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Transat CIC: IMOCA finishers celebrate in New York as Class 40 leaders duke it out in the Atlantic

Transat CIC

Yacht Racing Podcast

Freezing fog banks, a light winds head scratcher at 150 miles from the finish, deciphering the vagaries of the Gulf Stream – all these final challenges, and more, were all but forgotten when The Transat CIC IMOCA winner Yoann Richomme (Paprec Arkéa), Germany’s second placed Boris Herrmann (Malizia – Seaexplorer) and Briton Sam Davies (Initiatives Coeur) who finished third, all enjoyed a beautiful, sunny arrival in New York City.

With the finish line more than 100 miles out to sea because of the proliferation of marine mammals and the busy shipping traffic closer to land, the first finishers had time to decompress and rest before entering under the Verrazzano narrows bridge – which was Richomme negotiated during a breathtaking sunrise.

In beautiful sunshine on the warmest day of 2024 so far, they duly filed past Ellis Island for the requisite media call by the Statue of Liberty – which, has added significance as it was given to the USA by France in 1865 in recognition of America as champions of liberty – before docking at the ONE 15 Marina at Brooklyn Heights, where the shimmering Manhattan skyline represents the most recognisable backdrop in the world.

Richomme and Herrmann docked within a few minutes of each other, Davies in the late afternoon to be followed by fourth placed Charlie Dalin (MACIF Santé et Prévoyance) who revealed he had suffered damage to his rudder and had persistent problems with his autopilot, but key for the sailor who was first across the finish line of the last Vendée Globe is that after missing both Autumn transats due to a medical issue, he has qualified for the next race.

“I had some small technical problems. Nothing too bad. A piece of rudder is missing on the port side and was for a while I think. And I had autopilot problems downwind which made steering complicated, with a wind sensor that no longer worked. And I went hard in the first phase of strong northeast wind. I lost my mainsail traveler but I managed to find a solution with my team and repair it 24 hours after the event.” Said Dalin.

Meantime, this morning the victor Richomme said on the dock, “I had difficulty visualising myself as the potential winner of this race but now it really is a dream to add it to my list of achievements. Today it is a reality. It’s a bit surreal, especially since the race itself is quite short. It was great to meet my team offshore, to go up the river, to pass in front of the Statue of Liberty and to arrive in a legendary place after a Transatlantic which is also legendary. The finish was pretty incredible. It’s a change to arrive here. It’s awesome. I feel like we left Lorient yesterday. There are certain similarities to the Vendée Globe, with sequences of weather systems. We showed with Boris (Herrmann) that we have different boat philosophies from others and that it seems to pay off well. We manage to cover the miles well when the weather is bad.”

Herrmann was delighted too: “I am very happy to have such an international podium too, French, German and British and to have a female sailor on the podium is great too. I think the number, finishing second is good but the Vendée Globe is by far my biggest achievement, it is so much longer and is more engaged. But this race is a week and it gives a good sense of what it to come this winter, it was such an intense race seeing strong conditions. I think the rule now is to stay quiet, to not change anything ahead of the Vendée Globe. We should satisfy ourselves with what we have, to capitalise on the reliability we have gained by now not changing anything. We are going to be like this exactly on the Vendée Globe start line.”

Switzerland’s Justine Mettraux (Teamwork-Team SNEF) finished seventh during the night one hour after the current Vendée Globe champion Yannick Bestaven (Maître CoQ), She said, “I’ve had a lot to deal with before the finish. I’m pleased with the race. I think it was tough for everyone. I had quite a few technical problems, but I think that was the case for everyone. It was a case of sorting things out with the team and in general, we managed that. I saw things that could be better done before the Vendée Globe. It’s nice to be able to sail in a good breeze. I’m pleased about how I managed to sail the boat. I don’t think I made any big mistakes. I had a problem with the wind instruments. It’s something that can be better prepared. I’m pleased with the way I sailed, finding the balance between performance and going all the way, and I learnt a lot.”

Swiss skipper Alan Roura (HUBLOT) is due to finish tonight in 12th, just ahead of Franco-German Isabelle Joschke (MACSF) while Japan’s Kojiro Shiraishi (DMG GLOBAL One) is 16th and should finish Wednesday.

Briton James Harayda (Gentoo Sailing Team) lost a little time and distance today after having to drop his mainsail to make repairs to two lashings which hold the sail luff to the mainsail cars. He is pursuing French rival Violette Dorange (Devenir), at three year his junior the youngest sailor in the race, who is six miles ahead with 360 miles to the finish. The 26 year old is having a good match with similar daggerboard boats of Dorange and Guirec Soudée who is about 30 miles ahead. Haryada, 29, reported today

“I have had some issue with my mainsail through the race so far and then today in the breeze two of the lashings which hold the luff on to the mast cars broke and I thought I could put it off a couple of hours before I sail into the light breeze but I went to shake a reef out and the emergency trip line had been pulled and so I could not get it back on the lock and so I had to pull that all the way through and re-do all the lashings and so with having done all that I am just knackered from now doing a full hoist in 20kts plus another two reefs worth of grinding. Anyway I am heading north and will tack in a couple of hours and get back south a little bit. But yes I am a bit frustrated as I had a really good race going with Violette and so I have to get back at her, onwards and upwards.”

And, after crossing close to Dorange who has McDonalds as a sponsor, Harayda chuckled, “The unfair thing is literally I have been craving a burger ever since we crossed, maybe there is some subliminal warfare there…..”

And Swiss German Ollie Heer is struggling after a massive knockdown a couple of days ago left him with no energy. The skipper of Oliver Heer Ocean Racing was left completely without power after his boat finally righted itself. After a long battle he now has some minimal power from his solar panels through his engine battery which means has his pilots working by day but is having to hand steer at night which is doubly difficult as he has injured one arm. He has 1000 miles to go and was making 7 knots this evening.

The Class 40 battle is swinging to and fro between Italy’s Ambrogio Beccaria (Alla Grande Pirelli) and France’s Ian Lipinski (Crédit Mutuel). As they try to get through the high pressure ridge which two days ago slowed the IMOCA leaders, Lipinksi is just ahead, positioned 40 miles to the north of the Italian,

“It is close, close, close but still very open.” Said Beccaria this morning at under 500 miles to go, “It is impossible to know the routes as there are so many weather systems that are passing us between now and the finish and then there is the big problem of the current, yesterday I lost 80 miles because of the current which is just not on my charts, I don’t have these currents in my navigation charts and so that makes me a little bit frustrated on the navigation side as I don’t know how to manage it but in the end I am happy because yesterday I was worried Ian was in front and we are back together and it is good, and now I see the Gulf Stream yesterday it was 22 degrees now it is seven, it is getting colder.”

Main image © DEMIAN NEUFELD

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