Route du Rhum 2006
A record-breaking Route du Rhum
2006 will go down in history as a vintage year for the Route du Rhum. In the multihull category, Lionel Lemonchois won the race with an average speed of 19.11 knots on the theoretical, direct route and over 20 knots on his actual route. As for the monohulls, the winner was Roland Jourdain, in a breathtaking finish just 27 minutes and 55 seconds ahead of Jean Le Cam.
The 74 boats competing in the 2006 Route du Rhum left Saint Malo on Sunday 29th October at 13h02. Tens of thousands of spectators assembled around Cap Fréhel, and the relatively light winds gave them plenty of time to admire an incredibly array of sails heading out to sea. After that, the weather conditions were perfect, especially for Lionel Lemonchois in the ORMA class. After passing the buoy in 3rd place, he then took the lead in an unrelenting sprint to victory. Whilst Alain Gautier was aiming to spend no more than 10 days at sea, meanwhile Gitana 11 reached Point-à-Pitre in just a week, more precisely in 7 days, 17 hours, 19 minutes and 6 seconds, at an average of 19.11 knots. For his first win in a single-handed race, Lionel Lemonchois beat the transatlantic record by 4 days and 15 hours, arriving 11 hours and 8 minutes ahead of Pascal Bidegorry on board Banque Populaire, and 20 hours and 20 minutes ahead of Thomas Coville on Sodeb'O.
The battle of the monohuls
Whilst the trimaran Gitana 11 arrived uncontested at the finish line, in the monohull category, Roland Jourdain and Jean Le Cam fought out an incredible final sprint. As they came leeward of Guadeloupe, both sailors struggled with the lack of wind. In the end, despite a broken boom and other damage, Roland Jourdain's Sill et Veolia arrived less than 28 minutes ahead of Jean Le Cam's VM Matériaux, taking home his first victory in a major solo race and beating Ellen MacArthur's record. The new IMOCA class record for this race is now 12 days, 11 hours, 58 minutes and 58 seconds. Jean-Pierre Dick took third place on the podium with Virbac-Paprec.
8 classes in the race
Pointe-à-Pitre had to wait as the competitors in the 8 different classes trickled. In the multihulls Class 2, St Malo born Franck-Yves Escoffier on Crêpes Whaou! crossed the finish line 11 seconds after 6.30 am Paris time on Friday 11th November, marking his third consecutive victory in the race. He crossed the Atlantic at an average 12.58 knots, beating his own record and that of Laurent Bourgnon. Let's hope that, 2 years from now, we can look forward to just as much record-breaking suspense in the next edition of the newly named "Route du Rhum – La Banque Postale".
More details : www.routedurhum-labanquepostale.com