Three minutes and 14 seconds: this is the tiny gap that finally separated the two leaders of this Les Sables - Horta - Les Sables 2021 at the finish line. A derisory gap at the end of 2,540 miles of racing and nearly eleven days at sea. Eleven trying and intense days during which Antoine Carpentier and Mikaël Mergui (Redman) then Axel Trehin and Frédéric Denis (Project Rescue Ocean) took the lead from the beginning before making the break on the third day, when they passed a barometric pass, off Cape Finisterre. From then on, only Ian Lipinski and Ambrogio Beccaria (Crédit Mutuel) managed to worry them.
A complex weather, a fight at every level, a hard-fought victory, broken records... the 8th edition of Les Sables - Horta - Les Sables, held from June 28 to July 13, 2021, kept all its promises. Here are five points to remember:
A revised format
Although the event is usually held in two legs, in the form of a round trip between the Vendée and the Azores, for this 2021 edition, the organizers have been forced to adapt and modify the format of the competition. The reason: the pandemic context linked to the COVID-19. The local and health authorities in Portugal have decided not to host the event this summer. Consequently, the traditional stopover could not take place. The race was thus played out in a single major leg of 2,540 miles with the only course marker being a buoy anchored in front of the entrance to Horta marina.
Weather as varied as it was complex
The first half of the race was complicated, with a ridge of high pressure in the Bay of Biscay, a barometric axis off Cape Finisterre and then three successive fronts. A weather context that created significant gaps between the competitors from the second day of the race, and also put the boats and their bodies to a severe test. Patience and length of time marked the first part of the race, while on the other hand, the return leg was done in a hurry, at least for the first five. As proof, if the best time over the 1,270 miles between the Azores and the Vendée belonged, since the 2015 edition, to the duo Yannick Bestaven - Pierre Brasseur with a time of 4 days 17 hours and 38 minutes, the tandem Ian Lipinski - Ambrogio Beccaria on Crédit Mutuel, took 4 days 3 hours and 56 minutes to swallow the distance, thus imposing a new reference time. A scenario as improbable as it was incredible, which spread the fleet over more than 1000 miles!
Three minutes and 14 seconds: this is the tiny gap that finally separated the two leaders of this Les Sables - Horta - Les Sables 2021 at the finish line. A derisory gap at the end of eleven days at sea. Eleven trying and intense days during which Antoine Carpentier and Mikaël Mergui (Redman) and then Axel Trehin and Frédéric Denis (Project Rescue Ocean) took the lead from the beginning before making a break with the rest of the pack on the third day, off Cape Finisterre. From then on, only Ian Lipinski and Ambrogio Beccaria (Crédit Mutuel), who made a thunderous comeback, managed to worry them. "It was a hard-fought match from start to finish, but the harder it is to win, the better it is," said Antoine, who thus scored the first victory of his career as a skipper. However, it is not only at the head of the fleet that places were fiercely contested, as shown by the gusty arrivals of nine boats between 00h56 and 7h55 on Monday 12 July, and in particular the five minute gap between the duos Pierre-Louis Attwell - Aloïs Kerduel (Vogue with a Crohn's disease) then Charles-Louis Mourruau - Andrea Fantini (Guidi). By the way, a special mention for the latter who managed to take the 14th place after a technical stopover of twelve hours in Horta!
The 24-hour record broken!
After breaking his own record for the greatest distance covered in 24 hours aboard a Class40 (415.86 miles achieved on November 6, 2019 in a double-handed configuration with Adrien Hardy during the Transat Jacques Vabre) during this 8th edition of Les Sables - Horta - Les Sables on Monday, July 5, Ian Lipinski then steadily improved his performance to end up literally exploding the reference distance with 428.82 miles recorded on Tuesday, July 6. Associated with Ambrogio Beccaria, the skipper of Crédit Mutuel improved his record by 12.96 miles by managing to hold the supersonic average of 17.9 knots over 24 hours!
Small and big "boo-boos
In a race of 2,540 miles (the equivalent of two thirds of a transatlantic race) with such complex conditions, small glitches - technical or physical - have naturally plagued the fleet. If Fred Denis, victim of a broken rib three days before the arrival, managed to complete his race and to get on the podium, others were unfortunately forced to abandon. The duo Charles de Coquet - Thierry Duprey du Vorsent (Concise 8) returned to the port only a few minutes after the departure following its collision with another competitor. The pair Hervé Thomas - Gérald Veniard (Saint Yves Services) put an end to its race following a problem of false fuse bearing. Same thing for the pair Emmanuel Le Roch - Christophe Cremades (Edenred), confronted, for his part, with a problem of bulkhead, or of the pair Simon - Yannick Kervarrec (Samsic - E. Leclerc), victim of a water way in a back box. Victor Jost and Enguerrand Granoux also had to give up finishing the race, the first having dislocated his shoulder.
source: Les Sables Vendée Course au Large