots of boat speed. Over the next 24 hours, Sébastien Josse spared no effort, multiplying the gybes amidst the squalls so as to extract himself from the unstable airflow and finally hit the tradewinds. In so doing, the multihull was once again making speeds in excess of 20 knots. To the north-west of the Canaries, the Gitana Team’s multihull was making headway with all her sails aloft and the skipper was making the most of every opportunity to sleep and recharge his batteries.
At a fair old lick in the tradewinds
On the fifth day, whilst powering along in the tradewinds, the Multi70 Edmond de Rothschild pulled off a blinder by managing to slip southwards into the perfect spot whilst conserving good speed. In so doing, Sébastien Josse, still in fourth, closed to within 340 miles of Loïck Peyron compared with 412 miles just 24 hours earlier, as well as clawing back some thirty miles or so from Lionel Lemonchois, who was in third place at the time.
With third place now within reach, the skipper of Edmond de Rothschild selected the sixth day to go on the attack and gybed a few miles earlier than his rival, creating separation to the south and opening up the playing field on this final section of the race. In order to ensure a better angle of approach as he made landfall on Butterfly Island, the solo sailor and his routing cell took this option all the way by extending their tack further south.
The sprint for the podium
Thanks to this offensive and bolstered by an unwavering determination, at the 1000 GMT position report on Sunday 9 November the trimaran fitted out by Baron Benjamin de Rothschild moved up into third place. On the approach towards the Antilles arc, Sébastien Josse managed to extend away from his pursuers. Without a moment’s dip in speed, the solo sailor linked onto the circumnavigation of Guadeloupe early evening on Monday 10 November to finally cross the finish line in the early hours at 03:47:09 GMT after 8 days of racing. An incredible performance then, for the skipper of the smallest boat in the Ultime fleet, for whom this was his first solo transatlantic race aboard a multihull. With a third place described by enlightened observers as impressive, the sailor managed to keep up with the large craft in his category and finally complete the podium of this 2014 edition. In so doing, he has entered the major league of epic multihull sailors.