Desjoyeaux the victor

Le Professeur adds Route du Rhum title to Vendee Globe win

Saturday November 23rd 2002, Author: James Boyd, Location: Transoceanic
Michel Desjoyeaux's path to his Route du Rhum victory was not an easy one:

9 August: Géant dismasted off the coast of Brittany. This put a massive hole in Desjoyeaux's preparation time for the Route du Rhum

27 October: Desjoyeaux was the last competitor to complete his 1000 mile qualification run, in very rough conditions. The trimaran suffered damage from the storm and needed to be taken out of the water for repair work.

4 November: Géant was the last boat to arrive in the Vauban Basin in Saint Malo.

10 November, 12h45 GMT: The 18 strong 60-foot trimaran fleet starts the Route du Rhum in moderate conditions.

11 November: A few hours after the start Desjoyeaux decides to carry out a pitstop in Bertheaume, a bay outside Brest harbour, to solve some autopilot problems and to change some broken battens in the main sail. He arrived at 0115 GMT and left at 0330 GMT.

12 November: Routed by Vincent Riou, Géant headed far west. Michel decided at any cost to avoid the depression moving rapidly southeast toward Spain, that would decimate many in the Route du Rhum trimaran fleet.

13 November: The northerly route that Géant proved to be advantageous: while Loïck Peyron, Philippe Monnet or Yvan Bourgnon were enduring 80 knot wind Géant only experienced 40/45 knots. This propelled Géant into fourth place, while Desjoyeaux was careful not to risk the boat. In a second, slightly weaker depression following it Desjoyeaux decides to sail under wingmast alone.

14 November: The wind continued to blow strongly: 40 knots of northwesterly winds and very big seas. In the early morning, the attachment holding on the starboard foil broke. The foil drops and snags the movement of the rudder blade. With his inability to check the state of his float and learning that two boats similar to his had suffered serious structural damage to their beams – Sodébo and Foncia - Desjoyeaux decided to make a pitstop in Porto Santo, an island to the northeast of Madeira.

15 November: Géant arrived in Porto Santo at 1730 GMT and left the following day at 0930 GMT. The stopover costs Desjoyeaux 15 hours, but his intuition was right. In the port, besides the batten problems, his brother Hubert, who built the boat, and the shore crew led by by Denis Juhel, repaired wave impact damage on the forward beam, catching it before it could cause real harm…

16 November: Géant returned to the Trade Winds. Meanwhile Banque Populaire was held up in the Azores High taking the northerly route and Biscuits la Trinitaine stopped in the Azores to repair damage. In front and seemingly out of reach, Steve Ravussin was starting his descent into Guadeloupe.

19 November : Under gennaker and one-reefed mainsail, Steve Ravussin's Technomarine capsized. By default Géant took the lead of the multihull rankings, retaining it until the end.

23 November: An elated Michel Desjoyeaux wins the 60-foot multihull class of the Route du Rhum 2002, at 2038:00 GMT. He crossed the finish line at more than 20 knots, virtually swallowed up by an appreciative welcoming committee of boats.

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