The EDS Atlantic Challenge came to an official end with the prize giving ceremony in St. Malo.
Adding to the excitement, the all-girl team aboard AlphaGraphics narrowly made it in time having finished the final leg less than two hours before the first champagne bottle was uncorked.
One of the most impressive prizes was not handed out. On display was the EDS trophy for the fastest 24-hour speed record. While the record was not broken during the EDS Atlantic Challenge, a special award was given to Fila for their 24-hour run of 445 miles, the fastest of the race.
At the prize giving ceremony Gordon Moultrie, EDS Vice President EMEA made the announcement that all the skippers and crew had been waiting for. "This has been a successful event for EDS," he said. "We were very excited to get involved with the Open 60 fleet and are proud to announce that plans are already in place for another EDS Atlantic Challenge in 2005. However, as that date is a long way off, we have decided also to support the growth of the Open 60 class as much as we can in the interim." With that announcement, and with the prize giving behind them, liberal amounts of champagne was sprayed from the podium.
In the most poignant gesture of the evening, Roland Jourdain, skipper of Sill Plein Fruit presented framed photos of his boat to the other teams, and to EDS. The picture included a dynamic series of images taken as their mast broke at the start of Leg 4. "I would like to thank the skippers and crews for the help and encouragement when we had such a bad disaster," he said. "You are all the most wonderful people delaying the start so that we could race the last leg with you, and I thank you." This gesture, and the gesture made by the other teams to delay the start of Leg 5 to accommodate Sill Plein Fruit amply sum up the spirit of the EDS Atlantic Challenge.
Official finish times for Leg 5:
1st Kingfisher (Nick Moloney - UK) 15:14:20 GMT Saturday
2nd Sill Plein Fruit (Roland Jourdain - FR) 15:50:10 GMT Saturday
3rd Ecover (Mike Golding - UK) 16:17:00 GMT Saturday
4th Fila (Andréa Scarabelli - IT) 22:23:05 GMT Saturday
5th Gartmore (Josh Hall - UK) 23:37:18 GMT Sunday
6th AlphaGraphics (Helena Darvelid - SWE) 15:06:27 GMT Wednesday
Combined times for the EDS Atlantic Challenge
1st Kingfisher (Nick Moloney - UK) 34 days 12 hours 12 minutes 12 seconds
2nd Sill Plein Fruit (Roland Jourdain - FR) did not sail Leg Four
3rd Ecover (Mike Golding - UK) 35 days 18 hours 58 minutes 51 seconds
4th Gartmore (Josh Hall - UK) 38 days 15 hours 37 minutes 19 seconds
5th AlphaGraphics (Helena Darvelid - SWE) 46 days 22 hours 39 minutes 23 seconds
6th Fila (Andréa Scarabelli - IT) did not sail Leg Three & Four
Total points for the EDS Atlantic Challenge
1st Kingfisher (Nick Moloney - UK) 38
2nd Sill Plein Fruit (Roland Jourdain - FR) 31
3rd Ecover (Mike Golding - UK) 30
4th Gartmore (Josh Hall - UK) 26
5th AlphaGraphics (Helena Darvelid - SWE) 17
6th Fila (Andréa Scarabelli - IT) 14
7th La Rage de Vivre (Loic Pochet - FR) 5"
retired during Leg 2 due to keel problems
Nick Moloney, Kingfisher. "The EDS Atlantic Challenge has been just that. Very challenging, but also very rewarding. This a terrific race and we are proud and honoured to be the winners of this first event. I think that we are most happy and proud of the fact that we never let go of the hope that could win this race, and here we are taking home the trophies."
Andrea Scarabelli, Fila. " When I accepted the job to skipper Fila, I said good bye to long nights of sleep and kept a notebook and pen beside my bed! In a blink we where on the starting line and for two month we run and run without taking a breath with too with many miles and stories to tell. Now the race is finished, and even if our score is bad, I'm happy of what we have done."
Josh Hall, Gartmore. "It has truly been a great race, one of the best. The boats and crews have been pushed hard, very hard and the racing has been superlative. We aboard Gartmore sincerely hope there will be more EDS races in the future, and we are sure the entry list will get bigger and bigger. Bravo EDS, for sponsoring such a benchmark event."
Mike Golding, Ecover. "I was pleased to be able to introduce some new British sailing talent to this event and was very happy with how my crew performed. We learned how to get the most out of Ecover and had the boat performing better than ever."
Helena Darvelid, AlphaGraphics. "The word adventure comes to mind. There have been highs and lows and I have enjoyed every moment of it. The highs being in the company of a great and determined crew and sailing in some brilliant conditions like starlit nights with dolphins right next to us for comfort. The lows, when the stress and pressure has been just a bit too much, and also the scary bits like Asia falling overboard. All of these things were a challenge and if everything was easy in life it would not make things interesting."
Roland Jourdain, Sill Plein Fruit. "The most important thing in this race was the fair play shown by the other skippers when they voted to delay the start from Boston by one day. That was just incredible. This was really a big, big thing to do. Can you imagine Mike Golding actually took this decision when we were equal in points, and now we have beaten him. So a big thank you to Mike. You are a great sportsman."