The Verdier-designed trimaran Actual, sailed by Yves Le Blevec and Samuel Manuard crossed the finish line of the Transat Jacques Vabre to win the Multi50 class this morning at 07h 07mn 43sec UTC. Their elapsed time for the 5323 mile course from Le Havre to Puerto Limon, Costa Rica via St Barts and Barbados of 17 days, 17 hours, 07 minutes and 43 seconds, made for an average speed of 12.52 knots. Their measured actual course is 6508 miles at an average 15.31 knots.
Victory in this race is something of a bonus for Yves Le Blévec and Sam Manuard. In many respects their target was to simply finish. Two years ago Le Blévec capsized on the first night at sea of the 2009 edition of the Transat Jacques Vabre and a year ago he had to retire from the Route du Rhum-La Banque Postale. And only a matter of weeks before the start of this race they were dismasted.
They sailed a shrewd, smart race to win, setting the required rhythm early, sharing the lead with Crepes Whaou! from the second day on the course. But this duel was cut short when the three times winning skipper Franck Yves Escoffier had to retire with Crepes Whaou! after sustaining a back injury. Indeed four Multi 50s were forced to retire in a very short time frame.
The Actual duo were smart in their choice to dive south early, seeking to miss the worst of big low pressure system and were also able to slide across the high pressure ridge which proved problematic for the IMOCA Open 60’s, to set themselves a useful cushion of some 300 miles on their remaining rival Maitre Jacques. The chasing duo made a big comeback in miles when they attacked from the south but they were unable to get in touch with Le Blévec and Manuard who remained in the better breeze and were able to lead into the Caribbean where they extended progressively on their rivals. And as a Guillaume Verdier design, Actual’s win sets up the potential for a hat trick in all three classes, also co-designing Virbac-Paprec 3 collaborating with VPLP.
"We were focused primarily on getting here with the boat fully intact," commented Yves Le Blévec. "It was still pushed in every direction, the boat and it has been a very hard race on us and on the boat. We did not hold back. I am not that experienced on the Transat Jacques Vabre but I don’t think there have been many editions with as many fronts passing with really difficult seas. It seemed like every day there was a new challenge with violent, tough weather. And so getting a multihull here is a pretty complicated challenge.
“This win is important for everyone. It is for the sponsors but also it’s important for me on a personal level, even simply to complete the race is super important. That was the original goal. I was often saying to Sam: ‘let’s not get carried away, let us just finish the race.”