Please select your home edition
Edition
Gul 2018 October - Code Zero 728x90

Wild times in the 2018 Route du Rhum for IMOCA 60 and Multi50 classes

by David Schmidt 20 Nov 2018 10:00 PST November 20, 2018
Paul Meilhat will compete in the 2018 Sevenstar Round Britain and Ireland Race in IMOCA 60, SMA © Y. Zedda / Challenge Azimut

It's been a wild week of ocean racing in the once-per-quadrennial Route du Rhum-Destination Guadeloupe, which is taking singlehanded sailors on a 3,542-nautical-mile course from St. Malo, France, to the finishing line off of Guadeloupe's Pointe-à-Pitre. While the massive Ultime trimarans finished their North Atlantic speed runs last week, this week the focus has been on the IMOCA 60 monohulls and the Multi50 class, both of which have now posted their winners, as well as some serious high-seas drama.

In the IMOCA 60 class, skipper Alex Thomson (UK), the proverbial bridesmaid of offshore racing, sailing aboard his iconic Hugo Boss, had been executing a brilliant and utterly untouchable race, until calamity struck, just miles from the finishing line. On November 16, Thomson overslept his alarm and hit the north end of Guadeloupe's Grande Terre.

While Thomson thankfully wasn't hurt, his boat sustained some damage and the 44-year-old skipper made the vessel-saving decision to fire up the iron jib and extricate himself from the bricks. Thomson then went on to cross the finishing line later that same day, only to learn that he was awarded a 24-hour time penalty for resorting to auxiliary power.

"It's a real shame for me and the team to be in the position that we are in," said Thomson, who has been third and second in consecutive Vendée Globe solo round-the-world races, in an official Route du Rhum press release following his arrival in Guadeloupe. As for his time penalty, Thomson wasn't looking for scapegoats. "How do I feel about that?" he asked, referring to his 24-hour penalty time. "Well I think that is very fair because I don't think I should win the race after hitting Guadeloupe."

As for the circumstance of his grounding, Thomson was equally honest. "I slept through–I didn't hear it–and when I woke up the alarms were going and the boat was strange," continued Thomson. "I went up on deck and I could see Guadeloupe – I didn't know it was Guadeloupe – I couldn't understand what was happening until I looked at the chart and then I could see I was on Guadeloupe...haha...I had arrived!"

"For me," said Thomson, "all I can do is live and learn – it's the land of hard knocks as we say in England. You have to try and stay strong; you have to learn, you have to be better and ultimately, obviously, I wanted to win this race. But the aim is to win the Vendée Globe and I think I've proved in this race that I can win the Vendée Globe."

As a result, Paul Meilhat (FRA), sailing aboard his non-foiling SMA, took top honors in the IMOCA 60 class with a total elapsed time of 12 days, 11 hours, and 23 minutes, which included a light-air waltz on the west side of the Basse Terre Island. With Thomson's 24-hour correction, Meilhat's elapsed time put him 11 hours and 48 minutes clear and free of Thomson's official time.

"This is my first big win, I wanted to sail a good race as a reward for all the support I have had," said Meilhat in an official Route du Rhum press release. "This is payback. Before the start I knew what I could do and what I am capable of. And I wanted to profit from the course, to feel like I am moving forwards."

Sadly for Meilhat, however, his sponsorship deal with SMA has concluded, putting him in the awkward position of leaving the Caribbean with the top Route du Rhum prize, but sans boat or sponsor to take on the next Vendee Globe, which starts on November 8, 2020. While this seems like a distant horizon, it's not much time to design and build a boat and sufficiently develop the systems before lining up against the world's best singlehanders.

Meilhat was joined on the IMOCA 60 results board by second-placed Yann Elies (FRA), sailing aboard UCAT-StMichel, and Thomson.

Meanwhile, there was also high drama in the Multi50 class, where skipper Lalou Roucayrol (FRA) capsized his Arkema some 1,000 miles east of Gaudaloupe. Roucayrol was eventually rescued by skipper Pierre Antoine (FRA), sailing aboard his RhumMulti Olmix, before transferring to a ocean-going tug that Roucayrol's team hired to salvage his overturned trimaran.

Ultimately, Armel Tripon (FRA), sailing aboard Réauté Chocolat, took top Multi50 honors with an elapsed time of 11 days, seven hours, 32 minutes and 40 seconds, which was just two hours and 19 minutes off of the class record for the route (which was established in 2014 by Erwan Le Roux).

Attention now swings to the Class 40s, the RhumMulti, and the RhumMono classes.

In the Class 40s, Yoann Richomme, sailing aboard Veedol – AIC, is-at the time of this writing-just 9.2 nautical miles from the finishing line. (Michael Hennessy [USA], sailing aboard Dragon is currently siting in 12th place, with 1,052.7 miles separating his bows from a level horizon, while John Niewenhous [USA], sailing aboard Loose Fish has retired from the course.)

In the RhumMulti class, Pierre Antoine (FRA), sailing aboard Olmix, crossed the finishing line with an elapsed time of 15 days, 21 hours, 15 minutes and 5 seconds to take top honors. He is followed some 554 miles astern by Jean-Francois Lilti, sailing aboard Ecole Diagonale Pour Citoyens Du Monde, and another (ballpark) 150 nautical miles in front of Etienne Hochede, sailing aboard PIR2, who is currently sitting in third place.

Finally, Volvo Ocean Race veteran Sidney Gavignet (FRA), who is sailing aboard Café Joyeux in the RhumMono class, has just 63.8 miles (again, at the time of this writing) to go before crossing the finishing line with a comfortable lead over his next fastest rival.

May the four winds blow you safely home.

David Schmidt
Sail-World.com North American Editor

Related Articles

John McCarthy on the 2019 Southern Bay Race Week
An interview with John McCarthy about the 2019 Southern Bay Race Week I checked in with John McCarthy, who is serving as the principal race officer of the Southern Bay Race Week (May 31-June 1, 2019), via email, to learn more about this classic Chesapeake Bay regatta. Posted on 23 May
Olympics news regarding Paris 2024 and Tokyo 2020
Equipment selection currently dominating the sailing news While the Tokyo 2020 Olympics are still well beyond the horizon, wheels are already turning for the Paris 2024 Olympics, with equipment selection dominating the Olympic sailing news cycle Posted on 21 May
Zane Yoder on the 2019 Melges 24 U.S. Nationals
An interview with Zane Yoder about the 2019 Melges 24 U.S. National Championship I checked in with Zane Yoder, Gulf Coast District Director of the Melges 24 Class, via email, to learn more about the 2019 Melges 24 NorAm Tour and it's Fairhope, Alabama regatta (May 22-26, 2019). Posted on 20 May
Not the Golden Arches
Although you can eat there if you so choose. Your call. Today, we're talking about the other Maccas Although you can eat there if you so choose. Your call. Our call today, is to talk about the other Maccas. The one with the truly enviable reputation, and the one that is good for you, builds vessels with a strong constitution... Posted on 19 May
Worrell 1000, Williams wins Bermuda Gold Cup
Latest Sail-World USA newsletter from David Schmidt The challenge of racing small, open catamarans across almost 1,000 miles of North Atlantic brine is just as stiff today as it was during the Worrell 1000's heyday. Posted on 14 May
World Sailing's chance to move sailing forwards
The big question is will they take it? A big decision is coming up this weekend for sailing. The decision makers are those right at the centre of the sport's governing body: World Sailing's Council. Will they support their own appointed evaluators, or even vote on the decision at all? Posted on 14 May
Guardians of the Galaxy
Collection. Agglomeration. Assemblage. Cumulation. Medley. Collection. Agglomeration. Assemblage. Cumulation. Medley. Yes, the moment I realised I had a small gathering of bits for this editorial I was immediately thinking of Drax the Destroyer from the movie whose title is our headline today. Posted on 12 May
Resurgence of the Worrell 1000, SailGP hits SFO
We like adventurous sailing races If you've read this newsletter for a while, you'll know that Sail-World and its North American editor have a massive soft spot for sailboat races that involve a significant adventurous component. Posted on 7 May
Sticks and Stinks – They do mix!
SCIBS looms, predominantly a powerboat event, with a few sails too SCIBS looms, and whilst it is predominantly a powerboat event, there are a few sticks around. One that will undoubtedly standout against its far cruisier cousins, will be the one above the very racey hull form that is the FarEast 28R. Posted on 5 May
RS Aero wins Equipment trials
For the 2024 Olympic Men's and Women's One Person Dinghy The RS Aero has won World Sailing's Equipment trials (Sea Trials) for the 2024 Men's and Women's One Person Dinghy Event. The four boats tested were the D-Zero, Laser, Melges 14 and RS Aero. Posted on 3 May
Naiad 660x82px_SuperyachtVaikobi 2019 - Footer 2Marine Resources BOTTOM