Please select your home edition
Edition
McConaghy 2022 - MC63p & MC75 LEADERBOARD

Peyron completes the fairytale aboard Happy in the Route du Rhum-Destination Guadeloupe

by Route du Rhum 25 Nov 2018 22:22 PST 25 November 2018

On a perfect sunny Sunday afternoon off Pointe-à-Pitre, the French sailing hero Loïck Peyron completed his personal tribute to transatlantic racing pioneers Mike Birch and Eric Tabarly when he brought his small yellow trimaran, Happy, through the finish line of the Route du Rhum-Destination Guadeloupe.

Forty years after Canadian Birch ignited the legend of the Route du Rhum when he won the inaugural race by just 98 seconds on the 12-metre yellow trimaran, Olympus, Peyron sailed his 37-year-old Olympus sistership, Happy, through the finish line to huge applause.

"It is perfect timing, coming in on a Sunday afternoon just after church. It is meant to be. What more could you want?" quipped 58-year-old Peyron who took fourth in the Multi Rhum class at the end of one of the most brutal transatlantics of recent years.

His time for the 3,542-nautical mile course was 21 days, three hours and 57 minutes which was well inside Birch's 23-day effort in 1978, although Peyron was quick to point out that his time is not a record.

"Don't forget she is for sale now," Peyron told the crowds who lined the pontoons and breakwaters at Pointe-à-Pitre's Memorial ACTe finish village.

"It was long and a bit tougher than I expected. I am glad it is over. That is the problem with small boats - you have to cross so many weather systems. I think I crossed five or six low pressure systems. But that is fine, that is for the memories. The thing is these small boats are so marvellous but really bouncy all the time, uncomfortable when you are racing with an alloy mast and dacron sails."

His sailing honours compare with the greatest in the sport. Four solo transatlantic race victories, including a record-breaking win in the 2014 Route du Rhum-Destination Guadeloupe on the maxi trimaran Banque Populaire; four round-the-worlds; runner-up twice in the Vendée Globe; a crewed round-the-world Trophée Jules Verne record; a two-handed Barcelona World race win and three consecutive America's Cup challenges.

After 51 transatlantic passages since his first Mini Transat in 1979, Peyron sought to return to the simplicity and purity of sailing like the founders of the sport of solo ocean racing, men like Tabarly and Birch. Peyron remembers berthing alongside Birch's boat as a 22-year-old in Pointe-à-Pitre after his first Route du Rhum. He still calls Birch his 'Jedi Master'.

"My story over the last four years is to try to give a tribute to those guys like Mike Birch and Tabarly, the pioneers - Tabarly in the OSTAR and Mike Birch here in the Rhum. So I feel I have done that," said a smiling Peyron. "The good thing is that I know there are not so many people who could do this, and be able to start this race as the winner of the last edition."

Peyron's back-to-basics approach meant no modern electronic aids on Happy, no routing software, no GPS, navigating by sextant and using traditional dacron sails with no furling gear to roll up the sails, and next to no communication with the outside world.

The brutal wind and sea conditions in the Bay of Biscay during the first few days meant Peyron chose to use modern 4G technology to download two sets of weather files to guarantee his safety. Even so he spent 40 or so hours sheltering along the north Spanish coast, trying to avoid the worst of the weather which buffeted the fleet. "I went out too early, it was super bad weather. I was seeing a good 50 knots and a big sea state because Finisterre is not the right place to be," Peyron recalled.

He admits to pushing the little trimaran hard over recent days, seeking to break away from near-identical sistership Friends & Lovers, sailed by 36-year-old French businessman Jean-François Corre and trying to catch Jean-Pierre Balmes on Solveo Energie Nouvelle. He passed Balmes during last night to take fourth while Friends & Lovers was some 25 miles behind when Peyron finished.

The diminutive Frenchman is adamant that this was his last Rhum. "I am done. I have done eight and that is plenty," he said. "The next challenge is a real one in La Solitaire in the new Figaro Beneteau 3; I have started each of the different iterations and I am looking forward to the new 3."

www.routedurhum.com

Related Articles

La Route du Rhum: 100 days left
Already a heightened sense of anticipation as record edition approaches Today Friday July 29, at 1302hrs CEST marks exactly 100 days before the start of the 12th edition of La Route du Rhum - Destination Guadeloupe. Posted on 29 Jul
Surfrider Foundation Europe joins Route du Rhum
The 2022 edition will muster the biggest fleet ever with 138 participants As it is shaping up as an all time record edition the 2022 La Route du Rhum - Destination Guadeloupe 2022 will muster the biggest fleet ever with 138 participants. Posted on 10 Jun
Past winners highlight their love for the race
Six months to the start of La Route du Rhum - Destination Guadeloupe In exactly six months, 138 sailors will line up off Saint Malo at the start of the twelfth edition of the Route du Rhum - Destination Guadeloupe. Posted on 6 May
18 Wild Cards, 138 skippers for Route du Rhum
The full complement of 138 entries is now completed following the allocation of the 18 "wild cards" The full complement of 138 entries is now completed following the allocation of the 18 "wild cards" which will allow these chosen to now join the ranks of the race which over its 44 years of existence has never been so popular. Posted on 28 Apr
Route du Rhum - Destination Guadeloupe 2022
138 solo sailors set to compete The 2022 edition of La Route du Rhum - Destination Guadeloupe sees the legendary solo Transatlantic race reach the age of 44 years old. Posted on 7 Apr
Route du Rhum - Destination Guadeloupe 2022
A potent cocktail combining all the key fundamentals plus many new ideas In 11 months' time, on the 6th of November 2022, the 12th edition of the Route du Rhum - Destination Guadeloupe will see one of the most exciting ocean racing fleets ever assemble on the Saint-Malo start line. Posted on 8 Dec 2021
Countdown starts for Route du Rhum-Destination
The queen of solo sailing events remains totally true to its fundamental philosophies In one year tomorrow, on Sunday November 6, 2022, the most legendary of transatlantic races, the Route du Rhum-Destination Guadeloupe, will start. Posted on 5 Nov 2021
A great Rhum
40th anniversary proved to be a memorable edition The 40th anniversary Route du Rhum-Destination Guadeloupe proved to be a memorable edition, with big crowds turning out in Saint Malo to see the record fleet of 123 boats in six divisions start the 3,542-nautical mile race to Pointe-à-Pitre. Posted on 15 Dec 2018
IMOCA offers a positive appraisal of Route du Rhum
A very positive appraisal of the Route du Rhum The twenty sailors competing in the eleventh edition of the Route du Rhum-Destination Guadeloupe put on a remarkable show, at the end of which Paul Meilhat (SMA) came out on top ahead of Yann Eliès (Ucar-StMichel) and Alex Thomson (Hugo Boss). Posted on 6 Dec 2018
Action in the RdR, Transatlantic Race and GGR 2018
Offshore adventures in the Route du Rhum, RORC Transatlantic Race and Golden Globe Race 2018 Three classic events are currently unfurling: the tail end of the Route du Rhum, the opening salvo of the Royal Ocean Racing Club's Transatlantic Race, and the ongoing saga (now on Day 149) known as the Golden Globe Race 2018. Posted on 27 Nov 2018
SOUTHERN-SPARS-OFFICIAL-SUPPLIER-52-SS728-X-90 BottomDoyle Sails 2020 - Redefining Boundaries 728x90 BOTTOMRS Sailing 2021 - FOOTER