What an exciting edition of the Vendée Globe we could have in store for us in 2024 given the thrilling dogfight for the podium positions that has just played out in the Atlantic over the final week of the Route du Rhum.
The scrap for the top three positions was – unsurprisingly an all French affair with Thomas Ruyant on LinkedOut holding off the pre-race favourite Charlie Dalin on Apivia to lead the 38-boat fleet into Guadeloupe.
They are hailing Ruyant as the unofficial ‘King of the Transats’ – a fair title for him to hold given his latest win comes after he won last year’s two handed Transat Jacques Vabre (with Morgan Lagravière) and his Class 40 Route du Rhum victory in 2010.
Ruyant was described in the Route du Rhum press release as being “hollow eyed, wobbly legged and exhausted” after completing the 3542-nautical mile course from Saint Malo to Pointe-à-PItre in a
new record time of 11 days 17 hours and 36 minutes. That’s a fraction over 11 hours quicker than François Gabart’s previous benchmark time set in 2014.
Despite closing to within five miles of Ruyant on the final night at sea, Dalin ultimately had to settle for second place after finishing just two hours after his rival and an hour and a half ahead of third placed Jérémie Beyou on the new-generation Charal 2.
As the only one of the top three to be racing a new and relatively unfamiliar boat Beyou’s podium result is perhaps more significant than it seems. Although he says he pushed as hard as he dared in the unproven Sam Manuard-designed boat there is doubtless much more performance to be coaxed out of it.
“I didn’t know where I was with my boat before the start,” he confessed. “I don’t think we can push much harder than we did, yesterday in particular. You think twice about pushing hard in 35 knots in a new boat.”
Ruyant and Dalin both have new boats under construction. While Dalin has stayed with Guiluame Verdier as designer, Ruyant has
entrusted the design of his new boat to Antoine Koch in collaboration with Finot-Conq.
When you also factor in the potential shown by the new boats raced by Kevin Escoffier (Holcim – PRB) and Paul Meilhat (Biotherm Racing) to fourth and sixth respectively, it’s easy to see how competitive the 2024 edition of the Vendée Globe is likely to be.