Strength and perseverance
Whilst Guadeloupe was providing a brilliant welcome to the undisputed winner of this ninth Route du Rhum-La Banque Postale, the end of the race is still a way off for Yann Guichard, who hasn’t been favoured over the past two days, in a zone of storms which seems to be constantly expanding. Despite these conditions, the skipper of Gitana 11 isn’t abandoning his determination.
Whilst the top three in the ‘ultimate’ class were in the vicinity of the Caribbean arc, Gitana 11 was positioned over 500 miles from Guadeloupe in very fickle, evanescent breezes. The weather conditions for the end of this course really haven’t favoured the trimaran fitted out by Baron Benjamin de Rothschild and the separation in relation to the winner is no reflection of the energy Yann Guichard has had to put in to keep up with the hellish pace set by Groupama 3: “The SSE’ly breeze is still very light this Tuesday afternoon and I will even be forced to link together a series of gybes to get to Guadeloupe. It’s not a storm; I’ve had between three and six knots of breeze for the past two days! When I hear that my three other direct rivals are in the process of finishing it’s a bit tough to take onboard. The hardest thing is that Francis managed to get through the squalls and not me. In this transatlantic, I’ve had to deal with more storms in the past week than I have in my entire lifetime. It’s been crazy, especially as I haven’t once had the opportunity to slip along since the start. At the end of all that it’s Francis that gets into a fast reach in ten knots of breeze whilst I’m stuck fast even though they’d have been the best possible conditions for Gitana 11! I think back to the period when Idec and I were traversing the front at the same time and I got stuck for ten hours without wind… I haven’t had a nice vein of air to slip along on and to get creamed as I am at the moment isn’t easy to live with. I’m going to have a two day deficit and that kind of separation doesn’t seem to me to be a true reflection of what I can do on the water.”
Yann Guichard still has two days at sea before he in turn reaches Pointe-à-Pitre, as the tradewinds still aren’t deigning to settle into their usual position, the wind having been drawn up by the tropical depression Tomas to the North of Haiti. Sailing under gennaker in ten to fifteen knots of breeze according to the mood of the wind gods, Gitana 11 should get her first sighting of the West Indies from Thursday morning if the weather conditions don’t deteriorate any further. In the meantime the skipper of the Gitana Team was keen to congratulate the outright winner of this 2010 edition, along with the other competitors who will complete the podium: “From the start we could see Groupama 3 was really very quick, even in the light airs at Saint Malo, and in the Bay of Biscay nobody was able to keep up. It couldn’t have been easy for Franck Cammas: to maintain such average speeds for so long is something else! Of course he didn’t suffer the shifting breezes and squalls that Francis and I had to endure, which put a lot of pressure on us for a week, but what a trajectory and what a masterfully driven race!”
Franck Cammas completed the 3,540 theoretical miles of the transatlantic in 9 days 3 hours 14 minutes 47 seconds. The Gitana Team thus conserves the event record of 7 days 17 hours 19 minutes 6 seconds, set back in 2006.
Ranking for the Ultimate Category on 9th November at 1500 GMT
1- Groupama 3 finished on Tuesday 9th November at 15h16 GMT
2- Idec 92.3 miles astern
3- Sodebo 208.3 miles astern
4- Gitana 11 some 562.9 miles astern
5- La Boite à Pizza 1,085.4 miles astern
6- Défi Cancale 1,403.3 miles astern
7- Saint-Malo 2015 some 1,469.4 miles astern
Retirement- Côte d'Or II