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Route du Rhum: About to get busy

Published on November 19th, 2022

(November 19, 2022; Day 11) – Arthur Le Vaillant brought his 21-year-old Ultim 32/23 yacht Mieux through the Route du Rhum-Destination Guadeloupe finish line in sixth place this afternoon.

From fourth in Class40 in 2018, it is something of a step up for the 34-year-old skipper from La Rochelle to this famous maxi class which started life as Olivier de Kersauson’s Geronimo but which was largely remodeled to become Sodebo on which Thomas Coville smashed the solo round the world record in 2016.

Mieux was the only arrival into Guadeloupe today on the eve of an almost unprecedented rush of finishers which is likely to start tomorrow when the first OCEAN FIFTYs are due in the morning local time. Armel Le Cléac’h is due in the afternoon on the Maxi Banque Populaire XI while early on the following day will see the start of a swift succession of IMOCAs.

In the OCEAN FIFTY class there is an engaging duel between the youngest skipper in the class, 28-year-old ex mini sailor Quentin Vlamynck on Arkema who is on his first solo multihull transatlantic, who is trying to cover the 2014 Route du Rhum Multi 50 class winner Erwan Le Roux, the 47 year old skipper of Koesio, in the final miles of his fifth Route du Rhum.

Vlamynck, who has led since the Azores, has just over 28 miles in hand and 150 miles to cover to the northern tip of Guadeloupe this Saturday afternoon.

The IMOCA duel is as hot as it ever has been, as leader Thomas Ruyant (LinkedOUT) has maintained a steady two mile margin over Charlie Dalin (Apivia) since last night, the leading pair trading gybes to get down to the long layline to Guadeloupe.

Ruyant is not short of transatlantic race winning experience having one year ago triumphed on the Transat Jacques Vabre into Martinique, won the AG2R into Saint Barths on the Figaro in 2018, the 2010 Route du Rhum in Class 40, and the 2009 Mini Transat to this same finish line. And so, while Dalin is unbeaten this season on Apivia, this is his first Route du Rhum-Destination Guadeloupe.

Germany’s Boris Herrmann has had to revert to ‘delivery’ mode – now racing with his foils retracted on his brand new Malizia-Seaexplorer after bolts in the foil casing on both sides have failed or bent.

“It is a little bit shit because I had put in so much effort to get this boat as good as possible and it is not where I want to be right now,” said Herrmann. “I cannot deny it is making me a bit down for sure.

“I try to distract myself, but I tell myself the objective is to finish the race so qualify for the Vendée Globe and I seem to be achieving that. So, it is good. But my emotions are a little bit broken just now.”

Herrmann was fifth on the last Vendée Globe and one of the first to announce he would build a new boat for the 2024 race.

The IMOCA battle is really the first skirmish for many of the newly launched boats and there are a few conclusions to be drawn so far. Kevin Escoffier’s choice to take on and complete a boat which was already in build is proving wise as he is in fourth. Not many observers gave Paul Meilhat, the 2018 IMOCA winner, much of a chance of finishing given how new his Biotherm is, but he is absolutely in the match in fifth.

But certainly, the top half of the IMOCA fleet, at least, will be observing the Class40 performance of Yoann Richomme (Paprec-Arkea), and if they had not already marked him out as a Vendée Globe podium contender, the way he is sailing away from the fleet – even after a four-hour penalty on day 1 – is another reminder of what Richomme is capable of.

“I feel at ease with my boat,” Richomme said this morning. “We’re gliding along and it feels very pleasant. The weather is more favorable than for my rivals. I’m gaining miles, but we know there will never be enough. Now, it’s straight on. I’m starting to think about the finish, but the voyage around Guadeloupe can always upset things.”

Just less than 100 miles behind, Italy’s second placed Ambrogio Beccaria, the 31-year-old who won the 2020 Mini Transat, is the fastest in the fleet this afternoon in the good downwind conditions, racing his new all Italian Class40 Allegrande-Pirelli.

• Skippers that have retired: Sam Goodchild (Leyton – Ocean Fifty) after being injured during the pre-start phase, Kojiro Shiraishi (DMG Mori Global One – IMOCA) following a collision off Cape Fréhel, Oren Nataf (Rayon Vert – Rhum Multi) with a ripped mainsail, Antoine Magré (E.Leclerc Ville-La-Grand – Class40) after hitting the rocks off the island of Batz, Damien Seguin (Groupe Apicil – IMOCA), Victor Jost (Caisses Reunionnaises Complementaires – Class 40), Martin Louchart (Randstad-Ausy – Class40), Geoffrey Matacyznski (Fortissimo – Class 40), Laurent Camprubi (Glaces Romane – Class40), Thibaut Vauchel-camus (Solidaires En Peloton – ARSEP – Ocean Fifty), Louis Burton (Bureau Vallee – IMOCA), Fabrice Amedeo (Nexans – Art & Fenêtres – IMOCA) after a fire broke out aboard his Imoca, Amelie Grassi (La Boulangere Bio – Class40), François Jambou, (A l’Aveugle – Trim Control – Class40) after dismasting, Aurelien Ducroz (Crosscall – Class40), Jean-Pierre Balmes (FullSave – Class40) due to problems with his ballast tanks and staysail hook, Brieuc Maisonneuve (CMA Ide-de-france 60 000 Rebonds – Rhum Multi), Ivica Kostelic (ACI – Class40) due to technical problems, including the loss of his wind gear, Sacha Daunar (Bateau Cit’hotel – Region Guadeloupe – Class40), Erwan Thiboumery (Interaction – Rhum Multi)


In the 44 year history of the Route du Rhum, there has never been so many solo skippers planning to start November 6 (postponed to Nov. 9) as in 2022. On this 12th edition, 138 solo racers will compete on the classic race which leaves Saint-Malo, France and heads across the Atlantic to Pointe a Pitre, Guadeloupe.

Six divisions will compete, beginning with the eight entries in the Ultims and eight in the Ocean Fifty division. Thirty-seven IMOCAs will be there, 55 Class40s as well as 16 in the Rhum Multi (64-feet and less) category and 14 in Rhum Mono (39+ feet) fleets.

Among the competitors, 5% (7) are women across the IMOCA, Class40, and Rhum Mono. Fourteen nationalities will be represented, including Japanese and Chinese skippers. In total, 20% of the participants are from outside France. Half of the French skippers are either residents or natives of Brittany where the race starts from, while there are also 6% Guadeloupeans among the competitors.

Source: OC Sport Pen Duick

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