Paralympian Seguin leads match race home Imoca
France's three-time paralympic medallist Damien Seguin today adds a sixth place in the IMOCA class on the 40th anniversary Route du Rhum-Destination Guadeloupe to his long list of sailing honours.
Seguin was born without a left hand and has won titles inshore and offshore, notably two gold medals and one silver in successive Paralympics between 2008 and 2016. He skippered and steered the winning boat in last year's month-long Tour Voile against some of France's top multihull talent.
During a long career in Class40 Seguin, who was born in Briancon in the French Alps but grew up on Guadeloupe, finished in eighth and tenth in the 2010 and 2014 Route du Rhum-Destination Guadeloupes.
This race holds many treasured childhood memories for Seguin who recalls being on the dock in Pointe-à-Pitre as 10-year-old to welcome in the transatlantic solo racers. But today's success, his first transatlantic solo on his IMOCA, represents the first big step towards fulfilling a 30-year dream of completing a solo, non-stop, race around the world in the Vendée Globe.
Seguin has an adapted pedestal 'coffee grinder' winch on board his Groupe Apicil. That apart, his boat is nearly identical to the two other same-generation Finot Conq designs, Stéphane Le Diraison's Time for Ocean and Alan Roura's La Fabrique, which he led into Pointe-à-Pitre this morning after an engaging three-cornered joust all the way from Saint Malo.
Before the start Seguin said he had modest ambitions, looking to prepare methodically and progressively for his Vendée Globe which starts in two years time. His result today proves he can be competitive around the world. "I feel very humble,” Seguin said before he set off on his new course in the IMOCA class.
“Even if I have done a lot of stuff in Class40, an extra twenty feet is quite something else. It’s a huge physical challenge. I have to get to grips with the monster. I have a lot to learn. I don’t want to get ahead of myself.”
Seguin was finishing this morning some 60 miles clear of an enthralling match race between Le Diraison and Roura who were approaching La Tête à l'Anglais, at the northwest tip of Guadeloupe, side-by-side after nearly 15 days of racing. Their duel looks certain to go right to the finish line.
The next 24-36 hours in Pointe-à-Pitre will see the arrival of the winners in three different classes. This evening should see a Rhum Multi class win for Pierre Antoine (Olmix) who rescued Lalou Roucayrol (Arkema) from his capsized Multi50 three days ago.
The early hours of Tuesday should see Sidney Gavignet complete a comprehensive swansong win in the Rhum Mono division on the 50ft Cafe Joyeaux and Yoann Richomme triumph in Class40 on his new Veedol-AIC.
Gavignet is still struggling with his autopilots as he reported this morning: “These little beasts are very sensitive, you need to have full battery charge and the fuses appear super-sensitive. There is one little fuse in the heart of the machine which works loose. I have given it some love this morning. It is a little technical moment on the Joyeaux which makes me happy.”