Actual, Winner Of The 2010 Vendee to St. Petersburg

Actual, Winner Of The 2010 Vendée Saint-Pétersbourg

 A clean race without any mistakes… a race that finishes for Yves Le Blévec and his crew with a win that they fought hard for showing both determination and intelligence. It offers Yves Le Blévec revenge in two ways: a revenge for the first leg, when they lost out by some 75 seconds, but above all revenge too after fate forced Actual to retire shortly after the start of the last Transat Jacques Vabre.

Right up to the finish, the pressure was on Yves Le Blévec. Even if, since the 0600 hrs rankings from this morning, the crew of Actual knew they were almost certainly heading for victory, the red and green trimaran had to cross the line before the skipper could express all his emotion.
Immediately, friends and family went on board, accompanied by Eric Loizeau, who raced with them in the first leg. An achievement that simply had to be celebrated by the four men, who were behind this success: Eric, Yves, but also Ronan Deshayes, who prepared the boat and sailed this time too, and finally, Jean-Baptiste Le Vaillant, who brought along his skills as a trimmer and his experience of ocean racing on three-hulled machines.
A win achieved in several stages
Over the final miles, the trimaran flying the number 53, could be seen zooming along at more than twenty knots under gennaker with one reef in the mainsail. A few gybes later, Actual crossed the finishing line at 13 hrs 29 mins 25 secs GMT, after racing for 5 days 21 hours 10 minutes and 25 seconds.  In fact, Actual’s win has its origins back in the North Sea, before they made their way through the Dover Straits, as Yves and his crew made gains thanks to a small tactical option further west than Franck Yves Escoffier’s Crêpes Whaou ! 3. As they made their way into the English Channel, the two leaders were twenty-five miles apart, and hoping to close the gap, Franck-Yves Escoffier attempted an option close to the coast of Brittany, while Actual sought out the north-westerly wind that was forecast. The result of their respective strategies was that Franck-Yves’s red trimaran was some fifty miles behind by daybreak. Maintaining his sense of fair play, the skipper of Crêpes Whaou ! 3 admitted this was a do or die option, as he knew that it could worsen his situation… “It will either work out or be a disaster,” racers often say, as they make one last ditch attempt to regain control.
Franck-Yves Escoffier is due to cross the finishing line at around 1630 hrs GMT. Whatever happens, both crews will have contributed to making this race what it was and it should mark a new beginning in the development and promotion of the Multi50 class.
From the boats
Yves Le Blévec (Actual):  It’s difficult to describe. Obviously we’re very pleased. It was a really exciting race. On the outward leg as well as on the return leg. We overtook, got overtaken and overtook again. I’m just so pleased to be the first back to Saint Gilles. It was all really down to some small tactical choices. In the North Sea, we gained a slight advantage. We decided to continue with our option in the English Channel and it certainly paid off.
The crew really worked well together: Jean-Bapt (Le Vaillant), whenever he talked about us, called us the young ones. In fact, we’re really a crew of old-timers. It’s true that I sometimes am not in a good mood, but that livens things up for the others…”
Positions in the 1400 hrs rankings
– 1 Actual (Y Le Blévec) finished on 6th June at 13hrs 29mins 25secs
– 2 Crêpes Whaou ! 3 (FY Escoffier) 67.3 miles from the finish
– 3 Crêpes Whaou ! 2 (L Féquet) 211.2 miles from the leader
– 4 Région Aquitaine Port-Médoc (L Roucayrol) 349.3 miles from the leader
– 5 Naviguez Anne Caseneuve (A Caseneuve) 355.1 miles from the leader
– 6 FenêtréA-Cardinal (E Le Roux) 410.9 miles from the leader
– 7 La mer révèle nos sens (P Hingant) 452.2 miles from the leader
– 8 CLM (H Cléris) 525.3 miles from the leader

 

Crêpes Whaou! 3 (Photo by JEAN-MARIE LIOT / DPPI / Vendée Saint Petersbourg

Crêpes Whaou! 3 (Photo by JEAN-MARIE LIOT / DPPI / Vendée Saint Petersbourg

There are three races going on within the race this afternoon. At the front of the fleet, the two leaders are making their way out of the Oresund Straits and will soon be choosing which tack to be on, depending now on their strategy and not the obstacles lying ahead of them. In third position, the crew of Crêpes Whaou ! 2 is just preparing to enter the famous sound, while the rest of the fleet are battling it out in the Baltic.

Sometimes a race is down to a small detail. Actual, who led the way from the start of this second leg, knows that only too well.  Ruling the waves and keeping their rival at bay, Yves Le Blévec and his crew chose a route to the west of the island of Gotland. Convinced they had made the right choice, they awaited this morning’s rankings to see how far they were ahead of Crêpes Whao ! 3. Only to discover that Antoine Koch, Franck-Yves and Kevin Escoffier, by passing to the east of the island had taken the lead. It may only be a small lead, but it was a difficult blow for the crew to accept, especially when they thought they had been doing so well with the various difficulties in their path. To a certain extent, that just goes to prove how demanding the standard is that is set by the two frontrunners.

The quest for perfection
This closely fought battle between the two leaders has of course, had a consequence concerning the gap they have achieved over those following on behind. Crêpes Whaou ! 2, in spite of all the hard work, is finding it difficult to keep up and can only hope the frontrunners will be slowed down at some point to enable them to get back in the running. As they round the tip of Denmark, their hopes may be partly fulfilled: the latest forecasts from Météo France suggest that the two leaders will encounter strong headwinds and rough seas, while those following them, may well experience better conditions.
Further back still, Lalou Roucayrol (Région Aquitaine Port-Médoc) and his mates are warding off the attacks from a trio including FenêtréA Cardinal, Naviguez Anne Caseneuve and La mer révèle nos sens, who are now grouped together within three miles of each other. As on the outward leg, it is a close contact race that is now beginning for them, which is certainly more stimulating than having to sail alone. Solitude is something that the crews on CLM and PiR2 are probably beginning to feel. Hervé Cléris and his crew got left behind last night as they were leaving the Gulf of Finland, without really understanding the ins and outs of what happened. As for Etienne Hochédé, he is counting on his determination and perseverance to overcome all the doubts and demons at work at the rear of the fleet. Etienne and his crewmen already proved during the first leg that they were clever enough to make the most of the situation and enjoy sailing in these waters in the waters of Northern Europe.
From the boats
Yves Le Blévec (Actual): “We were surprised this morning. When I got the rankings, my first reaction was to say that we had gained thirty miles over them, before realising that number three was ahead of 53. We’re currently tacking in the sound. We’ve just passed under the Europe Bridge. Crêpes Whaou ! went her own way as they went over the tunnel. In any case, the situation looks very confused in the North Sea. Lots of things can happen between now and then.” 
Françoise Hanss (PiR2):  “We’re taking advantage of the situation as we have a lot of wind. For the time being, we’re not really suffering too badly from the cold: the floor is dry and we’re eating and we have gas. Paul (Coulais) thinks we’re on a windsurfing board and we’re really zooming along. We didn’t really know Yoann on the outward leg or Paul for the return leg before. So our race is also an opportunity to get to know each other well. Everything is fine on board… I’d like to thank everyone, who has sent us messages during the race, as it’s very touching.”
Ronan Delacou (CLM):  “We’re used to sailing with Hervé, as we’ve done about ten transatlantic races together. We lost some ground over Anne at the start and then the wind got up, but it certainly looks like it was stronger for those at the front. We’re passing the island of Gotland, which is very flat with strange looking houses and rather surrealistic buildings.  The cold? We’re used to it with Hervé as we’ve been up to the Arctic together to Spitsbergen. It would be nice to head up there now…” 

Rankings at 1400hrs GMT
– 1 Crêpes Whaou ! 3 (FY Escoffier) 1077 miles from the finish
– 2 Actual (Y Le Blévec) 12 miles from the leader
– 3 Crêpes Whaou ! 2 (L Féquet) 59.7 miles from the leader
– 4 Région Aquitaine Port-Médoc (L Roucayrol) 150.4 miles from the leader
– 5 FenêtréA-Cardinal (E Le Roux) 166.3 miles from the leader
– 6 Naviguez Anne Caseneuve (A Caseneuve) 167.7 miles from the leader
– 7 La mer révèle nos sens (P Hingant) 169.8 miles from the leader
– 8 CLM (H Cléris) 264 miles from the leader
– 9

Vendee To St. Petersburg (Photo by Vincent Curutchet / DPPI / Vendee -

Vendee To St. Petersburg (Photo by Vincent Curutchet / DPPI / Vendée Saint Petersbourg)

 

Less than 150 miles to go. Next to nothing for these machines capable of speeding along at an average speed of twenty knots. That is all that faces the two multihulls which have been leading this first leg since the start. In which order will they finish? Between Crêpes Whaou 3 ! and Actual, the gap has remained so small, that no one is willing to make any forecasts. Behind them, the wind, which has finally freshened, is enabling the pack to close the gap a little bit, which means we can look forward to a fight in the return leg…
They may not be spending their holidays together but these two just seem to want to stick together out on the water. Yesterday evening the gap between Franck-Yves Escoffier and Yves Le Blévec widened to more than twenty miles for the first time in the race. But that was only to last as long as a night in the far north of Europe… A few hours later, the green trimaran was back up with her all-red rival. The only thing we can be sure of is that on Monday we are to see the conclusion of this first act. Franck-Yves Escoffier, used to clear wins, remains fully determined in spite of his cheerful disposition. Yves Le Blévec is only dreaming of one thing and that is achieving his first win. We cannot question the motivation of each of the two crews, who are vying for victory. It is all likely to be done to a few little details: a puff of air that someone picks up, a little more experience of multihull sailing for one, a slight advantage in a breeze for the other…Who knows? Whatever happens, between these two competitors history is being made, just as each time two close rivals battle it out for the finish and show utter respect for the other. There’s likely to be a lot of lively discussions in the bar in Saint-Petersburg Yacht Club.

The gang of four

While third place is most likely to go to Loïc Féquet and his mates, unless there is a major upset on board Crêpes Whaou ! 2, the battle is raging for fourth place, and honour is at stake for the older multihulls. While we had imagined a duel between Pierre Hingant’s crew (La mer révèle nos sens) and Anne Caseneuve’s (Croisières Anne Caseneuve), two other competitors are now fighting over the remains of the feast: Lalou Roucayrol (Région Aquitaine Port-Médoc) has continued to assert the qualities of his multihull, when the breeze gets up. He has now given us proof of that by entering this battle for fourth place, after being more than fifty miles behind yesterday at the same time. In his wake, Erwan Le Roux (FenêtréA Cardinal) wants to show too that they still have that talent and determination. Erwan has just achieved two consecutive wins, as a tactician in the Tour de France Sailing Race, one of the most demanding crewed events in the European circuit, and it was certainly not luck that enabled him to do that. As for Hervé Cléris (CLM) he is not so far back and can still hope for them all to bunch up as he aims for fifth place. Only the  c r e w   o f   ÀR 2   f r e e l y   a d m i t s   t h a t   t h e y   a r e   o u t   o f   t h i s   f i g h t :   f o r   E t i e n n e   H o c h é d é   a n d   h i s   c r e w m e n ,   t h e y   a r e   j u s t   l o o k i n g   f o r w a r d   t o   b e   a b l e   t o   t a k e   p a r t   i n   t h e   P a r a d e   o f   V e s s e l s   i n   f r o n t   o f   t h e   P e t e r   a n d   P a u l   f o r t r e s s .   T h i s   i s   n o t   d o w n   t o   a   l a c k   o f   a m b i t i o n   b u t   m o r e   a   q u e s t i o n   o f   g e t t i n g   t h i n g s   i n t o   p e r s p e c t i v e   a n d   b e i n g   r e a l i s t i c   a n d   a l s o   m a k i n g   a   w i s e   c h o i c e .  
 F r o m   t h e   b o a t s :
 E t i e n n e   H o c h é d é   ( ÀR 2 )
    W e   a r e   d u e   t o   p a s s   t h e   E u r o p e   B r i d g e   f o u r   o r   f i v e   h o u r s   f r o m   n o w .   W e  r e   m o v i n g   a l o n g   n i c e l y   d o i n g   1 4 – 1 5   k n o t s . It’s not very warm on board the boat, as aluminium is not a good insulator and with the sea temperature down to around 8-9°… The end of this voyage is likely to be faster and we should see the full potential of our old boat. As soon as the wind freshens, she rises up on her foils and can start to achieve great speeds. But in light airs… I had thought of taking off the foils as they have slowed us down so much up until now.”
Franck-Yves Escoffier (Crêpes Whaou 3 !)
“What was destined to happen is happening. We thought we had got ourselves a good lead last night and there you go, Actual is coming back at us again. This is going to be the umpteenth time we have found ourselves racing together. It all starts again with everything to play for. We’re determined to lead the way right up to the finishing line. We’ve been enjoying some exceptional moments: it was a fantastic night as we sailed along at twenty knots on smooth seas. Up here, night only lasts for a couple of hours. Yesterday there was a crescent moon. The moonlight, semi-darkness and clear skies… One of those moments that we’ll never forget, as it was so magical… For the finish, we’ll see. We’ve got a joker up our sleeve with Antoine (Koch) on board. He has just completed the transatlantic race from Concarneau – St-Barts, and is still hot and also an excellent navigator…”
Yves Le Blévec (Actual)
« Franck-Yves is a nice fellow: he always says nice things about you, but that isn’t stopping him from going that bit faster! For the moment, he still has the advantage. We’re going to try to keep fighting right up to the end. We took turns in getting some rest to be able to think clearly about this final stretch. We know that the slightest mistake could cost us a lot, so we want to be in good shape for these final miles. The race is fascinating and we’re also discovering some magnificent landscapes; our only regret is that we can’t stop.”
Reminder

ETA for the first two boatsThe ETA is now between 0400 and 0500 hrs GMT. A radio session with the winners is planned for 1000hrs GMT.  (You have to add on six hours of sailing to get from the finishing line to the pontoon in St-Petersburg).
Rankings at 1400hrs GMT
– 1 Crêpes Whaou ! 3 (FY Escoffier) 147.7 miles from the finish
– 2 Actual (Y Le Blévec) 6.1 miles from the leader
– 3 Crêpes Whaou ! 2 (L Féquet) 291.3 miles from the leader
– 4 Naviguez Anne Caseneuve (A Caseneuve) 403.8 miles from the leader
– 5 La mer révèle nos sens (P Hingant) 422.4 miles from the leader
– 6 Région Aquitaine Port-Médoc (L Roucayrol) 433.4 miles from the leader
– 7 FenêtréA-Cardinal (E Le Roux) 439.1 miles from the leader
– 8 CLM (H Cléris) 456.5 miles from the leader
– 9