The Artemis Transat
The Transat 2008, day by day
third win for Loïck Peyron • New record • Sam Davies first Brit
jeudi 29 mai 2008 –
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Day 1 (May 11 2008) - And they’re off !
Given by Mike Golding, winner of the 2004 edition, aboard the Royal Navy ship HMS Argyll, the start of The Artemis Transat was followed by 1,000 spectator boats. Heading off towards Eddystone - first race gate of the course - at 9 knots of boats speed, the skippers fought a close battle as soon as the gun went off... Loick Peyron (Gitana Eighty) was the first skipper at the Eddystone Omega race gate. But now there is an ocean to cross, and the first night at sea might prove tricky.
Day 2 - A close-fought battle for the Atlantic
Light winds requiring constant attention on deck, thick fog and heavy traffic making for a stressful ride on top of the nervous tension generated by the tricky tactical situation... Welcome to the sleep-deprived world of The Artemis Transat ! As the front of the fleet has now crossed the longitude of the Fastnet rock, the skippers - led by Sébastien Josse’s BT - are facing a new challenge, expecting a shift, and as Jean-Luc Nélias (strategy consultant for the race) puts it, "The race looks complex with many possible changes of leader."
Day 3 - Windy, wild and wet night
Tough night for the IMOCA fleet, caught under spinnaker by gusts up to 30 knots. High speeds but also high risks - aboard Safran, Marc Guillemot crash gybed and might be suffering from a broken rib. Despite the pain, the Breton skipper stays in the race and says " I really want to go to Boston, but..." Meanwhile, up in front, the battle continues with Yann Elies (Generali) as new leader, and the first four boats within 17 miles.
Day 4 - Uncertain tactics... and a positions blackout starting Friday night
The leading pack is still amazingly tight in terms of distance to the finish, after more than 800 miles spent at sea. Tactically speaking, the big question of the day lies within the 80-mile latitude gap separating the top 6 boats : have some significant choices been made, is the North - South positioning difference really relevant ? Aboard BT, 3rd placed Sébastien Josse believes it is, and says the dice have been thrown 48 hours ago, while his rivals remain sceptic. The skippers have taken some rest and are now preparing to cross a high pressure ridge, expecting to be parked in 24 hours.
Day 5 - Foncia out !
Could this be a decisive moment in the race ? Sébastien Josse’s escape, revealed this morning by the first positions update, makes for the biggest gap seen within the leading pack since the start of The Artemis Transat, and it would certainly be very worrying for his rivals if... there wasn’t another ridge to cross tonight ! Confident with his southerly option yesterday, BT’s skipper undoubtedly took an advantage - if only psychological - but remains very careful. The end of the day brings shocking news, race favourite Michel Desjoyeaux announcing he throws in the towel after having collided with a whale.
Day 6 - It’s oh so quiet... for now.
Voices of the high seas have been very quiet this morning - skippers had warned when contacted by Race HQ shortly before dawn, it had been a tiring night on top of 3 tiring days, and most of them would spend a few hours asleep. Wind conditions were steady enough to allow for some rest - the front boats doing around 8 knots, pilots coping well - and the tactical options were bound to be limited today anyway... Which does not mean the whole fleet had taken the day off ! Sébastien Josse, still leading aboard BT, managed to maintain his position despite yet another night of park up, and this morning the first trio has pulled away from Yann Elies (Generali), north, and Armel Le Cléac’h (Brit Air), south.
Day 7 - "Real" North Atlantic weather, and a positions blackout
Finally the 23 skippers still in the race have conditions that one expects on The Artemis Transat - wet, cold, upwind, foggy, all the shades of grey you can imagine as Loick Peyron mused at this morning’s brief call to Gitana Eighty. Grey yes, but black also, as since last night at 1800GMT the 36 hour positions blackout has kicked in. Instead of the 2 hourly position updates that the skippers normally get during the day now they get nothing - no information at all about where the other boats are. Not even the race organisation communication team have the information - just like in the old days !
Day 8 - Race leader BT pulls out
The big news of the morning morning is the retirement of Sébastien Josse, plagued by a broken mainsail headcar, and unable to climb up the mast given the sea state. But the race goes on, and the morning was also a busy time for everyone who tried to analyze what had been happening in the dark during the 36-hours positions blackout. The most obvious move was Loick Peyron’s tack, favoured by a wind shift to the west at about 22:00 GMT on Friday. "I had planned to tack, but of course I waited for the blackout", said Gitana Eighty’s skipper this morning, "I think it was a good move in terms of saving some manoeuvres and efforts in the long run." Now repositioned further south, Peyron is second only 26 miles behind Riou (leading), and has a 30-mile advantage over Armel Le Cléac’h’s Brit Air, who moved into third position aver the blackout.
Day 9 - Straight (?) to the ice gate
When will they finally get some rest, when will the boats will finally enjoy stable conditions, allowing the autopilots to perform the task they’ve been designed for ? Bumping at mid-morning into yet another light patch - foreseen by our expert Jean-Luc Nélias four days ago - the leaders have to be on deck, trying to prevent the dreaded speedometer values downfall. Less than 0,5 knots of speed for PRB, race leader, at the 10:00 GMT position update - Vincent Riou sees Loick Peyron gradually gaining miles while Brit Air, even faster, closes the gap as well.
Day 10 - Clash of the titans. then Riou abandons ship
Race leader and Vendée Globe winner Vincent Riou says it himself, and the man is not exactly reputed for his tendency to exaggerate : "The gaps are negligible" - one couldn’t be any clearer about the situation at the front of the fleet. After having covered roughly 2000 miles in nerve-racking conditions, today PRB and Loick Peyron’s Gitana Eighty are less than 20 miles apart, which equates to merely over an hour given the speed boats travel at. 9 days of fighting for every puff, and they’re still separated by a "negligible" distance. At the end of the day though, the argument is settled in a way no one would have wished for : Riou is to abandon ship due to major keel damage, following a collision with a shark ! Loick Peyron rescues Riou, and two men are now aboard Gitana Eighty, leading.
Day 11 - Storming along towards the gale
They’re simply expecting to take a beating - the leaders of The Artemis Transat, whilst sailing fast in reaching conditions, are keeping busy preparing their boats for what will be the fiercest gale of the race. Calmly and very professionally, both Loick Peyron (Gitana Eighty) and Armel Le Cléac’h (Brit Air) have planned their sail reductions, carried out an overall check-up and are already witnessing a serious wind increase. The contrast could not be stronger with the second pack, desperately waiting for some breeze in order to cross the ice gate. "0 knots of wind and 0 knots of boat speed", reports a laughing Sam Davies (Roxy) in the morning !
Day 12 - The final battle just started
It’s now a match race for towards Boston in The Artemis Transat, with less than 400 miles to go and the two leaders only some 20 miles apart in terms of distance to the finish. A figure that should be taken with caution, as Armel Le Cléac’h emphasised : taking into account wind shifts and final trajectory subtleties, Loick Peyron in fact approximately has a 60-mile advantage. Lighter winds expected off the south of Nova Scotia tonight may open the game... but the duelists today certainly remained very vague about their plans ! The jury grants Loick Peyron 2h30 to compensate for the time and route loss induced by Riou’s rescue.
Day 13 - History in the making
Expected tonight around 21:00 local time (4:00 GMT), Loick Peyron looks to be on his way towards a third victory on the North Atlantic, and should become the first skipper to better Eric Tabarly’s performance. Still very concentrated when we spoke to him this morning, Gitana Eighty’s skipper knows Armel Le Cléac’h is very close behind him, and one cannot expect a relieved smile on Loick’s face before the line is crossed and left in the boat’s wake. Of course, who’d blame him ? Extreme carefulness is part of Loick’s style, and the experienced racer knows better than anyone that... it’s not over until it’s over.
Day 14 - Peyron makes history, Le Cléac’h strikes hard
Having transferred Vincent Riou onto the race committee boat, Loick Peyron sailed Gitana Eighty across the finish line of The Artemis Transat in Boston and the Omega clock stopped counting at precisely 03:15:35 GMT this morning [Saturday, 24th May], claiming a third victory in the event as well as a new race record for this legendary sailor. Finishing 7 hours and 43 minutes later (taking into account Loick Peyron’s 2.5 hour time allowance), Armel Le Cléac’h aboard Brit Air brilliantly captured second place, proving he’s definitely a force to be reckoned with. "It takes a beautiful second to make a great winner," once said a certain Mr Peyron at the end of a grueling multihull round-the-world race in 2001, and he certainly would approve of us using that phrase in order to comment on Armel Le Cléac’h’s finish.
Day 15 - Yann Eliès completes the podium
Greeted by race winner Loick Peyron, second-placed Armel Le Cléac’h and "clandestine passenger" Vincent Riou, who had been replaying the race while waiting for him, Yann Elies was radiant when his boat came to a stop alongside Rowes Wharf at the Boston Harbor Hotel. Happy, but also relieved, the Breton skipper could finally celebrate, after having lived the last 36 hours at sea under a Damocles sword. Would the mast hold until the end ? Fortunately, his third position was not at risk, but to add insult to injury, the wind completely dropped 15 miles before the finish line. Doing less than 1 knot of boat speed at 22:00 local time (02:00 GMT), Yann saw the wind come back very discretely - less than 5 knots - but right on the nose. Good for fishing, would have said Jean-Luc Nélias, but certainly not for sailing. The feeling of relief was visibly intense onboard Generali when the finish line was finally crossed at 04:00:22 GMT (0:00:22 local time).
Day 16 - Hard Rock Guillemot takes 4th, British mermaid Sam Davies 5th
This morning at 10:18:47 GMT Marc Guillemot on Safran crossed the finish line of The Artemis Transat in a time of 14 days, 21 hours, 18 minutes, 47 seconds. A well-earned and hard-fought for place after breaking a rib on the third day of the race, and sailing the rest of the course in considerable pain. This now leaves six IMOCA 60s, out of the 13 starters, to finish this gruelling solo transatlantic race, and leading this second pack is Samantha Davies on board Roxy. Samantha Davies represents Britain’s first finisher in the race, and arrives in Boston shortly before midnight, claiming 5th place.
Day 17 - A franco-French match race, and a second Brit safely home
A few hours after Sam Davies, Yannick Bestaven (Cervin ENR) and Arnaud Boissieres (Akena Vérandas) crossed the finish line of The Artemis Transat in 6th and 7th place respectively. These two French skippers who are close friends, had been embroiled in an intense duel and only 1.5 hours separated the two sailors at the end of nearly 16 days racing. Dee Caffari onboard Aviva crossed the finish line of The Artemis Transat at 15:05:34 GMT (11:05 local time) - the second Briton (after Samantha Davies last night) to complete the solo course. In her first solo race on board her new IMOCA Aviva, Caffari arrived in Boston after 16 days, 2 hours, 5 minutes and 34 seconds.
Day 18 - Steve White completes the IMOCA results table
Steve White onboard Spirit of Weymouth crossed the Boston finish line of The Artemis Transat at 04:04:54 GMT (midnight local time) in 9th place in a time of 16 days, 15 hours, 4 minutes and 54 seconds, completing the IMOCA results table. Nine of the 13 starters have completed the 2,982-mile solo course and White’s achievement stands out for his sheer determination and obvious passion for the sport.
Complete and final results - IMOCA 60
1- Loïck Peyron (Gitana Eighty) Saturday 24 May - 3h15’35’’ UTC in 12d 11h 45’ 35 (including 2h30 jury redress)
2- Armel Le Cléac’h (Brit Air) in 12d 19h 28’ 40’’ - 7h 43’ 05’’ after the winner
3- Yann Eliès (Generali) in 13d 15h 00’ 22’’ - 1d 3h 14’ 47’’ after the winner
4- Marc Guillemot (Safran) in 14d 21h 18’ 47’’ - 2d 9h 33’ 12’’ after the winner
5- Samantha Davies (Roxy) in 15d 10h 00’ 51" - 2d 22h 15’ 16" after the winner
6- Yannick Bestaven (Cervin EnR) in 15d 14h 31’ 17’’ - 3d 02h 45’ 42" after the winner
7- Arnaud Boissières (Akena Verandas) in 15d 16h 00’ 03" - 3d 04h 14’ 28" after the winner
8- Dee Caffari (Aviva) in 16d 02h 05’ 34" - 3d 14h 19’ 59" after the winner
9- Steve White (Spirit of Weymouth) in 16d 15h 04’ 54" - 4d 03h 19’ 19" after the winner