Photo: Alexis Courcoux

Lucky Loick

Perfect victory for Peyron on his seventh attempt at the Route du Rhum

Monday November 10th 2014, Author: James Boyd, Location: Guadeloupe

After sailing an immaculate Route du Rhum and 32 years after the first of his seven attempts, French ocean racing veteran Loick Peyron has won the Route du Rhum-Destination Guadeloupe. After a surprisingly slow crawl around the western side of Guadeloupe, his 31.5m long trimaran Maxi Solo Banque Populaire VII eventually crossed the finish line off Pointe-a-Pitre at 04:08:32 UTC having completed the 3,542 mile race from St Malo in a new record time of 7d 15h 8m 32s.

Maxi Solo Banque Populaire VII's elapsed time represents a new outright record for the race, taking 2 hours 10 minutes 34 seconds off the the previous reference time of 7 days 17 hours and 9 minutes, set by Lionel Lemonchois and the ORMA 60 Gitana 11 in the 2006 race.

Peyron sailed the 3,524 nms theoretical course at an average speed of 19.34 knots. In reality he sailed 4,199 nm total at an average of 22.93 knots.

guadeloupe 1ere en direct sur le net by guadeloupe1ere


Peyron has a longstanding special affection for La Route du Rhum as it is the Transatlantic race which launched his solo ocean racing career as a 22-year-old. Until today he had finished fifth twice and was forced to abandon three times in the ORMA 60 trimarans in 1990, 1994 and 2002.

At the age of 54, his Route du Rhum triumph is another new summit for the sailor from La Baule, who only signed up with the campaign two months ago to replace skipper Armel Le Cléach’h who injured his hand.

Maxi Solo Banque Populaire VII’s win was built from the first night at sea. Immediately pulling ahead in the difficult upwind section exiting the English Channel, Peyron was the first around Ushant, perfectly timing his key passage through the front. He opened his lead in almost all sections of the course, except momentarily when he lead into a bubble of light winds under the Azores high. His slow approach to the finish line has seen second placed Yann Guichard on the 40m Spindrift close to within 180 miles.

While this is the first Route du Rhum victory for is the second consecutive win for his boat, which as Groupama 3, Franck Cammas took to victory in the 2010 race albeit in the slower time of 9 days 3 hours.

Throughout this Route du Rhum, Peyron was supported by his shore-based routers Marcel van Triest and Armel Le Cléac’h.

Upon his arrival Peyron commented: “It is a very nice victory, a team victory. I was not supposed to be on this boat two months ago. I was supposed to do the Rhum race on a very small yellow trimaran, which will be the case in four years time, when I come back. But it is not a surprise because I knew that the boat was able to do it. I knew that the team was able to help me a lot.

"Armel is here, but he does not want to be here on the pontoon. But he is here and in fact we spent the week together. We were talking all the time, before and during the race, and he gave me so much help.

"It was really tough, but I am really impressed by the job that Yann Guichard has done since the start. His boat is bigger, this boat is big but it is nice.

"The last day was difficult, from the early hours off the Désirade, there was a lot of maneuvering to be done. It's been seven editions for me! This is an exceptional situation, to stand in for Armel and to be able to skipper such a beautiful boat. This victory is thanks to Team Banque Populaire, as whole team we did this.

"I never imagined that I would win a Route du Rhum on a boat like this. A race like this is never simple and that is what is so exciting and incredible about it. It is also very stressful for the boat to withstand such high speeds in bad seas. I was able to sail the boat well but was scared. This is what the multihull game is all about. You have to constantly manage the boat. One night I fell asleep at the helm and nearly capsized the boat. This is a great victory; possibly one of the nicest and breaking the record is the cherry on top of the cake.”

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