Swiss skipper Justine Mettraux ( finishes seventh in the IMOCA, top female and first international on the Route du Rhum-Destination Guadeloupe Swiss skipper Justine Mettraux ( took seventh place in the IMOCA Class when she crossed the finish line of the 12th Route du Rhum at 02:41:35 UTC/Local time.

Racing on her first ever Route du Rhum, Mettraux, 35, is the first non-French skipper to finish in the IMOCA class and the first woman.

Her elapsed time for the 3542 miles course from Saint Malo to Guadeloupe is 12 days 13hrs 26min 35sec. She finishes 19hrs 50mn 10sec after the IMOCA race winner Thomas Ruyant (LinkedOut)

On her first big solo transoceanic IMOCA race Mettraux, who sails the well optimised VPLP designed former Charal, has been with the leading group of boats since Cape Finisterre. She went furthest west at the Azores, passing between the islands, and has remain seventh since then, other than momentarily passing Maxime Sorel for sixth whilst the skipper of V&B Mayenne had pilot problems.

Multi-talented Mettraux who has graduated to the IMOCA through lake and inshore multihull racing, and the Figaro class – finishing seventh in 2017 and 11th in 2018. She raced the Volvo Ocean Race with Team SCA and in the last two years has sailed thousands of training and racing miles on the IMOCAs of 11th Hour Racing with whom she will shortly race The Ocean Race.

Welcomed into the dock at Pointe-à-Pitre’s Memorial ACTe at just before midnight local time by a strong Swiss contingent of family and friends, Mettraux looked tired after negotiating some big torrential rain squalls interspersed with light winds during the final miles round the island.

“I am pretty broken right now.”Declared Mettraux who has four siblings who are all professional sailors, “Now I know why everyone talks about the end of this race. This is one of the biggest races you can do with a big story attached to it and even this time you hear about all the stuff that happens, people being rescued, there is a lot of history behind it and this one adds to it. I think the first bit with the fronts was pretty much what I expected but the second half was harder, tougher in the trade winds.”

As first female, Mettraux leads an exceptional performance by three women of the four women who started in the IMOCA Class, Isabelle Joschke (MACSF) is lying in ninth and due to finish early Tuesday morning and Britain’s tenth placed Pip Hare (Medallia) should be in early afternoon.

Mettraux commented, “ That is cool. Pip is not far behind and it is nice to see us all sailing well and doing well.”

Her seventh place is all the more impressive given that she has only had three months of solo preparation with Jérémie Beyou’s former Charal, training under the umbrella of his Beyou Racing.

“ For me this race is the next step, having been part of La Solitaire and the Ocean Race this is another race but for me with very short preparation it was a but special. I was already ‘OK if you can make it and finish that is a big milestone. For the short season I have had and also the programme I had with 11th Hour Racing to manage to be the start of the race, to do it, and to finish well is great. It is has been a pretty busy year and it is only getting busier. “

Her success today will compensate for disappointment on last year’s Transat Jacques Vabre when she and co-skipper Simon Fisher lost their mast off the NW of Spain.“I was thinking about that a lot, when you are sailing on your own and the conditions are the same, then you can’t help yourself.”

Andi Robertson / RDR22