Safran wins Transat Jacques Vabre

Although Marc Guillemot and Charles Caudrelier-Benac had battled through an horrendous Atlantic storm, during which Safran took the lead of the 14 boat IMOCA Open 60 class back on Thursday 12th November, the hard bitten skipper from La Trinite confirmed on the dockside that the worst part of the race was the final 24 hours.

Because both they and their nearest rivals Groupe Bel (Kito de Pavant and Francois Gabart), who were just 90 miles behind, had chosen to go in 'stealth' mode – during which their positions are no longer publically broadcast – he spent the final miles fighting through unpredictable light winds, squalls and shifting breezes as they closed to the Costa Rica coast through the night, being eaten up by worry that De Pavant and Gabart might still catch them with their 'Laughing Cow' logo'd, an identical design from VPLP/Verdier partnership.

"The most difficult time was today, every timewe were battling under the clouds, the storms, the rain, with no wind I was imagining Kito and Francois with their Laughing Cow running down the slopes with 25 knots of wind, whereas we were stuck with three or four knots. It was hyper hard for the moral, very stressful. Even up to an hour before the line we were still very anxious. But the main thing is that we got in in front." Grinned a relieved Guillemot.

A potent combination of 50 year old Guillemot's 30 years of experience multihull and monohull ocean racing, and the youthful intensity and stamina of Caudrelier's grounding in the Figaro class - in which he won the Solitaire in 2004 - the duo's win today overwrites the memory of finishing in a frustrating second place in 2007 into Salvador de Bahia, watching from astern as Michel Desjoyeaux and Manu Leborgne won.

Guillemot's win will be a hugely popular one in his native France, and throughout the global sailing community who readily recall how he stood by his injured friend and rival Yann Elies during the solo Vendee Globe round the world race last December. For nearly 48 hours Guillemot spoke from only metres away by phone and radio to Elies, who was stuck unable to move after smashing his thigh bone, immobilized with pain just two metres from his medical kit.
As well as pit-stopping twice in remote islands to try and repair his mainsail mast track, Guillemot sailed the final 1000 miles of the solo, non stop round the world race with no keel on Safran. After being damaged in the Southern Ocean some weeks earlier when he struck a sea-mammal, his keel unexpectedly dropped out of his boat. Regardless, he nursed Safran home to finish in third place.

Behind Safran when they finished into Puerto Limon are double Vendee Globe winner Michel Desjoyeaux, who was lying fourth before he and co-skipper Jeremie Beyou went into stealth mode, and 2004-5 Vendee winner Vincent Riou who lies ninth of the 14 boats which started in Le Havre on Sunday November 8th.

Safran finished at 08:52:10hrs GMT/UTC (02:52:10hrs local time Tuesday 24th) after 15 days 19 hrs 22 mins 10 secs. Co-skippered by France's Marc Guillemot and Charles Caudrelier-Benac Safran won the 14 boat IMOCA Open 60 Class in the Transat Jacques Vabre transatlantic race which started on Sunday 8th November from Le Havre.
Safran sailed 5263 miles at an average speed of 12.46 knots

Date Added - 24-Nov-2009

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