Route du Rhum
Thomas Coville completes the podium
"I was always looking at ways to get first"
mercredi 10 novembre 2010 –
Toutes les versions de cet article : [English] [français]
More than the two first skippers, the last few days of the race were cruel to Coville, losing out second to Joyon only yesterday morning, suffering from his northerly approach and some long spells in light winds over the previous 36 hours.
After crossing the line Coville said that he had spent some hours during the final few days of this race, once he realised victory was out of his reach, replaying and re-running his choices and options through the race.
But the Sodebo solo skipper was clear that his northerly routing, the opposite to that of Cammas and Joyon, was the more aggressive option which would either pay out for him or lose by a bigger margin. He admitted that two days ago when he and his routing team, with a 200 miles deficit on Cammas, saw an outside chance to attack again but the stake on the table was the second position. It did not pay.
“I was always looking to win.” might be the mental epitaph ascribed to this difficult, multi levelled clash of the titans when Coville files the positives to the memory banks after finishing third best today. Certainly he said it is a result which it will take him some time to feel good about.
Coville is no stranger to the race. He was first monohull to finish in 1998 as a late replacement for Yves Parlier on Aquitaine Innovations, and had an eighth and an ABD as his Route du Rhum Route du Rhum #RouteDuRhum history.
But his choice of the northern routing rather than fighting head to head down the southerly routing against Cammas – who he sailed with as part of the ten man crew on Groupama 3’s Jules Verne round the world record Record #sailingrecord triumph - was directly influenced by the need to do something different, knowing the strengths of Cammas and his tri, the most powerful in the race.
Many of the memories, especially towards the end will be bitter-sweet, but Coville will treasure the days after the Azores, sluicing downwind absolutely on the egde, making 32-33 knots for sustained spells. Climbing the mast three times to try and effect a repair to a main halyard break – once when his head-torch failed 25 metres up and he was left in pitch darkness, are among the incidents best forgotten, if you can.
‘Only victory is beautiful’ concluded Coville quoting Michel Malinosky, the skipper who contributed so much to the legend of the Rhum legend when finished second in the first edition, 98 seconds behind Mike Birch after 23 days at sea.
Breaking the finish line off Point-à-Pitre, Guadeloupe at 16hrs 15mins 11 secs today (Wednesday, CET/Paris) (15hrs 15mins 11secs GMT/ 11hrs 15mins 11secs local time Wednesday (CET -4hrs)) Thomas Coville on the 29.7m trimaran Sodebo took third place in the 9th Route du Rhum Route du Rhum #RouteDuRhum -La Banque Postale solo Transatlantic race which started from Saint-Malo, France at 1302hrs (CET) Sunday 31st October.
The elapsed time for Sodebo is 10 days 3hrs 13mins 11secs .
His average speed is 17.58 kts for the distance he sailed of 4275 miles.
Over the theoretical course distance of 3539 miles Thomas Coville’s average speed is 14.55kts
Coville finished 23hrs 58min 24secs behind Franck Cammas (Groupama 3) the race winner
Cammas finished 16h 16min 47secs (CET) Tuesday 9th November.
“There is a man who left us not so long ago who was Michel Malinovksi who wrote a book ‘Only Victory is Beautiful’ And that is why you do the Rhum each time. That is not fierce pride which makes you say that, but it is innate, it is inside the natural machine of man and victory only comes to those who look for it. It is less difficult to fight against someone who you know and who you respect. It has been a fantastic year for Franck and his boat is fantastic. I know that in our hand to hand duel I had to do something different.
When we made a choice a few days ago when we were 200 miles behind Franck and there was shift which offered us chance to get inside of him. But we knew that if it did not work we could lose second place. But I prefer to attack all the time, right to the end. It is an attitude I hold to the end. That is the attitude we had with Sodebo with this Route du Rhum, I am a real fan of the philosophy of Malinovsky. The hardest thing of all is to see that you can not win.
“Actually I was never looking for second or third, I was always looking at ways to get first. A few days ago we had only one tiny chance to cut the corner and go inside the circle, to attack Franck again and we realised that there was no win there and we lost a lot. For sure trying to win cost me second, for sure. I don’t care whether it is second or third. I was only interested in first.”
“ I broke the main halyard at the top of the mast. And I could only fix it for the first reef. I climbed the mast three times, once in the dark, which was pretty scary. But I fixed it like that, but for sure that was something which was not very efficient for the speed but I don’t think I can say that I missed winning the race because of that damage. It was a lot of energy to fix it, but that was it.”
“Close to the Azores the mainsail halyard broke. The mainsail litteraly felt on the deck. On an Ultime with a 35 meters mast, that usually means an abandon. The first time I went up the mast I could not go further than 30 meters but that was fine to go on sailing with one reef in the weather conditions I had at that time. I tried two other times but every time I was going further up than the top of the mainsail I was flying everywhere. I lost the headlight in a shock. I was in the dark – no moon – with no light, I could not see anything and ended up wondering how I would manage to go down. I would not wish to my worst enemy to be in that situation.”
“I was really happy Franck decided to be on the start line. He’s a beautifull winner, and has a very good team. All my congratulations.".
“Is that hard to realise that the victory is out of reach ? Do you know the song : the butterfly effect ? 50 miles after the start, some in the fleet decided to gybe to make their route to the south. That was what was the optimum for their boat and their approach. The northern option was more demanding and harder but the weather router made us believe it was the winning option. It was a lot more demanding and at the end I did not win. What can you say ?"
"Yes I am disappointed. I’m not sure you realise how much involvement, strength and motivation is required for this project. How demanding it was to sail on the northern course and finish not being far from the goal. Obviously I’m disappointed. I wouldn’t be a human if I was not. There are emotions, with joys and tears...that’s sailing."
"The point is that I m so close to my boat that when she’s not at 100% of her potential I need to do something to make her feel better."
About Groupama 3 potential
"Well I knew Groupama 3 was nearly unbeatable if it was a reaching race. We made a different call on routing. And all the weather routers were giving the northern option as the winning one. I did not think about preserving myself before making the decision to go North. It was also the way to try to make a difference from the rest of the pack.
You could call it ambitious, presomptuous or arrogant. What I know is that sailing the Rhum picking up the North on an Ultime, you really needed to be sure you wanted to do it. And those who did not feel like taking the risk were right not to get there."
I spent a lot of time re-doing this race in my head in the last 2 or 3 days. I really did not take the start to finish in 3rd."