Review of the race
With each of the competitors seeking to secure their qualification for the upcoming Vendée Globe, the BtoB Transat was, just like the Transat Jacques Vabre, treated like a top-level race rather than a return delivery run. But the field formed by the future VG participants was exceptional, and when such great champions line up they are rarely going to refrain from competing in the interest of protecting their boats.
On leaving Salvador de Bahia on 29 November, Loïck Peyron aboard Baron Benjamin de Rothschild's Gitana Eighty got off to a flier, moving straight to the front of the 60-foot Imoca monohulls.
After five days' sailing close hauled amid testing weather conditions for both man and machine and passage through particularly dense doldrums, Loïck Peyron had drawn ahead of the rest of the fleet. He had opted for the most northerly route possible, while one of his principal rivals, Michel Desjoyeaux, had headed off more to the east. Contrary to how it panned out in the Transat Jacques Vabre, it was Loïck Peyron who hit upon the successful strategy this time, with Gitana Eighty and her skipper emerging from this infamous intertropical zone marked by highly disturbed conditions with their lead still intact. Carefully monitoring his pursuers coming from the west and then the east, Loïck Peyron continued to move away from his main rivals: Michel Desjoyeaux, Kito de Pavant and Marc Guillemot. He then had to negotiate the last but not least problematic area of this transat: a run-in littered with obstacles abandoned by the many cargo ships battered by last weekend's storms.
With Gitana Eighty having clocked up close on 9,000 miles since her departure from Le Havre last November, Loïck Peyron has a second cause for satisfaction in addition to his solo victory: the confirmation of the quality of the blue monohull launched last July. After two transats including one solo, the skipper has now been able to put her thoroughly through her paces and has guided her home in almost perfect shape, ready to face the big challenge of 2008 with confidence and composure.
Loïck Peyron on the phone this morning: “I'm really happy, as so is the whole Gitana team! Its mission accomplished and the boat is here with me undamaged, so of course I'm happy. And now that makes one victory a year for the team, which isn't bad at all! Now we have to make sure it continues…”
Finish times at Port-la-Forêt:
1-Loïck Peyron (Gitana Eighty) in 14d 09h 13' 25''
2-Kito de Pavant (Groupe Bel) in 14d 12h 22' 49'', 3 hours 09 minutes and 24 seconds behind the winner
3-Michel Desjoyeaux (Foncia) in 14d 13h 43' 24", 4 hours 29 minutes and 59 seconds behind the winner
4-Yann Eliès (Generali) in 14d 19h 22' 02'', 10 hours 08 minutes and 37 seconds behind the winner.