Transat Jacques Vabre: LinkedOut Score Big Win
After a three way battle for the overall victory, fought between LinkedOut, APIVIA and Charal it was was the partnership of Thomas Ruyant and Morgan Lagravière which prevailed to score the first major trans-ocean race win for the LinkedOut team. In relatively modest conditions only one IMOCA was forced to abandon and there was a good race all the way through the fleet, even if the top three finished a long way ahead of fourth position – which had not been decided at the time of writing
Finishing into Martinique for the first time in the history of the Transat Jacques Vabre, the IMOCAs transited across the the beautiful bay of Fort-de-France with a last gybe in front of the Rocher du Diamant (the Diamond Rock), these were memorable images. Martinique has offered a picture postcard finishing arena whilst a stone's throw away, the smell of burnt tires and riots have prevailed as the backdrop ashore with a general strike started Monday, November 22 with protests against the COVID health measures imposed by the French government.
The first IMOCA to cross the line, two days after the Ultime Maxi Gitana Edmond de Rothschild won the Ultimes, was LinkedOut. The blue hulled IMOCA worked its way swiftly across bay and as they crossed the line to take first gun the outpouring of pure joy is contagious for Thomas Ruyant and Morgan Lagravière. Ruyant, who in many ways lost out more than most on a Vendée Globe for which he was tipped as a podium finisher.
"There is just a huge amount of happiness and satisfaction," said Ruyant on finishing, “We have a very well prepared boat that we could push with confidence and there were all the ingredients to have a great race. But making it happen is another story." The winning story is about the partnership between the two Ruyant focussing on strategy and tactics, Lagravière focusing on keepin the boat fast and changing gears as the conditions altered regularly. From Cape Verde onwards the LinkedOut pair worked hard to widen the gap to earn what amounts to a resounding victory.
Ten months after the Vendée Globe and that disappointing sixth place on the final standings after having fought for so long for first place, the disappointment is all but forgotten for Thomas Ruyant. The skipper from the north of France was not motivated by anger or the pursuit of revenge, but instead worked harder than ever and was even more motivated. Recall also that on the previous Vendée Globe he had to retire into New Zealand as his boat virtually broke in two.
“All these experiences are particularly enriching to be successful in the IMOCA,” he recalls. “ I feel really good now. For me, this is kind of the ultimate support.” He said speaking of the crowds who turned out to greet him and congratulate him on his big win. On the pontoons Ruyant is afforded widespread admiration. The race director of the Vendée Globe who came to greet him on the pontoon, Jacques Caraës calls him "a tough guy, a hard worker, a true top athlete". Clarisse Crémer, also part of the Vendée Globe adventure, who sailed with him on The Ocean Race Europe and was present in Martinique, praises Ruyant"He has an endearing personality and an ability to give everything".
Morgan Lagravière continues: "He is not just a good solo skipper, he is also a very good team leader. I would hate to be his competitor in future races! "
Finishing second APIVIA (Charlie Dalin and Paul Meilhat) and third Charal (Jérémie Beyou / Christopher Pratt) never left the top spots and completed the podium. So APIVIA took 2nd place, arriving 20 hours and 12 minutes after LinkedOut. If the satisfaction of having been in the match was great, a hint of frustration was evident in Charlie Dalin’s summary on the dock: "We missed maybe two or three things that would have otherwise made sure we were successful and we missed speed in certain conditions" Dalin remarked after finishing
Seventeen and a half hours later Jérémie Beyou and Christopher Pratt's finished third. For Charal, this podium has a special flavor. On the last race they were leading but got stuck in the Doldrums and dropped to third whilst on the last Vendée Globe Beyou took 13th place after having to restart.
Jérémie Beyou reflected on “the pleasure of a job completed”. "The time differences between the boats do not necessarily reflect the differences in level," he analyzes. "The weather split the fleet at times you just had to be in the right part of the train ”.
The finishes then followed one another all weekend in Fort-de-France placed under a curfew, sometimes requiring competitors to remain offshore before disembarking on the official pontoon. Arkea Paprec - for Sébastien Simon's last race (associated with Yann Elies) - and Initiatives Cœur - Sam Davies and Nicolas Lunven, "super proud to have fought alongside new boats" - completed the "top 5". A beautiful four-way match between Prysmian Group (6th, Giancarlo Pedote-Martin Le Pape), Fortinet-Best Western (7th, Romain Attanasio-Sebastien Marsset), Corum L'Epargne (8th, Nicolas Troussel-Sébastien Josse) and Maître Coq IV (9th, Yannick Bestaven-Jean-Marie Dauris). The ‘top 10’ is completed by Fabrice Amedeo and Loïs Berrehar (Nexans - Arts & Fenêtres). From now on, the technical teams - sometimes with the skippers - will endeavor to carry out the delivery to France. And after a few well-deserved days of rest, everyone will be looking forward to the next season with enthusiasm, with the Route du Rhum in their sights.
Thomas Ruyant (LinkedOut, 1st): "This is a shared happiness. We had a lot of fun on the water with Morgan (Lagravière, his co-skipper). It’s a hell of a sporting experience, a rare moment in a sporting career. We were lucky to have a boat that was super ready, in which we had a lot of confidence, on which we were able to push hard. We didn't spare the boat, nor ourselves from start to finish. We put in a lot of energy. In the last few days, we had a head start but we never let a metre slip away from us. It’s one of the best wins because it comes from a long way out and there is a whole team behind it. This is what really drives me: all of us sharing what we have created here and where we can build to from this victory. Happiness starts now. "
Charlie Dalin (APIVIA, 2nd): “The last few hours were a bit like the whole race with abnormal, atypical conditions, very little wind and no trade winds. We had to adapt with the weather files that were a bit wrong, a bit offbeat. We are happy to be there, it is always symbolic of a transatlantic race: we leave the winter in France and we arrive in this warm sunshine on the other side of the Atlantic. It’s true that we were going to try for the double. We were missing maybe two, three ingredients, a hint of success and speed under certain conditions. But we are very happy with this second place. it turned out that at the end of this course it was impossible to stage any kind of comeback. It was really very intense this three-boat regatta. A regatta in contact with such high-performance and technological boats, that's great! "
- LinkedOut (Thomas Ruyant/Morgan Lagravière) in 18 days 1 hour, 21 minutes, 10 secs
- APIVIA (Charlie Dalin/Paul Meilhat) in 18 jours, 21 days 33 minutes, 31 secs
- Charal (Jérémie Beyou/Christopher Pratt) in 19 days, 14 hours, 59 minutes, 36 secs
- Arkea Paprec (Sébastien Simon/Yann Eliès) in 20 days 17 hours, 8 minutes, 30 secs
- Initiatives-Cœur (Sam Davies/Nicolas Lunven) in 20 days, 17 hours,, 30 minutes, 10secs
- Prysmian Group (Giancarlo Pedote/Martin Le Pape) in 20 days 19 hours, 17 minutes, 54 minutes
- Fortinet – Best Western (Romain Attanasio/Sébastien Marsset) in 20 days 20 hours 10 minutes, 10 seconds
- Corum L’Epargne (Nicolas Troussel/Sébastien Josse) in 20 days 21 hrs 15 minutes, 49 seconds
- Maître Coq IV (Yannick Bestaven/Jean-Marie Dauris) in 21 days 00hrs 22mins 53 secs
- Nexans – Arts & Fenêtres (Fabrice Amedeo/Loïs Berrehar) in 21 days 03hrs 44mins 22secs
By Antoine Grenapin/ Vendee Globe redaction