It was another pitch dark, middle of the night arrival for Thierry Dubois who sailed his Joubert and Nivelt designed Open 60 Solidaires across the finish line off Tauranga yesterday evening (local time).
The lashing gales that had made conditions rough for both Dubois and first place finisher Bernard Stamm, had eased, and even a few stars could be seen twinkling above. It was a good omen for a weary sailor who earlier today revealed the extent of the damage he had suffered during the leg. Blown sails, faulty electronic, and a missing rudder were only some of the trials and tribulations that had slowed the fiery French sailor down. "Yet again victory has eluded me and I am getting so frustrated to always be just one step behind,"
Dubois said referring to losing a third time to Bobst Group Armor lux. Given the troubles he had during the leg, it was a remarkable performance to finish as close to Stamm as he did.
Early in the leg Dubois took a short-lived lead when he sailed straight across the Agulhas Bank off South Africa. It was a bold move that paid off, but soon Stamm sailed through to the south and Thierry was left playing catch-up. The Southern Ocean is a place that Dubois is familiar with. He has sailed that way twice before; once during his ill fated Vendee Globe race in 1996 when he capsized, and again four years later during the 2000 Vendee. His experience should have given him an edge over Stamm, but he might have underestimated the tenacity with which Bernard sails his boat. With his equipment letting him down and the mysterious loss of his rudder, all Dubois could do was play catch-up.
Dubois also broke the previous record set four years ago by Giovanni Soldini on Fila, another indication of the speed and amazing ability of this professional sailor. His official finish time was 22:03:54 local time (09:03:54 GMT) for an elapsed time of 26 days, 23 hours, 56 minutes, 6 seconds.