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Friday night into Saturday’s early hours, The Memorial ACTe, Pointe-à-Pitre’s proud, a giant structure dedicated to the history, heritage and memories of the Caribbean slave trade saw the busiest spell yet of finishers completing the 12th edition of the Route du Rhum-Destination Guadeloupe.

Thirteen boats - from the eighth and final Ultim32/23 Use It Again powered by Extia (Romain Pilliard), to four IMOCAs, two Rhum Multi class boats, one Rhum Mono and five Class40s - each received a big, passionate welcome on Friday (25/11/2022) afternoon and evening between 1240hrs UTC and 0630hrs UTC Saturday (26/11/2022) morning.

Saint-Malo’s Loic Escoffier (Lodigroup) may have crossed the finish line some 46 minutes and 23 seconds after Roland Jourdain (We explore), but it was Escoffier who won the Rhum Multi class after a broken engine seal was found on Jourdain’s boat and he received the statutory 90 minutes penalty for the class.

Former IMOCA Vendée Globe racer Jean-Pierre Dick (Notre Mediterranné-Ville de Nice) – a four times winner of the two-handed Transat Jacques Vabre transatlantic race – finally won a major solo Transatlantic race when he triumphed in the Rhum Mono class, finishing on his JP54 Verdier designed monohull with a lead of over 300 miles on second-placed Catherine Chabaud (Fomatives ESJ Business School pour un ocean in common). 

And China’s remarkable Jingkun Xu (China Dream-Haikou), the 33-year-old IMOCA rookie who has only one arm received a huge welcome from the Guadeloupe Chinese community when he docked in 29th place, one place behind Briton Sam Davies, whose race was hampered with technical issues.

Jingkun Xu, skipper of the Imoca China Dream-Haikou in the 12th edition of the Route du Rhum Photo: Alexis Courcoux(Above and below) Jingkun Xu, skipper of the Imoca China Dream-Haikou in the 12th edition of the Route du Rhum Photo: Alexis Courcoux

 Jingkun Xu, skipper of the Imoca China Dream-Haikou in the 12th edition of the Route du Rhum Photo: Alexis Courcoux

Escoffier keeps it in the family

The storyline had the charismatic, famous French Vendée Globe and multihull racer Roland Jourdain returning to the Route du Rhum-Destination in the Multi Rhum class and winning his third class title.

Victory at the age of 58 in the Rhum Multi class on his 60 foot VPLP designed We Explore - an initiative to further sustainable boatbuilding materials - would complement the back to back IMOCA class wins in 2006 and 2010.

And when he crossed the finish line off Pointe-à-Pitre at 19:06:00hrs UTC on Friday evening, concluding a drawn-out tussle with rival Loic Escoffier (Logigroup), it looked like for ‘Bilou’ – as he is universally known – the script was written. Jourdain’s hat trick would join him with Escoffier’s father Franck-Yves as the only skippers with three Route du Rhum class titles.

Escoffier, brother of IMOCA racer Kevin, crossed the line second on Lodigroup at 19:52:23hrs. Having had to be rescued by helicopter from his upturned catamaran in the Irish Sea 70 miles off the Fastnet Rock four months ago during the Drheam Cup Route du Rhum qualifier, then facing a battle against the clock to be ready on time for the mythical race which starts from his home town, Escoffier was delighted to have finished so close behind Bilou.

But minutes after crossing the line Escoffier got a call from Race Director Francis Le Goff to tell him that Roland Jourdain had been penalised the statutory 90 minutes for a broken engine seal and he was therefore winner of the Rhum Multi class.

Jourdain’s penalty leaves Escoffier as winner by 43 minutes and 37 seconds.

Loic Escoffier, skipper of the Rhum Multi Lodigroup was the winner of the Route du Rhum Photo: Alexis Courcoux Loic Escoffier, skipper of the Rhum Multi Lodigroup was the winner of the Route du Rhum Photo: Alexis Courcoux 

“This is just the beginning.” China’s Jingkun Xu becomes first Chinese skipper to finish the Route du Rhum-Destination Guadeloupe

Chinese solo skipper Jingkun Xu (China Dream-HAIKOU) crossed the finish line of the 12th Route du Rhum-Destination Guadeloupe at 21:49:00hrs on Friday evening (25/11/22) in 29th position in the IMOCA class. His elapsed time of 16d 8h 34m 0s is 4d 14h 57m 35s behind the class winner Thomas Ruyant (LinkedOut).

For the 33-year-old sailor from Qingdao who lost part of his left arm in a fireworks accident when he was 12 his is a truly remarkable achievement. He becomes the first Chinese sailor to finish the race and qualifies himself for the Vendée Globe. Before and during the race he sought to carry the worries and problems of his countrypeople with him and disperse them on the oceans, thereby relieving them of their concerns and stresses. Along the way ‘Jackie’ has gathered 160 million followers.

Upon finishing, he told the crowd, “We finish our Route du Rhum at the first time. We said we would, and we did it. I knew I had to take care of the boat. We did not damage anything, we keep the boat in good shape for the future, for the Vendée Globe. This is a big moment for me.

“The most difficult thing for me is that on the IMOCA everything is very heavy. I used all the sails and changed them and it is very difficult as I have only one hand. And so everything is very heavy. Everyday I was wet through, sometimes with sweat because you work so hard all the time. But it is worth it. The Vendée Globe is my dream. I wanted the Route du Rhum to be a good training for the Vendée Globe.”

Reflecting on his race and the impact in China, Xu continued, “The first week was so hard, always low pressures, big winds, upwind. The second week was so good. I really enjoyed it in the trade winds. I shared a lot of videos about life on the boat for Chinese children. Now they are learning about the Atlantic and sailing. I very much enjoy that. I am so excited there are so many people following us in China. They did not know about the Route du Rhum before, nobody knew what an IMOCA is, nobody knew sailing, and so now we are trying to change that. We hope that they will see sailing and it will make the children strong.”

Amongst last night’s finishers was also British skipper Sam Davies, who finished in 28th place in the IMOCA Class, after 16d 6hrs 35m. Upon relfection, Sam said, “I could have done things differently and I should have done things differently.” .

And at just after midnight local time, the USA’s Alex Mehran (Polka Dot) finished 14th in Class40. 

To date, 62 skippers have crossed the finish line in Pointe-à-Pitre, 48 are still racing, and 28 have abandoned the race. Check the website for the full ranking in the different classes.

Samantha Davies, (left) skipper of l'Imoca Initiatives Coeur - 28th in the Route du Rhum Photo: Alexis CourcouxSamantha Davies, (left) skipper of l'Imoca Initiatives Coeur - 28th in the Route du Rhum Photo: Alexis Courcoux

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French skipper Yoann Richomme joined the very elite group of solo ocean racers to have twice won their class on the Route du Rhum-Destination Guadeloupe today, when he brought the new build Lombard Lift 40 V2 Paprec-Arkea through the finish line of the 12th edition this Wednesday afternoon at 16:23:40 UTC to win in the Class40 from a record entry of 55 boats.

Richomme repeats his 2018 Route du Rhum-Destination Guadeloupe title success in the class with a facsimile programme, launching his latest new boat in the same season as the race, optimising and making the boat reliable over a compressed period before going on to win comfortably.

Key differences this year are that the 39-year-old Southampton (UK) trained naval architect was called over the start line early off Saint-Malo on Sunday, November 9th and had to take a four-hour mandatory penalty. Although he cleverly took it while the fleet were negotiating a spell of light airs and strong tides at Cape Fréhel – he later estimates his net loss was more like two and a half hours – he immediately dropped to 50th with a deficit of 19 miles on the leaders. But with his characteristic drive and smart, immaculate strategies, he pulled through the fleet and took the lead just before the Azores.

Yoann Richomme , the Route du Rhum Class 40 winner, is a 39-year-old Southampton (UK) trained naval architectYoann Richomme, the Route du Rhum Class 40 winner, is a 39-year-old Southampton (UK) trained naval architect

Richomme’s lead was up to 120 miles in the fast trade winds sailing which allowed him the luxury of a relatively serene passage around the west of the island of Basse Terre today.

With an elapsed time of 14d 03hrs 08mins 40s, Richomme breaks his own course record for the class by two days. His winning time in 2018 was 16 days, 03 hours, 22 minutes and 44 seconds. He also becomes the first skipper to win Class40 in successive years. 

Richomme’s celebrations on the dock were also a repeat of last time, savouring the simultaneous moments of pleasure and relief with his arms aloft and his eyes lifted to the heavens. A true perfectionist in every sense and a master meteo strategist, even his arrival at the dock was - by chance - perfectly timed for the media deadlines at home in France.

Yoann Richomme Route du Rhum Class 40 winner - "I was afraid all the time that I would suffer a breakage"Yoann Richomme Route du Rhum Class 40 winner - "I was afraid all the time that I would suffer a breakage"

“I’m really proud,” Richomme enthused, “There are so many ingredients necessary to win this race. I spent my time analysing the weather and we had some violent systems. I was afraid all the time that I would suffer a breakage. Even rounding Guadeloupe, I was afraid of that. It was a real challenge.”

“Of course I could have stayed home preparing my Imoca, but this was a challenge for me and the team. So I’m really pleased. It was hard to manage the race. I had to slow down the boat for the first time. It’s really hard and you have to give it all. Corentin with his electrical problems and Ambrogio at his age… Congratulations. I’m proud of this result.”

His approach, as is usually the case, is self contained, “I did my thing and at each front, I gained. I never studied what was happening. I was in my race and didn’t study the rest. The start was fantastic under gennaker for two days like in the manuals. It was wild after that with huge waves. Baghdad! I was forced to slow the boat down when she reached 25 knots. For the last two days, I went into my world to do my race.”

He recalls he was up close behind the IMOCAs at times, “The fourth front, I said I would change my strategy and head south, rather than go with the others. The others made mistakes. That’s when I was enjoying myself. I hadn’t raced like that for a while so I was pleased that it worked out. The IMOCAs? I followed Justine and Isabelle. It was fantastic to be able to follow them.”

Richomme reflected, “I am nevertheless exhausted. I was at the end of my tether a few times but aboard all went well. I managed my sleep differently from in the past. It was hard to try to get any sleep. We have managed to deal with two projects at the same time. My sponsors followed me. Initially, it wasn’t planned like that, but now I’m ready to tackle the Imoca project. You can’t compare this with the Vendée Globe.”

Yoann Richomme will skipper a new IMOCA which is in build for the 2024 Vendée Globe and will be launched early next year.Class 40 Route du Rhum winner Yoann Richomme will skipper a new IMOCA which is in build for the 2024 Vendée Globe and will be launched early next year

The Route du Rhum club of double winners includes Laurent Bourgnon (1994 and 1998 line honours Multi); Erwan Le Roux (winner in the Multi50/OCEAN 50 in 2014 and 2022); Roland Jourdain (IMOCA winner 2006 and 2010); Thomas Ruyant (Class40 2010 and IMOCA 2022) and the only three-times winner, Franck-Yves Escoffier (1998, 2002 and 2006 Muti 50).

Backed by French recycling group Paprec and banking group Credit Mutuel Arkea -who have united to form a sustainable, top-level long-term project – the team management hand-picked the outstanding Richomme to skipper their new IMOCA which is in build for the 2024 Vendée Globe and which will be launched early next year.

Richomme is one of the outstanding sailors and technicians of his generation. He is a double winner of La Solitaire du Figaro, winning in 2016 and again in 2019, the first year the Beneteau Figaro 3 was introduced to the race - when he left all of the French legends – like Jérémie Beyou, Michel Desjoyeaux, Yann Eliès, Armel Le Cléach and Loick Peyron - in his wake.

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The notorious final miles around Guadeloupe, negotiating a minefield of calms and light winds whilst significantly underpowered because of a hole in her mainsail, proved a cruel sting in the tail for Briton Pip Hare (Medallia), who slipped from tenth to 12th position in a record-sized IMOCA class on the 12th Route du Rhum -Destination Guadeloupe in the early hours of this morning (23 November).

But this final, sticky challenge on the 3,542 miles course from Saint-Malo did not deter Hare’s 24-year-old rookie compatriot James Harayda (Gentoo) who secured an impressive 14th position from 38 starters on his first major solo IMOCA ocean race.

If Hare was disappointed, she did not let it impact too much on her warm welcome into Pointe-à-Pitre. Although she had to first concede her hard-earned 10th to French rival Romain Attanasio (Fortinet-Best Western) when she ground to a halt just before the Basse Terre buoy at 27 miles to the finish line, she chased hard to try and get back on terms with Sebastien Marsset (Mon Courtier Energie-Cap Agir Ensemble) and was just 1 minute 17secs behind when he took 11th place, completing her race in 13 days, 8 hours, 38 minutes and 12 seconds. 

“The circuit round the island is just brutal, what a way to finish a race,” grinned Hare at the finish.“I am completely knackered. I came into the north of the island knowing the guys were so close behind and I was watching them. And I did a couple of gybes this morning to cover them. But all the chickens came home to roost.

What was good though was Seb at the end. He crossed tacks with me and I was so despondent I was saying to myself ‘you have just thrown away a tenth…..’ and then I saw an opportunity to get back in the game and it was really nice. It was so close in the end. It was so nice to be racing hard to the finish line. That picked me back up again. And if the course had been a mile longer, I would have had him.”

On her last race before she has new, bigger hydrofoils fitted to Medallia, Hare sailed a smart middle section of the race, separating out slightly to the west after the Azores which allowed her to get south into the tradewinds quicker. But it was when she was punching through a cold front last Wednesday that she tore a 3m-by-3m hole in the front of her mainsail which required her to sail with one reef until the finish line.

“We have come so far in this season with this new boat. I just wanted to nail it in this final race of the season and I think we did that. It is my best result in the IMOCA class ever and for a ‘small foil boat’ boat I am proud,” Hare told the well-wishers at the finish.

Three women in top 12

Three female skippers have finished in the top 12 of the IMOCA fleet. Switzerland’s Justine Mettraux (, who at 0241hrs UTC Monday morning finished seventh, was the first woman and top international, non-French skipper. Franco-German Isabelle Joshcke (MACSF) finished ninth, some 13 hours after Mettraux and six hours before Hare. “Three women in the top 12…well I feel like I let us down because it should have been three women in the top ten. But it really is super cool. Still women are underrepresented in this sport. But our class is one of the toughest in the race and we have 25% participation from women and three in top 12 is fantastic,” commented Hare.

After losing her mast early in the 2018 Route du Rhum and failing to finish the Vendée Globe after succumbing to keel ram failures, Joschke was delighted with her result, saying, “This ninth place is great. I fought, I gave it my all from the start to the end of this race. I didn't think I was going to stay in the top 10 until the finish. I managed each time to find the resources, the energy. And now my success is that I held this position until the end. I am very proud and very happy.”

 I fought, I gave it my all from the start to the end of this race Isabelle Joschke on her 2022 Route du Rhum-Destination Guadeloupe Race  Photo: Arnaud PilpréI fought, I gave it my all from the start to the end of this race Isabelle Joschke on her 2022 Route du Rhum-Destination Guadeloupe Race  Photo: Arnaud Pilpré

A fistful of promise

As the youngest skipper in the IMOCA class, Harayda’s 14th place underlines his promise, especially considering he had no background in solo or shorthanded offshore racing until he did a two-year mixed doubles campaign in a SunFast 3300 with former Vendée Globe racer Dee Caffari.

When it became apparent that there was to be no Olympic offshore event in 2024, ambitious Harayda set out on a course to the 2024 Vendée Globe which he hopes will lead to a new boat programme for 2028.

Unlike his French rivals who arrive in the IMOCA from the Mini 650, the Figaro or Class 40 feeder divisions, Harayda grew up in Singapore racing dinghies and small sports keelboats. And though he sailed with Alex Thomson on his most recent Hugo Boss, he only started seriously sailing his IMOCA in May and his only solo passages until now were September’s 48 Heures Azimut and his 2000-mile qualifier for this race.

 24-year-old rookie James Harayda (Gentoo) competed in the Route du Rhum-Destination Guadeloupe Photo: Arnaud Pilpré24-year-old rookie James Harayda (Gentoo) competed in the Route du Rhum-Destination Guadeloupe Photo: Arnaud Pilpré

Harayda who finished at 01:28:35 UTC, after 13 days, 12 hours, 13 minutes and 35 seconds, said, “It was a brilliant race. At the start I could never have imagined coming in here in 14th. It is amazing especially after the first week when I was really struggling getting the boat to perform the way I wanted it to.”

He contends that his lack of time in the class allowed him to race with an especially open mind. “I think coming into this race, I came in with no pressure, I was not coming in to make a result. I was looking to do the race and just get across the finishing line, always thinking – I suppose – what’s the worst thing that could happen? That worked really well. It is quite an intimidating boat to step into and start racing and with that mindset it let me enjoy it a bit more.”

Italy’s Giancarlo Pedote (Prysmian Group) finishes 16th

At 1:47:50 a.m. local time (5:47:50 a.m. UTC), Italian skipper Giancarlo Pedote on Prysmian Group crossed the finish line in Pointe-à-Pitre in sixteenth position in this twelfth edition of the Route du Rhum-Destination Guadeloupe, after 13 days, 16 hours 32 minutes 50 seconds. The Italian sailor arrived in Pointe-à-Pitre 1 day, 22hours, 56minutes, and 25seconds after the winner in IMOCA, Thomas Ruyant (LinkedOut).

  Italy’s Giancarlo Pedote (Prysmian Group) finishes 16th in the Route du Rhum-Destination Guadeloupe, after 13 days, 16 hours 32 minutes 50 seconds Photo: Arnaud Pilpré Italy’s Giancarlo Pedote (Prysmian Group) finishes 16th in the Route du Rhum-Destination Guadeloupe, after 13 days, 16 hours 32 minutes 50 seconds Photo: Arnaud Pilpré

Upon arriving at the pontoon, Pedote said: “The conditions at the start were more or less normal, except that on the second night my J2 split in two. I wasn’t expecting that in twenty knots of wind. I cried as it was so painful bringing down the sail. I continued under J3 but was handicapped, as we had a lot of upwind sailing. I took an option south, but it wasn’t the right one. I climbed the mast in the ridge and then in the second downwind part of the race, I had good speed and managed to close the gap on the group. I found some interesting sail set-ups, but still had a lot of work to do. I would have liked to have done better, but sailing is a mechanical sport. It was complicated sailing around Guadeloupe with a lot of manoeuvres, just like in the Glénans (sailing school) handbook.

Sailing is a competitive sport for me and not necessarily a pleasure. I always try to do better and these boats are not designed for pleasure. I have mixed feelings about my race but am pleased to have finished in Guadeloupe.”

Class40 winner due in this afternoon

This morning, with a lead of 80 miles and around 60 miles to the finish line, French ace Yoann Richomme (Paprec-Arkema) is on course to defend the Route du Rhum-Destination Guadeloupe Class40 title that he won in 2018. Richomme jumped the start gun of the race on Sunday 9th December and quickly took his mandatory four-hour penalty at Capre Fréhel, which saw him resume racing in 51st place of the 55 Class40s which started.

The battle for second in the Class40 looks set to go to the wire, with Italy’s Ambrogio Beccaria (Allagrande Pirelli) and France’s Corentin Douguet (Queguiner – Innoveo) currently within 1 mile of each other with around 140 miles to go.

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Thomas Ruyant won the IMOCA class in the 12th Route du Rhum-Destination Guadeloupe when he crossed the finish line off Pointe-à-Pitre at 06:51:25hrs UTC this Monday, November 21. His elapsed time of 11 days 17hours 36minutes 25seconds beats the course record for the class, which was 12d 04h 38min 55s, set in 2012 by Francois Gabart by 11hrs 02min 30secs.

The 41-year-old from Dunkirk adds the highly coveted solo Route du Rhum victory to the two-handed Transat Jacques Vabre race triumph he achieved a year ago with Morgan Lagravière on a similar course racing from Le Havre to Martinique.

Ruyant was tipped as a solid podium contender when this legendary 3,542 miles course left Saint-Malo on Wednesday, 9th November and many had him as the solo sailor most likely to break the recent winning run of the dominant Charlie Dalin (Apivia).

Although Dalin led the race from the start, and was 90 miles ahead during the passage of a ridge of light winds after the Azores, Ruyant broke west and outmanoeuvred Dalin on Friday morning and took the lead which he held to the finish line this morning.

"I make no secret of it; I am only here to win"

Winning from the biggest and most competitive IMOCA fleet ever assembled for a Route du Rhum, that included 38 boats and seven new builds starting from Saint-Malo, Ruyant extends an excellent record racing solo and two handed across the Atlantic, which started when he won the 2009 Mini Transat to Salvador de Bahia, Brazil. He also won the Transat AG2R in 2018 with Adrien Hardy in the Figaro.

“I make no secret of it; I am only here to win. That is all that interests me. I have one of the best boats in the fleet. There are newer boats on the start line but our 2019 Verdier design is fully optimised to the best level of development,” said Ruyant in Saint-Malo. Winning is a fitting farewell to Ruyant's boat, which he is replacing with a new IMOCA ahead of the 2024 Vendée Globe.

He was Dalin’s most dogged rival on the last Vendée Globe, tussling over the lead until Ruyant broke his port foil early in the Southern Ocean, going on to finish sixth. Dalin was a little over seventeen miles behind this morning when Ruyant crossed the finish line to take the biggest victory of his career.

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Two of the Route du Rhum race organising team have died at the finish in Guadeloupe today following a 'tragic accident' involving a motorboat.

The accident happened as the first boat was finishing the 12th edition of the race.

The company says both of the fatalities were employees of OC Sport Pen Duick, the company which organises the four-yearly transatlantic sailing race from Saint-Malo to Guadeloupe.

Circumstances are not fully known, Some early local reports say the motorboat was a charter vessel carrying VIPs.

In a statement issued this afternoon, titled: 'An organisation in mourning', the organisers say: 

"This Wednesday morning, November 16, as the first boat was finishing the 12th Route du Rhum-Destination Guadeloupe in Guadeloupe’s bay of Pointe-à-Pitre, a motor boat which was carrying 11 people capsized.

The circumstances surrounding the accident are still undetermined, but it caused the tragic deaths of two people who were on board, both employees of OC Sport Pen Duick, the company which organises the four-yearly transatlantic sailing race from Saint-Malo to Gaudeloupe.

“All our thoughts go out to the families of our two employees and to all of the profoundly affected members of our teams,” said Hervé Favre, President of OC Sport Pen Duick.

OC Sport Pen Duick’s teams, the main partners of the event – the Regional Council of Guadeloupe, the city of Saint-Malo and Saint-Malo Agglomeration, Brittany Region, the CIC – and all the stakeholders of the organisation, share the immense pain of the families and send them their deepest and sincere condolences".

OC Sport Pen Duick is the French subsidiary of the OC Sport group, which primarily runs offshore racing events. The company was created to manage the sports campaigns of Eric Tabarly and Dame Ellen MacArthur, pioneers of offshore sailing.


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In the dark of a Caribbean night to a typically rapturous welcome, French solo skipper Charles Caudrelier on the Ultim 32/32 Maxi Edmond de Rothschild crossed the line off Pointe-a-Pitre, Guadeloupe at 05:02:05hrs local time (09:02:05 UTC) this morning. His was the first boat to finish the 12th Route du Rhum-Destination Guadeloupe, the legendary 3,542 nautical mile solo Transatlantic race, which started off Saint-Malo, northern Brittany last Wednesday at 1415hrs.

Caudrelier, a 48-year-old two-time winner of the crewed Volvo Ocean Race – first as crew in the 2011/12 race and then skipper in 2017/18 - set a new record for the course with an elapsed time of 6 days 19 hours 47 minutes and 25 seconds, bettering the 7 days 14 hours 21 minutes benchmark set by veteran Francis Joyon in 2018 by 18 hours 34 minutes and 22 seconds.

Upon crossing the line, Caudrelier paid tribute to his team and family: "I’m not even tired. The first 24 hours were hard. I so wanted to win the race for the team. I’ve been dreaming of it since I was young. It’s for the family Rothschild. It seemed like a crazy idea, building a boat that could fly. It’s for Franck Cammas, as he had the experience. Without him I wouldn’t be here. He left me the place for the Rhum. He could have won it himself. It’s a Formula 1 team and I just drive in the race. This is a team effort and there’s also Guillaume Verdier, the designer. I recently lost my mother and she isn’t here to share this moment. Thanks to everyone for believing in me."

Racing his first ever solo multihull race on a giant Ultim 32/23, the hugely experienced Caudrelier held his cool through a nervous final night on the course, during which he spent long periods slowed to two or three knots as he negotiated calms in the lee of Gaudeloupe’s volcanic Basse Terre island.

The 2017 launched Maxi Edmond de Rothschild is the flagship of the French banking family’s Gitana team, and is acknowledged as the most evolved and reliable boat in the Ultim 32/23 class. Caudrelier now adds the highly coveted Route du Rhum-Destination Guadeloupe title to a winning record across all the major Ultim 32/23 offshore and ocean races.

François Gabart, the runner up in 2018 who had victory wrested from his grasp by Joyon in the final miles of the race, is on course to finish second and was around 30 miles behind when Caudrelier crossed the finish line.

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Croatian sailor, Ivica Kostelic (ACI), who was racing in the Class40 division in the Route du Rhum-Destination Guadeloupe transatlantic race, is heading for Cascais in Portugal, suffering from many technical problems, including the loss of his wind gear.

After a brief pit stop in La Coruña on Saturday and considering the difficulties he is now facing, the Olympic and World Cup ski champion has taken the painful decision to retire from the race.

A top class sportsman who worked hard to compete in the Route du Rhum - Destination Guadeloupe, Ivica is clearly very disappointed. At 1000hrs on Tuesday morning, the Class40 ACI was sailing at 7.5 knots 120 miles West of Porto.

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After five days and nights of tough, physical racing which has taken them to the edge of exhaustion, there are just 1100 nautical miles of direct runway left to sail to the Pointe-à-Pitre finish line for the Route du Rhum-Destination Guadeloupe leaders.

Charles Caudrelier (Maxi Edmond de Rothschild) has extended his cushion to over 100 miles ahead of the chasing François Gabart (SVR-Lazartigue) as the pacemakers can now finally contemplate a finishing sprint of faster, easier trade winds reaching. The leader may make the south of the island tomorrow night. Indeed, Caudrelier spoke this morning of potentially two days of racing left, a schedule which could take him well inside the course record which was set in 2018 by Francis Joyon at 7 days 14 hours and 21 minutes.

Gabart had a technical issue last night which cost him miles to the leader at just the wrong moment. “Last night I broke the line that lifts and lowers the port foil. I slowed down for two or three hours to repair that. I hesitated but with the team we said there was still a lot of starboard tack before the finish, but I lost quite a few miles after being pleased about my position to leeward of Charles.”

He summarises, “The pace is quite intense. Since the start, we’ve had upwind tacking, the first front with lots of sail changes, then upwind on the other tack, then some reaching, a second front in the Azores and some more reaching, and now we’re downwind. But that’s what you can expect in the Route du Rhum. I’m wondering now whether I’m really in the trade winds, as the wind is still up and down between 13 and 20 knots and there’s still a residual swell from the NW.”

 Francois Gabart (above) in SVR-Lazartigue is chasing Charles Caudrelier Photo:  Martin KeruzoréFrancois Gabart (above) in SVR-Lazartigue is chasing Charles Caudrelier Photo:  Martin Keruzoré

Dalin leads into the light zone

Some 250 miles south of the Azores, Charlie Dalin on Apivia is leading the 34-boat IMOCA fleet into the lighter winds of the Azores high pressure zone. He is looking to exploit a small corridor of breeze which he feels would get him down into the trade winds to increase his margin significantly. Behind him, north of the Azores, a compact group have been dealing with a nasty front which was producing 35-40kts winds. Prudence saw a few tack south last night to limit their exposure to the strong winds and big seas, but relief was due this afternoon with the wind shifting to a NW direction.

“We have some fast upwind sailing on starboard tack still,” Dalin said this morning. “The goal in the next 24 hours is to find our way through a tiny gap to slip under this area of high pressure and pick up the trade winds. We’re going to have to be very careful with our route and pay attention to local wind shifts to get through this part without being slowed down too much. Once in the trade winds, there will still be 1,500 miles to sail. The boat is in good condition. I haven’t had to slow down to deal with any technical problems. It’s nice to be sailing on a boat I know well, as that means I can feel relaxed and focus on my strategy.”

Kiwi Conrad Colman is sixteenth on his 2007 VPLP-Verdier designed daggerboard boat, Imagine. Launched as Groupe Bel the boat had to abandon two successive Vendée Globes before being sailed to tenth in the last race by Maxime Sorel as V&B-Mayenne. He is about 40 miles behind Tanguy le Turquais (Lazare) who is on his first major IMOCA ocean race with the Finot-Conq design which Damien Seguin sailed to seventh on the last Vendée Globe.

A resolute, focused Colman said today, “So far so good. I have only seen 35kts upwind at the moment, and mostly 28-30, so things are fairly moderate and things are working OK. I think I have another four or five hours more then should be able to tack south through the Azores.”

Debuting Chinese racer Jingkun Xu, known as ‘Jackie’, is in 31st making steady progress in what is proving a tough very first baptism into the IMOCA class on a boat he had only really sailed for his race qualifying miles. He reported, “The start of my first RDR for me is hard, no sleep, hard to eat, fishing nets, cargos, several cold fronts, and in 24 hours the winds change from 5 to 50 knots. I nearly never stop. This is the busiest race I have done. But I enjoy it so much, to be a part of this legendary race is just amazing.”

 Debuting Chinese racer Jingkun Xu, known as ‘Jackie’, is in 31st making steady progress in what is proving a tough very first baptism into the IMOCA class Photo: DRDebuting Chinese racer Jingkun Xu, known as ‘Jackie’, is in 31st making steady progress in what is proving a tough very first baptism into the IMOCA class Photo: DR

Heer back on track

After returning to Saint Malo the night after the start because of damage due to a collision with another IMOCA, Swiss skipper Olli Heer has been back on the race course since this Monday morning. He left Port La Foret around 0630hrs UTC and has been making a steady 10kts through the early part of the day.

“The shore team worked round the clock and we managed to do a post cure overnight and launch this morning. I am mentally and emotionally quite drained but super happy to be out here again and just looking to settle in again. At the moment, I want to sail SSW before a powerful front will hit me tonight with winds to 35-38kts and I will then pass Cape Finisterre tomorrow and head south,” said Heer this morning.

Perhaps the most outstanding solo debut so far in the IMOCA fleet is Justine Mettraux. The Swiss skipper who trained many thousands of miles fully crewed with 11th Hour Racing is up in seventh place on the well proven, formerly Charal.

Swiss debutante Justine Mettraux Photo: TEAMWORK.NETSwiss debutante Justine Mettraux Photo: TEAMWORK.NET

Class 40 frontal assault

Facing a particularly violent front, the Class40 fleet split in two in the past few hours. On one side, there are the leaders with the incredible duel taking place between 2018 Class40 race winner Yoann Richomme (Paprec Arkéa) and Corentin Douguet (Queginer-Innoveo), with just 100 metres separating them early this afternoon.

On the other side, there are those who have gone for a southern option who are hoping to get past the Azores. Both the boats and the sailors are really suffering. Italian skippers with new boats are well placed in the leading group. Ambrogio Beccaria on Alla Grande-Pirelli is in fourth at only 22 miles behind the leading duo on his all Italian designed and built boat which was only launched in April. The first Italian ever to win the MiniTransat, Beccaria has sailed an accomplished race so far and it will be fascinating to see how fast this boat goes in the trade winds when they get there. The boat was designed by Gianluca Guelfi and built by double Tornado Olympian Edoardo Bianchi. And a further 20 miles back in eighth is Alberto Bona who is racing a 2022 Manuard designed Mach 40.5.

Ambrogio Beccaria on Alla Grande-Pirelli is in fourth at only 22 miles behind the leading duo on his all Italian designed and built boatAmbrogio Beccaria on Alla Grande-Pirelli is in fourth at only 22 miles behind the leading duo on his all Italian designed and built boat Photo: Martina ORSINI

Californian property developer Alex Mehran is in 19th on Polka Dot, the boat which won the 2018 race in Richomme’s hands. Mehran has been going well in the strong conditions and is not afraid to push himself and his boat hard. He had a minor technical issue earlier today which he was staying tight lipped about. “I was hove-to for about 45 minutes, but I got it all squared away. I was watching the season finale of The Batchelor, I did not want to miss it. (laughs) It is a good show! (jokes) No I am going along here with the storm jib and three reefs and the mainsail keeps filling with water. I have the bilge pump piped up there and every so often I go up and pump out the water which is working well. It is pretty gnarly. This storm is worse than the last one. We have 30-40kts. I have a few minor problems, I am tired, hungry and wet. I am looking forwards to getting through this one. I think that will be in about three and a half to four hours and then I will get the shift and head south towards the Azores, heading towards warmer waters. I am looking forwards to that.”

Ocean 50

Quentin Vlamynck remains cool and calm at the front of the Ocean Fifty fleet on Arkema, leading by 50 miles with his main rivals lined up in his wake. Third placed Erwan Le Roux explained today, “We should be getting into the trade winds tomorrow afternoon. It’s going to take another 24 hours to get around the area of high pressure. Then, there is a large part of the Atlantic to cross. I’m 60 miles behind Arkema and she is fast sailing downwind, so not easy to close the gap. There are still practically 2000 miles to go, and a lot can still happen.”

Summary key points this afternoon

Among the other technical problems announced today, Guirec Soudée ( has torn the mainsail on his IMOCA. It is too difficult to repair on heavy seas and the skipper is therefore planning to shelter in the Azores.

Matthieu Perraut, skipper of Inter Invest (Class40), collided with a UFO early this afternoon (Monday) He damaged the fairing on his keel, part of the port rudder and the base of the hull delaminated around the crash box (the area that absorbs the shock to avoid damage to the structure of the boat when there is a collision). Matthieu was not hurt, but the boat suffered too much damage to be able to continue. The skipper is currently heading for the island of San Miguel in the Azores, around 250 miles south of his current position.

François Jambou, the Mini Transat winning skipper of the Class40 A l’Aveugle – Trim Control, dismasted this afternoon. He will attempt to reach shore under jury rig

François Guiffant, skipper of the IMOCA Kattan broke the stay for his J2. The skipper, sailing 500 miles east of the Azores, is diverting to Lisbon to carry out repairs.

Jean-Pierre Balmes, skipper of Class40 FullSave announced his retirement due to problems with his ballast tanks and staysail hook. He is heading for Cascais in Portugal.

French skipper Fabrice Amedeo was rescued by the Cargo vessel M/V MAERSK BRIDA after a fire broke out aboard his Imoca, Nexans - Art & Fenêtres. Amedeo was forced to abandon his boat which sank soon after. He has not suffered any injuries. He will be taken ashore in Ponta Delgada, on the southern side of the island of São Miguel in the Azores.

118 boats are still racing, with 20 having abandoned this 12th edition of the Route du Rhum-Destination Guadeloupe.

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At 1132hrs UTC this morning, while French skipper Fabrice Amedeo was en route to Cascais in Portugal after suffering damage during the Route du Rhum-Destination Guadeloupe solo Transatlantic race, there was an explosion aboard his Imoca, Nexans - Art & Fenêtres. This led to a fire on board which spread, requiring Amedeo to abandon his boat which sank soon after.

A rescue operation was immediately set up. After being informed by Race Direction, the Portuguese maritime rescue centre contacted ships in the area of the accident. The Cargo vessel M/V MAERSK BRIDA was close by and diverted immediately. The rescue operation went well and at 1421hrs UTC this afternoon, Amedeo, 44, was taken safely on board the cargo vessel. He has not suffered any injuries. He will be taken ashore in Ponta Delgada, on the southern side of the island of São Miguel in the Azores.

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After capsizing around 2000hrs on Saturday evening whilst leading the OCEAN FIFTY class of the Route du Rhum-Destination Guadeloupe solo race, French skipper Thibaut Vauchel-Camus was rescued this morning from the upturned Solidaires En Peloton – ARSEP some 240 miles north of the Azores.

Vauchel-Camus, 42, is reported to be in good health. A chartered rescue boat, the Merida, skippered by French Figaro racer Adrien Hardy, who is a salvage expert, is on the scene and the objective is to tow the OCEAN FIFTY to the Azores.

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