Transat B to B
Back to Brittany
Friday 16 December 2011
With the course being shortened at 1900 UTC last night, to transform the safety gate into the Transat B to B finish line due to the truly exception weather conditions in the Bay of Biscay, so it was that the string of finishers has been coming in thick and fast throughout the day. Snatching a much deserved victory François Gabart (Macif) was stoked with his achievement:
-François Gabart, Armel Le Cléac’h and Vincent Riou take the podium places in this Transat B to B
-Briton Mike Golding is the first to take the finish on an older generation Imoca in 4th
-Following on from Marc Guillemot, second Briton Alex Thomson scores a very commendable 6th place despite a northerly option and a southerly safety gate finish
-Just two boats yet to cross the finish as the others hunker down near the line waiting for more clement conditions for the hike up to Lorient where they will receive a warm welcome this weekend.
- Live radio Session at the Cité de la voile Eric Tabarly at 13h10 and on www.transatbtob-imoca.org
- All today’s quotes from the boats can be found online on the “press page” of the official website.
- TV Alert : Inboard images from Macif when it crosses the arrival line are available on the ftp (link at the end of press release)
“It’s fantastic! I’m really happy. I’ve dreamt of this victory, as a competitor does, but I didn’t envisage it would happen. I managed to keep pace with the other boats, nearly all of which are favourites in the Vendée Globe. I was ready to do battle all the way to the end in some extreme conditions as far as Lorient. I got into the rhythm straightaway by listening to the boat and honing my strategy. I made clear decisions without asking too many questions about what my rivals were up to. As the days passed, my confidence grew as did my ability to get Macif making fast headway by taking good trajectories. Victory gradually took shape. It’s my first solo race so I’ve discovered a lot of new things. The conditions in this Transat B to B were difficult with some downwind conditions in a very strong, shifty wind, big and very short seas. It was a good debut performance with a view to the Vendée Globe and I’m going to capitalise on it to work more and improve my preparation. 2011 has been very rich as we built a boat and we fine tuned it. Everything went very quickly after that with two successive transatlantics. I’ve learned so much during the past six months and that learning curve will continue.”
Setting out from Saint Barts in tradewind breezes, the race initially revolved around the capacity of the solo sailors to hike North as quickly as possible to latch onto the westerly winds sweeping across the North Atlantic. François Gabart and Jean-Pierre Dick showed themselves to be the most incisive at this little game, opting for a route where their sheets were slightly more eased than the rest of the fleet. The first turning point, in every sense of the term, came when the fleet had to hang a right towards Brittany. It may well have been here that François Gabart built his victory, taking the risk of running right across the fleet to position himself at the front of the pack on a direct route to the finish. In so doing, he transformed his position as leader of the northerly route into the leader of the pack further South, which was a quite remarkable role switch… François led the race from that point and never looked back, rarely looking under threat.
Armel le Cléac’h (Banque Populaire) and Vincent Riou (PRB) completed the podium while Briton Mike Golding (Gamesa) was racing the first of the older generation Imocas to cross the Transat B to B finish this morning. Marc Guillemot (Safran) was hot on his heels in 5th and second Briton Alex Thomson (Hugo Boss) has rounded off the current wave of finishers tonight after crossing the line at 1543 UTC.
All those who have completed the race are currently hunkering down near the finish line as they wait for the massive seas and solid winds to ease slightly before they head up to Lorient for a grouped finish, most likely on Sunday.
Backrunners Jean-Pierre Dick (Virbac Paprec 3) and Louis Burton (Bureau Vallée) are still some way from the finish tonight and are likely to have a long, slow hike North with a zone of high pressure after the line too, but spirits remain high aboard both boats. However, the people of Lorient will be out in force to greet every single finisher as President of the local Cap Lorient, Mr Norbert Métairie explains: “Even though we would have been delighted to see the finish of this Transat B to B from Saint Barts – Lorient being played out in front of our windows, safety is the priority! The important thing is that this transatlantic race has enabled several of the competitors to qualify for the Vendée Globe. It’s a done deal for most of the fleet. François Gabart has won this transatlantic race in style, in difficult conditions. We also salute the performance of Armel Le Cléac’h and his Lorient-based team on Banque Populaire. We’re delighted to be able to play host to all the fleet this weekend in Lorient where we will celebrate in style.”