Last boats home

As 1876 and a battered Artemis Ocean Racing complete the Transat Jacques Vabre's IMOCA 60 field

Saturday November 28th 2009, Author: Andi Robertson, Location: United Kingdom
The final two IMOCA 60s have arrived in Puerto Limon at the conclusion of the Transat Jacques Vabre.

The Franco-Spanish duo of Yves Parlier and Pachi Rivero arrived in 1876 at 18:07:45 GMT last night in a time of 19 days, 4 hours, 37 minutes and 45 seconds to take ninth place.

The 1876 crew had been first to play the stealth card, working to the furthest north. For a long time they looked strong, emerging from the worst of the storm with a strong fifth place. They hung on for a long time until they were snared by the high pressure system on the approach to the Caribbean. At times they were able to move well, but ultimately they struggled with lighter winds while their opposition were barrelling west in the trade winds.

It was a bold strategy, not unknown for the French co-skipper who has won this race twice in the past.

"Our long descent thorugh the high pressure system was costly," admitted Parlier on his arrival. "We were slowed down by the problem with the staysail, we could not go as quickly, and so didn’t manage to get to the trade winds. It has been a real pleasure to sail with Pachi, even though we had to spend a lot of time doing DIY!

“I am really happy to have finished the race with Pachi. We were behind a number of boats, but also very close to them. It wasn’t easy because we lost our wind window going south to reach the trade winds. We had our fair share of technical problems too but Pachi did a great job keeping the boat moving, and we are happy to finally be here, as there were times when things were particularly hard and we weren’t sure if we were going to make it to the end of the race. I’m really pleased to have taken part, it has been a great battle.

"It was a real pleasure to sail with Pachi, even if it was off and on organizing it. These boats of this new generation are really different from my old " Aquitaine Innovations. They feel less alive, more powerful, and don’t accelerated as quickly. But, the average speeds are up so much, the rig is really powerful, they are beautiful machines. And one thing is sure, I very happy to have done this race It was a beautiful adventure."

Pachi Rivero was delighted to see his friends and family, the big crowds. He said: "This is fantastic. It is wonderful to get here, and after having been alone just Yves and I without seeing anything or anyone and then get here and see all of this is wonderful. Suddenly you arrive and nothing really matters any more,” said the Spanish skipper.

"It was a particularly tough race with the storm that caused such damage to the fleet on the first week of competition (4 teams abandoned racing), and the inevitable technical damage took its toll meaning the difference in the decision to continue or abandon racing, and in the actual final results.

"We had a little bad luck, because we chose a good route and were going well, but the breakages meant we had to go slower, and particularly the time it took to repair them and get the boat back to a condition to keep racing. It meant we lost out on the wind systems, as we were late getting to the wind. We had been fighting for fourth or fifth place but it was really hard for us to get to Canal de la Mona and into the trade winds, and we were just a little too late.

"It has been a difficult race but also had some great moments. The best part of the race was when it was really windy, up against it all and the boat was really holding her own, and besides we were well positioned. That was wonderful! And sailing in the Caribbean which is all good downwind conditions, and that is fantastic.

"The worst moment was when the pilot system broke. We were sailing with three reefs and staysail and had about 45 knots of wind. The staysail broke and we were going to change to a storm jib, when the boat suddenly gybed on its own, with both of us on the bow sorting things out, and we broke four battens. That was the worst moment because it took us such a long time to repair everything.”

Bringing up the rear as Sam Davies and Sidney Gavignet on Artemis Ocean Racing. They arrived this morning at 05:50:10 GMT in a time of 19 days, 16 hours, 20 minutes and 10 seconds.

The pair were a little battered and bruised, and not as high up the leaderboard as they would have liked, but delighted to have made it to Costa Rica. In a race which spared few and will live long in the memories of those who competed, it was an ‘epic adventure’ where boats were abandoned and crews pushed to the edge.

Sam’s initial reaction to finishing: "Tired! But pleased to be here at last. I'm really happy, I loved it! Whether it is hard or not, it has been fantastic and I am already sad that it is over so that is always a good sign that it has been a fantastic race "

Less than 12 hours separating the final six boats into the finish. They were unable to climb up the leaderboard after taking a pounding in the early storms which cost the fleet so dearly. Artemis suffered damage in the early part of the race that was irreparable at sea, but Sam and Sidney took the decision not to take a pit stop, but to finish the race as best they could and to learn from the experience.

Sam said: "What an epic adventure. It will go down as one of the tougher Transats that I have done! We are finishing at the back of the fleet - a disappointing result for us as we had hoped to be better placed. However, getting Artemis to the finish is actually a victory for us in a different way. Apart from the result, it has been a great race, rich in experiences, challenges, learning (sometimes the hard way!)”

Although she makes no excuses, and many yachts suffered damage, Sam outlined what they’ve contended with, ”On day two of the race one of our sails blew up beyond repair. Two days later we had parts of the boom ripping out, triggering other shock loads on board that exploded the backstay system. Another two days on and we were battling through 55-knot Atlantic depression, with our already handicapped Artemis. The storm created considerable damage to our mainsail that required us to drop it and wait for the wind to drop in order to repair."

It was well-reported that the pair considered pit stopping in the Azores for repairs to be undertaken, but decided to push on and fix what they could themselves. Sam continues: “Sidney and I had a lot of work on our hands - add autopilot failure and wind instrument loss to the list, plus Iridium phone cut out, the list goes on!

"We battled through each job and at the same time pushing Artemis as fast as we could in the situation, to try not to loose too much ground. Every time a repair was successful, there was a feeling of elation and joy. Emotions are quadrupled when one is tired and at the edge of ones limits - both despair, but also the positive emotions, which like a drug spur you on to keep going and defeat the next problem on the list."

As ever, Sam remains constructive about what she can take from the race, and optimistic about the future: "Despite our result. I can't wait to get out there again and use what I have learnt to be stronger, better, faster.... sometimes you have to learn from the tough times.

“The result is just a small part of this equation. I am here to learn, my goal is the Vendee Globe 2012, and thanks to this race I have learnt HEAPS for the future - that in itself is a success. Sidney and I have learnt more about Artemis and what we could do to make her easier to sail, handle, perform - that too is a result as Artemis is still in her evolution period and the objective is to discover how we can get her to top form. We have conquered the North Atlantic and made it across (4 of the 14 starters did not) and we are stronger, with more experience and more miles under our belts."

There’s also little doubt that the Sam and Sidney pairing was a huge success, they worked well as a team and have nothing but praise for one another. As Sidney says: "We’ve accumulated nice stories along the way, a few mishaps too, but above all three months of beautiful complicity. We started with a blank page, and this adventure will remain one of the best episodes of my career as a sailor."

Sam’s sure that everything she has experienced will make her an even stronger sailor in the future: "When I’m rested in a few days I will look back on this race and all that has happened and I will realise that it’s not just the result that counts. In the future you will see me put the experience of this race into use and my results will show the truth."

Final IMOCA 60 results:
Boat Crew Course time Finished
SAFRAN Marc Guillemot - Charles Caudrelier Benac 15d 19h 22m 10s 24/11/2009 09:52
GROUPE BEL Kito De Pavant - François Gabart 16d 4h 2m 30s 24/11/2009 18:32
MIKE GOLDING YACHT RACING Mike Golding - Javier Sanso 17d 1h 29m 38s 25/11/2009 15:59
FONCIA Michel Desjoyeaux - Jérémie Beyou 17d 8h 44m 34s 25/11/2009 23:14
W HOTELS Alex Pella - Pepe Ribes 18d 22h 11m 44s 27/11/2009 12:41
VEOLIA ENVIRONNEMENT Roland Jourdain - Jean Luc Nelias 18d 22h 16m 0s 27/11/2009 12:46
AKENA VERANDAS Arnaud Boissières - Vincent Riou 19d 1h 20m 12s 27/11/2009 15:50
AVIVA Dee Caffari - Brian Thompson 19d 1h 47m 12s 27/11/2009 16:17
1876  Yves Parlier- Pachi Rivero 19d 4h 37m 45s 27/11/2009 19:07
ARTEMIS Samantha Davies - Sidney Gavignet 19d 16h 20m 10s 28/11/2009 06:50
HUGO BOSS Alex Thompson - Ross Daniel    
DCNS Marc Thiercelin - Christopher Pratt    
BT Sébastien Josse - Jean François Cuzon    
BRIT AIR Armel Le Cleac'h - Nicolas Troussel    

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