Mark Lloyd /

Gabart and MACIF claim honours

First boat home in the Transat bakerly

Tuesday May 10th 2016, Author: Ed Gorman, Location: United States

Francois Gabart completed his first solo win on board his new 100ft Ultime trimaran, MACIF , today when he crossed the finish line of The Transat bakerly off New York at 18:24 EDT (22:24 GMT).

The 33-year-old Frenchman, who leapt to fame in sailing circle when he became the youngest ever winner of the Vendée Globe solo round-the-world race, sailed a brilliant race from Plymouth, completing the course in 8 days, 8 hours, 54 minutes and 39 seconds.

Technically he has narrowly missed out on the present race record, set by Michel Desjoyeaux on the ORMA 60 Geant in 2004, of 8 days, 8 hours, 29 minutes. But at 3,050 miles, the official course for this year's race to New York is longer than the course Desjoyeaux sailed to Boston. But more incredible is the total distance Gabart sailed - a total of 4,634 miles - thanks to his most extreme southerly route that saw both MACIF and Thomas Coville's Sodebo pass several hundred miles to the south of the Azores.

Over this huge distance MACIF made an average speed of 23.11 knots. This compares with 16.41 knots which was average speed of Desjoyeaux over his actual course on his crossing 12 years ago - not surprising considering that MACIF is a state of the art 100ft Ultime rather than a 14 year old ORMA 60 trimaran.

Gabart's blue, white and yellow VPLP-designed trimaran, in which his hopes to attempt the solo non-stop round-the-world record, crossed the line with her its jubilant skipper waving to his team support boat.

Shortly afterwards Gabart reflected on a race that, for much of the time, saw him in close company with Coville on the similarly sized Ultime, Sodebo. For the first three days the two skippers were never more than a few miles apart, having crossed the Bay of Biscay in sight of each other.

“The competition with Thomas on Sodebo was wonderful. It made the race incredible for me.  We are working together to organise more races for these type of boats, and when we see what happened in The Transat bakerly, and how close the competition was, we know there is a place for it. This is just the beginning of the journey.”

Gabart clearly loved his first outing on his new mile-munching ocean-racing thoroughbred, and he more than stepped up to the challenge that the 30m long giant posed. “It was a big challenge for me. You should have 10 or 15 people to manage these boats, and it’s just me. It was my first solo race on Macif, and I didn’t know if I was able to do it, so I am really proud of what I did.

“To arrive into New York was perfect. The boat is in good shape. Me? Well, maybe not! I’m very tired, but I’m incredibly proud.”

As winner of the Ultime class, Gabart will be presented with a special watch from The Transat bakerly official timekeeper Ralf Tech.

Commenting on Gabart’s performance, The Transat bakerly Event Director Herve Favre said: “Francois and Thomas put on an amazing show at the front of the fleet and Francois has emerged a worthy and deserving winner. Over the next week we will see the winners of the IMOCA 60, Multi50 and Class40s emerge and each winner will be a hero in my book.”

The Big Apple has only been used once before as the finish port of the OSTAR/Transat - in the very first race in 1960 when the winner, one Sir Francis Chichester on the monohull Gipsy Moth III, was at sea for 40 days, 12 hours 30 minutes. Sailing a multihull from a different century, Gabart was 32 days, 3 hours and 36 minutes quicker than the British round the world legend.

As Gabart crossed the line Coville was still some 118nm from the finish while the third-placed trimaran in the Ultime class – Actual, skippered by Yves Le Blevec – was still 509.6nm away.

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