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21 November 2005, 09:25 am
Banque Populaire Takes Victory In ORMA 60
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Transat Jaques Vabre 2005
Bahia, Brazil

Banque Populaire (the old Bayer Crop-Science launched in 2002) skippered by Pascal BIDEGORRY (FRA) and Lionel LEMONCHOIS (FRA) crossed the finish line to take victory in the ORMA Multihull 60 class at 1246 local time yesterday after 14 days, 1 hour, 46 minutes and 29 seconds racing at sea at an average boat speed on the direct route of 15.37 knots setting a new record set for the course between Le Havre, France and Salvador, Brazil by over seven hours.
The actual distance covered by Banque Populaire was 5,940 miles at 17.59 knots average boat speed on the water, which includes a new personal best of 583 miles in 24 hours at an average boat speed of 24.29 knots.

Fred LE PEUTREC (FRA) and Yann GUICHARD (FRA) on Gitana 11 came in second at 1550 followed by and Michel DESJOYEAUX (FRA) and Hugues DESTREMAU (FRA) on Géant just 27 minutes later.

Obliged to tack the last few miles going somewhat slowly in the dying midday airs the blue and white Banque Populaire picked up a little more speed to finish in style across the line under the heat of the noon sun. Bizzarely, most of the population of Salvador were crowded around the marina roads, however, their heads were turned to watch the Grand Prix motor racing that is deafening the Centro Nautico Marina yesterday where the Transat Jacques Vabre fleet are moored.

During this Transat Jacques Vabre, BIDÉGORRY and LEMONCHOIS clocked some breath-taking speeds with a personal best for the boat, 583 miles in 24 hours when they were careering towards the finish from Ascension Island between the two 0900 GMT position reports on 18 and 19 November - at an average boat speed of 24.29 knots!

Banque Populaire has beaten the reference time for this route between Le Havre and Bahia, set by Groupama in 2001 (14 days, 9 hours and 3 minutes) by 7 hours and 17 minutes. BIDEGORRY has had a charmed first season with his new sponsor, with two offshore victories, the IB Group Challenge and now the TJV, plus two second places out of five races in the GP circuit, and three wins at Vigo and Lorient. BIDEGORRY has won the ORMA Multihull World Championship with a significant advance over Gitana 11 and Géant.

Class 2 Open 50 Multihull Fleet

On Friday night at 1713 local time Class 2 Open 50 Multihull Crepes Whaou! with French father and son pairing Franck-Yves and Kevin ESCOFFIER crossed the line to be the first boat to finish in this year's TJV. Gifi are leading the fight for second, 1,301 miles from the finish and just over 70 miles ahead of Jean Stalaven.

IMOCA 60 Update

On Saturday night France's Jean-Pierre DICK and Loick PEYRON on Virbac-Paprec smashed the race record to win the race of the IMOCA 60s, finishing just 35 minutes ahead of Roland JOURDAIN (FRA) and ISAF Rolex World Sailor of the Year Ellen MACARTHUR (GBR) on Sill et Veolia in one of the tightest ever TJV finishes. In the early hours of Sunday morning Jean LE CAM (FRA) and Kito DE PAVANT (FRA) on Bonduelle crossed the line in Salvador to take third place.

Ecover took fourth with Skandia piping Pro-Form to the line for fifth. Of the boats still on the water Frenchmen Hervé LAURENT and Laurent MASSOT on UUDS and the all women team of Anne LIARDET (FRA) and Miranda MERRON (GBR) on Roxy are 89 miles apart in seventh and eighth place, and were racing past Recife and within their last 24 hours at sea yesterday evening. UUDS is expected in from 0900 GMT Monday morning and Roxy from 1300 GMT according to the ETA's given on current boat speed and distance to go. Walter ANTUNES (BRA) and Raphaël COLDEFY (FRA) on Galileo, the Brazilian Open 60 entry, closes the march 1,258 miles from the finish and currently enduring Doldrum conditions at 6 degrees north out to the west of the race course.

Open 50 Class 2 Monohull Update

Joe HARRIS (USA) and Josh HALL (GBR) on Gryphon Solo have seemingly been not too held up in the Doldrums, soon to cross the Equator and feel the deliverance of the southeast Trades ahead. Second placed Kip STONE (USA) and Merfyn OWEN (GBR) on Artforms lie 228 miles in their wake with 1154 miles to run. The second Anglo-American team in turn were sailing at reduced speed throughout yesterday of around four to six knots through the Doldrums. They positioned way out at 30 degrees west, their nearest rivals behind Vedettes de Bréhat trying to shave off some miles on the clock at 27 degrees west, but suffering much more, and slipping 55miles behind in third. As the final two Open 50's start to head into the Doldrums with 35 miles separation in the rankings, Paul METCALF (GBR) and Ryan FINN (GBR) on Polarity Solo will hope to be better positioned over at 28 west compared to their rivals ahead Top 50 Guadeloupe quite far in the east at 25 west. As FINN commented, 'The Doldrums lie ahead, the results are still up in the air, so to speak!'

CLICK HERE for finishing times and official Rankings.

Quotes From The Boats…

Miranda MERRON (Roxy): 'We are level with Recife, and 400 miles from the finish line. Yesterday was uneventful - just fast, wet, trade wind reaching. For once, there was not one single squall, which made a pleasant change. There are a number of chores and rituals to get through today, not least an attempt at getting presentable. There are NO amenities on board beyond a camping gas stove for cooking, a small salt water tap, and two buckets. If you sit in the aft-most compartment, you can reach out through where the rudders are, and scoop water, so will be spending some time there later trying to turn dreadlocked plait back into normal hair. Tonight we will have to be extra vigilant as there are often small unlit fishing boats near the coast, and the moon won't rise until several hours after dark.'

Ryan FINN (Polarity Solo): 'We now have a race within a race to make the ten day cut-off time behind Virbac. It just keeps getting more interesting! Last night was very difficult sailing as we spent the evening at a very awkward point of sail where we were underpowered with the genoa, but overpowered with the spinnaker. There is no sail to fill that slot so we sailed slowly with the genoa at a higher angle and then set the spinnaker this morning to get back on course. It roughly a 35 degree split between the two sails in this light air. I knew we were giving miles away to Top 50, but there is not much to do about it. Still it makes my stomach ache to think about. The Doldrums lay ahead, so the results are still up in the air, so to speak.'

Eric DROUGLAZET (Pro-Form): 'Several times the boat just accelerated full throttle down a wave, I shouted at Marc to tie me to the winch, with two turns, and I helmed like that, that's how full on it was. We took off at 25 knots boat speed, both rudders clean out of the water, we were sailing downwind with 50 degrees of tilt! Upwind with the mast leaning across the water, you have to imagine it, then you begin to say to yourself, we're really sailing on the edge! We just raced all out the whole way, with as much sail area up as possible, a bit like sailing the Figaro.'

Marc THIERCELIN (Pro-Form): 'Skandia is a newer boat, only four years old, whereas Pro-Form is nine, that's quite a difference in age, but we were happy that we had a great duel with them.'

Eric DROUGLAZET (Pro-Form): 'In five years, the evolution of these boats is huge, but we held our own all the same…With 400 miles to go, we had Skandia to leeward, we were in control, but in pure boat speed, we couldn't do any better. Marc and I work well together, he knows his boat by heart, what and how to fix everything. He just plies me with coffee and I keep steering, I supply him with sandwiches and he repairs everything from A- Z!'

For all the news on the Transat Jacques Vabre CLICK HERE.
Mary Ambler (As Amended By ISAF). Image, The Banque Populaire boys celebrate:© Yann Zedda
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