The Transat: Third Giant Multihull arrives in New York
Published on May 12th, 2016
(May 12, 2016; Day 11) – Yves Le Blevec aboard Team Actual became the third Ultime competitor to celebrate beneath the Statue of Liberty, arriving in New York City at the end of The Transat bakerly 2016.
Finishing at 21:45:59 on May 12 (02:45:59 BST on May 13), veteran multihull skipper Le Blevec sailed the 103-foot trimaran in a time of 10 days, 12 hours,and 15 minutes – two days, three hours and 21 minutes behind class winner François Gabart on Macif.
The Ultime class is a slightly random grouping of giant multihulls that can range from MOD70s to the 131ft Spindrift 2.
“I had great fun aboard Actual,” said the 50-year-old skipper on the dock who is a previous winner of the Transat Jacques Vabre in the Multi50 class. “The Ultime is very different from a Multi50, but it’s amazing how easily it covers the miles.”
For Le Blevec’s first solo Ultime voyage, he followed the same almost entirely downwind southerly route from Plymouth to New York in the trade winds favored by Gabart and second-placed Thomas Coville on Sodebo. The striking red, black and white Actual skimmed across the Atlantic liquid desert at an average speed of 16.91 knots, covering a total 4,267 nautical miles.
“Compared to the Multi50, the Ultime is super-comfortable,” continued Le Blevec. “It’s very dry and very nice. But maneuvering the boat is a big job and it’s very tiring. We had two fronts pass over us during the race, and I had to change the sails rapidly – it’s grueling.”
“I did my first tack a few days ago, but the gybes were in sequence. To gybe the boat is a lot easier than to tack, but it is still exhausting. You have to be very attentive as you can get caught out very quickly, but I was careful and didn’t break anything.”
On the approach to the finish line in New York, the wind dropped offering Le Blevec a moment to reflect on his race and his achievements. “While I was waiting for the wind to fill in, I was able to replay the race hour-by-hour and it was at that moment that I realized I had crossed the Altantic in 10 days!” he said.
“It was a great experience for me, I haven’t sailed my boat solo very much, so it was nice to learn about it in some very cool weather conditions – at times it felt like we were heading for Guadeloupe rather than New York.
“I didn’t have the close competition that Francois and Thomas had. I didn’t give up the pace, but I was completely relaxed and a lot more zen. I’m very happy to be in New York,” Le Blevec concluded.
The next arrivals in The Transat bakerly are the leading boats in the IMOCA 60s who are on course to reach New York tomorrow. Armel Le Cléac’h aboard the foiling Banque Populaire still leads the fleet, now 315 miles from the finish line. But never giving up the chase, Vincent Riou aboard the more conventional design, PRB, is just 69 miles behind, with Jean-Pierre Dick (St Michel-Virbac) another 121 miles back in third.
In the Multi50s, Gilles Lamiré aboard French Tech Rennes St Malo maintains his class lead and is also expected tomorrow. Now 427 miles away from the finish line, Lamiré holds a lead of 239 miles on Lalou Roucayrol in second on Arkema, which sustained damage to a daggerboard earlier this week, and 591 miles on third-placed Olmix skippered by Pierre Antoine.
The battle between the Class40s is as tight as ever. Isabelle Joshke on Generali-Horizon Mixité is still leading, with British skipper Phil Sharp aboard Imerys, snapping at her heels just 9.5 miles astern. However, Jashke has discovered structural damage to the bow area that is now being evaluated.
With 1,090 miles still left to sail, it’s still all to play for with Louis Duc on Carac going it alone in the south and making good progress and still a wildcard for the Class40 win. He is currently fourth, 105 miles behind Joschke. The first Class40s are expected to arrive in New York on Wednesday.
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About The Transat
Twenty-five boats set sail May 2 2016 on one of the great races in solo sailing, the 3,050-nautical mile passage across the north Atlantic from Plymouth to New York. Alongside 24 competing skippers is a one-off entry by the French racing legend Loick Peyron who is sailing Eric Tabarly’s 44ft wooden ketch Pen Duick II in the same trim as she was when Tabarly raced her to victory in The Transat (then called the OSTAR) in 1964.
The OSTAR (Observer Singlehanded Trans-Atlantic Race) was created in 1960 by a handful of pioneering sailors. The race was organised every four years by the Royal Western Yacht Club (RWYC) from 1960 through to the 2000 event, albeit with a lot of involvement from the French event organiser Pen Duick in the 90s, in order to cater for the demands of the professional campaigns that dominated the event.
After the 2000 edition, OC Sport stepped in to develop the event and acquired the rights to the professional part. OC Sport organised The Transat in 2004 and 2008, the 2012 edition was deferred at the request of IMOCA (the largest competing class).
The RWYC continues to organise a solo transatlantic race for Corinthian and non-professional sailors that is still known as the (O)STAR,. This race usually falls a year after the professional big boat race i.e. 2005, 2009, 2013, 2017. Both the amateur Yacht Club event and The Transat have the right to link to the history of the original race created in 1960, and to the rich history it has produced.
The first race was competed by just a handful of pioneering sailors including Francis Chichester and Blondie Hasler who coined the phrase: “One man, one boat, the ocean.” There has been tragedy, dramatic rescues and exceptional drama since the race began in 1960. Over time The Transat, as it is known today, has evolved and now serves the professional end of offshore sailing. But there are few modern day races that can reflect on such a long and outstanding history.
Monohull IMOCA 60 record: 12 days, 11 hours and 45 minutes set by Loick Peyron (FRA) on board Gitana in 2008. Multihull 60ft record: 8 days, 8 hours, 29 minutes set by Michel Desjoyeaux (FRA) on board Géant in 2004.
Source: The Transat