Miranda Merron makes it

After frustrating final 200 mile drift towards Guadeloupe in the Route du Rhum

Saturday November 30th 2002, Author: James Boyd, Location: Transoceanic
In the calm winds of the early Guadeloupean morning today, Miranda Merron on her Open 60 Un Univers de Services glided slowly across the finish line in Pointe à Pitre to finish at 1118:57 GMT, eighth home in the 60-foot IMOCA monohull class.

Despite lengthy passages on board Tracy Edwards' Royal & SunAlliance catamaran, as navigator on Lisa McDonald's Amer Sports Too and several long distance two handed races with Emma Richards, this was Miranda's first singlehanded race.

For her the Route du Rhum has been a race of distinct contrasts from beating into the teeth of storm force winds in the first week, to the light winds as she attempt to skirt the Azores high, to the stronger breeze and sporadic squalls in the Trade Winds and finally - and most frustratingly - running out of wind 200 miles short of the French Caribbean island finish, that saw her ETA get knocked back from Friday morning to Saturday morning.

Yesterday Miranda commented: “The wind has gone on holiday. This race is starting to be too long. I have the feeling I will never arrive.”

Today after crossing the finish line she described her race: “It was very long and very hard. I am happy with how it went, but it could have been a bit quicker. I learned a lot about myself, I learned a lot about the boat, and I learned to deal with my tensions. This is the first time I have spent so much time on my own. I did not break any sails like Ellen [MacArthur] and Mike [Golding], but look, I came in eighth.”

Still to arrive in the Open 60 class is Route du Rhum legend Mike Birch who is moving closer to Guadeloupe at a stable pace. The Canadian former cowboy, is hoping to finish Saturday night or early Sunday morning. He was 98 miles away at 1100 GMT and the wind is picking up.

This is the second time Birch has sailed a monohull in the seven editions of the Route de Rhum he has entered. Five times he has helmed faster trimarans. The 60-foot monohull Tir Groupé – Montres Yema is a new experience. “I really like the boat. It is maybe not as fast as a tri but it is a good boat and has a great history.” Tir Groupé – Montres Yema has a long history originally built as Fleury Michon for Philippe Poupon to sail in the first Vendee Globe challenge it's highest hour was when refitted extensively by Philippe Monney and rechristened UUNET, she set the singlehanded non-stop record for sailing round the world “the wrong way”.

13 of the 58 competitors of the Route du Rhum 2002 are still at sea. The finish line closes Sunday 8 December at 2038:00 GMT. 17 have crossed the finish line in Guadeloupe and 28 have abandoned.

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