Thomas Ruyant is the first home in the Route du Rhum IMOCA 60 fleet after a hard fought battle between himself and Charlie Dalin in the solo race across the Atlantic
Although Dalin led the race from the start, and was 90 miles ahead during the passage of a ridge of light winds after the Azores, Ruyant broke west and outmanoeuvred Dalin on Friday morning and took the lead which he held to this finish line this morning, Monday 21 November. Dalin was a little over eight miles behind when Ruyant crossed the finish line to take the biggest victory of his career.
His elapsed time of 11 days 17 hours 36 minutes 25 seconds beats the course record for the class which was 12 days 04 hours 38 minutes and 55 seconds set in 2012 by Francois Gabart by 11 hours 02 minutes and 30 seconds.
“I make no secret of it I am only here to win. That is all that interests me. I have one of the best boats in the fleet. There are newer boats on the start line but our 2019 Verdier design is fully optimised to the best level of development,” said Ruyant in Saint Malo. Winning is a fitting farewell to Ruyant’s boat which he is replacing with a new IMOCA 60 ahead of the 2024 Vendée Globe.
Dalin has been the stand-out performer in the IMOCA fleet of late, winning the vast majority of races, but Ruyant has also been impressive and the two have never been far from one another. In fact, the pair’s battling goes all the way back to the last Vendée Globe, tussling over the lead until Ruyant broke his port foil early in the Southern Ocean going on to finish sixth.
With both sailors awaiting their new boats it was anticipated that they would be pushing hard to win, with the consequences of any damage being somewhat lower than for those in newer boats or in boats that they plan to sail in future races.
At present it seems as though Jeremie Beyou sailing his brand new Charal IMOCA 60 will be the third skipper home, a good result as he looks to work up his radical design ahead of the next Vendée Globe. Also in a brand new boat, Kevin Escoffier should finish just behind Beyou at some point today. Both skippers will be happy with their results in new boats and will see this performance against two highly optimised IMOCAs as a good mark of the potential for their new designs going forward.
Another close finish
Another two-way battle concluded over the weekend as French solo skipper Erwan Le Roux sailed his Ocean 50 Koesio across the finish line first in the early hours of Sunday morning narrowly beating second placed Quentin Vlamynck (Arkema) after nail-biting head to head over the final miles around the west of Guadeloupe.
The duo were only 100 or so metres apart on Sunday, but the older, more experience Le Roux, 47 (who won this class in 2014) stayed offshore at the southern turn around the island, picked up more breeze and finished just 18 minutes and 13 seconds ahead of the 29 year old Vlamynck who led throughout much of the race but was caught by Le Roux on Saturday night on the final approach to Guadeloupe.
Le Roux said, “It was incredible what we did with Quentin. We were neck and neck for a long time in a small group each time we looked at the rankings. Primonial dropped back and I found myself with Quentin. I dreamed of arriving at Tete à l’Anglais alongside him when we were out training together.”
The leaders of the Class40 fleet are now also closing in on the finishline with the leading Class40 sailors mixed in with the tail end of the IMOCA60 class.
There’s still c.600nm left to run in their race, but it’s currently looking very good for Yoann Richomme sailing Paprec Arkea who is 125nm ahead of second placed Corentin Douguet who is locked in a ferocious battle for second place with Ambrogio Beccaria with the pair currently within a mile of each other.
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