After the amazing victory achieved by Jean-Pierre Dick and Yann Eliès (StMichel-Virbac) on Saturday 18th November, two more double-handed crews, Paul Meilhat/Gwénolé Gahinet (SMA) and Morgan Lagravière/Eric Péron (Des Voiles et vous) took the remaining podium places in the Transat Jacques Vabre this weekend in Salvador da Bahia (Brazil). On Monday, Boris Herrmann and Thomas Ruyant (Malizia) took fourth place, while Kito de Pavant and Yannick Bestaven (Bastide-Otio) look like grabbing the fifth spot after an intense battle with Tanguy de Lamotte and Sam Davies (Initiatives Coeur). It is extremely reassuring and exceptionally good news for the future of the class, but none of the thirteen IMOCAs competing have been forced to retire after setting sail from Le Havre a fortnight ago.
They were the favourites and certainly lived up to the hopes. Aboard StMichel-Virbac, Jean-Pierre Dick and Yann Eliès won the thirteenth Transat Jacques Vabre in fine style after 13 days, 7 hours, 36 minutes and 46 seconds. This was the fourth win on an IMOCA for Jean-Pierre Dick (after 2003, 2005 and 2011), while Yann grabbed his second win (he won aboard a Multi50 in 2013).
A great story
Jean-Pierre Dick was happy and highly emotional, when he gave us his first reactions on finishing in Bahia: “With Yann, we were starting to think it was dragging on a bit, as we ripped our big spinnaker before the Doldrums. This is fantastic, as it marks the end of a cycle, which was a bit tough for me after capsizing on a trimaran and losing my keel in the Vendée Globe. It’s looking more positive now once again. We worked well with Yann throughout the year and can be very proud of this result. I had dreamt of this perfect race with Yann. It’s fantastic to get to the finish after so much hard work.” It is with this remarkable performance that Jean-Pierre Dick is hanging up his foulies and handing over the helm of his VPLP-Verdier designed boat to Yann Eliès. “This is a great story, as we have been successful in this race and now there is the project ahead of competing in the Vendée Globe,” said a delighted Yann. “Jean-Pierre has handed me everything on a tray: his boat, his team, his know-how. I am getting ready to give it my all to live up to JP’s and his team’s ambitions.”
Meilhat/Gahinet 2nd, Lagravière/Péron 3rd: the new generation pile on the pressure
6 hours and 21 minutes after the winners, Paul Meilhat and Gwénolé Gahinet took second place on SMA. Quite an achievement on this IMOCA fitted with staright daggerboards, which they pushed to the limit to do so well in conditions that favoured the foilers. With his sense of fair play, Paul Meilhat did not want to focus on that: “We’re pleased to finish second behind Jean-Pierre and Yann. They were ahead not because they had foils, but because they sailed so well. Earlier in the year, I would have done anything to get this result. We gave up on the foils and preferred to set off on a boat we knew well, but this confirms that foils are what it is about now. Even if there are times when they don’t perform as well. We’re going to have to go there...” Paul and Gwénolé were paid homage by Yann Eliès: “The younger generation pushed us hard. Especially SMA, with a boat that didn’t allow them to get the same speeds as the foilers when reaching. If the boat had been in the same playing field, it’s clear we would have suffered even more.”
Two other young sailors took the remaining place on the podium aboard the foiler Des Voiles Et Vous! (the former Safran). A pleasing outcome for Morgan Lagravière: “It’s great to finish in third place, particularly as we started preparing for the Transat Jacques Vabre late in the game. Making it to the finish is already an achievement. Experiencing such an exciting transatlantic race is another, and may even be a bigger reason to be cheerful.” Both sailors are looking for sponsors to be able to compete in the next races on the IMOCA calendar. Morgan and Eric have certainly left their mark.
Boris Herrmann and Thomas Ruyant 4th with nine crews still racing
On Monday morning, Boris Herrmann and Thomas Ruyant also completed the race just missing out on the podium. After a good start from Le Havre, the duo on Malizia II were among the three frontrunners in the first few days of the race. Boris and Thomas then encountered some technical problems and dropped back to eighth place. But they managed to claw their way back and catch their rivals after the Cape Verde Islands.
Kito de Pavant and Yannick Bestaven are expected on Monday evening in Bahia and should take fifth place after their closely fought contest with Tanguy de Lamotte and Sam Davies, 6th. For a long time in fourth place, Louis Burton and Servane Escoffier had a difficult time in the Doldrums and will probably have to make do with seventh place. Behind them, Generali (Isabelle Joschke/Pierre Brasseur) and La Fabrique (Alan Roura/Frédéric Denis) are fighting hard with Vivo A Beira still ready to pounce. We should congratulate Yoann Richomme and Pierre Lacaze, who aboard an IMOCA from 2004, are managing to keep up the pace set by the two boats from the 2007 generation.
Arnaud Boissières and Fabrice Amedeo seem to be stuck together. In the last Vendée Globe, the two of them sailed close to one another for quite some time and saw their friendship develop out at sea. Respectively sailing with Manuel Cousin and Giancarlo Pedote, they are once again close to each other in this Transat Jacques Vabre. Romain Attanasio and Aurélien Ducroz are bringing up the rear. On Monday morning, they were 600 miles from the finish.
It should be noted that no IMOCA has retired from this year’s race for the time being. If all of the boats make it to the finish, it will be a historic result.