Two days into the third week of the 2018 Route du Rhum-Destination Guadeloupe, Pointe-à-Pitre was able to celebrate two great winners in the Rhum Multi class and in the hotly-fought Class40 division of the 3,542-nautical mile solo transatlantic race.
In Class40s the victor, who was again the dominant competitor but this time in a field of 53 boats, is Antoine’s fellow French skipper Yoann Richomme on board Veedol-AIC. Richomme got in today well ahead of Aymeric Chapellier on Aina Enfance et Avenir and Britain’s Phil Sharp on Imerys Clean Energy still locked in their private battle for second place.
When Richomme arrived after 16 days, three hours and 22 minutes at sea on board his Class40 yacht, Veedol-AIC, at 16:22.45UTC he had taken more than half a day off the previous best time for these exciting monohulls. The Frenchman who trained as a naval architect in Southampton and is based in Lorient was overjoyed to have won so convincingly in a competitive fleet.
This had been a textbook race for Richomme and indeed a textbook campaign as he built a new boat, put it through its paces – including dealing with a dismasting early on – and then produced it on the racecourse to devastating effect. Veedol-AIC was faster than the others and its skipper sailed an almost perfect race.
Richomme led the Class40 fleet from day two onwards, having initially sailed a conservative line close to the most direct route - the rhumb line. But he then made a move to the west which allowed him to sail a faster angle earlier than his rivals. He demonstrated great confidence in his boat but showed too a Figaro sailor’s feel for high tempo without going into the red.
As the race progressed the speed and power of his new boat became apparent; in downwind conditions it was between one and two knots quicker than those of Sharp and Chapellier.
“It is incredible,” said Richomme as he looked back on the last 16 days at sea after docking in Pointe-à-Pitre. “First to win the Solitaire (2016) and then this, winning the Route du Rhum, it is great.
“I kind of ask myself how we got here because the project has been difficult. There was so much work to do in such a short time but when I left Saint Malo I was confident in our work. And here, in the end, the scenario is just what I had thought of in my head. It is incredible.”
He was asked whether this had been the prefect ocean race. The 35-year-old who hopes to move onto the Vendee Globe in 2020 did not disagree even if he lost part of his bowsprit as Veedol-AIC thundered down a wave. “It was practically perfect,” he said. “I did the weather strategy perfectly; it played out like we planned. I accelerated from the front as we left Brittany and then after that I just sailed safe but hard. I was always safe but the boat was always safe. I lost two metres off the bowsprit but otherwise the boat has been 100% reliable. I went down a big wave and that was it.”
And he spoke about the team behind his win. “It has been such a team effort, such as big effort by everyone to get me here,” he said, his voice cracking with emotion. “There are so many people who worked on the project.”
And finally Richomme paid tribute to the two sailors locked in a neck-and-neck battle for second place. “I have been amazed for the last 10 days at the match that is going on behind me, two boats so close for so long. Whoever wins second place will certainly have earned it,” added Richomme.
Source : Andy Robertson 6 Route du Rhum