At 2129 GMT yesterday Frenchman Michel DESJOYEAUX crossed the finish line of The Transat at the entrance to Boston Harbour to claim victory in the 60ft ORMA multihull class of the historic solo transatlantic race.
Emotional scenes surrounded the arrival of Michel Desjoyeaux on board Geant as he set a new transatlantic race record from Plymouth to Boston of 8 days, 8 hours, 29 minutes and 55 seconds. He raced the 2800 mile course at an average speed of 13.61 knots. The previous record for the race was held by solo round the world record holder Francis Joyon who set a record of 9 days, 23 hours and 21 minutes in the last race in 2000. Desjoyeaux has taken 38 hours and 52 minutes off the record.
Desjoyeaux crossed the finish line between Deer Island Light and Long Island Head Light at the entrance to Boston Harbour, four miles from downtown Boston, at a speed of 23 knots. Support boats and spectators were awaiting his arrival. This classic solo race that began in 1960 is raced against the prevailing winds and conditions of the North Atlantic and the The Transat race lived up to its reputation as the toughest transatlantic race. A series of low depressions delivered 45+ knot head winds and huge seas as the 60ft multihulls battled their way across. In the final stages of the race, the risk of icebergs forced the boats south. The tough conditions have caused some damage in the race fleet including two dismastings and one boat, Cheminees Poujoulat-Armor Lux, that lost its keel in the 60ft monohull class.
A total of 37 boats, included 12 ORMA trimarans, started the race at 1300 GMT on 31st May and to date five boats have abandoned the race. The remainder of the ORMA fleet will finish in Boston over the next few days whilst the Open 60 monohull class leaders are expected to arrive from Saturday (12.6.04) onwards.
Michel DESJOYEAUX on board the 60ft multihull Geant had taken the lead of the 2800 mile single-handed transatlantic race from Plymouth to Boston by the 0500GMT positions poll on 2nd June after less than 48 hours of racing following the start at 1300GMT on 31st May.
Weather conditions experienced by the 12 boats in the ORMA 60 multihulls class sent them further north than in previous races and the third night of the race saw them tackling a giant North Atlantic depression bringing with it 45 knot winds and ferocious seas. These were the worst weather conditions the multihulls had experienced since the 2002 Route du Rhum race when the fleet were decimated by hurricane force winds. Aiming straight for the centre of the first low the leading multis in the north tacked first and took a fast ride out of the back of the low before facing the next onslaught. In total the multihulls had to tackle three low systems - not exceptional conditions for this time of year. Due to their northerly route the direct route to Boston would have taken the boats through a densely populated area of icebergs to the east of Newfoundland, but in a gentleman's agreement, the skippers agreed upon an ice exclusion zone (47degN 47degW) moving their course south. From Newfoundland on the weather changed to the other extreme as the skippers were kept glued to their tillers, as they had to negotate extensive periods of light winds.
At 2338 GMT yesterday, Frenchman Thomas COVILLE crossed the finish line of The Transat at the entrance to Boston Harbour to claim second place in the 60ft ORMA multihull class of the historic solo transatlantic race.
At 0316 GMT today Frenchman Franck CAMMAS crossed the finish line of The Transat at the entrance to Boston Harbour to claim third place in the 60ft ORMA multihull class of the historic solo transatlantic race.