Thierry Chabagny takes the Golden Horn, Nicolas Bérenger the city of Istanbul! Such is the conclusion of the 5th and final leg of the 'European Capital of Culture - Cap Istanbul' which set off from the other side of the Marmara Sea Wednesday afternoon.
The skipper of Suzuki Automobiles, imperial as he made his entrance into the waters of the Bosphorus, scored his first solo victory in a leg of the Figaro circuit.
Meantime Nicolas Bérenger (Koné Elevators) didn’t let success escape him after a hard fought battle and a solid performance on every leg of this major ocean racing event, which led a fleet of solo sailors from west to east across the Mediterranean, from Nice to Istanbul via Cagliari (Sardinia), Marzamemi (Sicily), Aghios Nikolaos (Crete) and Bozcaada (Turkey).
At the end of a 1,660 mile course marked by the whims of the Mediterranean, Gildas Morvan (Cercle Vert) and the young François Gabart (Espoir Région Bretagne) complete the podium in the general ranking.
Thierry Chabagny (Suzuki Automobiles): 'It’s a huge satisfaction. This leg victory is my first single-handed win. The fact that it’s in Istanbul is quite symbolic: this little course amidst the cargo ships and the backdrop of mosques is something you can only find here, between the East and West, in Figaro mode.'
At the end of a final lap in a race, the delight of the leg winner is something to be treasured, but so too is the delight of the outright event winner, Nicolas Bérenger (Kone Elevators), who said right from the start that he was gunning for solo victory at all costs. What is particularly extraordinary is that the winner of the final leg in Istanbul and the winner of the Cap Istanbul 2008 won the 2007 event together in double-handed configuration last year!
At no point through the course of the five legs of this 'European Capital of Culture – Cap Istanbul' did the outright winner ease off the pace. Today, at the age of 36, Nicolas scores his first event victory sailing single-handed, which was the only thing lacking in his bid to register his name as a top Figaro sailor.
As spirited as he is tenacious, meticulous and even hardworking, the skipper of Koné Elevators clearly found the recipe to conquer the magical Istanbul in style: single-handed at the helm of a one design after sailing 1,660 miles across the Mediterranean, from west to east, served by weather conditions which were as random as they were complicated.
Nicolas Bérenger (Koné Elevators): 'I didn’t win a single leg but I won the event: that might appear to be a little disappointing but actually what it does do is prove that in the Mediterranean you have to put in a steady performance and be a clairvoyant.
The Cap Istanbul is a great solo race and I hope that one day it’ll have the same prestige as La Solitaire du Figaro, which to many, remains the reference. I can assure you though that we’re sailing on the same boats and the level of competition on the water is also very high. The biggest difference may well be the amount of salt in the water!'
Gildas Morvan (Cercle Vert) thus takes second place in the general ranking and, in addition to that, he takes the title of Solo Offshore Champion of France. In so doing the great Gildas confirms, if there were need, that he ranks among the most honed talents of solo offshore racing.
Following this it is hard to ignore the blinding performance by François Gabart (Espoir Région Bretagne). At the height of his 25 years, this young skipper pulled off a massive coup amongst some of the top names on the circuit. He takes 3rd place in the general ranking after 5 legs. The startling performance of this young rookie lacks neither strength nor conviction: François has already made a name for himself, after his very first season, at the top end of the ranking in a solo event renowned for its demanding level of competition.
Translation Kate Jennings www.capistanbul.com