Thomas Ruyant, Class 40 winner
The Route du Rhum's Class 40 has been won by last year's Mini Transat winner Thomas Ruyant and Destination Dunkerque. Ruyant reached Pointe a Pitre, Guadeloupe at 11:12:17 GMT today in an elapsed time of 17 days 23 hours 10 minutes 17 seconds or an average speed of 9.18 knots on a course of 3,956 miles.
Ruyant, 29, took the lead in the 44 strong Class 40 fleet two days into the Route du Rhum, in the afternoon of 2 November, as the boats were still trying to break out of the Bay of Biscay. He joins 1994 IMOCA 60 winner Yves Parlier as being alone in having won both the Mini and their class in the Route du Rhum.
"I am very happy!" said Ruyant on his arrival. "To already win the Mini a year ago, it was difficult for me to imagine taking part in it, let alone winning the Route du Rhum. So after just 10 months in the Class 40, to win the Route du Rhum is fabulous! Quickly, three or four days after the start, I was able to get into my rate/rhythm. Psychologically, it is really important, that gave me a boost.
"The Route du Rhum is different from the Mini Transat: The Class 40 are larger and they are more comfortable, even if the race is very hard, and we had difficult conditions for entire duration of the race - taking the Northern route, they were frequent. Also the weather was complicated and that forced you not to make choices according to the fleet, but according to the weather.
"The 24 last hours were hardest part of the race. There was much wind in the lee of Guadeloupe which came down from the mountains: I saw up to 25-30 knots and more in the gusts. I had some small concerns for pilot as I have not slept too much over the last 36 hours. I physically am very tired, but adrenalin keeps me going…
"I did not expect to have Nico [Troussel] so near to me at the finish. When he went south, I thought he was smart, I did not hold out much hope. But it changed very quickly. He is a great sailor, each time he found a way through. It is him who I was most concerned about in the last days… "
When Ruyant arrived in Pointe a Pitre, Troussel was just 23 miles astern. The double Route du Rhum winner and his Credit Mutuel de Bretagne eventually crossed the finish line at 14:42:15 in a time of 18 days 2 hours 40 minutes and 15 seconds, or just 3 hours 29 minutes and 58 seconds after Ruyant.
Third place is expected to be taken later this afternoon, but at present it is still uncertain whether it will be Sam Manuard on Vecteur Plus or Yvan Noblet on Appart City who were separated by just 0.3 miles at the latest sched. The top seven boats are all expected to arrive by the end of today . Then there will be a gap to eighth placed Remi Beauvais on Routes du Large. Pete Goss remains the top Brit, currently in 17th place 430 miles from the finish line. The bulk of the Class 40 fleet are streaming in from the northeast but following his tropical southerly route, Goss is leading a handful of Class 40s up from the southeast.