Mike Birch arrives

The veteran Route du Rhumer gets his Open 60 across the pond to complete his 7th race

Sunday December 1st 2002, Author: James Boyd, Location: Transoceanic
At the ripe old age of 71 a surprisingly spritely Mike Birch crossed the finish line this evening Guadeloupe time at 20 hours, 16 minutes and eight seconds 30 November, 0016:08 GMT 1 December at an average speed on a direct course of 6.87 knots. A flotilla of respectful cheering faces out on the water came to see in the legend that is the very backbone of the Route du Rhum.

He considers his entry into the Route du Rhum to have been a real indulgence and, though he has no plans to enter again next time he is very happy to have finished. “It has been a nice day, I’m just a bit late”.

When asked what was next he replied with a glint in his eye “I don’t know, how about another beer?” He actually plans to attend the Paris boat show and then head back to Quebec.

Despite the fact that he would have been faster on a trimaran he “has enjoyed sailing a monohull and has seen no serious damage”. He says too that she is “a peach upwind”.
He explained that the racing had been pretty similar without a great deal of developments since the first edition but that “once Ellen had won, it was over for me, I really wanted to be on the finish line. It’s a very special thing that the monohulls have come in before the multihulls (note that technically this is not true as there were two separate starts).

"The reason for Ellen’s success is that for the first time in sailing someone has a manager and Mark Turner is very good, the crew is very good and Ellen is the best,” he added.

Mike must have seen some champions in his time so this is a compliment indeed.

Earlier news today Régis Guillemot also became the fifth winner of this seventh Route du Rhum: on his 12m monohull, the soo sailor won his class aboard Storage Tek, the first of the Class III monohulls He has lead a fault-free race despite having to stop in the Azores with water in his fuel tank and is deservedly browsing in glory, as hopefully is Mike Birch.

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