Gitana 11, skippered by Fred Le Peutrec and Yann Guichard, literally flew across the finish line on one float at a rate of knots, press boats barely able to keep up, to finish second in the ORMA class at 18:50:15 GMT. Arriving just 3 hours, 3 minutes and 46 seconds after winner Banque Populaire, Gitana XI covered the longer multihull course for the Transat Jacques Vabre in 14 days 4 hours 50 minutes and 15 seconds at sea, covering the 5,190 mile route at an average theoretical boat speed of 15.13 knots
With only 3 hours and 3 minutes deficit behind Banque Populaire at the end, Fred Le Peutrec and Yann Guichard have sailed a brilliant race. They made one pit-stop at Camaret, in Northern Brittany, the day after the start, which cost them 60 miles, but more importantly it meant that they were behind the fleet going into the cold front, which resulted in the skippers taking a different strategy for their descent South.
By sticking closer to the African coastline after passing the Canaries, Gitana XI returned in force back up with the top two boats as they were entering the Doldrums. By cutting the corner to the east of her rivals Banque Populaire and Géant, Gitana 11 spent several hours in the lead of the race. But this unpredictable area of calms was extended for them over in the east, and Le Peutrec and Guichard lost 60 miles on the leaders in the process.
As Banque Populaire pulled ahead so they fought for second place against Géant, Desjoyeaux and Destremau opting for a more westerly Equator crossing. Gitana XI went into upwind combat with Géant towards the Ascension Island, the former taking an easterly option still whereas Géant kept more to the south. Passing the British outpost, Gitana XI was ahead by just 20 miles before the final 1,000 mile flight downwind to the finish in strong downwind trade winds conditions. Géant chose to follow more or less the rhumb line, whereas Gitana 11 luffed and followed the leader’s route in. At the end these two boats were no more than 15 miles apart, a negligible gap of less than an hour flying along at 20+ knots boatspeed!
Just 27 minutes and 29 seconds after Gitana 11's arrival, so Michel Desjoyeaux and Hugues Destremau took third place in the ORMA 60 class aboard Géant at 16:27 local time (19:27:44 GMT) off the CENAB breakwater in Bahia. Géant recorded an elapsed time of 14 days, 5 hours 27 minutes and 44 seconds at an average theoretical boat speed of 15.20 knots over the direct route of 5,190 miles.
The latest arrivals into Salvador de Bahia at Anne Liardet and Miranda Merron board their Open 60 Roxy.
Miranda sent her last log shortly before finishing:
"We are 15 miles from the finish line of the Transat Jacques Vabre, running down the coast, with the city of Bahia clearly visible. The finish line is inside the bay, so still a few manoeuvres to go, but motivation is high! It has been a race full of good moments, and bad. The first few days were very tough, compounded by a few technical issues. Our untimely and unexpected becalming in the Cape Verdes, and horrible doldrums passage effectively lost us 7th place. However, much of the race was great fun. Many happy hours of fast downwind sailing, ever-changing sea and sky, and it has been fab sailing with Anne. We have been playing CD's loudly all day, having not listened to any music at all so far. For most of the race, it's been important to listen to the boat noises, since that is the best way of detecting problems. Another 4400 miles of Open 60 ocean racing experience logged, in a time of 16 days and some hours, and now it's time to gybe for the entrance to Baia de Todos os Santos, cross the finish line. Caipirinha Heaven awaits! PS Just enjoying one last freeze-dried meal: tuna curry..."
Roxy finally appeared over the horizon, pink sails set against a beautiful Brazilian sunset. The last few mile to the line were still fairly physical with a few sail changes before the girls could at last relax and point the bow towards the finish line on starboard tack as night fell on the city backdrop. The fireworks for their arrival were set off from the CENAB marina at 1817 local time (21:17:42 GMT) as Liardet and Merron set off their red hand flares to light up the pink mainsail. The only all-female team finished in eighth place in the IMOCA Open 60 class, two days and 21 minutes after the winner Virbac-Paprec. Their elapsed time was 16 days, 7 hours, 17 minutes and 42 seconds at an average theoretical speed of 11.09 knots.
Behind them, Mare Verticale (Seeten / Carreri) are not expected to arrive until overnight tomorrow. The Open 60 skippered by Dejeanty and Toulorge (MRBN) is over 700m from the finish and the sole Brazilian entry, Galileo (Antunes / Coldefy) close the march in 11th with 1100 miles to run.