Despite his commanding lead Guillemot is nailed on the final morning; hot competition as the 60ft tris all finish within an hour

Under a clear sky and in a light 3-4 knot breeze, Franck Cammas’ Groupama Assurances was the first trimaran to finish the Quebec-St Malo race, having trounced Marc Guillemot’s Biscuits la Trinitaine in the final stage of the race down from the Fastnet Rock. Followed by a mass of spectator craft, the green and white 60ft van Peteghem/Prevost-designed trimaran wafted across the line at 1631 yesterday in a time of 9 days, 23 hours 16 mins, just ten minutes ahead of Guillemot.

Guillemot had lead the Class 1 multihulls for more than four days and at one stage held a 283 mile lead, but he was overtaken only on the morning of the finish while crossing the Channel. In these light airs it was Groupama who lengthened her stride passing Biscuits La Trinitaine as both boats were on the same heading. Dutch Whitbread veteran van Triest, navigator on Groupama predicted that it would be the wind direction in the last 48 hours that would be make or break the winner.

On crossing the line Cammas and his crew of Lionel Le Monchois, Jean-Baptiste Le Vaillant, Olivier Lozachmeur, Stève Ravussin and Van Triest looked like they had arrived home after a round the cans race.

This victory is highly significant for Cammas. One of the most talented sailors in France, he is the youngest, aged 27, to drive a 60ft trimaran, a position he won following his extraordinary win in the 1997 Solitaire du Figaro. Since the launch of his trimaran in 1998 this is his first major victory.

Yvan Bourgnon on Bayer en France finished third, despite his extraordinary performance three days ago when he managed to cover 625 miles in 24 hours, just a fraction of a mile less than the world record set recently by Club Med.

Alain Gautier on board Foncia posed a major threat to the frontrunners yesterday morning. During the previous night he took an inshore course, an intelligent, but risky move, but one which took him to within 0.1 miles of the leader. However he was unable to sustain this position finishing fourth.

Previous winner Belgacom arrived fifth. Despite being unable to use their gennaker, they succeeded in keeping the pace and crossed the line less than an hour after Groupama, showing just how closely matched these 60ft trimarans are, despite being a supposedly ‘open’ class. .

Finally Gitana IX finished in sixth place. In an older boat (she is the old Elf Aquitaine III trimaran), Thierry Duprey had admirably kept up with the newer generation tris and remained in distance of them right to the line.

Arrival Times

1) GROUPAMA ASSURANCES Franck CAMMAS 16 hrs 31 mins 06 secs

(total time: 9 days 23 hours 16 minutes & 6 seconds)

2) BISCUITS LA TRINITAINE Marc GUILLEMOT 16 hrs 41 mins 00 secs

3) BAYER EN FRANCE Yvan BOURGNON 16 hrs 58 mins 17 secs

4) FONCIA Alain Gautier 17hrs 07mins 20 secs

5) BELGACOM Jean-Luc Nélias 17hrs 33mins 50 secs

6) Gitana IX Thierry Duprey 17hrs 55mins 40 secs