China SailGP Team, presentación del quinto equipo del circuito..

The China SailGP Team from L to R: Jinhao Chen, Liu Xue, Thomas Le Breton, Phil Robertson, Liu Ming, James Wierzbowski and Ed Powys.

Fuente info SailGP

China SailGP Team launches with competitive team, strategic vision for future growth

- China SailGP Team looks to help drive the growth of sailing in China
-  Decorated Kiwi Phil Robertson leads a crew stacked with Chinese and international talent
- Teams will race identical wingsailed F50s – supercharged catamarans capable of breaking the 50-knot barrier

SailGP today unveiled the fifth team in its new global racing league – the China SailGP Team – with a bold ambition to drive the growth of high-performance sailing in China. The China SailGP Team takes to the water in February 2019 equipped to challenge for the inaugural championship title.

The team launches with a core of Chinese talent supplemented by some of the world’s leading sailors of advanced foiling catamarans, and will build to a full Chinese crew over SailGP’s initial years of racing. Ensuring competitiveness now and in the future, the China SailGP Team will help develop the country’s next generation of world-class sailors capable of success in SailGP and other top-level sailing competitions.

The China SailGP Team will be helmed by veteran New Zealander Phil Robertson, a regular fixture on the World Match Racing Tour podium since his debut in 2009, and a championship winner in 2016. He will be leading the fight for China against Australia, France, Great Britain, Japan and the United States, alongside some of China’s top home-grown sailors: Liu ‘Black’ Xue (grinder), Jinhao ‘Horace’ Chen (grinder) and Liu ‘Leo’ Ming (reserve grinder), who have all represented Dongfeng Race Team in the Volvo Ocean Race, including during the team’s winning campaign in 2017-18.

“China’s potential in top-level international sailing is limitless – from the size of the fanbase, to the commercial market, to the development of talent on the water,” said SailGP CEO Russell Coutts. “For SailGP, it has always been a priority to have a Chinese team that could be competitive in season one while jump-starting the long-term pipeline of home-grown talent. This is a nationality driven competition, with an objective to build the team to be 100 percent Chinese over the next three to five years. This current China SailGP Team will have the skills and experience to be competitive from our first event starting in Sydney next February, and will be well poised to excite fans on home soil starting in season two.”

Olympians James Wierzbowski (flight controller) of Australia and Thomas Le Breton (reserve wing trimmer) from France, plus Britain’s Ed Powys (wing trimmer) fill the seven-man roster set up for success in SailGP’s inaugural season.

“We’ve seen a lot of success with the cross-culture team model in China,” said Bruno Dubois, China SailGP Team principal. “Most of our crew has experience with a China-based team – either China One Ningbo for the World Match Racing Tour or the Dongfeng Race Team for the Volvo Ocean Race – and we are collectively committed to continuing to facilitate the development of high-performance sailing in China.”

Spearheaded by Larry Ellison and Coutts, SailGP has set out to redefine sailing and will bring intensely competitive, inshore racing to fans in Sydney; San Francisco; New York; Cowes, U.K.; and Marseille, France, as world-class crews compete for the championship trophy and a US$1 million prize. The teams will be racing identical wingsailed F50s – the fastest catamarans in the world, precision-engineered to break the 50-knot (60mph/100kph) barrier.

“I’ve represented world-class teams before, but nothing has come close to this SailGP project when it comes to long-term ambition,” said China SailGP Team helmsman Phil Robertson. “We are looking to the future, but make no mistake: we’re here to compete from race day one. We just came off a fantastic couple weeks on the F50 in New Zealand, which made us even more excited for what’s to come next year.”

China is on tap to be one of the first expansion event markets for SailGP, with the country’s sailing community set to reap the benefits of exposing China’s sailors and sports fans to a brand-new international racing experience. From season two, SailGP will begin a legacy program that will see youth programs in every team market provide development opportunities to young sailors via schools and yacht clubs.

“SailGP is a huge opportunity to increase China’s presence in elite-level sailing,” said China SailGP grinder Liu ‘Black’ Xue. “We’ve had some successes on the international stage already, but this multi-race international format will help us build really strong connections with fans and hopefully inspire the next generation of young sailors out there. SailGP is going to help create pathways and opportunities for talented young athletes that didn’t exist before.”

SailGP and World Sailing rules designate China as a developing country, allowing the team to select a specified number of non-native athletes to participate with the national team so it can safely pilot the demanding F50 yachts from the very first race. The China SailGP Team has a 40 percent nationality requirement for season one, which will increase by 20 percent each season. In parallel, China SailGP Team will create a youth development academy to train talented young sailors for future competition.

“The rules developed by SailGP and World Sailing allow us not only to be immediately competitive, but also give us clear targets that will only be met by pushing development even further in China,” said Dubois. “It is essential for us to establish a strong youth academy, providing a pathway for talented young Chinese sailors to train in a high-performance setting and gain needed experience on foiling boats, which will have far reaching future benefits for the Chinese sailing community.”

Eventually, every national team will be fully comprised of athletes native to the country they are representing, sharpening the nation-versus-nation edge that sets SailGP apart from many other top-class sailing competitions.

Route du Rhum – Destination Guadeloupe. Armel Tripon con Réauté Chocolat, lidera los Multi 50.

© Armel Tripon
Photo from on board Réauté Chocolat by skipper, Armel Tripon

Antoine Carpentier on board Custo Pol. Image

© Fred Morin / Sodebo
Sodebo Ultim’ re-start from La Coruna in northern Spain where his boat was repaired.

Fuente info Route du Rhum – Destination Guadeloupe

Tripon: I want to be the third finisher in Guadeloupe

Press Release – 13.11.2018

Armel Tripon, the runaway leader in the Multi50 class, is hoping to be the third skipper to finish the 2018 Route du Rhum-Destination Guadeloupe solo transatlantic race from Saint Malo in Brittany to Pointe-à-Pitre in the French Caribbean.

Tripon on board the brown trimaran Réauté Chocolat, has just under 850 nautical miles to go to the finish of the four-yearly classic and is more than 400 miles ahead of his nearest pursuer in the six-strong Multi50 class, Erwan Le Roux on FenêtréA-Mix Buffet.

But his real rival for thrid place overall behind the two ULTIME skippers Francis Joyon (IDEC Sport) and François Gabart (MACIF) who finished in the early hours of Monday, is Britain’s Alex Thomson who is leading the IMOCA monhull class on Hugo Boss by over 180 miles.

Thomson is about 130 miles southeast of Tripon and the two skipers are pushing hard in their very different boats in the easterly trade winds. The Frenchman reported this morning: “Everything’s fine, but it was a complicated night with squalls and wind shifts. The first part of the trade winds were stable, but in this part in the south, there are big clouds everywhere. During the night, the seas got rougher, so it’s been a bit rock’n’ roll. I’m coping, but it’s a bit nerve racking.

“I’m aiming for third place overall. I’d like to finish before Hugo Boss,” added Tripon who finished fourth in the IMOCA class in this race four years ago. “Last time it took around 11 days. I’d love to finish tomorrow, as it’s starting to feel a bit long. I’m expecting to finish on the 15th at around one or two in the morning. But that may change, as I wasn’t very fast during the night. Maybe I will get there at first light in Guadeloupe.”

A long way behind the Tripon-Thomson battle, Thomas Coville on the giant trimaran Sodebo Ultim’ is trundling past Madeira after completing his second day at sea following his re-start from La Coruna in northern Spain where his boat was repaired. Coville is quickly catching up the only other ULTIME on the racecourse – Romain Pilliard on Remade Use It Again! – and is enjoying being back out to sea.

“There is plenty of wind, waves and sunshine, so it feels good,” reported Coville. “A race is never over until you finish…so we worked quickly to try to get the boat ready again to get back in the race. The team were incredible. They worked day and night. There was a lot of work to do. It was a race against the clock.

“I was so disappointed and on edge after stopping that I was determined to set off again to finish the crossing and to enjoy myself rather than stay ashore and I kept thinking about it over and over again,” he added.

“It was easier for me to move on by sailing and learning in crossing the Atlantic alone rather than return home. It’s not glorious, but it needs to be done to overcome the disappointment. Here, the boat is fantastic, doing 32 knots and riding the waves. We’re so lucky to be able to sail on these boats. The conditions are good and I’m enjoying myself.”

As they begin their ninth day at sea, the leaders in the Class40 fleet are dipping deep south in the eastern Atlantic, hunting for the best breeze to take them west to the Caribbean.

Today the third-placed skipper in the what was originally a 53-strong fleet of monohulls, Phil Sharp on IMERYS CLEAN ENERGY, is less than 60 nautical miles north of the Tropic of Cancer and 585 miles north of the Cape Verde Islands as he continues south in search of a reliable corridor of wind to the west.

Sharp is currently about 750 miles west of the coast of Western Sahara. The longtime race leader, Yoann Richomme of France on Veedol-AIC, is about 130 miles west-northwest of him.

The British skipper has been trying to keep pace with Richomme whose boat is newer and faster, but he likes his positioning relative to the French skipper. “IMERYS CLEAN ENERGY went really well in last night’s stronger breeze,” Sharp reported today. “Yesterday I actually saw Aina before he too gybed – a white spec on the horizon, about six miles northeast of me.

“Since entering the trade winds yesterday I have spent a lot of time on the helm as the spare pilot is not performing that well, and actually, it has been very refreshing. I am really enjoying surfing down the long Atlantic swells, which I am finding super-addictive and I am having trouble leaving for rest.

“My objective,” Sharp added, “is to try and be in slightly stronger breeze than the others, and continue to have an edge on speed and then, at some point, gybe back on the more favourable westerly heading.
On the supplies front, cereal and porridge stocks are diminishing quicker than expected – must be due to all these long and sleepless nights.”

The Class40 fleet is spread out all the way back to a group of late starters still in the Bay of Biscay, north of La Coruna with around 40 boats currently on the racecourse.

The shape at the front of the fleet is all about a leading group of seven boats spread over 245 miles from Richomme, back to Antoine Carpentier on Custo Pol. Then comes Britain’s Jack Trigger on his own in eighth place on Concise 8 a further 100 miles back, followed by a pair of boats 80 miles behind him – Olivier Cardin on Région Normandie and Jean-Baptiste Daramy on Chocolats Paries-Coriolis Composites.

Behind them is a loose gaggle of boats, led by Miranda Merron on Campagne de France in 12th place, stretching 700 miles to the northeast to Emmanuel Le Roch on Edenred in 25th spot. The 52-year-old American skipper Michael Hennessy on Dragon is on his own in 11th place, but he is 300 miles west of his rivals and in danger of stalling as he gets too close to the centre of the Azores High.

Merron is enjoying going downwind and being able to dry her boat out after a long slog in the tough conditions that dominated the early part of the race. “A first week of mainly washing machine conditions (without the stabilisers), a few hours of reaching after the last front, and suddenly it’s the long-awaited downwind sailing in the trade winds,” she reported.

“Having skirted round the east of the Azores High, we are now south and heading more or less for the Caribbean, but it will soon be time to gybe south again to avoid being trapped by no wind in the high. There are already moments of lighter breeze. It’s still a bit too early to go, but it would not be a good place to get stuck. It’s getting warmer and everything is slowly drying out. The chocolate should start melting now,” she added.

One place behind Merron, the French skipper Loïc Féquet on Tibco is in the same frame of mind as his British rival. “All is well aboard Tibco since we passed Madeira,” he reported. “It is finally the time to actually cross the Atlantic after the punishment of the first week. The boat is moving well all the time, good surfing at 19 knots; it is wet going down the waves but I can live comfortably on board now.”

Up ahead in seventh position, 250 miles behind Richomme, Antoine Carpentier is recovering after Custo Pol broached under spinnaker while he was asleep, allowing the sail to warp itself around the forestay. In order to untangle it Carpentier had to climb the rig. “I resigned myself to doing what I was forbidden to do solo – climb the mast,” reported the Frenchman who won the Transat Jacques Vabre last year in Class40 alongside co-skipper Maxime Sorel.

“I managed to undo the sail very quickly, the operation took less than 10 minutes in total, but what a rush of adrenaline!” added Carpentier. “Climbing the mast in port is simple, but at sea it’s another story. With each wave the boat pitches and tries to push you off before gravity brings you crashing back violently. You do not let go of this carbon tube because otherwise you’re dead.”

Top three skippers in each category at 1530CET on Tuesday, November 13

1 Francis Joyon (IDEC Sport) – FINISHED
2. François Gabart (MACIF) – FINISHED
3 Romain Pilliard (Remade – Use It Again) 2,656.61 nautical mies (NM) to the finish


1 Armel Tripon (Reaute Chocolat) 849.65NM to the finish
2 Erwan Le Roux (Fenetrea-Mix Buffet) +373.56NM
3 Thibaut Vauchel-Camus (Solidaires En Peloton-ARSEP) +418.45NM


1 Alex Thomson (Hugo Boss) 953.87NM to the finish
2 Paul Meilhat (SMA) +185.97
3 Vincent Riou (PRB) +220.22


1 Yoann Richomme (Veedol AIC) 1,725.71NM to the finish
2 Aymeric Chappelier (AINA Enfance Avenir) +123.09NM
3 Phil Sharp (Imerys Clean Energy) +143.61

Rhum Multi

1 Pierre Antoine (OLMIX) 1,594.86NM to the finish
2 Jean-Francois Lilti (Ecole Diagonale Pour Citoyens du Monde) +490.83
3 Etienne Hochede (PiR2) +604.20

Rhum Mono

1 Sidney Gavignet (Café Joyeux) 1,892.09NM to the finish
2 Sébastien Destremau (ALCATRAZIT-FACEOCEAN) +232.59
3 Wilfrid Clerton (Cap Au Cape Location – SOS Villages D’Enfants) +606.86

Red Bull Foiling Generation World Finals, triunfo para los kiwis Isaac McHardie y William McKenzie.

copyright Predrag Vuckovic for Red Bull Content Pool

Fuente info Red Bull Foiling Generation

New Zealand claims repeat win in youth sailing championship

Following in the wake of triumphant New Zealand sailors in 2016, young Kiwis Isaac McHardie and William McKenzie flew along the Miami shoreline on Sunday to win the second edition of the Red Bull Foiling Generation World Finals. In the climax of a yearlong search for the planet’s most talented young sailors, the pair beat out 15 other international teams, with duos from Belgium and Sweden also outstanding in second and third.

MIAMI, FL (USA) – With perfect conditions and cheering Miami crowds, the Red Bull Foiling Generation World Final from 9-11 November was a festival of foiling, but for 16 of the planet’s most talented teams of sailors aged 16-20, the regatta was a hard-fought battle. Sunday’s final delivered perhaps the closest start in Red Bull Foiling Generation history, as all four boats were within centimeters of each other to the first mark. Then the Kiwis McHardie and McKenzie took control, edging to first and never letting go until they crossed the finish line ahead of the second-place Belgians Morgan Wirtz and Henri Demesmaeker and the third-place Swedes Emil Järudd and Hugo Christensson, with Austria fourth.

The drama continued when the winning New Zealand team capsized just after passing the finish line. “The breeze picked up a bit, more than we’ve had in the past few days, and the boats were a lot faster, more out of control, but I think everyone here had a lot of skill. Every race was very competitive and you could never rule out any sailor because everyone was the best in their country, so it was hard racing,” said McKenzie. “Sailing a foiling boat is a completely new concept to me, and to have great coaches like Roman and Hans Peter to assist the learning is amazing. I’m ecstatic and looking forward to seeing what the future brings.”

Double Olympic champions Roman Hagara and Hans Peter Steinacher of Austria developed and launched Red Bull Foiling Generation in 2015 to find the world’s best young sailors and provide a stepping-stone to a potential career in the sport. They personally coach the youth teams on Flying Phantom hydrofoil catamarans, the fastest boats of their size.

“It’s been gratifying to see the interest in Red Bull Foiling Generation around the world, as well as the progress sailors from the program are making in the sport,” stated Hagara. “Olivia Mackay and Micah Wilkinson, who won the 2016 World Final, went on to win the Flying Phantom Series of the Extreme Sailing Series together in 2017, and since then both of them have raced on GC32s in the Extreme Sailing Series, in addition to pursuing Olympic campaigns. The future of sailing is looking very strong and very exciting.”

McHardie, who sails with McKenzie in the Olympic 49er class, commented, “The 49er isn’t a foiling boat, so sailing the Phantoms taught us skills in foiling and speed. I’m really happy and looking forward to following in Micah’s footsteps and hopefully in the future having some awesome opportunities.”

About Red Bull Foiling Generation
The Red Bull Foiling Generation is a novel format, lifting Flying Phantom Catamarans over the water at up to 35 knots. Sailors aged 16-20 compete in a series of heats on four identical boats until the final race determines the winning team. The biggest youth sailing program on the planet, in 2017-18 Red Bull Foiling Generation features top teams from 16 countries and five continents.

Technical data for Flying Phantom
Using hydrofoil technology to lift completely out of the water, the Flying Phantom earns raves as the future of sailing. Capable of speeds of up to 35 knots – almost 40 mph – it is the world’s quickest sailing boat of its size. Length: 5,52m (18ft), width: 3,00m, weight: 155kg, mast height: 9,6m, mainsail: 18sqm, jib: 5,5sqm, gennaker: 24sqm, crew: 2

Sudamericano de Star para Robert Scheidt y Arthur Lopes.

copyright Iscyra

Fuente info Iscyra


Robert Scheidt and Arthur Lopes (BRA) are the 2018 South American champions of the Star class. The two-time Olympic champion won the first race on Sunday, last day of the event, at the Yacht Club in Rio de Janeiro, and finished second in the last, giving him the Championship. However, the duo Lars Grael / Samuel Gonçalves (BRA) obtained the same results on the last day of the competition, but reversed, and finished at equal points. The title was decided only on the third tiebreaker. They were equal in number of victories (two) and second places (one). The third position obtained on Saturday gave the cup to Scheidt / Lopes. It was quite thrilling!!

“It was a good Sunday in Rio de Janeiro, with strong wind and sunshine. Honestly, it feels so special for me to win this title. We started the last day far from the first place and I was pushing for a spot on the podium, more that the actual win. But it was a good day. I am happy and surprised on how we managed the last races. And it was also the first major win with Arthur ‘Tutu’ Lopes. We won the Paulista Championship together, but winning at the South Americans is important for us”, said the five-time Brazilian Olympic medalist, sponsored by Banco do Brasil and Rolex and supported by COB and CBVela.

Scheidt and Lopes won the Star class Brazilian title in April at the Yacht Club Santo Amaro in São Paulo. The Rio waters bring good memories to Robert. A year ago, he won the Royal Thames Cup, a competition played at the Yacht Club in Rio de Janeiro. At the time, his crew was Henry Boenning.

The weather did not help sailors in Rio de Janeiro in the early days of the South Americans. On the first day, Thursday the 8th of November, the races were canceled due to lack of wind. On Friday, although the weather remained difficult, there were three races. Scheidt and Lopes were improving performance throughout the day. They started with a ninth place, climbed to seventh in the next race and finished crossing the finish line in the lead in the last race. On Saturday, they kept in average with a third place and on Sunday they had their best performance with one victory and a second spot in the final.

Brazil dominated the South American Championship of Rio de Janeiro, which also had competitors from Europe. Among the 20 participating boats, 16 were Brazilians, two were Argentine, one Italian and one Dutch. On the podium with Robert Scheidt and Arthur Lopes, and runners up Lars Grael and Samuel Gonçalves, there was Star Class World Champion Jorginho Zarif with Ubiratan Matos. Overall, the top eight were Brazilians.

Route du Rhum – Destination Guadeloupe. Francis Joyon con Idec gana la regata (con record) en un final de infarto.

copyright Yvan Zedda

Fuente info Route du Rhum – Destination Guadeloupe.

Francis Joyon, el más rápido en dar la vuelta al mundo con tripulación, arrebata una victoria sin precedentes en la línea de llegada de la Ruta del Ron y bate un nuevo récord

Ha sido el final más apretado de los 40 años de historia de la mítica Ruta del Ron. Joyon establece un nuevo récord con un tiempo de 7 días 14 horas y 21 minutos de navegación transatlántica en solitario.

François Gabart, líder durante la mayor parte del recorrido, termina segundo a 7 min y 8 seg del nuevo récord

Point-a-Pitre (Guadalupe, Antillas), 11 de noviembre de 2018

El joven François Gabart (35), el hombre más veloz en dar la vuelta al mundo en solitario, había liderado desde el principio esta mítica regata transoceánica en solitario pero el veterano Francis Joyon (62), otro exitoso cazador de récords -circunnavegó el planeta con una tripulación que incluía al español Alex Pella en sólo 40 días- ha sido el que esta madrugada ha marcado un nuevo hito al vencer in extremis terminando primero las 3.542 millas de navegación entre la localidad bretona de Saint Malo y la de Pointe-À-Pitre, en la isla de Guadalupe (Antillas). El pasado domingo, día 4, 123 patrones divididos en seis clase comenzaban la aventura.

Joyon no tomó la delantera de la prueba hasta, como quien dice, el último suspiro: la baliza Basse Terre, situada a unas 24 millas de la línea de llegada. En prácticamente un mano a mano con Gabart avanzaban lentamente y sin apenas intensidad de viento en la oscuridad.

En las últimas dos horas a meta, Joyon llegó a estar tres millas por delante de su adversario, pero Gabart demostró ser más rápido en viento ligero. A una milla del final, los dos navegantes competían codo con codo, a 0,1 millas de distancia, un suspiro.

Cuando estuvieron a la vista de los miles de espectadores que esperaban su llegada, fue como el desenlace de un thriller en el que se palpaba la tensión. Pero fue Francis Joyon quien se llevó el gato al agua.

En medio de la noche, con el calor húmedo caribeño azotando y viento muy ligeros, Francis Joyon cruzaba la línea de llegada con su Maxi trimarán IDEC Sport a las 23:21.47 hora local (04: 21.47 hora peninsular), con sólo siete minutos y ocho segundos de ventaja sobre el MACIF de François Gabart, que llegó sin uno de sus foils y sin un timón.

Ésta ha sido la octava Ruta del Ron para Joyon, que establece un nuevo récord para el recorrido de 3.542 millas náuticas en siete días, 14 horas y 21 minutos, rebajando en 47 minutos el tiempo establecido en 2014 por el navegante francés Loïck Peyron.

Regata Santander Interclubes Chile, resultados finales. En Soto 40 triunfo de BTG Pactual.

copyright Cristián Saavedra

copyright Cristián Saavedra

copyright Cristián Saavedra

Fuente info Esteban Gomez

Santander Interclubes: BTG Pactual, Trauco, Caleuche, Scimitar y El Olimpo campeones

Los veleros BTG Pactual (Soto40), Trauco (IRC), Caleuche (IRC Chile), Scimitar (J/105), y El Olimpo (Crucero), se quedaron con la Regata Santander Interclubes que se desarrolló este fin de semana en Algarrobo, y contó la participación de 24 embarcaciones de las clases Soto 40, IRC, J-105 y Crucero.

La regata disputada en la Cofradía Náutica del Pacífico, consistió en tres competencias barlovento-sotavento para los veleros J-105 e IRC, dos para Soto40 y una travesía para los Cruceros, con vientos de alrededor de 8 nudos promedio, en un fin de semana donde el viento no quiso acompañar a la flota e hizo muy difícil el trabajo de la Comisión de Regata.

Luego de tres jornadas y sólo dos regatas, los veleros Soto 40 que sufrieron no navegar el segundo día coronó campeón a BTG Pactual de Jorge Errázuriz, escoltado por Apolonia de Jaime Charad y Mitsubishi de Horacio Pavez.

En la clase IRC, luego de cinco regatas, el ganador fue Trauco de Raúl del Castillo, el segundo lugar para Pepe Pato de José Tirado y Patricio López y Caleuche de la Escuela Naval. Este último ganó en IRC Chile, superando a Chispezza de Andrés Hasbún y Jack Daniel´s de Rodrigo Oyanedel.

En J/105 y tras tres regatas, Scimitar de José Manuel Ugarte se quedó con el oro. Fogonazo de la Escuela Naval y Plan B de Jorge González se quedaron la plata y el bronce, respectivamente

En la categoría Crucero todos los aplausos para El Olimpo de Mathias Klotz, seguido por CapiTata de Alejandro Denham y JDM de Eduardo Díaz.

La cuarta fecha del Nacional Santander Oceánico se desarrollará los días 30 de noviembre, 1 y 2 de diciembre en Viña del Mar.

Route du Rhum – Destination Guadeloupe. François Gabart con Macif va por el triunfo y record.

© Vincent.Curutchet/ALeA/MACIF

Fuente info Route du Rhum – Destination Guadeloupe.

Gabart on course to smash the Route du Rhum-Destination Guadeloupe record
Press Release – 10.11.2018

French sailing superstar, François Gabart has less than 800 nautical miles to go to the finish in Guadeloupe. Image credit: Vincent.Curutchet/ALeA/MACIF
With less than 800 nautical miles to sail to the finish of the 2018 Route du Rhum-Destination Guadeloupe solo transatlantic race – from Saint Malo in Brittany to Pointe-à-Pitre in Guadeloupe – the French sailor François Gabart is on course not only to win the ULTIME class but to smash the outright race record.

After just six days at sea Gabart, at the helm of the maxi-trimaran MACIF, is now within a day-and-a-half of finishing the 3,542-nautical mile race and at his current pace he could break the existing seven-day, 15-hour record by as much as 10 hours.

Gabart is a sailing superstar in France – he has many victories to his name in single and double-handed ocean racing and has won the Vendée Globe solo round-the-world race and also set a new non-stop solo round-the-world record.

But the diminutive 35-year-old from La Forêt-Fouesnant in Brittany wants this win in the ULTIME class to follow his victory in this race four years ago in the IMOCA division. He knows that his fellow Frenchman Francis Joyon on IDEC Sport has been on his tail all the way across the Atlantic and that – at around 120 miles behind – Joyon is ready to pounce on any mistake.

“Francis never lets go, but that is normal and, if it were me, I’d be the same,” said Gabart today, as his boat continued heading west in the northeasterly trade winds. “Until the finish line is broken the game is open. You need to give it your all to the end.

“I will do everything to stay in first,” he continued. “This lead in these boats that do 30 knots of speed is nothing. And having Francis on my tail is pushing me hard but I am still managing the risk, all the time. I could gain a few knots here and there if I took more risk, but I am pushing as hard as I can – there is no more on the gas pedal.”

This race is being contested in six classes and while Gabart heads serenely on, hundreds of miles behind him there are intriguing battles going on in the smaller boats in the 123-strong field.

In the Multi50 class the early race leader Thibaut Vauchel-Camus (Solidaires En Peloton-Arsep) has now made a very quick and efficient pit-stop in the Azores where his shore team fixed his broken mast-track and mainsail.

He has now rejoined the race in second place behind the new leader, Armel Tripon in Réauté Chocolat who is nearly 200 miles ahead and a whopping 600 miles further south than Vauchel-Camus.

A nice sporting touch was that when Vauchel-Camus stopped in the Azores, the shore team of his other main rival in the class – Erwan Le Roux (FenêtréA-Mix Buffet) who made a pit-stop after him – helped the Solidaires team to dock his boat.

In the IMOCA monohull class the leading group is south and west of the Canary Islands and well into the trade winds with Alex Thomson now comfortably ahead on Hugo Boss, from Paul Meilhat on SMA and Vincent Riou on PRB.

Meilhat is sailing a 2011-vintage boat with a distinguished history but it does not have foils and is equipped with daggerboards. By rights the 36-year-old Frenchman should be further back in this fleet but he has held position against Thomson all the way through the bad weather in the opening stages and kept pace with Riou.

Marcus Hutchinson who managed the SMA project until Christmas last year says that if the wind angles in the trade winds over the next week see the boats reaching then it will be very hard for Meilhat to hang on in the top-three as the others get up on their foils and race away. However if the wind is further aft then Meilhat has a good chance of making the podium.

“Paul is sailing extremely well,” said Hutchinson. “He knows that boat inside out in its current configuration and he is a bloody good sailor – even in the tough weather in the early stages there has been no drama because he was very well prepared.”

In the Class40 fleet, the leading bunch is following the IMOCAs south towards the Canary Islands before the skippers turn west under the Azores High. Yoann Richomme on Veedol-AIC continues to set a fierce pace ahead of second-placed Phil Sharp on IMERYS CLEAN ENERGY who is around 70 miles behind.

Sharp is relieved to be out of the westerly storm track in the north Atlantic and settling into calmer conditions further south and says the routing predictions give him a 10-day passage to the finish.

“The good news is that the new Lombard Lift Veedol rocketship is now going slightly slower than me for the first time in the race,” quipped Sharp referring to Richomme’s boat. “He could well be in lighter winds at the moment, but it’s a relief to see that the boat can actually sail at less than 10 knots!…I have a lot of work to do to catch up but I am hungry for it.”

In the two amateur Rhum classes – divided between monohulls and multihulls – the boats are spread far and wide and there are still many skippers taking shelter from the rough weather in the Bay of Biscay who should begin re-joining the race tomorrow.

In the Rhum Multi division Pierre Antoine on Olmix remains the runaway leader. Behind him Loïck Peron on Happy, a sistership of the small trimaran that won the first Route du Rhum back in 1978, is now up to sixth place as he heads towards the latitude of Cape St Vincent.

In the Rhum Mono class, spare a thought for 58-year-old Dominique Dubois on the 50ft GHEO who has been battling three storm systems in the Biscay and has struggled to make headway south. His track from the start shows Dubois heading west, then north as he runs downwind from the worst of the weather, then back south, then north again and so on. After six days at sea, he is still 160 miles north of Cape Finisterre and remarkably still in seventh place in the class. What is more he is still in good spirits despite his trials and tribulations.

In a recent message to the race organisation he was sounding pleased to be finally heading south after five days of “hell” as he rode out the worst of the weather. “He sounded fine, a bit tired but on good form, but his aim was just to ride out the storms until he felt it was time to go south,” said a race official.

As the first finishers near Guadeloupe, OC Sport Pen Duick, the owner and organiser of the Route du Rhum-Destination Guadeloupe, is delighted to announce a new commercial partnership with the world leading deckware and safety equipment manufacturer, Spinlock, which becomes Official Life Jacket Supplier to the race.

Spinlock is providing 50 of its award-winning lightweight lifejackets – the Deckvest LITE – to race staff and volunteers in Guadeloupe. They will be worn by local fisherman and other marine professionals, whose boats and crews are assisting the event management team with course marshalling, filming race finishers, ferrying race officials and hosting VIP spectators.

The partnership with Spinlock, which is based in Cowes in the UK, reflects the importance of safety for all the many staff and volunteers who help to make this four-yearly solo transatlantic race a success. Read the full story here.

Top three skippers in each category at 1545CET on Saturday, November 10

1 François Gabart (MACIF) 705.44 nautical miles (NM) to the finish
2 Francis Joyon (IDEC Sport) +121.23NM
3 Romain Pilliard (Remade – Use It Again) +2,376.55NM


1 Armel Tripon (Reaute Chocolat) 2,036.23NM to the finish
2 Thibaut Vauchel-Camus (Solidaires En Peloton-ARSEP) +196.82NM
3 Gilles Lamire (La French Tech Rennes Saint Malo) +210.13NM


1 Alex Thomson (Hugo Boss) 2,059.22NM to the finish
2 Paul Meilhat (SMA) +76.37NM
3 Vincent Riou (PRB) + 93.20NM


1 Yoann Richomme (Veedol AIC) 2,406.79NM to the finish
2 Phil Sharp (IMERYS CLEAN ENERGY) +72.11
3 Ameryic Chappelier (AINA Enfance Avenir) +82.64

Rhum Multi

1 Pierre Antoine (OLMIX) 2,328NM to the finish
2 Jean-Francois Lilti (Ecole Diagonale Pour Citoyens du Monde) +368.59NM
3 Etienne Hochede (PIR2) +406.51NM

Rhum Mono

1 Sidney Gavignet (Café Joyeux) 2,468.42NM to the finish
2 Sébastien Destremau (ALCATRAZIT-FACEOCEAN) +276.45NM
3 Wilfrid Clerton (Cap Au Cape Location – SOS Villages D’Enfants) +426.84NM