Passage des ecluses pour les concurrents de la Route du Rhum-Destination Guadeloupe 2014 - Saint Malo le 01/ 11/14  (Photo © ALEXIS COURCOUX)

Passage des ecluses pour les concurrents de la Route du Rhum-Destination Guadeloupe 2014 – Saint Malo le 01/ 11/14 (Photo © ALEXIS COURCOUX)

The weather forecast for the first few days of La Route du Rhum-Destination Guadeloupe seems to suggest that the 3,542 miles from Saint-Malo to Pointe-à-Pitre will be quick. But first up there will be an active frontal system to cross before Ushant.

Sunday afternoon’s start will see the SSW’ly breeze at around 15-18kts with some squally bursts perhaps. But the first three days of racing will be quite tough for the 91 solo skippers competing on this legendary Transatlantic. And with such a promising forecast it seems there might be every chance the outright race record of 7 days 17 hours 19mins 6 secs of Lionel Lemonchois, set in 2006 on Gitana XI, might fall.

It had to happen some time. The blocking high pressure system which has provided summer-like weather for most of the times in Saint-Malo will give way to more usual Autumnal conditions, an Atlantic low pressure arriving on cue for Sunday’s start. The weather will worsen progressively along the Brittany coast and there will likely be rain just after the 1400hrs local time start gun.

Passage des ecluses pour les concurrents de la Route du Rhum-Destination Guadeloupe 2014 - Saint Malo le 01/11/2014 Fleet (Photo Passage des ecluses pour les concurrents de la Route du Rhum-Destination Guadeloupe 2014 - Saint Malo le 01/ 11/14  (Photo © ALEXIS COURCOUX))

assage des ecluses pour les concurrents de la Route du Rhum-Destination Guadeloupe 2014 – Saint Malo le 01/11/2014 Fleet (Photo Passage des ecluses pour les concurrents de la Route du Rhum-Destination Guadeloupe 2014 – Saint Malo le 01/ 11/14 (Photo © ALEXIS COURCOUX))

The 91 solo skippers gathered for their final meteo briefing this morning as Meteo Consult provided them with their final weather analysis. Sunday afternoon will see SSW’ly winds of around 15-18 kts but with some much bigger gusts. The breeze will veer more west behind the front, easing slightly initially but it will always be gusty. The air temperature will be around 13-16 deg C. The Ultime leaders might well have passed Cap Fréhel ahead of the front but for most this will mean headwinds.

The soloists will have a long port tack to get out of the Channel. But around midnight a second, more active front will bring a big increase in wind strength from the SW, gusting to 40-45kts with a chaotic sea. And this will be one of the key phases of this Route du Rhum-Destination Guadeloupe. Approaching and around the tip of Brittany there are a powerful combination of big untidy waves, busy maritime traffic and gusty winds, so the real strategy here will be trying not to break anything whilst still keeping the pace on.

By daytime Monday the biggest Ultimes should be into the brisk NW’ly which will make for a fast descent to Madeira which they should reach by Tuesday night. But meantime for the first part of Monday the IMOCA and Multi 50s will have a pretty tough time trying to find the right tempo across the first part of Biscay in an unruly, nasty sea making a messy, stressful passage to Cape Finisterre for Tuesday morning.

Overall it is quite a promising forecast. Class 40 and the Rhum fleet will need to take it more carefully but there really is only one general route south and the fleets should enjoy more of a speed rather than strategy race.

In the Class 40 fleet Briton Conrad Humphreys says he has never been better prepared or felt as good before a race start but the pressure will be on from the start. There is a critical stage early on where the skippers must time their approach through Sunday night’s front to make sure they can get comfortably inside the Ushant traffic separation zone, or not. There is a tactical danger in being squeezed out to the west by the zone when the main opposition is inside, able to cut the corner and get south across Biscay earlier.

assage des ecluses pour les concurrents de la Route du Rhum-Destination Guadeloupe 2014 - Saint Malo le 01/11/2014 Fleet (Photo Passage des ecluses pour les concurrents de la Route du Rhum-Destination Guadeloupe 2014 - Saint Malo le 01/ 11/14  (Photo © ALEXIS COURCOUX))

assage des ecluses pour les concurrents de la Route du Rhum-Destination Guadeloupe 2014 – Saint Malo le 01/11/2014 Fleet (Photo Passage des ecluses pour les concurrents de la Route du Rhum-Destination Guadeloupe 2014 – Saint Malo le 01/ 11/14 (Photo © ALEXIS COURCOUX))

“The critical thing will be how far west you get and whether you are positioned inside or outside the separation zone at Ushant. If you are caught half way you can’t cross the separation zone. And so the timing of that shift is important. After that the Bay of Biscay is going to be quite lively. I think the sea state will be one of the worst things, 4-5m swell with waves on top and then a lot of rain. The further south we get the High will have an effect and it will start to calm down a bit, but I think for most of the first 24-36 hours it will be quite wild. It is so critical to be with the pack and to get through that first shift with them. If you don’t they can be going quite fast and the ones who don’t will be still on the wind, have less runway to get around Ushant and so on. I have to say you will have to sail quite aggressively.”

In boisterous sea and wind conditions, with rain showers passing through, the start itself holds the possibility is problems. Indeed that is the phase that concerns Miranda Merron (Campagne de France) most immediately. The France-based English soloist said after the weather briefing:

“It’s November. You are going to take a kicking some time and this first bit looks tough, but it is the start with all the traffic and stress around that worries me most. I just want to get away cleanly and safely.”

They said:
Ari Huusela (FINLAND) – Rhum Class, Neste Oil:
“It is a victory to be here. In total we have had almost 20 people involved in the project at home in Finland. It is my passion to sail alone, that is why I want to do this race. This is the pinnacle. I have had this boat two years after it took me seven years to realise my dream. I think the boat is good, I am going to enjoy it as much as possible.”

Yann Guichard (Ultime) – SPINDRIFT 2:
“Everyone knows that the start phase is always critical. I know that if I have to do an emergency change of tack, it can’t be done in two minutes. The first twelve hours are going to be complicated. It looks like we’re going to have to do two changes of tack. This isn’t where the race is going to be won, but it is where it can be lost.”

Loïck Peyron (Ultime) – MAXI SOLO BANQUE POPULAIRE VII:
“The start is never easy for anyone. And here it’s going to be violent. There is going to be wind and lots of rain: typical sailor’s weather. This will make things a bit more dramatic, as we’re straight into the rough stuff.”

To follow the race on click La Route du Rhum-Destination Guadeloupe

 

assage des ecluses pour les concurrents de la Route du Rhum-Destination Guadeloupe 2014 - Saint Malo le 01/11/2014 Fleet (Photo Passage des ecluses pour les concurrents de la Route du Rhum-Destination Guadeloupe 2014 - Saint Malo le 01/ 11/14 (Photo © ALEXIS COURCOUX))

assage des ecluses pour les concurrents de la Route du Rhum-Destination Guadeloupe 2014 – Saint Malo le 01/11/2014 Fleet (Photo Passage des ecluses pour les concurrents de la Route du Rhum-Destination Guadeloupe 2014 – Saint Malo le 01/ 11/14 (Photo © ALEXIS COURCOUX))

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Five IMOCA 60s took part with French round the world racer legend Marc Guillemot competing with talented Figaro sailor Morgan Lagravière, who is to take over from Guillemot as Safran’s new skipper from 2015. British skipper Alex Thomson was entered aboard his latest Hugo Boss (ex-Virbac Paprec 3) with Spanish round the world sailor Pepe Ribes, but due to the arrival of his second child, Thomson made the decision to hand over to American skipper Ryan Breymaier. Their campaign was made no easier when they dismasted en route to the start. Fortunately the crew was able to repair the rig at record pace, making it to New York four days before the start.

Spain was well represented by the race’s only mixed crew – Anna Corbella and Gerard Marin, both competitors in the last Barcelona World Race. Spain’s most capped round the world sailor Guillermo Altadill was back on board Team Neutrogena, which he originally skippered when it was launched as Estrella Damm in 2007. He was joined by José Muñoz, the first occasion a Chilean had ever competed in an IMOCA race.

The race was also the first outing for the newest addition to the IMOCA fleet, Spirit of Hungary, marking Hungarian Nandor Fa’s return to the class, following a 17 year absence, joined on board by Marcel Goszleth. Sadly due to delays to the boat’s launching, it only arrived into New York the day before the start. Spirit of Hungary took the start line but then immediately returned to port, and retired, the boat needed some maintenance and further preparation work to be ready for its ongoing programme.

Furthermore the race was the first occasion IMOCA 60s have carried media crewman on board in a major event, fulfilling one of OSM’s key objectives to improve the quality of the media material coming off the boats.

Followers of the race got a taste of things to come in the Prologue from Newport to New York, the weekend before the start, when Team Neutrogena beat Safran Sailing Team by just 1 minutes and 25 seconds.

IMOCA OCEAN MASTERS NEW YORK TO BARCELONA FINAL PRIZEGIVING

This Friday, 20th June at the Real Club Náutico de Barcelona, the prizegiving ceremony for the IMOCA Ocean Masters New York to Barcelona Race took place. The double-handed race across the North Atlantic represented an exceptional start to the new IMOCA Ocean Masters World Championship.

This new race co-organised by Open Sports Management (OSM) and the Fundació Navegació Oceànica Barcelona (FNOB – Barcelona Ocean Sailing Foundation) provided the crews with a challenging course and the opportunity to train for other IMOCA Ocean Master World Championship events coming up later this year: the Route du Rhum and the Barcelona World Race.

 

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Maite Fandos, Deputy Mayor of Barcelona and President of FNOB: “This year Barcelona is the world capital of ocean sailing”

• Sir Keith Mills, Chairman of OSM: “This was a fantastic new event that forms part of the IMOCA Ocean Masters World Championships and I’m also looking forward to the start of the Route du Rhum and the Barcelona World Race – an action packed year for the class.”

The event was attended by Maite Fandos, Deputy Mayor of Barcelona and President of the FNOB, with Sir Keith Mills, President of OSM, as well as Jean Kerhoas, President of the IMOCA Class, who between them awarded the main prizes.

Enrique Corominas, President of the Real Club Náutico de Barcelona hosted the event. Local dignitaries in attendance included: Miquel Valls, President of the Barcelona Chamber of Commerce, Simón Sánchez from Hugo Boss Watches, Gerard Esteva, Vice President of the Union of Catalan Sporting Federations and President of the Catalan Sailing Federation and Barcelona City Council’s Àngels Esteller.

Fandos welcomed the five teams and confirmed that the event “has cemented a relationship that will surely stand the test of time”.

“New York and Barcelona are now united by the ocean. This year Barcelona is the world capital of ocean sailing and on 31st December this year, the city will be an international focal point and you will all be the stars once again.”

Sir Keith Mills added: “I am satisfied that this has been a fantastic event: we’ve had five IMOCA 60 racing boats, 10 skippers, five nationalities and three media crew… and we have been able to raise the profile of and attract significant interest in the IMOCA Ocean Masters World Championship in the media, from sponsors and the general public. The support has been huge and I’d like to thank everyone involved in this success. I’m really looking forward to the start of the next events, including the Route du Rhum and, of course, the Barcelona World Race, which starts at the end of the year”.

The winner’s trophy for this first edition of the IMOCA Ocean Masters New York to Barcelona Race was sculpted in glass by British artist Paul Critchley. There was great applause when the prize was awarded to the winning team: Hugo Boss, with co-skippers Pepe Ribes and Ryan Breymaier. Hugo Boss arrived in Barcelona on Sunday, 15th June at 20:54:30 local time, taking just over 14 days to complete the 3,720 mile long course from New York.

“It’s a great source of pride to win this race, because it was very competitive and tough, but we pushed it to the limit the whole way and we’ve been rewarded with a win,” said Ribes. “Also, finishing the race in Barcelona, the city I live in, was something very special and it’s always a bonus.” Breymaier added that he had felt a very warm welcome from Barcelona when the pair arrived: “Barcelona’s my favorite European city.”

Four hours later, Team Neutrogena sailed by Spain’s Guillermo Altadill and Chilean José Muñoz arrived, after a very tight battle with Hugo Boss throughout the entire race.
“The regatta went very well for us in terms of testing and preparing the boat for the Barcelona World Race”, said Altadill.

As he was awarded the prize today he added: “The competition was the ideal test for the whole team and the boat. After this I’m really looking forward to starting the Barcelona World Race.” Muñoz also highlighted the demanding nature of the race, his own personal satisfaction with his IMOCA class début and the great dynamic he has formed with seasoned round the world sailor Altadill.

Co-skippers Anna Corbella and Gerard Marín arrived in third aboard GAES Sailing Team. The 15 day long race provided great experience for the crew. “We are very happy because we confirmed that both the crew and the boat have great potential,” said Marìn. Corbella added: “Setting off from the unrivaled backdrop of New York, picking up strong winds in the Atlantic and sailing close alongside our rivals, all the way home to Barcelona… As a sailor, I don’t think I could ask for much more.”

This race was the first scoring event in the IMOCA Ocean Masters World Championship and is also the first event organised by Open Sports Management, Sir Keith Mills’ sports marketing company based in Lausanne, Switzerland, which holds the commercial rights to the IMOCA class. The IMOCA Ocean Masters New York to Barcelona Race was co-organised by the FNOB and the Royal Spanish Sailing Federation.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION
Prizes Awarded: 

Prize for the best Media Crew Member: Awarded by His Excellency Miquel Camps, President of the Barcelona Chamber of Commerce, to Andrés Soriano on Neutrogena.

Prize for the largest distance covered in 24 hours: Awarded by Simon Sánchez from Hugo Boss Watches, to co-skippers Pepe Ribes and Ryan Breymaier on Hugo Boss.

Special Award to Spirit of Hungary: Awarded by Gerard Esteva, Vice-President of the Union of Catalan Sporting Federations and President of the Catalan Sailing Federation, to co-skippers Nandor Fa and Marcell Goszleth.

Special Award to Safran Sailing Team: Awarded by the illustrious Àngels Esteller, Council woman for Barcelona City Council, to co-skippers Marc Guillemot and Morgan Lagravière.

Prize for third place to GAES Centros Auditivos: Awarded by Jean Kerhoas, President of the IMOCA Class, to co-skippers Anna Corbella and Gerard Marín and the Media Crew Member Enrique Cameselle.

Prize for second place to Neutrogena Sailing Team: Awarded by Sir Keith Mills, President of OSM, to co-skippers Guillermo Altadill and José Muñoz and Media Crew Member Andrés Soriano.

Prize for first place to Hugo Boss: Awarded by Maite Fandos, Fourth Deputy Mayor of Barcelona and Councillor for Quality of Life and Sport at the Barcelona City Council, to co-skippers Pepe Ribes and Ryan Breymaier, with Media Crew Member Chris Museler.

Final result for the IMOCA Ocean Masters New York to Barcelona Race:

1.- Hugo Boss – Pepe Ribes (ESP) / Ryan Breymaier (USA)
Finish at Barcelona: 15-06-2014, at 20h 54m 30s local time
Time taken from New York: 14d 02h 44m 30s
2.- Team Neutrogena– Guillermo Altadill (ESP) / José Muñoz (CHI)
Finish at Barcelona: 16-06-2014, at 01h 05m 17s local time
Time taken from New York: 14d 06h 55m 17s
3.- GAES Sailing Team– Anna Corbella (ESP) – Gerard Marín (ESP)
Finish at Barcelona: 16-06-2014, at 15h 53m 45s local time
Time taken from New York: 14d 21h 42m 45s
Retired: Safran – Marc Guillemot (FRA)-Morgan Lagravière (FRA)
Retired: Spirit of Hungary – Nandor Hace (HUN)- Marcell Goszleth (HUN)

EVENT WEBSITE
www.oceanmasters.com

FACEBOOK:
https://www.facebook.com/IMOCA.OceanRacing

TWITTER:
https://twitter.com/OMchampionship

YOUTUBE:
https://www.youtube.com/user/imocaTV

LIVE TRACKER:
http://oceanmasters-nytobcn.geovoile.com/2014/app/flash/

WORLD OF OCEAN MASTERS
Sign up to get your own digital members pass, go to : 
http://www.oceanmasters.com/pages/world-of-ocean-masters

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Safran (Photo by George Bekris)

The monohull Safran, skippered by Marc Guillemot and Morgan Lagravière, has been forced to abandon while leading the Transat New York to Barcelona Race.

Last night, at around 0200hrs (French time), during a manoeuver in 35-40 knots of wind, Guillemot fell and suffered a serious blow. He has probably broken some ribs.

At 1500, the boat docked at Puerto Sherry, the port in Cadiz, Spain and Guillemot has gone to hospital for a diagnosis.

They said:

Marc Guillemot: “Abandoning is one injury that always hurts and it’s hard to accept but we are very happy with how we’ve done in the race. Morgan was really assured in looking after the boat. I’m not in very good condition. We are abandoning despite not wanting to.

“There was the (rough) sea, 30-35 knots of wind and there was a big wave. The boat reared up, and I did too, but the boat is heavier and it came back down faster. I found myself one meter above it and then crashed on to the edge of the headsail furler. Fortunately, Morgan saw that something was happening and he was able help me get back to the cockpit. I was doubled over. Once I was safe, he got the boat in a position to continue sailing to Gibraltar.”

Morgan Lagravière: “I saw it happening 10 meters from me. I was at the stern of the boat and Marc was on the bow. I was very scared because I was sure he was going to end up in the water. The waves were so huge that I thought he was a goner. Then he was in a state of shock, I had to drag him to the stern so it was really painful for him. Once he was sitting in the cockpit, he was suffering a lot. I managed the crisis. We managed to tack away to give me some shelter as I went to repair the (furling) reel. We talked about me finishing the race solo with Marc in his bunk and that we could still beat the others. But he was in too much pain. He and I have decided to abandon the race because we don’t know what is causing his pain: if it is a broken rib that could puncture something else, and then it gets complicated. We prefer to have a more accurate diagnosis. It was very intense for me last night…damn hard.

“The overall analysis (of the race) is still positive, as we came to work hard and we are super happy with the work we have done and the partnership we formed. We led the race from start to finish and we were still in the lead. It looked like we would win. We will have good memories even if abandoning is not easy to accept.”

Safran

Neutrogena Wins Prologue (Photo courtesy of Ocean Masters NYBCN )

Neutrogena Wins Prologue (Photo courtesy of Ocean Masters NYBCN )

On a stunning day in New York City, with clear blue skies and a light 6-8 knot breeze, the Neutrogena Sailing Team, with co-Skippers Spaniard Guillermo Altadill and Chilean José Muñoz and their additional crew members won the prologue race by a mere 1 minute and 25 seconds over the French Safran Sailing Team. The race committee elected to shorten course and finish the race at the Verrazzano Suspension Bridge due to the lack of wind in the Hudson River.

As predicted the wind was extremely variable throughout the race, making it a tough tactical challenge for the three teams. Safran led the fleet out of Newport Bay and during the night Neutrogena overtook them and they both pulled out a bit of distance over GAES. In the early hours, the battle between the first two boats started and continued right until the finish line. Until the line at Verrazzano Bridge, Neutrogena and Safran were neck and neck, gybing downwind towards the bridge. They then split gybes at the end, Neutrogena favouring the left and Safran the right and so all bets were off and nobody could call it until they came together again for the finish line. A mere 1 minute and 25 seconds split 1st and 2nd place.

“It was an intense and fun race, a real match race. A couple of miles from the finish line, we jumped right in front and thanks to some aggressive tactics, with continuous gybing, we managed to win the race. The conditions were demanding, with almost continuous sail peels going on. It has been a great opportunity to compare the speed of our boat with the others.” explained Neutrogena Skipper Guillermo Altadill.

José Munoz, co-skipper added “I am very happy to get to New York. It’s my first time and I’m so lucky to come in on a sailing boat and winning the race! Guillermo is a really great tactician, he knows such a lot and is also very demanding. In some manoeuvres we suffered from lack of experience as a crew but we getting better. “

Second placed Safran Skipper Marc Guillemot spoke about the race : “ We had great conditions, a flat sea and wind throughout the race. It was very motivating to have such a close fight with Neutrogena all the way, they performed a little bit better than us throughout so its only fair they won, they were strategically better with the current. It was really nice to share the steering and tactical decisions with Morgan. It is the second time that Safran comes to New York and this time in sunshine so even better.”

Marc’s co-skipper on Safran Morgan Lagraviere, added his thoughts, “Awesome conditions, with lots of opportunities for tactical moves, I really enjoyed this trip. However being seven people onboard is not normal for us and so it was not so easy to adapt, and in reality we were not really able to be fully in ‘competition’ mode but it was still a great race.”

GAES TEAM in NYC

Team GAES in NYC after finishing Prologue Race (Photo courtesy of Ocean Masters NYBCN )

GAES arrived in third place joining the festival and welcome into New York. Anna Corbella, Co-Skipper summed up her race, “It has been interesting, despite the few problems we’ve had. In the evening we made a tactical error, sailing further from the coast than the other boats. Also sailing with four crew members is very positive, eight eyes looking around see more than only four. I was very impressed to get to New York, I had never been here before, and to arrive sailing in front of the Statue of Liberty was incredible.
Gerard Marín, Co-Skipper with Anna on GAES
added: ” We were doing very well until the evening time, but maybe we went too far offshore. Then we managed to catch two fishing lines, and we had to cut the second one from the keel early this morning – that was a pity. It is the first time I am in New York and it’s really impressive to be moored here in the centre of Manhattan. “

Safran and Neutrogena at North Cove Marina, NYC (Photo courtesy of Ocean Masters NYBCN )

The final positions and finishing times (New York local time) were :
1st – Neutrogena – 1346 hrs and 55 seconds local time
2nd Safran – 1338 hrs and 20 seconds
3rd GAES – 1508 hrs

Great news too for Hugo Boss as they re-stepped their mast in Newport today and will make their way to New York as soon as they are happy with everything and ready to go.

Nandor Fa and Marcell Goszleth onboard Spirit of Hungary are also making great progress towards New York and hope to arrive there on Thursday 29th May.

FOR  IMAGES OF THE PROLOGUE START IN NEWPORT BY GEORGE BEKRIS CLICK HERE