Class40 selection
  • 1
    Groupe SNEF (FRA 178)
    Groupe SNEF (FRA 178)
    X. Macaire
  • 2
    Acrobatica (ITA 201)
    Acrobatica (ITA 201)
    A. Riva
  • 3
    Vogue avec un Crohn (FRA 195)
    Vogue avec un Crohn (FRA 195)
    PL. Attwell
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Route du Rhum: an update after 5 days of racing

© William Mathelin-Moreaux / Dekuple
© William Mathelin-Moreaux / Dekuple

Faced with a particularly virulent front, the Class40 fleet has split over the last few hours. On one side, the leaders and the incredible 'mano-a-mano' between Yoann Richomme (Paprec Arkéa) and Corentin Douguet (Queginer-Innoveo), separated by 0.1 mile at the beginning of the afternoon. On the other hand, the supporters of the South who are preparing to pass the Azores. For all of them, the observation is the same: the repetition of the efforts of the last few days is beginning to take its toll on the boats as well as on the bodies.

What to remember about this Monday in Class40

Leader since Sunday evening, Yoann Richomme (Paprec Arkea) continues to dominate the race with a tiny gap to Corentin Douguet (Queginer-Innoveo)

The fleet is more than ever split between those who favour a WNW route and those who favour the South

Jean-Pierre Balmes, victim of ballast and staysail hook problems, was forced to retire

Keni Piperol (Capt'ain Alternance), who is repairing his Class40 in La Coruña, hopes to leave on Wednesday

A new front, again, with its insane gusts and raging seas. "It was like déjà vu" wrote Nicolas d'Estais (HappyVore - Café Joyeux) who, like all the others, had to "deal with strong winds, cross seas and a lot of humidity", according to Kito de Pavant (HBF Reforest'Action). "It was a war, it was really hard, hellish," said Corentin Douguet (Queginer-Innoveo). Luke Berry (Lamotte-Module Creation) says it all: "The sea conditions are extreme and the living conditions are non-existent, even very basic. And the worst thing is that, despite the raging sky and sea, it can even be beautiful, like the sunrise captured by William Mathelin-Moreaux (Dékuple) in the midst of iodine chaos.

"With Yoann, challenging and wearing" (Douguet)

There are those who have decided to head west, even if it means facing particularly testing conditions, with an average of 30 knots. Among them, the leading trio,
the inseparable Yoann Richomme (Paprec Arkéa), Corentin Douguet (Queginer-Innoveo) and Xavier Macaire (Groupe SNEF). Corentin was the leader for a long time, but explained during the radio session on Monday morning that he had a problem with his engine. "There is a dead hose and air in the diesel circuit. If I don't manage to restart it today, I'll have no choice but to stop in the Azores.

Nevertheless, like his two companions, Corentin managed to leave the strong winds early this afternoon. This gave him time to talk about the 'mano-a-mano' with Yoann Richomme: "Being shoulder to shoulder with him is both stimulating and tiring. We talk a bit on the VHF, even though I'm saving my batteries, but we don't sleep much. There is no respite. As soon as one goes faster than the other, the other has to get back on the thing!

Trouble, abandonment and hope

At the same time, part of the Class40 fleet has preferred to head due south. There are eleven skippers, often with their own reasons. Ian Lipinski (Crédit Mutuel) is dealing with a technical problem (a point of armour in a headsail), Stan Thuret (Everial) has preferred to play it safe by choosing "not to follow the others", as has Cédric Château. The skipper of Sogestran-Seafrigo even had fun making a "little speed comparison" with a strong competitor, the Maxi Banque Populaire XI. "She's clearly going faster! She was upwind of me and turned to head back towards the Azores... It was fun to pass her!

This Monday has, like every day since the start unfortunately, had its share of bad news. At the end of the morning, Jean-Pierre Balmes (Fullsave) announced his intention to retire. The skipper from La Grande-Motte is having problems with his ballast and his hook. He decided to turn back and headed for Cascais. The day before, it was the Australian Rupert Henri (Eora) who did the same, due to the structural failure of a bulkhead. Thus, there are now 9 retirements among the Class40s.

For his part, Jean Galfione (Serenis Consulting) had to stop once again. After suffering a head injury, he stopped in the port of Vigo where further medical examinations had to be carried out. At the same time, others continued the adventure despite the difficulties. Keni Piperol (Capt'ain Alternance) was the victim of a leak and arrived in A Coruña yesterday. After being pulled out of the water and inspected, the boat was immediately repaired by the Lalou Multi teams. But for the skipper, giving up was out of the question. "It never occurred to me that I wouldn't go back," he explained. His team is planning a return to the sea on Wednesday at midday.

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