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Route du Rhum-Destination Guadeloupe: Le Roux (Koesio) wins nail biting Ocean Fifty showdown

by La Route du Rhum-Destination Guadeloupe 20 Nov 05:25 PST 20 November 2022
Route du Rhum-Destination Guadeloupe 2022 © Alexis Courcoux / #RDR2022

In the 12th Route du Rhum-Destination Guadeloupe French solo skipper Erwan Le Roux sailed Koesio across the finish line first in the Ocean Fifty fleet this morning at 10:50:52 UTC (06:50:52 local time) narrowly beating second placed Quentin Vlamynck (Arkema) after nail-biting head to head over the final miles around the west of Guadeloupe.

The duo were only 100 or so metres apart early this morning. The older, more experience Le Roux, 47, who won this class in 2014, stayed offshore at the southern turn around the island, picked up more breeze and finished just 18 minutes and 13 seconds ahead of the 29 year old Vlamynck who led since the early days of the race but was caught by Le Roux last night on the final approach to Guadeloupe.

Le Roux said this morning, "It was incredible what we did with Quentin. We were neck and neck for a long time in a small group each time we looked at the rankings. Primonial dropped back and I found myself with Quentin. I dreamed of arriving at Tete à l'Anglais alongside him when we were out training together. "

Asked about the final miles and his hopes of winning he said, "I never had any doubts. I was fully motivated and I kept calm when I had a problem with my gennaker. I kept saying my time will come. This work started early this year really. At one point in your life you start to see things differently. Even 50 miles back, I never doubted. I sent Quentin an email telling him I had dreamt of this race around the island. Quentin is a great friend. He had a fantastic race and was incredible. I'm pleased to share this with him. This was really two friends racing."

As a shimmering rainbow appeared on cue as a beautiful backdrop on this quiet sunny Sunday morning Vlamynck, winner of this season's crewed Pro Sailing Tour, received a very warm appreciative welcome on the dock at Pointe-à-Pitre's Memorial ACTe.

He is a quiet, dedicated young man who has risen through apprenticeships, mentored through the ranks of being a preparateur to Mini Class skipper and then, on the last race, boat captain to Lalou Roucayrol at his Lalou Multi racing stable. Nearing the end of the last race Roucayrol capsized at 1000 miles from Gaudeloupe and was rescued by a fellow competitor. He and his then boat captain Vlamynck, chartered a tug from Martinique went and found the upturned Arkema and rescued her exactly four years ago tomorrow.

"I really enjoyed myself out on the water." Smiled Vlamynck, "If it wasn't Erwan that beat me, I'd have been disappointed. Because it's Erwan it's fine, but it does mean I have to come back again in four years. Sailing around the island wasn't as hard as for Erwan, because I caught him up a bit. There were some nice surprises during that voyage around the island. Pretty sights. He only just won but that's all it takes. So I eased off when it was clear he was going to win. I knew the boat would perform well. We saw that with a crew this summer. The team have worked hard together for a long time, so that was an advantage. I did wonder whether I'd manage to keep up the pace out on the water, but it helped being in front. That motivated me to do everything to stay in front."

Their race

At the start of his fourth Route du Rhum-Destination Guadeloupe in Saint-Malo, Erwan Le Roux was of course one of the favourites, but the skipper from La Trinité was well aware that the standard in the class had progressed a lot in recent years, thanks the increased professionalization, partly down to him as President of the Ocean Fifty class. He only acquired Koesio, the most recent trimaran in the fleet early this year and worked hard to master this VPLP designed boat that seemed to perform well downwind, but not as well as others upwind.

After a decent start, Le Roux was not outstanding in the Bay of Biscay, managing not to drop too far behind, but between 15 and 35 miles from the leader. By the second front, the gap had widened to 70 miles, but when Thibaut Vauchel-Camus capsized, others seemed to become more cautious and the gap stabilised at around sixty miles. To the north of the Azores, he overtook Sébastien Rogues (Primonial) and Armel Tripon (Les P'tits Doudous) with some good positioning options thanks partly to his router, Jean Yves Bernot with whom he has worked since 2010 and Yann Eliès, with whom he won the Transat Jacques Vabre in 2013. Le Roux remained convinced of the ability of his boat downwind. "If I am 100 miles behind when we start downwind, I won't be too worried," he said before the start. Gradually, Koesio did pulled back the miles to get back up with Arkema by the Tête à l'Anglais buoy early this morning

They set off as if this was a Grand Prix event. By the tip of Brittany, Arkema was in front of the seven Ocean Fifty multihulls. Quentin Vlamynck took a westerly option near the Island of Sein, while the others continued southwards. The winner of the 2022 Pro Sailing Tour showed how at ease he was upwind aboard his Romaric Neyhousser-designed boat. The surprise for many was that nine days later, the youngest skipper (29) was still in front as they approached the Tête à l'anglais buoy.

This was his first transatlantic race on a multihull, but Quentin found the perfect balance between performance and safety. Approaching the second front off Portugal after three days of racing, he refused to keep up the pace set by Thibault Vauchel-Camus who grabbed first place for twelve hours or so before capsizing. He managed to keep a small group including Erwan Le Roux (Koesio), Sébastien Rogues (Primonial) and Armel Tripon (Les P'tits Doudous) in check. In the variable winds and squalls approaching the French West Indies, Erwan Le Roux's experience enabled him to get back to within twenty miles of Quentin Vlamynck.

Statistics

Le Roux's elapsed time is 10 days, 21 hours, 35 minutes and 52 seconds. He covered the 3,542 miles of the course between Saint-Malo and Pointe-à-Pitre at a speed of 13.54 knots on the great circle (direct route). He actually covered 4,197.23 miles at an average speed of 16.4 knots (on the water).

Vlamynck's elapsed time is is 10 days, 21 hours, 54 minutes and 05 seconds. He covered the 3,542 miles of the course between Saint-Malo and Pointe-à-Pitre at a speed of 13.52 knots on the great circle (direct route). He actually covered 4,186.67 miles at an average speed of 15.99 knots (on the water). He arrived in Pointe-à-Pitre 18 minutes and 13 minutes after the winner Erwan Le Roux (Koesio).

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