Three skippers filled the podium of the Regata Rubicon over last night, and no surprises, which team crossed the line to win not just the second leg from Lanzarote to Sta. Margherita Ligure, but also the overall race.
The team skippered by Breton Roland Jourdain on Sill Plein Fruit covered the 1464 miles of the 2nd leg in 7 days, 10 hours, 12 minutes and 40 seconds at an average speed of 8.21 knots.
The victorious skipper Bilou adds yet another win to his belt: "This race saw every kind of condition. The Mediterranean really dished out the works. But we earned the mistral conditions which brought us home, it was such an invigorating experience, the adrenalin rush is a must! We were sleigh riding through mountains of spray for most of the final stretch, the only thing we didn't do was fly!"
"A key moment was how we played the tactics off the African coast, that enabled us to gain enough of an advantage, but we knew that at Gibraltar there would be a new game to play. But we were totally in synch with the boat, and it all worked out beautifully!"
"The best part was the close contact racing, but it was the hardest part too! The last time we drew ahead of Stamm, we couldn't have fought them off again, he had to just stay behind. This is a real team victory, the guys were brilliant, both the crew and shore team who prepared the boat. It's such a pleasure to see how well the boat performs when the team have really come together well."
Second into the port of Sta. Margherita Ligure, Italy, 2hrs and 40 minutes behind the winner, was the team lead by Swiss skipper Bernard Stamm on Bobst Group - Armor Lux. After 7 days, 12 hours, 52 minutes and 11 seconds of racing at an average speed of 8.09 knots, they crossed the line at 0052hrs overnight. Bernard Stamm, Christophe Lebas, Benoit Lequin, double Mini-Transat winner Sébastien Magnen &Jean-Christophe Caso fought to the bitter end trying to take the lead off Sill Plein Fruit, their duel keeping everyone on the edge of their seats for the whole of the Mediterranean leg of the Regata Rubicon.
Stamm walks away with second place overall in the Regata Rubicon, notching up the best performance in a race with the Open 60 he built himself. A good omen for the next and biggest competition, the solo round the world Grand Prix yacht race 'Around Alone 2002/3', which sets off on September 15th from New York, USA.
"The last 24 hours reminded me of the Atlantic Record crossing," beamed Bernard. "It was like being in a submarine! You have three ways of dodging the waves: to the left, to the right, or right over the top! It was pretty tricky, we had every kind of weather and we used every sail combination we had. You learn to read between the lines in the Mediterranean, otherwise you just fail to understand it all!
"We were so close so much of the time with Sill. That was fascinating for us, we could see the plusses and minuses of the boat. Upwind we are less powerful, but downwind we're evenly matched."
The final podium spot was filled by Swiss skipper Dominique Wavre and his crew on Temenos at 0425hrs this morning, after 7 days, 16 hours and 25 minutes of racing at an average speed of 7.94 knots. The team should overall take 4th place in the general rankings of the Regata Rubicon, given that Kingfisher crosses the line in 4th place this afternoon.
"We always knew the Med would shake the fleet up again," remarked Dominique Wavre on arrival. "It was such an interesting leg; we suffered from some broken battens, which meant we couldn't reef the main sail properly. So we ended up in 40 knots with just 1 reef in the main sail, we had to be so careful navigating, but we! reached points of 27 knots, sometimes it took two of us to hold the helm!
Their remarkable comeback through the Straits of Gibraltar from a 90 miles deficit was some feat: "All of the crew worked themselves up to this moment. We downed a lot of coffee and then just went for it. You can't plan any strategy in the Med with the kind of weather we had, you just have to improvise!" Kingfisher (Moloney) was still some 60 miles from the finish this morning, but has overtaken the jury-rigged Tiscali Global Challenge (Bianchetti) to be sure to cross the line in 4th place for leg two, and therefore overall the team will gain the coveted third place on the podium.
Skipper of the international team, Australian Nick Moloney, remains very positive about this experience of helming the second leg after taking over from Ellen MacArthur after leg one. "I am very positive about the trip. I know the mistakes made and actually feel pretty guilt free on it. I have learnt a lot about this role. We sailed really well outside the Med and got out of 2 tough situations whilst others got good breaks. Sill and Tiscali were faster but we sailed better than them, sill got very lucky and Stamm worked hard at his options. This has been frustrating to say the least.. This place is a tough place to work out on the weather front and this time we got dorked!
"The spirits are good onboard but I think I pushed everyone a bit too hard as I was completely focused and a bit of a steam train. I have relaxed a bit now after copping so many knocks on the chin in the past few days. Looking forward to sailing in the Atlantic again!"