It's a sweet victory for Pella, whose last transatlantic race was blighted by rudder damage
Spanish sailor Alex Pella has confirmed his supremacy in the popular and highly competitive Class 40 fleet by winning the class in the solo Route du Rhum transatlantic race and setting a new course record.
Pella finished in 16d 17h, bettering the class record by over a day, after sailing an absolute blinder of a race. It was especially joyous for him as he had rudder damage in the two-handed Transat Jacques Vabre a year ago, which put him out of the running for a podium place. Even sweeter, this was his first ever solo Route du Rhum.
But this time he was so fast he finished ahead of his predicted arrival time, and before his friends and family could get to Pointe-a-Pitre in Guadeloupe.
Barcelona born Pella is establishing himself as one of the great solo sailors, and he adds this win to his 2nd and 3rd places in the Mini Transat in 2005 and 2003 and 4th in the two handed round the world Barcelona World Race in 2010-2011.
Having trained and tuned in relative isolation from Santander, into the Atlantic from Spain’s north-west corner, Pella sailed alone and with his team apart from the mainly French based Class40 circuit. Many considered him a dark horse, but those in the know had him quietly ranked as a favourite.
From the start signal Pella and his yacht, Tales 2, were always in the leading group. Some initial damage, including a Solent primary headsail torn in the height of the first gale, but he pushed hard and was rewarded.
When Sebastien Rogues, one of the favourites who had won most of the Class 40 races over the last two years, had to withdraw with gear failure, Pella was well placed in the leading trio, opening steadily away from the pursuing group. Downwind and reaching in the Trade Winds, Tales 2 often showed a clear edge in speed.
Three days ago he told the live daily radio conference: “I think this is a very good boat, but its about the total package, it is good design, very good build, and we have worked hard to have all the right set ups, the sails are very good -me, I am not bad – I think that all the things on board have worked very well in this race.”
His win ahead of Thibaut Vauchel Camus and Kito de Pavant, who finished 2nd and 3rd, is a triumph for an all-Spanish team made up of a group of friends who all work at a very high level in world sailing. The sum of their talents is a great showcase for the best of Spanish sailing. The boat was designed by Botin Partners for principal designer Marcelino’s brother Gonzalo. It has been project manager Antonio ‘Talpi’ Piris with a sail programme overseen by Juan Messeguer.
While Pella confirms his status as Spain’s foremost solo sailor, he has worked hard to build miles on the boat and among his nearest rivals has sailed many more miles, around 23,000 miles including last year’s Transat Jacques Vabre and the return delivery.
Pella’s next major aim is the 2018 Vendée Globe.