Words from the winners
Jean Pierre Dick confirmed his supremacy again this morning as the ultimate doublehanded ocean racer, when he and co-skipper Jérémie Beyou brought Virbac Paprec 3 across the finish line of the tenth edition of the Transat Jacques Vabre to win in the very early hours of the morning in Puerto Limon, Costa Rica. Victory completes a remarkable year for Dick, who also won the two handed Barcelona World Race around the world on April 4th this spring, winning with co-skipper Loïc Peyron, and for Beyou who won the intense solo one design Solitaire du Figaro this summer.
They set a new record time from Le Havre to Puerto Limon for the mononulls beating the 2009 record by one hour and seven minutes, setting the mark at 15 days 18 hours and 54 seconds. Alex Thomson and Guillermo Altadill on Hugo Boss are expected to take second place around about 10 hours after the French duo.
Dick and Beyou arrived bearded, exhausted, but elated at their win, which is the result of smart tactical sailing, taking a winning northerly routing around the succession of vicious low pressure systems putting great faith in the reliability of the proven VPLP-Verdier design which has already sailed one and a half times around the planet since being built in New Zealand, and a complementary working relationship which allowed them to push exceptionally hard with confidence in each other and the boat.
Jérémie Beyou commented: "It was hard at first in particular the second day we had come off second best against PRB. But it was not crucial, but it was not right and was a wake up call It was self-critical and we managed to sort it out. We managed to stay lucid and coherent in our thinking and the course felt a bit dream like(...). But we were late in responding and we were doubly punished. This may be one of the key moments of the race, it gave us a kick.
Jean-Pierre Dick: "After the second day, I spoke with Jeremie and we said we are not sailing very well. We need to refocus, to sort this out."
Beyou continued: "When we pushed it like we did, it was good having the best prepared boat in the world, us and the boat were meticulously prepared, but there are always little problems. We had plumbing problems (problem with the ballast) early in the race, JP had to pump for three to four days for the ballast and also to set the keel ram. We burst the bubble (perspex dome) above on the starboard helm after a big wave exploded on deck. This means that when you steered you were in the fire hose, and it's really painful. We blew our big blue spinnaker one hour after filming it. And last night we got a twist and with it in the water it could have gotten worse. "
On the intensity of the race Dick commented: "We did not hold back for either us or the boat in this race. We went really to find out what could be done. Some watches were difficult. You have to learn to think in these race, learn to rest, to concentrate on yourself, not just the boat. Because in the long term, it does not pay.
"It was a tough race, like the north face of the Matterhorn. The first week was really hard. Our boats have become like war machines. Not much sleep the first few days, it was hell, luckily, I had brought earphones to bank out the creaking of the boat. After two days, we managed to sleep but the start of the race was difficult for us, it took a while to find our rhythm and settle into the right mode. It was good with Jérémie to work to reach our goals. We made things come together right. We took the right course, the right options. After that, it was a battle of speed with Hugo Boss, they pushed us
Beyou adeed: "We were on it constantly since 2 November. Last night was a bit stressy. It was a bit random and difficult in the squalls, a sail went in the water, it was tough. For me this is my first win in the Transat Jacques Vabre, but Jean Pierre collects them like a string of beads.
Their northerly route was also the hardest, as Dick said: "There was a psychological aspect side, from the late start. Everyone wondered: are we going? Are we going to break the boats? The pressure was rising. Some may be said, ‘I would never go there’. We, the boat has done a round the world and a half. A key aspect of this boat is that it is strong. We felt comfortable in using this option and we went north."
On their relationship Beyou said: "There is total transparency with JP, in what his boat. He gave me the keys to make it work. On the water and in the way we deliver the project it is just as it is on land. He is someone open minded and who sees beyond the end of his nose. The aim was to make a great Jacques Vabre and we did. I really enjoyed myself. I knew that to win every race he has won, you have to go fast. And Jean-Pierre loves speed. That's good also for future projects (Multi One Design). He’s a great helmsman in the breeze, I have been with great helmsman, and I have been impressed with him "
And Dick added: "It learned about him as I went but Jérémie is what I imagined. He's very driven and aggressive, like "the beast" and personally, I'm glad to sail with people like that. There is no need to push him ... He pushed himself and is a real pleasure. We feel the same drive and motivation and that's important."
Of his being his third Transat Jacques Vabre win Dick commented: "It is really cool to win with such an lead. And a third victory in the Transat Jacques Vabre brings a lot of good feelings because it is exceptional. It's a bit of a rewards, a success to reward sucha lot of work before and it's also all this work we will be celebrating tonight."
Of their physical condition at the finish Beyou commented: "We realised after eight days of racing that we had not even eaten half the food for the first week. We had not eaten much, not slept much. We caught up with food the food and then physically, it's okay, because we did not stop to maneuver. Strength wise physically, is has moved on, developed. Now, there was pressure all the time. Even when we ended up with a little ahead, we wanted to keep moving ahead of Hugo Boss. And we do not relent!”
Dick added: "What Jérémie says is true. We had a good preparation. Even when we were really pressed, it was difficult, we managed to stay on top of it. We continued to carefully analyze the weather to make clear decisions and that is down to fitness. And that's important given the intensity of the races we are in now.”
After following a similar route on a boat which is of an older generation and which they had only sailed for 12 days prior to starting back on Wedensday November 2nd in Le Havre, Thomson and Altadill on Hugo Boss deserve considerable credit. After disappointments and setbacks since finishing second to Dick in the 2007-8 Barcelona World Race, the last race he completed, Thomson has bounced back with an accomplished performance along with the talented veteran Spaniard who completes his first IMOCA 60 podium finish.
Thomson and Altadill are due to finish in Puerto Limon, Costa Rica around 1900 UTC. Thereafter a steady stream of IMOCA 60s are expected over the next two days.
“There has been some pressure from Banque Populaire," said Thomson today. "She has had the charge on and we have made sure we made the right decisions how to negotiate this little area of low pressure, getting on the right side of it and making sure we cover them. Last night we always opted for the safe options and so I feel we are pretty safe now.
“I think Guillermo and I have sailed very well actually. We have not always had the pace of some of the other boats, but I think we made some good choices, getting on the right side of the lows. I think we have done a good job. I think we could have committed to the northern strategy in the Atlantic sooner than we did but then I think if we had done that we would have pretty much taken a flyer on our own. And we did not really feel we wanted to do that, so in hindsight if we could have done that, but the reality is faced with the same situation I’d make the same choice.”
“ It is an absolute pig to drive downwind, an absolute pig, it is very uncomfortable. When it is windy it is very hard, but the good thing it is very easy to make it go, you can quite easily under sail the boat and still get close to her full potential. So you are not driven to make decisions as quickly as you would on my previous boats. There are little things I don’t like that I will evaluate and make changes over the coming weeks. “ Mostly I am looking forwards to having clean, dry clothes on, having a shower. You can tell I have aged and have a kid now because previously. If you had asked me that question ten years ago I would have said I am going to hit the bar and drink as much beer as I can, but really now I want some dry clothes on.”
“ I think one of the issues with this boat, and this is our own screw up really, is that we did not invest enough energy into making the boat habitable and we found it incredibly uncomfortable, and therefore we have not managed to get much sleep at all. In fact Guillermo said to me last night, and remember he is a ruffty tuffty Volvo sailor, he said this is the worst weeks he has had on a boat ever had, and so yes we are very, very tired. “ Guillermo has much more experience crewed than short handed, so he has a real skill for understanding how to make the boat go. He is incredibly hard but has been a pleasure to be with in our team for the last six months. And he has done a great job with the boat. I am very grateful to him.”
Top three standings at 1300
1 - Virbac-Paprec 3 (Jean-Pierre Dick - Jérémie Beyou) : arrived on friday november,18th at 9h 15min et 34sec. (French Time)
2 - Hugo Boss (Alex Thomson - Guillermo Altadill) : at 59,3 milles from finish line
3 - Banque Populaire (Armel Le Cléac'h - Christopher Pratt) : 80,9 milles to leader
1 - Actual (Yves Le Blevec - Samuel Manuard) : 376,2 milles from finish line
2 - Maitre Jacques (Loïc Fequet - Loïc Escoffier) : 379,8 milles to leader
1 - Aquarelle.com (Yannick Bestaven - Eric Drouglazet) : 1417,7 milles from finish line
2 - ERDF Des Pieds et des Mains (Damien Seguin - Yoann Richomme) : 162,6 milles to leader
3 - 40 Degrees (Hannah Jenner - Jesse Naiwark) : 262,1 milles to leader