In the closest finish since it was first staged in 1978, the French ocean racing veteran Francis Joyon won the 40th anniversary Route du Rhum – Destination Guadeloupe solo transatlantic race.
In the clammy heat and very light winds of the Caribbean night, Joyon, 62, glided across the finish line on IDEC Sport to beat François Gabart, 35, on MACIF by just seven minutes and eight seconds.
Competing in his eighth Route du Rhum – Destination Guadeloupe, Joyon set a new record time of just seven days, 14 hours and 21 minutes.
“The rum of Guadeloupe is symbolic of the Route du Rhum, what a taste! After so many attempts the taste is all the better for it,” he said as he celebrated on board.
It was only one-and-a-half minutes before the finish that I realised I could win. Before the last gybe François was faster than me with his Code Zero and practically all the way to the finish line I had a vision of him steaming in and passing me again because he was going two or three knots quicker.
“After the start and getting through the bad weather and now this finish, it was an extraordinary race. I am happy for the boat as there are no other boats which have won the Route du Rhum three times.
I am happy too for my team; we are a little team but together we have prepared a boat which stood up to this Route du Rhum right to the finish and which arrived in a good state.”
The 3,542 nautical mile classic ocean race takes place every four years. This year’s race started 4 November off Saint Malo in Brittany, with six classes and 123 skippers competing.