First win for Safran
Guillemot and his crew of seven dominiated the 360 mile race between Saint-Nazaire and Sainte-Marine from start to finish, completing the course in 38 hours ahead of 2007 winner, Michel Desjoyeaux's Foncia and Armel le Cleac'h's crew on Brit Air.
Alongside Guillemot on Safran were past Figaro winner Charles Caudrelier Benac, Thierry Brault and Loïc Lingois (Safran Sailing Team), Yannick Bestaven (IMOCA 60’ skipper) ; Gurvan Bontemps (F18/ racing catamaran specialist); Jean-Baptiste Le Vaillant and Anatole Modaï (Incidences sailmakers).
Marc Guillemot has never hidden his attachment to the French lifeboat service. "We've already been on the podium on many occasions, but this is the very first time that Safran has been on top since her launch two years ago," said Guillemot. "This race marks the start of a new cycle taking us to the next Vendée Globe. We're bound to be pleased, particularly with the way things went. We were in the lead from the start and there were some fine sailors behind us. We really enjoyed it, in spite of there being a lot of pressure on us. We were the first to enter the calms and could do nothing but watch the others catching us up. Then, during the night off Sainte-Marine, our daggerboard got caught in a crab-pot. We managed to get going again, just as Foncia was catching us up." Safran ended up crossing the finish line 38 minutes ahead of Foncia.
The weather this year was fine with calm seas and a starry night, but when high pressure dominating, the wind played games, spinning around in all directions throughout the day. As a result the record time of 1 day 12 hours 9 minutes and 7 seconds did not fall. Guillemot continues: "The fact that Safran stands out in light to moderate conditions is clear to all. But in order to win, it required seamanship and we needed to anticipate the continual shifts in wind direction. We never stopped and everyone did a great job and having eight on board was certainly not too much."
Second placed Michel Desjoyeaux commented: "We had very nice conditions for the entire journey: sunny day and the night sky. There was a lot of maneuvering to do on board, many sail changes as the conditions were quite variable in the light wind. There was a lot of coming and going, the twists and turns too."
IMOCA 60 '- Record SNSM 2009:
1. Safran (Marc Guillemot) arrived at 08h26min40''
2. FONCIA (Michel Desjoyeaux) arrived at 09h04min10''
3. Brit Air (Armel Le Cléac'h) arrived at 09h13min58''
4. Akena Verandas (Arnaud Boissières) arrived at 10:08 min 18''
5. Veolia Environnement (Roland Jourdain) arrived in 12h28min28''
Among the Class 40s it was Cheminées Poujoulat, sailed by Bernard Stamm, Bruno Jourdren, Damien Cloarec and Jean François Quéméner who were first home at 08:12:42, having sailed a different course to the 60s. She finished 15 minutes ahead of Wilfrid Clerton's CG Mer. Many other Class 40s retired due to the lack of wind.