Published: Friday, 13 May 2016

Francois Gabart completed his first solo win on board his new 100ft trimaran, Macif on May 11 for crossing the finish line of The Transat bakerly off New York. followed by another French solo sailor Thomas Coville with his Ultime trimaran, Sodebo.

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(Photos: Transat Bakerly - Francois Gabart on Macif)

Gabart sailed a total distance of 4,634 miles at an average speed of 23.11 knots in a remarkable voyage that, unusually for The Transat bakerly, took him Thomas Coville on Sodebo, hundreds of miles south of the Azores into the tradewinds before sling-shotting northwest up to New York. His blue, white and yellow Van Peteghem Lauriot-Prevost-designed multihull reached the finish at 18:24 local time in New York, as recorded by the Sandy Hook Pilot Association boat, with its skipper waving to his team support boat as he crossed the line. After that, Coville’s multihull crossed the finish line in the dark off Sandy Hook at 09:02:02 BST, having travelled a total of 4,656 nautical miles through water at an average speed of 22.11 knots. 

Shortly afterwards Gabart reflected on a race that, for much of the time, saw him in close company with Coville on the older Sodebo. For the first three days the two skippers were never more than a few miles apart, having crossed the Bay of Biscay in sight of each other.

Gabart and Coville enjoyed being each other’s rival. “The competition with Thomas on Sodebo was wonderful. It made the race incredible for me.  We are working together to organise more races for these types of boats, and when we see what happened in The Transat bakerly, and how close the competition was, we know there is a place for it. This is just the beginning of the journey,” says Gabrt.

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(Francois Gabart and Thomas Coville)

Speaking at the finish Coville says he was delighted to have been involved in such a close contest with his younger rival. “It was a fantastic battle with François,” says Coville on the dock. “I think François is a fantastic and worthy winner. I’m competitive, so of course I’m disappointed not to win, but when you lose to a winner like François, and you have the chance to compete against such a great sailor, it’s also an achievement. You have to be honest and say, he was better and I’m very lucky to have raced against such a guy.”

Gabart clearly loved his first outing on his new mile-munching ocean-racing thoroughbred, and he more than stepped up to the challenge that the 30-metre giant posed. “It was a big challenge for me. You should have 10 or 15 people to manage these boats, and it’s just me. It was my first solo race on Macif, and I didn’t know if I was able to do it, so I am really proud of what I did. To arrive into New York was perfect. The boat is in good shape. Me? Well, maybe not! I’m very tired, but I’m incredibly proud.”

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As winner of the Ultime class, Gabart will be presented with a special watch from The Transat bakerly official timekeeper Ralf Tech.

Commenting on Gabart’s performance, The Transat bakerly Event Director Herve Favre says: “Francois and Thomas put on an amazing show at the front of the fleet and Francois has emerged a worthy and deserving winner. Over the next week we will see the winners of the IMOCA 60, Multi50 and Class40s emerge and each winner will be a hero in my book.”

The Big Apple has only been used once before in the race as the finish port and that was in the very first edition in 1960 when the winner, one Sir Francis Chichester on the monohull Gipsy Moth III, was at sea for 40 days, 12 hours 30 minutes. Sailing a multihull from a different century, Gabart was 32 days, 3 hours and 36 minutes quicker than the British legend.

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(Thomas Coville on Sodebo)

As Coville finished, the third-placed competitor in the Ultime class, Yves Le Blevec on Actual, is 255 miles from the line.

Isabelle Joschke has managed to establish a lead of six miles in the competitive Class40 battle. In second place British skipper Phil Sharp on Imerys is now nine miles ahead of third-placed Thibaut Vauchel-Camus on Solidaires en Peloton-Arsep

Armel Le Cléac’h leading IMOCA 60 fleet now goes to the west of the Ice Exclusion Zone and about 280 miles southeast of the coast of Nova Scotia. Le Cleac’h on board Banque Populaire is 40 miles ahead of the chasing Vincent Riou on PRB and 154 miles ahead of Jean-Pierre Dick on St Michel-Virbac in third.

Gabart Takes Line Honours In The Transat Bakerly 2016

In the Multi50s, Gilles Lamiré on French Tech Rennes St Malo still holds his lead over the four-boat fleet and is now 235 miles ahead of rival Lalou Roucayrol aboard Arkema.

Just over 768 miles from the finish line, the Multi50s are expected to be the next class to hit the dock, on or around May 14th.