In the Transat AG2R La Mondiale, Gwénolé Gahinet and Paul Meilhat crossed the finish line in St Barts on Monday at 1917hrs and 59 secs (French time) to win the 12th edition. After 22 days, six hours, 17 minutes and 59 seconds of perfectly controlled racing at an average speed of 8.74 knots on the 4,670-miles of the actual racecourse between Concarneau and St Barts, the crew of Safran-Guy Cotten claimed victory ahead of Skipper Macif.
Under a blazing sun in the clear blue waters of the Caribbean, the bow of the Figaro Safran-Guy Cotten finally appeared. Shortly after noon in St Barts, hundreds of locals came to greet the two men of the moment. After 22 days going head to head on the ocean, Gahinet and Meilhat savoured their victory. It was the best possible reward for Gahinet, the young skipper of Safran-Guy Cotten, who was making his debut on the Figaro circuit.
French skippers Gwenole Gahinet and Paul Meilhat onboard their Figaro Safran-Guy Cotten - © Jean Marie Liot / DPPI
'It's great, I'm really happy with this finish because it was a great race,' Gahinet said on arrival. 'Add to that there are lots of people and a paradise island...We believed from the start, but you still have to do it. It’s a close-fought victory and that is what makes so magic. I am particularly happy because this project is the work of a great team and that is reflected in this victory.'
Left to right: Paul Meilhat and Gwenolé Gahinet celebrate their win at the end of the Transat AG2R La Mondiale from Concarneau to St. Barthelemy in the Caribbean. - © Alexis Courcoux
'Congratulations to Paul and Gwénolé for this fantastic victory on board Safran-Guy Cotten,' Jean-Paul Herteman, CEO of Safran, said.
'Thanks to this great race, Safran’s 67,000 employees have just experienced 22 days of high emotion. We are proud to have, alongside our partner Guy Cotten, trusted two young sailing talents and to have given them the means to achieve their full potential. The success of Gwénolé is an example for all the young people who have joined Safran in recent years. This is a beautiful symbol for the Group which provides them with a working environment and the trust that should allow everyone to express their talent.'
In St Barts, Nadine Bertholom, President of Guy Cotten, enjoyed a great moment of sport and emotion alongside Gahinet and Meilhat: 'Congratulations to Paul and Gwénolé for a race that was exciting until the very end,' Bertholom said.
'They brilliantly confirmed the decision that we made to back a young rookie on the Figaro Bénéteau circuit. You could not dream for more: they performed a masterstroke at the first attempt. Congratulations to Paul who confirmed the qualities of a skipper that we knew he had. Congratulations especially to Gwénolé, who on his first race on the 6.50 circuit had already won the Mini Transat. Today he repeated the feat with another victory in his first Transat AG2R La Mondiale. We are proud that he has worn the colours of Guy Cotten and Safran and we are pleased that we will be with him for the next two seasons on the Figaro Bénéteau.'