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Favourites Thibaut Vauchel-Camus & Quentin Vlamynck (Solidaires en Peloton) deliver Ocean Fifty win

by TJV Media 17 Nov 2023 02:47 PST 17 November 2023
Ocean Fifty Solidaires en Peloton, skippers Thibaut Vauchel-Camus and Quentin Vlamynck are taking 1st place during arrivals of the Transat Jacques Vabre in Fort de France, Martinique © Jean-Marie Liot / Alea

In heavy rain at the end of a day which had been interspersed with squalls and long calm periods, Thibault Vauchel-Camus and Quentin Vlamynck (Solidaires en Peloton) crossed the finish line of the Transat Jacques Vabre Normandie Le Havre off Fort de France, Martinique today at 19:07:47hrs local time (00:07:47hrs UTC Friday) to take first place on the Ocean Fifty race.

Their elapsed time for the 4200 nautical miles course from Le Havre to Martinique via Lorient, passing the Cape Verde Ile de Sal to starboard is 11d 11h 22m 47s. Their average speed for the theoretical course is 16.54kts. They actually sailed 5432.58 nms at a speed of 19.78kts.

The French duo have led the race since just before Cape Finisterre but were also first to cross an intermediate finish line off Lorient after the racers were required to make a six days stop there less 24 hours after the race started from Le Havre to sit out a huge storm on the Bay of Biscay.

Their victory is the biggest ocean racing success for a co-skipper pairing who teamed up this year on the 2020 launched Romaric Neyhousser design which was previously raced by Vlamynck for two seasons until his team's long time sponsor stopped in March.

Vlamynck is an ex Mini650 racer who sailed in the colours of Lalou Roucayrol and was very much mentored by the former Ocean Fifty racer and boatbuilder since he left school. He won the Ocean Fifty Pro Sailing Tour two years ago and finished a very close second on last year's Route du Rhum on this boat.

Vauchel-Camus grew up in Gaudeloupe and was runner up in 2019 in the three boat Ocean Fifty class on this race. He was previously a top Class40 racer who won the Transat Bakerly and finished fourth on the last Transat Jacques Vabre in the Ocean Fifty class.

Widely tipped as the pre-race favourites, their collective experience in the challenging Ocean Fifty multihulls especially showed during the very windy opening section to Lorient as well as preserving their well proven, well prepared boat through a major front on the Bay of Biscay which saw three of the six starters forced to abandon between 8th and 9th of November.

Their victory lays to rest disappointments for both skippers. Vauchel-Camus was leading last year's Route du Rhum solo race to Gaudeloupe when he capsized off Portugal. And Vlamynck lost out on victory last year's Route du Rhum by only 18 minutes. Despite his excellent result his team lost their sponsor after 10 years of support thereby terminating the project and requiring them to find a new owner of the boat in the Solidaires en Peloton team;

"We are very happy with a job well done on a great boat by a super partnership and after all that we have had going on before, it is at last. It was the hardest course to keep pushing." Enthused Saint Malo's Vauchel Camus on Fort-de-France's victory pontoon, drenched by the heavy late evening downpour.

Vlamynck, who has sailed in the Multi50/Ocean 50 class for ten years and helped in the original conception and design of the winning boat added, "It is good. It was not easy. We did so much work before the race. And a year ago I capsized when I was in first place, so I was a bit more nervous, but we tried to sail calmly and reasonably."

Vauchel Camus, who called his co-skipper 'super coach' acknowledged, "Quentin knows the boat so very well and he has the capacity to maintain the intensity, especially on the second stage - which seems strange to say on a Transat Jacques Vabre. The game was very open with a high level. It is about having a good rhythm and pushing hard, that's why we have a lead of a hundred miles or so, always trimming and staying on top of the job list."

Brought up in Gaudeloupe where his parents had a riding school, but learning and pursuing sailing through holidays with his grandparents in northern Brittany, Vauchel-Camus continued, " It is something I have been pursuing for a long time. The Route du Rhum is important in our world for me especially being Gaudeloupean at heart so this is one of the ocean races I have always wanted to win, so it is great to finally succeed. It is incredible. But we sailed well, we did not do anything crazy and to win a Transatlantic on a multihull is special. I am very happy."

Vlamynck concluded, "The last couple of days have been hard but after Madeira we slept quite well. But there were big squalls which meant we had to pay attention. On our boat we stayed sensible, stuck to our rhythm and the game was to put as much distance on our rivals, to keep pushing the boat and lose nothing. Thibault has worked hard to keep improving the boat since last year. I know the boat by heart. I was involved in the conception of it with Lalou who I have been with since school and with Romaric and I was there for all the building of it. And so I had two good season with it, winning the Pro Sailing Tour and with a good second in the Route du Rhum and then missing sponsor we offered the boat to Thibault and immediately we had a good feeling between us. And I have such a good feeling with this boat which goes so well as we saw on the Route du Rhum. Sailing with Thibault over these 10 days or so has been a super experience. "

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