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Yoann Richomme on Paprec Arkéa wins the 15th edition of The Transat CIC

by The Transat CIC 6 May 13:00 PDT 6 May 2024
Yoann Richomme on Paprec Arkéa wins the 15th edition of The Transat CIC © Julien Champolion / polaRYSE

French skipper Yoann Richomme made it two back-to-back solo Transatlantic wins today when he brought his PAPREC ARKÉA across the finish line first on the historic Transat CIC race across the North Atlantic from Lorient in Brittany to New York.

Richomme on his Finot Conq-Antoine Koch designed PAPREC ARKÉA crossed the finish line at 18:23:32 UTC (14:23:32hrs local time NYC) to conclude a very close battle with German skipper Boris Herrmann (Malizia Seaexplorer) who was less than 30 miles behind when he crossed. His elapsed time for the 2,950 nautical miles course since leaving Lorient on Sunday 28th April is 8d 6h 53mn 32sec.

After winning his first ever solo IMOCA Transat, the Retour à La Base, a race from the Caribbean to Lorient in December, Richomme highlights again his outstanding potential for the solo non stop round the world race, the Vendée Globe, which starts early November.

It is the first time since 2016 that this historic Transatlantic race, which originated in England in 1960 as the Observer Transatlantic Race, has been contested. Richomme, 40, follows up the success on that edition of Armel Le Cléac'h who then went on to win the 2016-17 Vendée Globe the following winter.

Richomme's elapsed time bears some comparison with Le Cléach's 12 days, at least in proving how much faster the latest generation of foiling IMOCAs are compared with Le Cléach's Banque Populaire VIII which was one of the first ever IMOCAs with hydrofoils.

He was second for a big part of the race, chasing his long time rival Charlie Dalin (MACIF Santé et Prévoyance) who looked to be odds on to win on his return to solo racing after missing last Autumn's two Transats with a medical issue.

But Richomme out-manoeuvred him as they negotiated the north side of a nasty Atlantic depression whilst Dalin was reported to have suffered a technical problem which required him to stop for a few hours the following day.

The Frenchman who was born in Fréjus but spent three and a half years at a tough public school near Philadelphia while his father was working there is a renowned, data driven perfectionist - as is Dalin who is also a Southampton trained yacht designer. He is perfectly bilingual with a distinct US accent.

He has said in the past that staying on top of his target numbers all the time and living in his own bubble, sailing his own race, has been the passport to his key successes to date, winning the solo Route du Rhum twice in Class 40 and winning La Solitaire du Figaro twice.

After an outstanding win on his solo IMOCA debut last December he told Yachting World magazine, "I am really in my own world, I don't look at the others, a little bit now and again, but I am in my own world and then what works well is all the data analysis we do before to be able to have the right polars, to make the right decisions, to have the right sails. Yes, it is that digital thing, the numbers. Otherwise if you do routings all the time and it shows you to go different ways, it messes you up. It is all about the work I do before that pays off in these races. And then the thing is it works, I am not making big mistakes. You cannot change a big gennaker twice in a day, next day you are dead. You need to make the right sail choices all the time and know what you are doing when, otherwise you are going to fuck up. You will never recover. All the learning curve from sailing the boat here, and analysing the data and being able to use that on the race course, efficiently and not making mistakes is what makes it work."

And he likes to fulfil his goals, on the Saturday before he left his home base in Lorient he said: "I would really like to win this damn race!" He said he loved the idea of entering New York as a winner and cherished the idea of adding his name to the who's who of winners of this legendary race.

Since launching in February 2023 the successes of PAPREC ARKÉA have been striking, Richomme and Yann Eliès finished second in the Rolex Fastnet race and on the Transat Jacques Vabre Normandie Le Havre and now he adds victory on the 'original' fiercest 'north face' Transat to his growing list of accolades.

The key moment was last Thursday when he overtook Charlie Dalin (MACIF Santé Prévoyance) to the north who was visibly suffering from technical problems. Richomme echoes how winning cyclists know how to attack and deliver a blow as soon as the peloton seems to be running out of steam. When fatigue sets he attacks with striking lucidity and composure.

In light, light winds the two lead skippers were making less than five knots with 140 miles to the finish line. "Boris is putting me under pressure, I would have much preferred to finish in a more relaxed way".

But he had to fight all the way to the line, earning his win the hard way. They say adversity makes victory all the sweeter. Now Yoann Richomme will have the opportunity relax, recover and savor the ten or so hours of sailing between the finish line - which is 110 miles offshore and his arrival in New York Bay, passing by the Statue of Liberty before celebrating tomorrow morning at Brooklyn's One15 Marina.

After crossing the line Richomme said, "It is so good to win this crazy, hard, historic race which really launched ocean racing with the victory of Eric Tabarly and so on. So I am super proud to accomplish this and this is my first time arriving by sea into New York so now I can really look forwards to that. I am happy and proud of the work the team has done and winning two back to back Transats shows we are working well. I had a few little problems after the star, making choices with sails and some energy problems, but I made some good trajectories and am happy with the speed of the boat. I am proud of my course through the depression, we had a good race Charlie (Dalin) I made good executions of my strategy. But everything is wet, wet through and it is difficult to contemplate two or three months living like that on the Vendée Globe. And the race was Boris was good too, he has a very fast boat downwind."

Transat CIC, IMOCA Class. Subject to jury, provisional:

1 PAPREC ARKÉA, Yoann Richomme (FRA) finished 18:23:32 UTC (14:23:32hrs local time NYC), elapsed time 8d 6h 53m 32s. Average speed over actual course sailed of 3293.55 miles 14.83 kts, speed over theoretical course 16.56kts

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