When they broke the finish line of the 30th anniversary edition of the Transat Jacques Vabre Normandie Le Havre off Fort-de-France, Martinique in the inky darkness of this Sunday morning at 0202hrs local time, (0602hrs UTC) Thomas Ruyant and Morgan Lagravière (For People) won the IMOCA race. (subject to Jury).
Their elapsed time for the 3750 nautical mile course from Le Havre to Martinique is 11d 21h 32m 31s. Their average speed for the theoretical course is 13.17 knots. They actually sailed 5425 nautical miles at a speed of 19 knots.
From a record entry of 40 boats which started from Le Havre on Tuesday 7th November, French duo Ruyant and Lagravière retain the title they won together on the same race two years ago.
Ruyant, 42, who originates from Dunkirk has become known as the king of Transatlantic racing secures his third consecutive IMOCA victory after also winning the Route du Rhum solo race from Saint Malo to Guadeloupe one year ago.
Since the windy exit of The Channel after the start For People has been among the pacemakers at the head of what is the most competitive IMOCA fleet ever assembled. Whilst Swiss flagged Teamwork.net (Justine Mettraux and Julien Villion) led thanks to a brave break to the north, separating nearly 1000 miles from the main peloton, Ruyant and Lagravière took the lead four days ago in the fast downwind conditions, showing a consistent speed edge which has earned them a winning margin of some 55 miles.
This is Ruyant’s sixth Transatlantic race victory since the ocean racing bug bit him more than 20 years ago when he restored a Mini 650 which he found in a car park in Dunkirk. His first major success was the Mini Transat in 2009 which was followed by the solo Route du Rhum in 2010 on a Class40. The Transat AG2R 2018 in the Figaro 2 was his third victory, the prelude to his three IMOCA successes.
Though he was one the two pacemakers early in the Indian Ocean on the last Vendée Globe Ruyant’s race was severely compromised by losing his port foil. He fought on to take fifth, his race inspiring his sponsors and his group of business supporters in his native north of France to very quickly decide to build him a new IMOCA.
In choosing a new design partnership, architect-skipper Antoine Koch collaborating with the Finot Conq, Ruyant’s racing stable TR Racing have clearly developed a very fast design in For People, the near identical sistership Paprec Arkéa being set to take second place in the hands of Yoann Richomme and Yann Eliès. Theirs has been the quickest boat in the downwind trade winds conditions. TR Racing welcomed the integration of Brit Sam Goodchild in February this year, his sponsors Leyton and Ruyant’s Advens joining forces. Goodchild sails Ruyant’s 2021 race winning boat with the designer of the top two boats Antoine Koch and is on course to take third.
Goodchild observed a few days ago, “Thomas is just great on these Transatlantics, it is no coincidence that he has won them all, the Mini, Class40, the AG2R, he knows how to push this boat well and designed it with Antoine, so they know what they have and it was built to improve on the weaknesses of this boat. They are a very good duo and Morgan really knows how to make the boat go fast. So they have experience, talent and a good boat. They have the deadly combo of all three!”