- Maxi Spindrift 2
Yann Guichard has beaten all the odds and climbed the highest mountain, finishing in second position in the Route du Rhum-Destination Guadeloupe. An astounding acheivement, sailing across the Atlantic single-handed from Saint-Malo to Pointe-à-Pitre aboard Spindrift 2, the largest racing trimaran ever built. The ecstatic look on his face revealed it all. The skipper completed the crossing in 8 days, 5 hours, 18 minutes and 46 seconds at an average speed of 21.96 knots. It is the fourth best time in the race’s history, and 14 hours behind race winner Loïck Peyron, who shaved two hours off the race record in the early hours of this morning. With the support of the entire Spindrift racing team, Yann has achieved an incredible feat that seemed quite unimaginable just a few months ago. The expert multihull racer not only completed the Route du Rhum on this immense trimaran, which was designed initially for crewed record attempts, but he has performed to the highest level and remained competitive right to the very end.
Accompanied by the cheering crowds, Yann enjoys the moment before being interviewed at the quayside:
“I had a great race and I gave it everything from start to finish. I really suffered, but I managed to keep up the pace. Today, I’m delighted to have finished second here in Pointe-à-Pitre and to be on the podium with Spindrift racing, just behind Loïck (Peyron), who had a really good race.
I always believed that I could be competitive with Spindrift 2, despite the doubts of some. With the team, we have adapted the boat especially for solo racing. I’ve proved that it was worth all of that relentless effort and I’m proud of the team for everything they have done to make this project a success.
On the second day, I lost one of my autopilots and I spent the whole race wondering whether I was going to be able to finish. Apart from that, I had very few technical issues, which is essential if you want to finish on the podium. My onshore routers Erwan Israël and Richard Silvani were also behind me all the way, even during the tough times, and I’m thrilled with the overall performance of our team.
It was an incredible race with a tough first night. I had to perform close-hauled tacks and weave in and out of cargo ships and fishing boats in 35 knot winds. It was a bit stressful! I lost some ground, but I was able to crank up the pace in the Bay of Biscay and get back in the race. I had two hairy moments off the Portuguese coast when I had to completely release the sheets, but apart from that the ship stayed in good shape. I’ve never pushed so hard in the manoeuvres because I’ve never been this far. But after so much effort it feels fantastic when the boat accelerates. I’ve lost some weight but I’m happy to be here and I had a lot of fun with the boat.
The people of Guadeloupe have come out in huge numbers today, and I know they will turn up not only for the winner but also for the last. They’re fantastic! As to whether I will do the race again with this boat? It’s far too early to say. I’m just going to enjoy the moment with my team and recover, as I’ve not slept for more than two hours a day, and never more than 10 minutes at a time, so I’m exhausted right now. I must have done more than a 1,000 kilometres on my bike during the Route du Rhum!”
Dona Bertarelli, co-founder and skipper of Spindrift racing:
"Yann's performance showed his immense talent. Given the weather forecast at the start of the race in Saint-Malo, few believed he could be competitive and obtain a podium finish. This second-place finish rewards not only his determination but also his firm belief that Spindrift 2, the world's largest racing multihull, could be sailed single-handed, despite being designed for a 14-man crew. His success is thanks to the work of the entire team and the support of our partners, Mirabaud, Genes-x and Zenith. I would like to thank them for their trust in our team."
>> How the race unfolded for Spindrift 2
A conservative start
When the race begin in Saint-Malo just over a week ago, Yann made a conservative start, aware that with so many boats out on the water, safety was a priority. Safety was also a prime concern in the English Channel, so Spindrift 2 headed north-west before making the turn into the Atlantic well clear of the tip of Brittany. The boat even sailed undercanvassed during the first night, as the weather front that had been forecast swept its way across the fleet at speeds of more than 35 knots, with gusts reaching 45 knots. The storm produced the race's first victims. Thomas Coville, one of Yann's main rivals in the Ultimes class, retired after his boat, Sodebo, collided with a cargo ship. A few hours later, Loïck Peyron rounded the tip of Brittany in the lead, while Yann, back in sixth position, decided to step on the gas. Sailing close-hauled in waves of more than 5 metres, the skipper increased the sail area, crossing the Bay of Biscay with only two reefs in the mainsail. By Cape Finisterre, Spindrift 2 had moved up to second position, where he remained until the end of the race.
Hanging in there, minus one of the autopilots
The wind veered round, and Yann left Europe in his wake. Leaving Portugal, Gibraltar, Morocco and then Madeira to port, Yann notched up the nautical miles, but speed came at a price. In the early hours of Wednesday morning, he had to unfurl the full sail and, more importantly, hoist the gennaker. It required four hours' effort in all, leaving him exhausted and on the brink of tears. On day three, Loïck Peyron managed to sneak into a weather window and build up an insurmountable lead, despite a crack towards the front of the boat, which proved to not have any serious effects. The Spindrift 2 skipper, meanwhile, had to do without one of his autopilots, after it stopped working. Back on dry land, the team conducted an initial diagnosis. The system had taken a lot of damage during the atrocious conditions at the start of the race and could not be repaired. The solo skipper thus had to put his entire trust in the second autopilot, completing the race with a sword of Damocles above his head, since it would be impossible to sail single-handed without an autopilot.
Lazy, capricious trade winds
Despite the problems, Spindrift 2 began to lengthen her stride. The fluid routes taken by the fleet show that the sailors were really on the ball, despite the irregular easterlies, often disrupted by squalls. Under a larger-than-normal full moon, Yann put in a huge effort on Friday evening to close the gap to within 118 miles of Banque Populaire VII. During the night, however, he was caught out by an immense cloud that completely broke the trade winds and, by early morning, Loïck Peyron was marching to victory. After reaching Guadeloupe at dawn, Yann performed the final manoeuvres to circle around Basse-Terre and celebrate his prowess in Pointe-à-Pitre. Indeed, never before has one man sailed a 40 metre maxi trimaran alone, finishing in second place on the podium.
>> Spindrift racing's partners congratulate Yann and the team on their performance:
Antonio Palma, CEO of Mirabaud & Cie SA: "More important than winning, Yann Guichard has achieved the feat of crossing the Atlantic single-handed aboard this true giant of the seas. Congratulations to Yann and his team at Spindrift racing for this superb performance. Mirabaud is delighted to be part of this, which will remain one of the highlights of the 10th edition of the Route du Rhum."
Team Genes-x: "The team at Genes-x team warmly congratulates Yann Guichard and Spindrift racing for this amazing exploit. Throughout the race, Yann kept us with bated breath and we feel a deep admiration for the courage, dedication, audacity and strength he has demonstrated. The news of this achievement has come as a great delight to us all, and we are immensely proud to be part of this adventure. Well done Yann, you really went beyond your genetic limits!"
Aldo Magada, CEO of Zenith: "Yann has shown great tenacity and courage to handle this huge maxi-trimaran. We are incredibly proud of him. This was a particularly tough Route du Rhum, and Yann battled to the very end. I would also like to congratulate Loïck Peyron, who is a very worthy champion! Zenith has been supporting adventurers for over 150 years. The brand with the guiding star has been closely associated with men living their dreams since its inception in 1865 and, thanks to men like Yann Guichard, this association will continue for many years to come."
>> Spindrift 2’s Route du Rhum in brief:
Departure from Saint-Malo: Sunday, November 2nd at 2pm CET
Arrival in Pointe-à-Pitre: Monday, November 10th 2014 at 18:18:46 hours CET
Race time: 8 days, 5 hours, 18 minutes and 46 seconds
Sur la route: 3,542 nautical miles at average speed of 17.95 knots
Sur le fond: 4,334 nautical miles at average speed of 21.96 knots
Standings: 2nd place, behind winner Loïck Peyron (Maxi Solo Banque Populaire VII)
Manoeuvres: between the race start and Tête à l'Anglais, Spindrift 2 made 3 tacks and 5 gybes
>> Ultimes class standings on November 10th at 11pm UTC:
Position / distance / current speed
1 - Banque Populaire VII, Loïck Peyron, winner in 7d, 15h, 8m, 32s
2 – Spindrift 2, Yann Guichard, second in 8d, 5 h, 18min, 46s
3 – Edmond de Rothschild, Sébastien Josse, at 28,3 miles to the finish
4 – Musandam Oman Sail, Sidney Gavignet, at 69,6 miles to the finish
5 – Prince de Bretagne, Lionel Lemonchois, at 78,1 miles to the finish
6 – Idec sport, Francis Joyon, at 291,5 miles to the finish
7 – Paprec Recyclage, Yann Eliès, at 313,2 miles to the finsih
8 – Sodebo Ultim’, Thomas Coville, abandoned