Steady stream of arrivals
Ghosting across the line at 13:11:18 UTC yesterday morning Eric Nigon and Samy Villeneuve arrived aboard their trimaran Vers un Monde Sans SIDA to take the fourth and final place in the Multi 50 class.Their boat is the oldest in the Multi 50 Class, a Nigel Irens design launched in 1988. Eric Nigon holds down a post as a IT consultant with major corporations but over his career has also found time to race at the highest level in major ocean and offshore races such as the Solitaire du Figaro, two Transat AG2Rs and the Solitaire du Chocolate and the Route du Rhum in Class 40s.
The next arrival was Bureau Vallée at 14:18:45 (UTC), co-skippers Louis Burton and Guillaume Le Brec taking fifth place in the IMOCA 60 class in a time of 20d 2h 18m 45s. Their average speed on the theoretical 5,450 mile course was 11.20 knots, but they sailed 5,924 miles at an average speed of 12.28 knots. However their finishing position hung in the balance as they waited to find out the arrival time of Bertrand de Broc and Arnaud Boissieres Votre Nom Autour du Monde, who diverted towards the upturned Multi 50 Arkema-Region Aquitaine and were awarded two hours of redress by the international jury.
When Bureau Vallée crossed the finish Votre Nom Autour du Monde was just over 30 miles behind making 14-16 knots in a breeze which would inevitably soften as their powerful Finot Conq design closed on Itajaí. While Burton and le Brec held their breath, Votre Nom Autour du Monde ultimately arrived two hours 15 minutes and 20 seconds after them, enabling them to hang on to their place in the IMOCA class.
Guillaume Le Brec, co-skipper of Bureau Vallée said: “We’re very pleased with this fifth place having sailed for a while with five boats in front that were a notch above us. It was a fantastic transatlantic race and a great journey. I’d like to do it again. It was a very competitive race and you had to be on the attack. The first to hoist extra sail made his getaway each time.”
Bertrand de Broc, skipper of Votre Nom Autour du Monde added: “We were hoping to catch Bureau Vallée. The fifth place was a closely fought contest and it was interesting to have to fight until the finish with our rival so close. The two hours redress we were given added to the fun. We have learnt a lot during this race. We’ve made progress. With Arnaud, we complemented each other well. We were a bit unlucky with the weather, and I’ve rarely seen such conditions. It was tough on the nerves and on the boat. Enough to get you really mad. Fortunately, I had Arnaud Boissières to calm me down.”
Polish duo Zbigniew Gutkowski and Maciej Marczewski aboard Energa crossed the finish line at 22:47:17 (UTC) taking seventh place in the IMOCA class with an elapsed time was 20d 10h 47m 17s. They become the first Polish duo to complete the Transat Jacques Vabre in its 20 year history.
Looking slightly frazzled and frustrated after a long, slow finish in light airs, the Polish duo Gutek and Magic were relieved to finish and enjoy their first caipirinha. A seventh place in their first major ocean race together, and in fact Gutek's first finish in a major IMOCA race, brought some satisfaction, but their race was a learning experience for the future, even if they were slightly disappointed to have been close enough to Votre Nom Autour du Monde and Bureau Vallee that they felt they had been in with a chance of catching them. But Gutek was delighted this his Finot Conq design, the 2008 generation former Hugo Boss, arrive in good shape, even if he regreted leaving a bigger, light winds gennaker behind.
“The finish line was a long time coming, it is a long race and the end was slow," said Gutek. "It took too long. For us to get to the finish line for the first time in an IMOCA competition it is good. We broke nothing, some small issues and little things but it is good. I am really happy. But I think of this race as a practice for the Barcelona World Race and so right now I know the boat better, what I want to change on the boat to make it much, much faster. I am really happy.
“We sailed well. I have crossed the equator maybe 20 times and we only slowed the boat for maybe 20 minutes at one point so I think we sailed well enough.”
Maciej 'Magic' Marczewski, co skipper added: “I am happy that I have finished this race and very happy and proud to do it with Gutek and that we are here in Brazil.”
Gutek: “Our history of sailing like this in Poland is so short so it is nice to be the first Polish duo to finish this race. Next time we will be a better. I learned what we need to change. The boat is quite fast but the bow pitches deep under the water and stops it going fast, so we need to look at that. We need a solution to keep the bow up more and I believe the boat can be 25% faster, believe me. The problem is with the balance.
“It is good to finish the race. But we were very close to these other two guys in front (Bureau Vallée and Votre Nom Autour du Monde) but in light winds we did not have a light winds gennaker from the start. We did not take it, we were thinking of strong conditions and so that was a bad choice and it cost us, but that is okay. Now I am looking to getting home to see my family, my daughter and my friends and prepare the boat.”