Giancarlo Pedote © Arnaud Pilpré / RDR 2022
A flurry of finishes for the skippers in the Route du Rhum
The notorious final miles around Guadeloupe, negotiating a minefield of calms and light winds whilst significantly underpowered because of a hole in her mainsail, proved a cruel sting in the tail for Briton Pip Hare (Medallia) who slipped from tenth to 12th position in a record sized IMOCA class on the 12th Route du Rhum -Destination Guadeloupe in the early hours of this morning (23 November).
But this final, sticky challenge on the 3,542 miles course from Saint-Malo did not deter Hare's 24 year old rookie compatriot James Harayda (Gentoo) who secured an impressive 14th position from 38 starters on his first major solo IMOCA ocean race.
If Hare was disappointed, she did not let it impact too much on her warm welcome into Pointe-à-Pitre. Although she had to first concede her hard earned 10th to French rival Romain Attanasio (Fortinet-Best Western) when she ground to a halt just before the Basse Terre buoy at 27 miles to the finish line, she chased hard to try and get back on terms with Sebastien Marsset (Mon Courtier Energie-Cap Agir Ensemble) and was just 1 minute 17secs behind when he took 11th place, completing her race in 13 days, 8 hours, 38 minutes and 12 seconds.
"The circuit round the island is just brutal, what a way to finish a race," grinned Hare at the finish."I am completely knackered. I came into the north of the island knowing the guys were so close behind and I was watching them. And I did a couple of gybes this morning to cover them. But all the chickens came home to roost.
What was good though was Seb at the end. He crossed tacks with me and I was so despondent I was saying to myself 'you have just thrown away a tenth.....' and then I saw an opportunity to get back in the game and it was really nice. It was so close in the end. It was so nice to be racing hard to the finish line. That picked me back up again. And if the course had been a mile longer, I would have had him."
On her last race before she has new, bigger hydrofoils fitted to Medallia, Hare sailed a smart middle section of the race, separating out slightly to the west after the Azores which allowed her to get south into the tradewinds quicker. But it was when she was punching through a cold front last Wednesday that she tore a 3m-by-3m hole in the front of her mainsail which required her to sail with one reef until the finish line.
"We have come so far in this season with this new boat. I just wanted to nail it in this final race of the season and I think we did that. It is my best result in the IMOCA class ever and for a 'small foil boat' boat I am proud," Hare told the well-wishers at the finish.
Three women in top 12
Three female skippers have finished in the top 12 of the IMOCA fleet. Switzerland's Justine Mettraux (Teamwork.net) who at 0241hrs UTC Monday morning finished seventh, was the first woman and top international, non-French skipper. Franco-German Isabelle Joshcke (MACSF) finished ninth some 13 hours after Mettraux and six hours before Hare. "Three women in the top 12...well I feel like I let us down because it should have been three women in the top ten. But it really is super cool. Still women are underrepresented in this sport. But our class is one of the toughest in the race and we have 25% participation from women and three in top 12 is fantastic," commented Hare.
After losing her mast early in the 2018 Route du Rhum and failing to finish the Vendée Globe after succumbing to keel ram failures, Joschke was delighted with her result, saying, "This ninth place is great. I fought, I gave it my all from the start to the end of this race. I didn't think I was going to stay in the top 10 until the finish. I managed each time to find the resources, the energy. And now my success is that I held this position until the end. I am very proud and very happy."
A fistful of promise
As the youngest skipper in the IMOCA class, Harayda's 14th place underlines his promise, especially considering he had no background in solo or shorthanded offshore racing until he did a two-year mixed doubles campaign in a SunFast 3300 with former Vendée Globe racer Dee Caffari.
When it became apparent that there was to be no Olympic offshore event in 2024, ambitious Harayda set out on a course to the 2024 Vendée Globe which he hopes will lead to a new boat programme for 2028.
Unlike his French rivals who arrive in the IMOCA from the Mini 650, the Figaro or Class 40 feeder divisions, Harayda grew up in Singapore racing dinghies and small sports keelboats. And though he sailed with Alex Thomson on his most recent Hugo Boss, he only started seriously sailing his IMOCA in May and his only solo passages until now were September's 48 Heures Azimut and his 2000-mile qualifier for this race.
Harayda who finished at 01:28:35 UTC, after 13 days, 12 hours, 13 minutes and 35 seconds, said, "It was a brilliant race. At the start I could never have imagined coming in here in 14th. It is amazing especially after the first week when I was really struggling getting the boat to perform the way I wanted it to."
He contends that his lack of time in the class allowed him to race with an especially open mind. "I think coming into this race, I came in with no pressure, I was not coming in to make a result. I was looking to do the race and just get across the finishing line, always thinking – I suppose – what's the worst thing that could happen? That worked really well. It is quite an intimidating boat to step into and start racing and with that mindset it let me enjoy it a bit more."
Italy's Giancarlo Pedote (Prysmian Group) finishes 16th
At 1:47:50 a.m. local time (5:47:50 a.m. UTC), Italian skipper Giancarlo Pedote on Prysmian Group crossed the finish line in Pointe-à-Pitre in sixteenth position in this twelfth edition of the Route du Rhum-Destination Guadeloupe, after 13 days, 16 hours 32 minutes 50 seconds. The Italian sailor arrived in Pointe-à-Pitre 1 day, 22hours, 56minutes, and 25seconds after the winner in IMOCA, Thomas Ruyant (LinkedOut).
Upon arriving at the pontoon, Pedote said: "The conditions at the start were more or less normal, except that on the second night my J2 split in two. I wasn't expecting that in twenty knots of wind. I cried as it was so painful bringing down the sail. I continued under J3 but was handicapped, as we had a lot of upwind sailing. I took an option south, but it wasn't the right one. I climbed the mast in the ridge and then in the second downwind part of the race, I had good speed and managed to close the gap on the group. I found some interesting sail set-ups, but still had a lot of work to do. I would have liked to have done better, but sailing is a mechanical sport. It was complicated sailing around Guadeloupe with a lot of manoeuvres, just like in the Glénans (sailing school) handbook.
Sailing is a competitive sport for me and not necessarily a pleasure. I always try to do better and these boats are not designed for pleasure. I have mixed feelings about my race but am pleased to have finished in Guadeloupe."
Class40 winner due in this afternoon
This morning, with a lead of 80 miles and around 60 miles to the finish line, French ace Yoann Richomme (Paprec-Arkema) is on course to defend the Route du Rhum-Destination Guadeloupe Class40 title that he won in 2018. Richomme jumped the start gun of the race on Sunday 9th December and quickly took his mandatory four-hour penalty at Capre Fréhel, which saw him resume racing in 51st place of the 55 Class40s which started.
The battle for second in the Class40 looks set to go to the wire, with Italy's Ambrogio Beccaria (Allagrande Pirelli) and France's Corentin Douguet (Queguiner – Innoveo) currently within 1 mile of each other with around 140 miles to go.