The Transat Jacques Vabre is definitely a subscriber to nighttime arrivals this year. After the Ultim class (Banque Populaire) then that of the Ocean Fifty (Solidaires en peloton) the previous days, the Imoca category experienced an outcome late in the night from Saturday to Sunday with the victory of the duo Thomas Ruyant-Morgan Lagravière on For People at 7:02 minutes and 31 seconds. Already winners of the 2021 edition, the two sailors won after 11 days, 21 hours, 32 minutes and 31 seconds spent at sea, covering 5,425 miles at an average speed of 19 knots.
“These are strong moments because we were hurt. There is the fatigue of the finish, the emotion of crossing the line... We have an exceptional boat, a great team which means that all the ingredients have been put together for victory,” commented Thomas Ruyant, his face marked, his eyes half-closed and his ears ringing once again on the pontoon. The fight was made trying by the repeated shocks in these boats transformed into washers and the deafening noise of the whistling of the appendages throughout the crossing. “We are really going to have to resolve the problem,” smiled the Northerner, thinking of the return transport and the next deadlines.
“It was extremely uncomfortable. The ears will ring for a few days. We had to shout at each other to be heard,” added Morgan Lagravière, testifying to his happiness despite everything on this monohull: “It’s a boat that provides a pleasure that I have rarely experienced, particularly in the way to interact with him. I thrive on that a lot. When I imagined the prospects of the race, I didn't see what could happen to us apart from a technical failure. I wouldn’t have liked to be in other people’s shoes.”
At the head of the pack of favorites who fought together after taking a southern route while the pair Justine Mettraux and Julien Villion (Teamwork.net) occupied the lead of the race thanks to a strategy further north, daring but ultimately not paying off, the crew took control of the classification on Wednesday and never left it until the finish line. “The northern option scared me a little and I could see them going to the end and arriving a day early but we tend to underestimate the strength of the trade winds,” explained the Northerner, praising the performance. of the Mettraux-Villion duo.
The victory, indecisive, really took shape on Friday when the leader's lead jumped from ten miles to more than sixty over the chasing crews. “There are a few moments that I will keep in mind. A few days after departure, we were very burned out and we found ourselves in the middle of the Canaries. There, we looked at each other and said to ourselves that we were on the fastest monohull in the world. It was a blast, a magical moment,” reveled Ruyant at the helm of a boat that arrived in excellent condition in Martinique: “There were little things but it was a matter of detail.”
Also read: Thomas Ruyant: “The Vendée Globe is no picnic”
Thomas Ruyant is riding the wave of success: between his two victories in the Route du café (2021 and 2023), he won the Route du rhum, still in an Imoca. The former hockey player who arrived late in the world of sea competitions has established himself as the king of deckchairs: six victories in total, in four different categories!
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This line in the prize list was not written in advance even if the Northerner and his friend were among the big favorites. The new Imoca designed by the duo Antoine Koch and Finot Conq was put to sea last March and teething flaws could not be ruled out, the duo's number one objective being to make the new boat more reliable in preparation for the Vendée. Globe, the solo round-the-world trip that Thomas Ruyant will undertake from November 10, 2024. He finished the last edition in 6th place. “I know that I have won the last three transatlantic races and that makes me one of the favorites for the race, but it’s a different playing field,” he commented with humility.
The Yoann Richomme-Yann Eliès tandem took second place shortly after sunrise. Paprec Arkéa, who completed his Atlantic crossing in 12 days 01:41:16, crossed the finish line at 11:11:16 a.m. (local time), maintaining a tiny advantage over the Sam Goodchild duo -Antoine Koch arrived nine minutes later, at 11:20:32 a.m. after a crossing in 12 days 01:50:32. The two monohulls face off in a high-tension finale in the bay of Fort-de-France with very light winds putting the sailors' nerves to the test.