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RS Sailing 2021 - LEADERBOARD

Rolex Fastnet Race: New record for François Gabart and his crew

by Trimaran SVR-LAZARTIGUE 24 Jul 2023 03:04 PDT 22-23 July 2023
Rolex Fastnet Race outright record falls to SVR Lazartigue © N.Touzé

At the helm of the Trimaran SVR-Lazartigue, François Gabart and his crew secured line honours in the 50th Rolex Fastnet Race on Sunday 23 July in 1 day 08 hours 38 minutes and 27 seconds. In so doing, they beat the previous record for this legendary race from Cowes (UK) to Cherbourg-en-Cotentin by 36 minutes and 27 seconds, a time set by Charles Caudrelier and Franck Cammas on the Maxi Edmond de Rothschild in 2021.

Relaunched on 26 May this year, the giant measuring 32 metres long by 23 metres wide, has once again managed to show off her talent to full advantage in some boisterous conditions. A fantastic collective performance just months before the Transat Jacques Vabre, which will see François Gabart and Tom Laperche pair up for a second time.

The race kicked off on Saturday 22 July at 13:00 hours UTC in autumnal conditions, with strong winds and reduced visibility. Though a number of the participants endured a very chaotic first night with nearly 40 knots of breeze, the two Ultims competing in the race, namely the trimaran SVR-Lazartigue and Banque Populaire XI, quickly traversed the English Channel with different options. François Gabart and his 5 crewmates, Tom Laperche, Elodie Mettraux, Antoine Gautier, Emilien Lavigne and Sébastien Col, opted to hug the northern edge of the Casquets traffic separation scheme. The option paid off as the trimaran SVR-Lazartigue was the first to round the Fastnet lighthouse on Sunday morning at 07:04 UTC.

The crew on the Trimaran SVR-Lazartigue, the most recent addition to the Ultim fleet, launched in July 2021, once again brought her massive potential to the fore, setting a new record in the Rolex Fastnet Race: 1 day 38 minutes and 27 seconds.

Quotes from the boat:

François Gabart: "2 years old is a good age to start winning"

"There was a strong wind and conditions were not easy, but we're very happy as we were able to sail the boat at her true potential. We got shaken about a bit, but our performance was reassuring going forward. We were battling it out with Banque Populaire, so it was reminiscent of a match race with just 2 Ultims. It was one on one and, like 4 years ago, it was really great and very interesting to step up and play the racing game with other boats. It was suspenseful all the way to the wire. We're very pleased, because it was the Trimaran SVR-Lazartigue's 2nd birthday on the start day on 22 July. She treated us to a Rolex Fastnet Race for her second birthday and we treated her to a victory. 2 years old is a good age to start winning and we hope to be able to continue to win lots of races with this wonderful trimaran, which has reached the age of maturity."

Tom Laperche: "Piloting boats at speeds like this is really exhilarating"

"We were neck and neck with Banque Populaire, which was fantastic but also very stressful. We linked together a number of tack changes in a fairly narrow space with the wind building. The boat negotiated the breeze very well and we're happy with the trimming. Piloting boats at speeds bordering on 40 knots is exhilarating. It's just extraordinary. It's the first race we've won against the other Ultims some two years after the launch of the Trimaran SVR-Lazartigue. It's a great tool with which to attack the coming season and prepare for the 24H Ultim in September, the Transat Jacques Vabre in October and the Round the World in January 2024. It's fabulous to kick things off like this and get the crew to raise their game. I already have some great memories and I can't wait for what's to come. "

Elodie Mettraux: "It augurs well for the next stage of the projec"

"We had to contend with big weather conditions, close-hauled in the breeze and waves, but everything went well. We got up to speed fairly easily and the Trimaran SVR-Lazartigue responded well. Fairly early on, we took different options to Banque Populaire at the start. We ended up in front and what was great was seeing that in similar conditions we managed to hold onto our lead. It's reassuring to note that in varied conditions, the trimaran can go as fast as her rivals, which augurs well for the next stage of the project."

Upcoming for the team

The next race meet for François Gabart and Tom Laperche is the 24H Ultim from 28 September to 1 October, in Lorient. It's the last clash for the Ultims before the Transat Jacques Vabre, which sets sail from Le Havre on 29 October. For the 30th anniversary of this transatlantic race, the two skippers will try to beat their second place aboard the Trimaran SVR-Lazartigue during the 2021 edition.

The Trimaran SVR-Lazartigue will head back out to sea again in January 2024, this time with Tom Laperche as skipper for the Arkea Ultim Challenge - Brest, a singlehanded round the world race. Following his role among the shore crew providing the best possible assistance to Tom Laperche in his challenge, François Gabart will turn his attention to the Jules Verne Trophy in the autumn of 2024. He'll try to beat the non-stop, unassisted, crewed round the world record, which has been held since 2017 by Francis Joyon (IDEC Sport) in 40d 23h 30min 30s.

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