Next Transat B to B finishers

Safran and Hugo Boss finish

Thursday December 15th 2011, Author: James Boyd, Location: none selected

The next two sailors have completed the IMOCA 60's Transat B to B, finishing at the safety gate off the coast of Spain due to the storm force conditions in the Bay of Biscay.

Marc Guillemot's Safran crossed the finishing line at 1133 GMT today to take fifth place. The race proved excellent preparation for the Vendée Globe. Safran will now head for Lorient where she will arrive on Saturday evening or Sunday, if possible after the worst of the storm.

On finishing Guillemot reviewed the race.

You were hoping to do better? "Of course. When I set sail, it is always to win. But at the same time I gave it my all and I really don’t feel like I sailed poorly. My first thoughts would be that the standard is now much higher with everyone closer to the same level, just as we can see in the Figaro class, where if you end up in eighth place, you really haven’t done too badly. That’s a good thing, as it means that it’s not always the same people winning. Of course, I had hoped for a place on the podium, but it’s all part of the game."

Are the conditions rough yet? "Yes, I’ve got southwesterly winds averaging 36 knots gusting to 40 and the seas you would expect. Safran is making headway at 17 knots and is heeled over. So, very lively conditions. To be honest, the conditions are far from simple. The good news is that I haven’t broken anything on board."

How do you feel about the course being shortened? "It was an excellent decision, the wise thing to do. There’s no way were they going to send the fleet into such boat-breaking weather with less than a year to go to the Vendée Globe. Looking at the race itself, I was hoping to grab fourth place from Mike Golding… I fully support this decision, which is very wise and I think the same goes for all the other competitors too. You really have to understand what is going on here. The storm is very heavy: gusts of 50-60 knots… and maybe more. And as the continental shelf is so steep, the seas would be horrendous in the Bay of Biscay. This very wise decision means we can weather out the storm. I’ll be contacting Sylvain Mondon to see how we can get back to Lorient. In any case, one thing for sure is I won’t be taking any risks with the boat."

When are you likely to arrive back in Lorient? "I don’t know and for the moment that is not my priority… Saturday evening, maybe Sunday. It doesn’t really matter. What counts now is taking care of the boat as much as possible, slowing her right down, taking in four reefs in the mainsail to let the worst of the front pass over and then follow it home. Knowing that the conditions are likely to be very rough in any case and the seas will be huge in the Bay of Biscay. But I’ll be working on that in the next few hours."

Your first reaction to this result? "This transatlantic race offered a lot, with a wide range of conditions. It also allowed me to feel more relaxed about one particular detail: my confidence in the boat and the autopilot. That’s very, very important… If you’re scared of an incident happening, when you leave her on autopilot, you simply cannot win a race, as any incident can cost you a lot. That’s not just a little extra, it’s something that is vital. When you know that you can go and grab some rest and rely totally on your autopilot, that changes everything. I feel confident and simply for that reason, it was well worth taking part in this race."

At 15:43 UtC Alex Thomson and Hugo Boss crossed line in sixth place. For Thomson the decision to shorten course impacted his tactics (being furthest north) and anyone else's and effectively dropped him into sixth, from fourth place, also forcing him through some of the windiest and roughest parts of the severe depressions sweeping the Atlantic.

Commenting at the finish Alex said "I am very happy to have finished. This has been a challenging race with confused seas and very strong winds. Despite the changes to the course and my final position I am relieved to have successfully completed this important preparatory race for the Vendee Globe. It has been an excellent test for me and the boat and I am really happy with how we have both performed. I believe I was penalised by the course change and I made an application for redress which is normal practice in this situation. Onwards now to 2012."

Thomson took 10 days 1 hour 43 minutes to complete 3,424 nautical miles at an average speed of 14.16 knots. He now has a short number of days to get Hugo Boss to port before jumping on a plane to skipper his Juan K-designed IMOCA 60 (ex-Pindar) in the Rolex Sydney Hobart Race.

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