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11/15 - 18h06

Safran Swansong, Third Encore!

His swansong race on the IMOCA60 Safran sees Marc Guillemot finish in third place in the IMOCA 60 Class just as he did four years ago on the same boat. Guillemot arrived in Pointe a Pitre extremely tired having suffered many technical problems, especially towards the end after his autopilots failed and he had to hand steer for much of the last four days. It is the second time in a row he has finsihed third in the IMOCA 60 class. For the remainder of La Route du Rhum fleet the winds are becoming a little more stable which is to the good of Spain's Alex Pella who leads Class40 on Tales 2. HIs runway towards the finish line in Guadeloupe becomes slightly more straightfoward in easier Trade Winds as his leading delta now amounts to 10% of the remaining mileage - now around 80 miles ahead of Thibault Vauchel Camus (Solidaires en Peloton) and Kito de Pavant (Otio-Bastide Medical) who are locked on the same mileage to the finish line.
For Guillemot the moments arriving in Pointe-a-Pitre were bittersweet. He left Saint Malo wanting a win for his final race in the colours of Safran on a boat which broke new ground in 2007, as the first of the collaboration between Guillaume Verdier and VPLP which went on to also produce the Vendee Globe winner and runner up. After having to retire from the Vendee Globe within the first few hours when his keel broke, Guillemot was determined ot have a winning finish to his seven year relationship with his boat and racing in Safran's colours. But a whole series of techncial issues left him on the back foot, always dealing with problems:
Marc Guillemot:
"This race really did become a battle, not the kind of fight I had expected. I had to struggle with the boat and all the technical problems I had. And it seemed like all the problems were linked, a downward spiral if you like. I really questioned at 950 miles from here, what do I do? I have no more power, I was no longer really in the race. But you have to fight on, little by little you deal with the problems.  You learn how to manage them and keep racing. And so in the end I feel like I fought well.  So well done me! I think in the end I have had a good race, managing all the situations. With this boat I have had problems but rarely ones which force me to retire. I do like to see that I finish races. This is my fifth Rhum and my fifth finish. So I am not unhappy. At the start it is the result, the finish that matters and in end the conditions are beautiful and you have the satisfaction of finishing."
" This is a boat that is so good, so beautiful, well built, well thought through by all those who participated: the architects, and Verdier VPLP  and the Safran team. This is a great boat that still has a long career ahead of him. It will be seen in other colours in other races. This is a bit of me this boat. It is not completely the end of my association with Safran: there is a new skipper happens, a new boat, which may be in need of my services. If this is not the case, I would go somewhere else because I want to sail, I dont want to be on shore."
"I have dirty hands for 950 miles before the finish. Four times a day, I recovered oil in to theengine and replaced it with a small can of Coke. And each time that gave me 20 minutes of charging before the engine stopped. At times i had the face of a mechanic with oil everywhere "
In fourth place Armel Tripon (For Humble Heroes) is around 100 miles to the finish line. The skipper who is on his first IMOCA race stayed with the leaders well to the Azores. A former Figaro and Mini sailor who has eyes on the next Vendee Globe he has contained Louis Burton (Bureau Vallee).  Les Sables d'Olonne based Alessandro di Benedetto (Team Plastique-AFM Telethon) is still struggling to get 100% from his older, less powerful IMOCA monohull, suffering problems , not least with his pilot. But he keeps his pace up enough to more or less keep Tanguy de Lamotte at bay, but perhaps not for long enough.
Alex Pella seems to be increasingly comfortable on the rapid Botin design at the head of the Class 40 fleet in the downwind Trades conditions. But the second and third places are still open, Thibaut Vauchel-Camus (Solidaires en Peloton) and Kito de Pavant (Otio-Bastide Medical) are trading gybes while another trio are having a great tussle behind. Barcelona bred Pella, who has the advantage of two Mini Transats and one two handed round the world race to his credit, is expected to finish Wednesday 19th in the very small hours of the morning.
Anne Caseneuve (Aneo) has enough of a lead now at 539 miles that she can afford not to have to push too hard. WIth 950 miles to go her 50 foot trimaran is making 13kts averages. Wilfred Clerton (Cap au Cap location) is second but Britain's Sir Robin Knox Johnston is among the trio which is converging together on the Tropic of Capricorn, just a handful of miles apart, scrapping over third.
Sardinia's Andrea Mura (Vento di Sardegna) is back on to his game after some poor decisions took him into light winds, stuck in the Azores. Sir Robin Knox-Johnston (Grey Power)  is dicing wiht the little yellow trimaran Jean-Paul Froc (Berto Group). At the middle of the course it is amazing to see this cocktail of Rhum class boats racing so closely.

Safran in Numbers:
Marc Guillemot crossed the finish line of La Route du Rhum-Destination Guadeloupe at 14:59:20hrs UTC this Saturday 15th November to secure third place in the IMOCA 60 Class.
His elapsed time for the 3542 NM course is  13d 1h 59m 20s making an average of 11.28kts. In reality he sailed 4056 NM at an average of 11.28kts. His delta behind the IMOCA class winner Francois Gabart is 21h20m25s.
It is 'Marco''s fifth Route du Rhum (4th in 1998 in the ORMA, 2nd in 2002 in the ORMA, 7th in 2006 in the IMOCA, 3rd in 2010 in the IMOCA). His course again showed his tenacity and drive for his final race on this boat in the colours of Safran. Even with a number of technical problems he stayed tight in the top trio. He arrived in Pointe a Pitre in a state of considerable fatigue having had no pilots for the final 72 hours. And, weirdly, it is the third time that he has arrived in Pointe a Pitre on the 15th November.
Alex Pella, Class 40, : " We are now at 20deg N and so into the proper Trade Winds now. Yesterday I had some problems with the wind because I had got too close to the high pressure and I had no wind and the guys in the south were going faster than me. But now it is going better, I have a better angle but yesterday I had still a good angle but not enough wind pressure.  We have three boats up here in the north and maybe we got a bit close to the high pressure because it moved south and caught us. I am comfortable now, the winds are better and the boat is fast. I am in a very comfortable position. I will keep pushing to the end but I feel quite comfortable now. There is no pressure from Spain. I know I have so much support from friends and family. I am so happy with this 100 per cent Spanish boat owned, designed and built in Spain. Everyone is from Spain. But this race is so long and so fast, I need to finish to win."
Miranda Merron (GBR) eighth Class 40 Campagne De France: "It is very hot and every time I seem to gybe then the wind seems to conspire against me about 20 minutes after I gybe. I have had some squalls between sundown and sunrise and some of them have been good for me, making 13-14kts towards Guadeloupe but then behind there is no wind and it seems like all those miles gained are then lost.  It is all about taking the helm when it gets too windy for the autopilot.
Really I am quite fatigued. Earlier on I had a reef in the main and I was looking at it going 'Should I shake it?' And in the end I did but 20 minutes later it was 20kts again. And so I am trying to minimise unneccessary manouvres. But going in the right direction does not count as unneccessary manouvres! It depends how the conditions are. At night it is very dark with only half a moon so you really cant just go to sleep. If there are squalls on top then you really have to be there."

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