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24 November 2009, 12:09 pm
Crepes Whaou First To Transat Jacques Vabre Finish - Safran Wins IMOCA Class
Crêpes Whaou arrive in Costa Rica to take line honours in this year's TJV
Crêpes Whaou arrive in Costa Rica to take line honours in this year's TJV

Transat Jacques Vabre 2009

The Multi 50 Crêpes Whaou arrived in Costa Rica late on Monday night to take line hours in the Transat Jacques Vabre, with Safran following four hours later to win the hotly contested IMOCA Open 60 class.
A huge, noisy Costa Rican welcome greeted Franck Yves Escoffier (FRA) and Erwan Le Roux (FRA), co skippers of the Crêpes Whaou when they emerged out of the Caribbean darkness, comprehensively winning the Multi 50 class and taking line honours for this ninth edition of the Transat Jacques Vabre race which started from Le Havre,France on Sunday 8 November.

Emerging out of the darkness to break the finish line off the historic port town of Peurto Limon at 22:31 local time on Monday 23 November (04:31 UTC on Tuesday) the French duo with their new build Crêpes Whaou! 3, only launched in August, maintained Escoffier's unbeaten record in this biannual classic, also scooping the IMOCA Open 60s to take line honours for the third consecutive time.

Escoffier and Le Roux took 15 days, 15 hours, 31 minutes and 50 seconds to complete the course which took the Multi 50 fleet south of Barbados on a course which for the winning pair was 5,805 miles, which they completed at an average speed of 13.41 knots.

Just over four hours after the arrival of Crêpes Whaou! 3, at 08:52 UTC (02:52 local time) Safran co-skippered by France's Marc Guillemot and Charles Caudrelier-Bénac crossed the finish line off Puerto Limon, Costa Rica to win the 14-boat IMOCA Open 60 class. Guillemot and Caudrelier-Bénac completed the 5,263 mile course in 15 days, 19 hours, 22 minutes and 10 seconds at an average speed of 12.46 knots.

The new destination for the coffee route race, finishing in Costa Rica, served up a carnival greeting for the winners, with Escoffier remarking immediately that without doubt the high point of their race was the warmth of finish. Sailing with Le Roux, a successful former Mini 650 Class 40 and multihull sailor who has completed two previous Transat Jacques Vabre races, the pair chose a prudent southerly routing to avoid the very worst of a very active depression before then building a big lead over their Multi50 Class rivals.

Asked about the memories, the key moments, Escoffier said, "You have to start with this finish, the arrival here has been an extraordinary reception. We have seen some great welcomes but here in Peurto Limon between the fireworks and the whole world out to greet us on the dock, that was a great moment. But so, too the start was interesting too. There is always a build up of adrenalin you need pumping as a competitor, and I felt like we made the strongest start of the Multi 50's. And a strong memory yesterday when we just stopped ourselves from tipping the boat over. It was not funny. Erwan, who is younger than me really had to rein me in from time to time. We can smile looking back..."

On the subject of the Class 50, and asked if they did not feel out on a limb without much competition in the end, Escoffier explained, " We are about to succeed in making it [the Multi 50] take off with the new boats in the class. Unfortunately the two other newest boats are not at the finish too. We missed competition a little, but we should not forget Guyader pour Urgence Climatique who are a good crew. In the multihull there is not much to teach them, but they lack the finance to have a boat like Crêpes Whaou! And it would be good if they could find it. And I hope that before I leave this class there will be a proper class of boats like ours. But the objective was always, as well to beat the IMOCA Open 60's in and we pushed hard to do that."
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