Transat B to B - Safran crosses finish line

Safran - Skipper: Marc Guillemot (FRA) - Transat B to B 2011
© Christophe Launay
Transat B to B was shortened to finish at the safety gate, between the Azores and Portugal, which was set up 48 hours ago. Safran crossed the finishing line at 1133 GMT (1233 CET) this Thursday lunchtime, taking fifth place.

The winds that are forecast to blow throughout today and into tomorrow up to 60 or even 70 knots (130 km/h…) led the Race Director, Jacques Caraës to take this decision and position the finish between the Azores and Portugal, some 700 miles south west of the original finishing line in Lorient. Marc Guillemot took fifth place in this solo race, which proved to be an excellent preparation for the Vendée Globe. He can now head for Lorient on Saturday evening or Sunday, if possible behind the worst of the storm, Joachim. Marc Guillemot looks back at the race.

Marc, coming fifth in this Transat BToB is not a bad result, but you were hoping to do better…
'Of course. When I set sail it is always to win. But at the same time I gave it my all and I really don’t feel like I sailed poorly. My first thoughts would be that the standard is now much higher with everyone close to the same level, just as we can see in the Figaro class, where if you end up in eighth place, you really haven’t done too badly. That’s a good thing, as it means that it’s not always the same people winning. Of course, I had hoped for a place on the podium, but it’s all part of the game.'

Are the conditions rough yet?
'Yes, I’ve got south-westerly winds averaging 36 knots gusting to 40 and the seas you would expect. Safran is making headway at 17 knots and is heeled over. So, very lively conditions. To be honest, the conditions are far from being simple. The good news is that I haven’t broken anything on board.'

How do you feel about the course being shortened?
'It was an excellent decision, the wise thing to do. There’s no way were they going to send the fleet into such boat-breaking weather with less than a year to go to the Vendée Globe. Looking at the race itself, I was hoping to grab fourth place from Mike Golding… I fully support this decision, which is very wise and I think the same goes for all the other competitors too. You really have to understand what is going on here. The storm, Joachim is very heavy: gusts of 50-60 knots… and maybe more. And as the continental shelf is so steep, the seas would be horrendous in the Bay of Biscay. This very wise decision means we can weather out the storm. I’ll be contacting Sylvain Mondon to see how we can get back to Lorient. In any case, one thing for sure is I won’t be taking any risks with the boat.'

When are you likely to arrive back in Lorient?
'I don’t know and for the moment that is not my priority… Saturday evening, maybe Sunday. It doesn’t really matter. What counts now is taking care of the boat as much as possible, slowing her right down, taking in four reefs in the mainsail to let the worst of the front pass over and then follow it home. Knowing that the conditions are likely to be very rough in any case and the seas will be huge in the Bay of Biscay. But I’ll be working on that in the next few hours.'

Your first reaction to this result?
'This transatlantic race offered a lot, with a wide range of conditions. It also allowed me to feel more relaxed about one particular detail: my confidence in the boat and the autopilot. That’s very, very important… If you’re scared of an incident happening, when you leave her on autopilot, you simply cannot win a race, as any incident can cost you a lot. That’s not just a little extra, it’s something that is vital. When you know that you can go and grab some rest and rely totally on your autopilot, that changes everything. I feel confident and simply for that reason, it was well worth taking part in this race.'

The first five in the 2011 Transat B to B

1. François Gabart (Macif) finished at 2311 GMT (0011 CET) last night after 9 days 9 hours 11 minutes and 30 seconds, at an average speed of 11.63 knots on the Great Circle Route (theoretical route) of 2620 miles and 14.7 knots on the 3168 miles actually sailed.

2. Armel Le Cléac'h (Banque Populaire) in 9 days 13 hours 8 minutes and 10 seconds, at an average speed of 11.43 knots on the Great Circle Route.

3. Vincent Riou (PRB) in 9 days 15 hours 30 minutes and 20 seconds, at an average speed of 11.31 knots on the Great Circle Route.

4. Mike Golding (Gamesa) in 9 days 18 hours 58 minutes 20 seconds at an average speed of 11.15 knots on the Great Circle Route.

5. Marc Guillemot (Safran) in 9 days 21 hours 33 minutes 0 seconds at an average speed of 11.2 knots on the Great Circle Route. He actually sailed 3260 miles at an average speed of 13.72 knots.
http://www.sail-world.com/91909