After a trying final stage, Kingfisher takes the final leg of the EDS Atlantic Challenge, and overall honours. Sill Plein Fruit is second, Ecover third.
In a decisive win that leaves no doubt which was the top boat and team in the EDS Atlantic Challenge, Kingfisher, skippered by Nick Moloney, sailed across the finish line off St. Malo at 15:14:20 hrs GMT to take first place in the final leg of this inaugural event. Their Leg 5 win gives them overall victory in the EDS Atlantic Challenge with a total of 38 points. The final few miles had been some of the most difficult as the leading yachts dealt with light winds, currents and thick fog, but it was the blue and yellow hull of Kingfisher that was first to poke its nose out of the mist and sail across the finish line between the lighthouse off the Moles Noires and the Rance Sud buoy. A jubilant crew punched the air and savoured the release of tension that comes after weeks of stress and intense racing. Just two miles behind them, their arch rival and nemesis Sill Plein Fruit skippered by Roland Jourdain was still sailing towards the finish line with spinnaker set.
John Meyer, President of EDS EMEA was the first to congratulate the Kingfisher team. "Well done to the great crew of Kingfisher, and indeed to all the teams that have sailed this race. They have demonstrated all the skills needed to succeed in such a highly competitive environment. Dedication, determination, the ability to work as a team, and above all, a passion for what they do. These are exactly the kind of values that we uphold at EDS. The EDS Atlantic Challenge has been an outrageous success for our company on numerous levels," he added. "It has dramatically raised our profile on an international scale, generated enormous interest among our employee base, and enabled us to build and strengthen relationships with our existing and prospective clients and strategic business partners. We are now very much looking forward to the next EDS Atlantic Challenge in 2005."
Sir Chay Blyth, race organizer, commented "The EDS Atlantic Challenge has turned out to be as spectacular as predicted, with close racing and tight competition right up to the end. We have also witnessed the extraordinary camaraderie between the skippers and crew of the Open 60 EDS yachts throughout the race, and certainly in times of extreme adversity."
Kingfisher skipper, Nick Moloney, was ecstatic with their victory and quick to praise his team including Ellen MacArthur who skippered the boat for the first three legs. "We are just so pleased to win this event," he said. "For me, personally, it is a triumph and victory that I will savour for many years. It has been one of the toughest events I have ever sailed in, and to come out on top, ahead of some of these other competitors is unbelievable." Moloney was visibly moved by his victory. "We did not think that we were going to win this leg," he said. "Two days ago we had to tap back because of a problem with our mast, and we watched the other boats sail away from us. We never gave up pushing and now here we are; winners. The real lesson in this to never give up."
In an amazing comeback, Sill Plein Fruit skippered by French sailing star Roland Jourdain took second place for the leg, and second overall with a points total of 31. After seeing his hopes crushed at the start of Leg 4 when his mast broke, Jourdain was able to rebuild it in time for the final push to St Malo. After trailing the fleet for much of the leg, Sill Plein Fruit was able to make big gains in the last 36 hours, and just 40 miles from the finish passed Mike Golding and his crew on Ecover. Jourdain congratulated both Moloney and Golding, thanked his crew and said, "This is why I love this sport. The sailing has been fantastic and very competitive, but most of all it's about the people. Our team, and the crews on the other boats. They are all winners." While Kingfisher and Sill Plein Fruit were still tidying up their sails, Ecover crossed the finish line at 18:17 local time to end up with a points total of 30 for the event.
Results Leg 5
2. Sill Plein Fruit
1. Kingfisher (Nick Moloney - UK) 38 pts
2. Sill Plein Fruit (Roland Jourdain - FR) 31 pts
3. Ecover (Mike Golding - UK) 30 pts
4. Gartmore (Josh Hall - UK) 26 pts
5. Fila (Andréa Scarabelli - IT) 14 pts
6. Alpha Graphics