In something of a carbon copy repeat of his success in 2013, gliding across the same finish line, Vincent Riou (FRA), sailing PRB with co-skipper Seb Col (FRA) finished first IMOCA monohull in the 5400Nms Transat Jacques Vabre when they took their winning gun at 12:52.24 (UTC) (+5hrs local time) today.
The duo’s elapsed time for the theoretical course is 17d00h22m24 after leaving Le Havre on Sunday 25th October. Their computed average for the course is 13,22kts. In reality they sailed 6034Nms at an average of 14.78kts.
It is the winner of the 2004-5 Vendée Globe, Vincent Riou’s seventh Transat Jacques Vabre and is his second back to back IMOCA class win in this biennial coffee route race.
They best the 2013 reference time by 19mins and 23 seconds. Sailing in 2013 with Jean Le Cam the PRB co-skippers set the inaugural benchmark for this new course, finishing in Itajaí, southern Brazil, at 17d and 41mins. In 2013 PRB actually sailed less distance on the water, 5771 miles.
Riou’s 2010 launched VPLP-Verdier design won the 2013 race even after a short, express pit stop in Mindelo, Sao Vicente, Cape Verde Islands to make a rudder repair. After winning the 2013 Transat Jacques Vabre Riou had to withdraw in the early stages of the 2104 Route du Rhum solo Transatlantic.
His boat is reported to be the lightest and most optimised of the competitive 2011 generation VPLP-Verdier designs. After having to retire from the Vendée Globe in 2102 when he hit a metal buoy off South America and sustained hull and rigging damage, Riou paired up for the 2013 Transat Jacques Vabre with Jean Le Cam partly as a footnote to their history together, Riou rescued Le Cam from his upturned IMOCA off Cape Horn. But this year, one year out from the next Vendée Globe start, Riou chose Col a partner to learn from, to help improve the small details of boat speed and tactics. Col sails on many different cutting edge grand prix monohull classes. This is the first IMOCA Transatlantic for Seb Col.
Riou and Col lead out of the English Channel and held a strong position slightly to the south of the group which sailed west towards the arriving depression. PRB was snared momentarily when they erred too close to the centre of the low, allowing Yann Eliès and Charlie Dalin on Queguenir-Leucemie Espoir to escape slightly. But by the latitude of Gibraltar they shared first and second. PRB took the lead again in the light airs of the Azores anticyclone but as soon as the top group of four were into the N’ly trade winds Banque Populaire VIII of Armel Le Cléac’h and Erwan Tabarly was quicker by one or two knots in 18-19kts of breeze and they took the lead.
PRB made another small gain at the Canaries, setting up to the east of Banque Populaire just after fourth placed Paul Meilhat and Michel Desjoyeaux diverted towards Guadeloupe with technical problems.
Entering the Doldrums there was just four miles separating PRB from leaders Banque Populaire VIII but it was Riou and Col who emerged first into the S’ly trades. Their margin grew quickly and by Recife they were 36 miles ahead. That margin stayed similar all the way until last night when they extended on the initial approach in to Itajaí.
Of the 20 IMOCA class starters eleven abandoned racing with technical problems.