Record-breaking Arkema wins Transat Jacque Vabre Multi50 as Prince de Bretagne rescued after dismast

There was joy unconfined in a glorious sunrise in the Bay of All Saints as the Franco-Spanish duo of Lalou Roucayrol and Alex Pella crossed line the on their foiling 50ft trimaran, Arkema to win the Transat Jacques Vabre Multi50 class.

Arkema’s win struck another blow for the underdog in this Transat Jacques Vabre as they beat the favourites in to Salvador de Bahia. Something that favourites Jean-Pierre Dick and Yann Eliès on St Michel – Virbac seem certain to make sure does not happen in the Imoca class. But Phil Sharp and Pablo Santurde are doing their best to cause another mini-upset against the two powerful French teams toiling alongside them in the Doldrums.

But the south-east trade winds brought the most mixed news to the 13th edition of the Route de Café over the last 24 hours. Thursday woke to the 80ft trimaran Prince de Bretagne being towed back to Salvador de Bahia after dismasting yesterday evening just 93 miles from the finish line.

Multi50: Arkema breaks race and 24 hour speed record
It was ninth-time lucky for the 53-year-old Lalou Roucayrol. When his co-skipper, Karine Fauconnier, was injured in training three months ago, Roucayrol was looking for the best to help win his first Route du Café. In Alex Pella, the formidable and multi-skilled, multi-starred Spanish sailor, making his third appearance, he found both that and hunger. Both had finished second in the race before – Pella in the Class40 with fellow Catalan, Pablo Santurde, in 2013 (who is currently leading that class).

They sealed their win with a masterful comeback in the Doldrums taking 160 miles in 42 hours off FenêtréA-Mix Buffet, skippered by the “dream team” of Erwan Le Roux and Vincent Riou, who have five Transat Jacques Vabre victories between them.

Arkema won the Multi50 class of the 13th edition of the Transat Jacques Vabre after crossing the finish line in the Bay of All Saints in Salvador de Bahia on Thursday, November 16, 2017 at 07:49:19 (UTC), 10 days 19 hours 14 minutes and 19 seconds after leaving Le Havre, Normandy France. Arkema covered the theoretical course of 4,350 nautical miles at an average speed of 16.81 knots, but actually sailed 4,671 nautical miles at an average speed of 18.02 knots.

Arkema beat the previous record of 12 days 06 hours 13 mins set by Franck-Yves Escoffier and his son, Kevin Escoffier on Crêpes Whaou! in 2005 by 1 day 10 hours 59 minutes and 40 seconds.

More importantly for them they were 7 hours 37 minutes and 4 seconds ahead of FenêtréA-Mix Buffet.

Le Roux and Riou, on their trimaran, FenêtréA-Mix Buffet, finished second in the Multi50 class of the 13th edition of the Transat Jacques Vabre after crossing the finish line in the Bay of All Saints in Salvador de Bahia, on Thursday, November 16, 2017 at 15:26:23 (UTC), 11 days, 2 hours 51 minutes and 23 seconds after leaving Le Havre.

FenêtréA-Mix Buffet covered the theoretical course of 4,350 nautical miles at an average speed of 16.33 knots, but actually sailed 4,726 nautical miles at an average speed of 17.71 knots.

Arkema also broke the Multihull50 24-hour speed record as they kept they pressed home their advantage down the final straight. They sailed 568 miles in 24 hours traveled between November 14 at 10:00 UTC and November 15 at 10:00 UTC (the previous record of 524 miles was held by Ciela Village on the Transat Quebec / St Malo in July 2016). The records is awaiting confirmation from the WSSRC.

Latest ETAs

Réauté Chocolat on Friday, November 17 at 09:00 UTC

St Michel-Virbac on Saturday, November 18 at 18:00

Imoca: Easy as 1-2-3
As those behind toiled in the Doldrums, the podium was becoming clearere and the Imoca looks the one class where there will be no huge surprises – except that SMA’s performance without foils has been incredible. Still upwind with less than 700 miles to the finish, St Michel-Virbac has increased its lead to 80 miles on SMA. In third, Des Voiles et Vous! can finally breathe. They admitted to being relieved to see Malizia II caught up with the Doldrums, now 170 miles behind and only just getting going again.

The Doldrums strikes
The Intertropical Convergence Zone has descended several degrees of latitude in 36 hours and trapping several unlucky competitors. West is best? Maybe two days ago, but not anymore. The boats with a westerly strategy were the clear losers today: Malizia II, Bureau Vallée 2, relegated to seventh position and Generali, watching La Fabrique appear in their rearview mirror. “We made no progress from last night,” confessed Isabelle Joschke, co-skipper of Generali. “We’re managing to stay calm but we have to find the exit.” Bastide Otio and Initiatives-Cœur have prospered, relatively – Bastide Otio have only made 164 miles in the last 24 hours, but that is 100 miles more than Bureau Vallée 2. They should now be able to escape from the pack on the south-east trade wind.

Class40: Compression; 3 become 5
It is only the beginning and the Doldrums are already promising to have an equally dramatic effect on the Class40. The ITCZ currently extends 500 miles north to south; “a historic Doldrums, we’re told” exclaimed Arthur Le Vaillant, skipper of second-placed Aïna Enfance and Avenir, his perennial good humor not failing, yet. Its vital quality when you are helming for hours in 35°C.

There are only 4 miles between the front three still, who have been averaging 6 knots over the last 24 hours. But now Teamwork40 and Région Normandie Junior Senior by Evernex, are just 15 and 24 miles behind respectively and have reason to hope that they will not lose their gains when the fleet decompress at the exit.

Phil Sharp and Pablo Santurde, Imery Clean Energy, still lead, just, and have clearly chosen to shift further westward than V and B and Aïna Enfance and Avenir.

Ultime: Under tow
Lionel Lemonchois and Bernard Stamm, are safe on board the dismasted Prince de Bretagne and have been under tow since 09:00 UTC by the Brazilian Navy Patrol boat, Guaratuba, that came to their aid last night. The 80ft Ultime-class trimaran, Prince de Bretagne, dismasted yesterday evening, 93 miles from the finish line. The convoy is within sight and will arrive in Salvador de Bahia in the early evening.

Pit stop
Eärendil (Catherine Pourre and Benoît Hochart) have arrived in Mindelo in the Cape Verde archipelago to repair its broken starboard rudder bracket. They found Thierry Bouchard and Oliver Krauss’s Multi50, Ciela Village on the pontoons of the small marina, which is still on site after their abandonment.

They said
Lalou Roucayrol, skipper of Arkema, (Multi50)
“This is my ninth Transat Jacques Vabre, and before the start, I felt good. Two years ago, I had to make a stopover in Salvador de Bahia because the boat was almost cut in half and we had to laminate so we could re-start for Itajai and finish the race. We deserved this victory, we sailed a great race. We kept our foot on the gas, we were fast, it was a fight from start to finish. We had a great start, it’s crazy as it’s the first time we’ve sailed together, but Alex is reassuring to be with, and it relieved me that he agreed to go with me. A Transat Jacques Vabre, it’s a commitment, you sail at 110% of your maximum the whole way.”

Alex Pella, co-skipper of Arkema (Multi50)
“The Mutli50 is great! It’s an awesome experience, they are superboats. I worked my way through the instructions (on how to sail it) as we went along and I was happy to be here, this boat has huge potential. “We spent 10 days in our oilies, and when we removed them, it was right in front of the entry to the Bay (of All Saints), and we got hit by a big squall. The whole race we slept under the cockpit roof. It was a novelty for me, these boats are very lively, you have to keep hands on and your eyes and ears open constantly.” “My lucky pants never lose, I always take them, even though they’re not that beautiful anymore.”

Photo credit : Jean-Marie Liot / ALeA / TJV17

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