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Thomas Ruyant Races to New 24 Hour Record in Retour à La Base Solo Race

4th December 2023
'awesome sailing, awesome boats, awesome race'…Pip Hare racing today in the Retour à La Base Solo Race
'awesome sailing, awesome boats, awesome race'…Pip Hare racing today in the Retour à La Base Solo Race

With more than 2200 nautical miles still to sail and at least two more low-pressure systems due before a timely finish into Lorient expected Saturday, there is still a long, long way to go on the Retour à La Base solo Transatlantic from Martinique to France.

But as Thomas ‘The Rocket’ Ruyant (For The People) scythed his way into third place today - setting a new solo 24-hour distance record - the top three finishers now hold the podium positions on the outward, two-handed Transat Jacques Vabre. Second into Martinique Yoann Richomme leads, Briton Sam Goodchild, third on the way out, is holding second.

Outbound Ruyant proved quickest downwind in the trade winds, and with his new Koch-Finot Conq design, he has just claimed a new solo monohull 24-hour distance record.

Between 1430hrs UTC Sunday 3rd and 1430hrs UTC today Ruyant is measured to have sailed 539.94 nautical miles. This beats the 2017 record mark of Alex Thomson set on 16th January during the Vendée Globe of 536.81. And with the leaders still making around 22-24kts, there is every chance Ruyant’s new mark might fall again.

Indeed, race leader Yoann Richomme (Paprec-Arkéa) had already come close around 0800hrs this morning and subsequently has been first to go north in search of more breeze and was doing just under 24kts late this afternoon.

The recent winner of the Transat Jacques Vabre Normandie Le Havre with Morgan Lagravière, Ruyant made up the best part of 30 miles and three places during those 24 hours at record speed. This afternoon, he was still about 14 miles behind Sam Goodchild (For the Planet). Early leader Jéremie Beyou (Charal) continues to have technical problems and has set up a secondary wind vane system and lies fourth.

“It looks a little like we saw on the Transat Jacques Vabre that the Koch boats have this edge. They have this quad set up with the smaller J2 and J3s which in certain wind conditions they can set as staysails and it is clearly very effective, they are very much optimised for that configuration. And we can see that again with Thomas who has been on a great run.” Observes The Ocean Race winner Jack Bouttell who was co-skipper on the TJV with Sam Davies.

He continues, “It is interesting to see Yoann gybing for the shift or more pressure, I think mostly the front group will follow each other otherwise. Sam (Davies) has been sailing well and has gybed. She has had a few little breakages, just some fatigue nothing serious but she and Clarisse are having a good race. I am also really impressed by how Violette Dorange is sailing, she is having a fantastic race for her first solo IMOCA race.”

Goodchild said today he felt that as the sea conditions have been building he is at a slight disadvantage compared to the new boats like Richomme’s and Ruyant’s. Nonetheless he was still holding a solid second place and going fast on the opposite gybe to the leader.

Goodchild, at midday: “I have just changed sails which took me a mere one and a half hours and so I am tired. It is fast but the waves are now picking up a bit which is making it a bit difficult for my boat which has not had a new bow put on it and all the boats round me are new boats which are a bit more adapted. I am not going to complain. I have made my hay while the sun shone to be here. I am struggling to keep up to the same speeds now. We have had a wind shift which we did not expect, well I did not expect, and it is a big lefty (header, wind has gone left) so I have changed to my smaller downwind sail and so there are some people who were already on that who might be a little bit slower, so they won’t have to change. And there are others who still will….I think it depends on what they have. Charal are obviously struggling a bit with their wind instruments, when I crossed them yesterday they had a big sail up or a medium sail up. I think Paprec did a second change as I saw them slow down, I am not sure about ‘People’ (For People), I have no plans to gybe soon, as this left wind shift is helping us get north.”

Published in Solo Sailing, Offshore Team

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