What a battle, what intensity! In this long 5,400-mile sprint, the battle certainly raged within the IMOCA fleet. Each place was fought tooth and nail.
The 11th Transat Jacques Vabre marked the IMOCA skippers through its hellish pace at the front of the pack, as well as the bitterness of the fighting amongst the boats furthest back. On the programme for every crew was a battle with the elements, the competition, the fatigue and the constant dampness…
The top five boats, MACIF, PRB, Safran, Maître CoQ and Cheminées Poujoulat were constantly jockeying for pole position and the struggle for first place ultimately turned into a fierce duel between the Gabart/Desjoyeaux and Riou/Le Cam pairings. Both were obliged to make a stopover due to broken rudders as a result of the intense rhythm set. The same boats were also the first to close on the Brazilian coast, though unfortunately MACIF’s mast broke, paving the way for PRB’s victory.
There wasn’t a moment’s respite for Safran and Maître CoQ either and they were constantly trading places on the podium as they approached the finish, which culminated with a high-speed night that ultimately turned to the advantage of Guillemot and Bidegorry.
The same stress was evident for the youngsters of the fleet, Louis Burton and Guillaume Le Brec (Bureau Vallée). Securing 5th place behind Cheminées Poujoulat, victim of a westerly option that didn’t bear fruit, Louis Burton and Guillaume Le Brec had to endure an anxious wait for Votre Nom Autour du Monde to cross the finish, the latter awarded a 2-hour bonus for going to the aid of a fellow rival in difficulty. 2 hrs 15 minutes after Bureau Vallée, Bertrand de Broc and Arnaud Boissières crossed the finish...
Behind them, Gutek and Maciej (Energa) snatched 7th place after a great comeback, before a truly nail-biting finish between Initiatives Coeur and Team Plastique. They were 8thand 9th respectively, bringing the Transat Jacques Vabre to a close for the IMOCA 60s... with just 9 seconds separating them!