Banque Populaire takes line honours
Obliged to tack the last few miles sailing slowly in the dying midday wind the blue and white trimaran picked up a little more speed to finish in style. However while most of the population of Salvador were crowded around the marina roads, their heads were turned to watch the Grand Prix motor racing that is deafening the Centro Nautico Marina today where the Transat Jacques Vabre fleet are moored.
During this Transat Jacques Vabre, Pascal Bidégorry and Lionel Lemonchois clocked some breath-taking speeds with a personal best for the boat, 583 miles in 24 hours when they were careering towards the finish from Ascension Island between the two 0900 GMT position reports on 18 and 19 November, at an average boat speed of 24.29 knots.
Banque Populaire has beaten the 14 days 9 hours and 3 minutes reference time for this route between Le Havre and Salvador via Ascension Island, set by Groupama 1 in 2001 by 7 hours and 17 minutes.
Pascal Bidegorry has had a charmed first season with his new sponsor, with two offshore race victories, first in the IB Group Challenge and now the TJV, plus two second places in five grand prix. With his latest victory Bidegorry has won the 2005 ORMA Multihull World Championships with a significant lead over Gitana 11 and Géant.
“I’m overjoyed, really overjoyed," said Bidegorry on his arrival. "For my first season, to join a campaign as I did, change boats, start up the shore team again on the hoof…hoping that it all holds together and works out, and with just the best working relationship amongst the team, it’s just been a pleasure each day…really extraordinary!
“I say every day that the most important thing is how you do things and this year the way we did things was extraordinary. The approach we took was how we won…there were two offshore races this year and we won them both, they were definitely won and not taken by default!
“The race wasn’t tough…it was EXTREMELY tough! I suppose we always have to bear with a certain amount of suffering, no pain, no gain and no race victories either, that’s nothing new! Above all with these machines, the secret is to be on deck the whole time and to never let go.
“Going at 38 knots boat speed…that was cool! Honestly, we sailed safely, we didn’t plant the bows once even if we went very, very fast. You have to be so careful, that’s for sure. The standard is such that no-one gave an inch in this race. We set off into a storm, crossed a heavy low pressure system, and we were all racing as if we were sailing an inshore Grand Prix!
“My impression of winning? It’s all gone so quickly, passed me by really, I don’t know what to say. The contrast is massive, the transition from my world on the boat to this, so I’m not really connected yet! It’s hard to come out of my little bubble, we’re all in our own world out there, we couldn’t do this job if we weren’t constantly thinking about the boat 24/7…”
“With Lionel, the important thing was that we have sailed together the whole year. From when the boat went into the water, training for the GP’s, the IB Group Challenge victory, all these races have been a way for us to get to know each other on the water, to learn how to sail the boat so we can give it our best in this Transat Jacques Vabre. On board, the slightest problem, Lionel sorts it out. He’s quite impressive.”
“The pleasure comes from sharing our victory now with all the team who’ve worked on the project. For a race like this, there are 50 people whose hands have worked on the boat this winter so she’s race ready. I want to get everyone together and have a big party!”
“There were 10 multihulls like this one in the world. They are the best boats in the world, we’re honoured to have the chance to sail these incredible machines. But for all of this, we owe a lot to a lot of people. Alone, it’s worth nothing.”
Lionel Lemonchois gave his opinion:”It was a great victory, but the one thing we’d have preferred is to have finished ahead of everyone in the fleet, rather than just 3 other boats. With Pascal, it went relatively well! It was intense for sure, we didn’t let up for a minute, we were always on top of everything. The goal was clear before the start: for us to win and we worked hard for it.”
At present Gitana XI is still holding off Géant from taking second place both boats averaging over 20 knots boat speed in the strong SE Trades. They are expected to arrive from 2145 GMT (1845 local time) tonight.