Guyader Bermuda 1000 Race
By leading the race from start to finish and continuously setting the pace, the skipper of Apivia returned to winning ways. He crossed the line this Friday at 1 hour 27 minutes after 4 days, 10 hours, 47 minutes and 30 seconds of racing. A way to demonstrate that he has lost none of his rage to win and that he is approaching this year more than ever with increased enthusiasm.
He found his element, his habits and even his adversaries. You should have seen the smile of Charlie Dalin, Sunday morning on the pontoons of Brest, at the idea of leaving alone. “The last time in the race was crossing the finish line of the Vendée Globe,” he confided then. The words were simple – “I’m happy to be back this season alone” – but the determination already palpable.
The head and the trio
And to be convinced of this, all you had to do was follow the trace left by Apivia on the map. Because Charlie Dalin has honored his rank. Right from the start, his IMOCA pointed to the bow in the lead and he never left her. With him, every detail counts. The approach to the race, the choices, the strategy must have surgical precision. When he talks about his race at the end of his first night on board, the Le Havre explains: “I knew it was important to have fresh air to escape ahead”. There are implacable logics in leading the charge when you’re heading out to sea. “Once we caught the new wind, it really went up front and we started to widen the gap”.
If Charlie says “we”, he’s leading the charge as a trio. At the Trophée Département Finistère waypoint, he is less than 5 miles ahead of Jérémie Beyou (Charal) and Thomas Ruyant (LinkedOut). At that of the Fastnet, 20 miles separate them. The skipper Apivia is amused: “We have been racing in contact since the 2020 Vendée Arctic! Same on the Transat Jacques Vabre 2021 and again this year”. A “logical” three-way battle since each “combines the performance of our boats with our experience”.
“Push Charlie, push”
He also knows that the truths of a moment, offshore, can waltz at any moment. Towards the Fastnet, the 35 knots of wind required constant vigilance. “It was quite sporty with a lot of manoeuvres, sail reduction, headsail changes…” He also admits, “having put comfort aside”. But it paid off and the gap widened, a little more, when approaching the Gallimard ‘way point’. He was then 4 hours ahead of Jérémie Beyou and more than 7 hours over Louis Burton (Bureau Vallée), who stole 3rd place from Thomas Ruyant, victim of a bar system problem.
The ascent to Brest is nothing like a triumphal march. “The last section is more difficult than it looks”, he confides, because “the ridge pushes very quickly behind”. The sailor turns into a fine tactician – “I spend a lot of time in front of the computer in front of the files” – and assures that he will not let go. “Push Charlie, push,” he blurts out in reference to F1 drivers.
The pleasure is only greater
While a zone of softness forms and plays with the nerves of all his pursuers, he manages to keep a straighter route. Its pace is slower – 10 to 11 knots in the night from Wednesday to Thursday – but more consistent than its comrades. At the latitude of Ouessant, he is picking up some air and can calmly complete this Guyader Bermudes 1000 Race this Thursday night.
Charlie Dalin’s joy is all the stronger as fate seemed to be working hard. There are bound to be memories of the Vendée Globe. A world tour led almost half of the course (48%), finished 1st on the finish line before being reclassified 2nd. Then the Transat Jacques Vabre last fall with Paul Meilhat and 2nd place, again. He confided, on arrival in Martinique, that he lacked “a few small ingredients” and “a hint of success”. Charlie sometimes has the words of a striker who struggles to hide his frustration when the goals are not there. But the pleasure is only greater when success is rewarded. And that’s what he felt this Thursday in Brest, one of his evenings which will certainly have a special place in his memory box.