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Du grand large à la plage : Toute l’actualité des sports de glisse depuis 2000

Route du Rhum - La Banque Postale

A History of Rhum seasons

From 1978 to 2002, from Birch to MacArtur and Desjoyeaux…

mercredi 25 octobre 2006Information Route du Rhum

The Route du Rhum Route du Rhum #RouteDuRhum is the most famous single-handed Transatlantic race, born in 1978 from the creative mind of Michel Etevenon. Thanks to an exciting race and an amazing finish, (98 seconds separated Mike Birch’s Olympus Photo from its nearest competitor, Michel Malinovski’s Kriter V), the first edition made the race very famous, enabling it to compete with its British equivalent, the Ostar. Quick overview…

2006, 8th edition of the Route du Rhum Route du Rhum #RouteDuRhum . The event takes place every 4 years, keeping its initial route between St Malo and Guadeloupe. Each edition has revealed its share of human adventure, weather tactics and also drama..

1978. For 98 seconds

In 1978, the “Transat of Freedom” mixed up 38 pro and amateur sailors on the starting line, with a “first arrived first served” ranking mode at the finish in Guadeloupe. At that time, it took 23 days, 6 hours, 59 seconds, and 35” to cross the Atlantic. Well, that is, if you were sailing a small trimaran (12 meters) and your name is Mike Birch. If you were the skipper of a 21 meters long monohull, you might as well have finished 98 seconds behind the three hulls yellow rocket. Even if you had kept a consistent lead up to 2 miles before the end. This chrono made the Route du Rhum Route du Rhum #RouteDuRhum a legendary race, and there is still talks today about this close, regata type finish.

1978 : the rankings

- 1 Mike Birch Olympus photo 23d 06h59’35"
- 2 Michel Malinovski Kriter V 23d 07h01’13"
- 3 Philip S. Weld Rogue Wave 23d 15h51’32"
- 4 Olivier de Kersauson Kriter IV 24d 06h27’20"
- 5 Joël Charpentier Wild Rocket 24d 20h37’20"

1982. The sea as a chess board

52 boats are lining up at the start with numerous new boats (most of them multihulls) joining in. The entire fleet, split into 5 classes, is now equiped with an Argos system. As a result, the sea became a huge chess board, the skippers getting a daily ranking of their competitors. Marc Pajot, sailing Elf Aquitaine (one of the 3 boats measuring over 20 meters long) he reduced the crossing time to 18 days, 01 hour, 38 seconds, winning by 10 hours over Jaz (Brunon Peyron). Back in those years, it was possible to keep crucial informations under control : Pajot would only announce the problems he was having (with the transom of his boat) at the point when he would have had to ditch the boat. Only 33 boats would arrive in Guadeloupe.

1982 : the rankings

- 1 Marc Pajot Elf-Aquitaine 18d 01h38’00"
- 2 Bruno Peyron Jaz 18d 11h46’22"
- 3 Mike Birch Vital 18d 13h44’06"
- 4 Eric Loizeau Gauloises IV 19d 00h27’26"
- 5 Alain Gabbay Charles-Heidsieck 19d 00h41’00"

1986. Sailing turns into racing

Only 13 competitors crossed the finish line. 33 started, among them only 5 monohulls. On the other hand, the fleet of multihulls have increased with 13 catamarans, and 9 trimarans, (some of them equiped with a brand new type of appendage called “foils”). The boat size has increased with 13 boats measuring over 23 meters and the first monohull to cross the line stood in 12th position, real time. This race also displayed improvements in terms of weather routing. The software developped by Jean Yves Bernot and Brice Pryszo combines weather information with the boats’ polars data to explore the best tactical options. The sailors “feelings” are now calculated into numbers, milled by a computer, assessed in terms of performance. Sailing started to become racing.

1986 : the rankings

- 1 Philippe Poupon Fleury-Michon VIII 14d 15h57’15"
- 2 Bruno Peyron Ericsson 16d 17h04’43"
- 3 Lionel Péan Hitachi 17d 07h04’43"
- 4 Mike Birch TAG-Heuer 17d 09h28’
- 5 Loïck Peyron Lada-Poch 18d 01h44’

1990. The Third try is the good one

Florence Arthaud has not been the only woman to race in the Route du Rhum, but she has always been the most competitive. She started the 4th edition of the Race with a big advantage : she had sailed a fair share of miles on her boat and knew her perfectly. Nevertheless, she had to face many material failures (including the shutdown of her radio and telex communications devices). Going back to sailing basics, she calculated her route from the clouds and the state of sea until the finish line. She crossed it in some 8 hours and 31 seconds ahead of Philippe Poupon and a newcomer, Laurent Bourgnon.

It was the first time the builders and sailors had to limit the size of their boats, up to 60 feet. A new class of trimarans, carbon built, was bornt.

1990 : the rankings

- 1 Florence Arthaud Groupe Pierre 1er 14d 10h08’28"
- 2 Philippe Poupon Fleury-Michon IX 14d 18h39’36"
- 3 Laurent Bourgnon RMO 14d 18h46’31"
- 4 Mike Birch Fujichrome 14d 21h47’
- 5 Lionel Péan Saint-Malo 15d 15h27’

1994. One start, 2 races

Twelve multihulls, twelve monohulls were to set sails for the Guadeloupe competing for the first time in separate rankings. The 60-foot open monohulls from the Vendée Globe challenged the multihull leaders in the unpredictable weather conditions. They showed the clear progress which was made by monohulls in terms of sheer speed with Yves Parlier aboard Cacolac d’Aquitaine finishing 3rd overall. And, once again, the weather took its toll on the fleet with only 14 boats finishing the race. This was the first time there was no female entry in the Route du Rhum.

1994 : the rankings

- 1 Laurent Bourgnon Primagaz 14d 06h28’29"
- 2 Paul Vatine Région Haute-Normandie 14d 09h38’56"
- 3 Yves Parlier Cacolac d’Aquitaine 15d 19h23’35"
- 4 Alain Gautier Bagages Superior 16d 00h33’18"
- 5 Steve Fossett Lakota 17d 08h08’52"

1998. A new time reference

Laurent Bourgnon (Primagaz) achieved the remarkable feat of a second consecutive victory and set a new course record Record #sailingrecord of 12 days 8 hours, which made the crossing 11 days faster than in 1978. A timing that was not improved in 2002, as it was usually the case each edition. Professionalism seemed to pay off, as Bourgnon project set new standards for the machine’s reliability, physical training and 24/24 mutliple weather sources. Thomas Coville, who replaced Yves Parlier at the last moment, came in first in the monohulls.

This edition also revealed the talent of Ellen MacArthur, winner in the 50-footers, who fought it out for a while with the 60-foot boats and won over the public.

1998 : the rankings

- 1 Laurent Bourgnon Primagaz 12d 08h 41’06"
- 2 Alain Gautier Brocéliande 12d 11h 54’32"
- 3 Franck Cammas Groupama 12d 19h 41’13"
- 4 Marc Guillemot La Trinitaine 12d 19h 49’41"
- 5 Loïck Peyron Fujicolor II 13d 02h 38’12"

2002. Breaking records

Number of entries 58. 28 boats at the arrival. The masterclass of 60-foot multihulls overcame a near-desaster after having to face a huge low pressure system : only 3 out of 18 reached the Antilles. Once again, the weather analysis and routing made the difference, but they were not the only factors. Michel Desjoyaux (Géant), combining experience and seaworthiness, played safe and won in 13 days, 13 hours, 31minutes, a short 5 hours before Ellen MacArthur (Kingfisher). With a young english women at the top of the ranking, the fame of the race crossed the English Channel and started to attract foreign competitors.

2002 : the rankings

Classe IMOCA Imoca #IMOCA (Monocoques)
- 1 Ellen MacArthur Kingfisher 13d 13h31’47’’
- 2 Mike Golding Ecover 13d 22h49’35’’
- 3 Joé Seeten Arcelor 16d 00h51’51’’

Classe 2 (Monocoques)
- 1 Nick Moloney Ashfield Healthcare 18d 16h23’04’’
- 2 Luc Coquelin Florys 20d 03h58’58’’
- 3 Roger Langevin Brannec III 21d 07h20’43’’

Classe ORMA (Multicoques)
- 1 Michel Desjoyeaux Géant 13d 07h53’00’’
- 2 Marc Guillemot Biscuit La Trinitaine 13d 19h36’18’’
- 3 Lalou Roucayrol Banque Populaire 14d 07h01’00’’

Classe 2 (Multicoques)
- 1 Franck-Yves Escoffier Crêpes Whaou 16d 23h09’42’’
- 2 Anne Cazeneuve YachtingCasino.com 17d 22h37’07’
- 3 Hervé Cleris Vaincre la mucoviscidose 18d 18h55’52’’

2006. The best is to come !

74 entries, 12 international skippers (half of them english), 8 classes and the occasion to set a new time for the crossing with machines capable of going under 12 days and the Atlantic as a playground.


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