Le Cleac’h Claims First IMOCA 60 Victory in Decade
Published: Wednesday, 18 May 2016
Armel Le Cleac’h took an impressive victory in the IMOCA 60 class of The Transat bakerly on May 14 – his first win in the class in 10 years.
(Photos: Transat bakerly / Lloyd Images & Amory Ross - Armel Le Cleac’h on Banque Populaire)
His elegant blue and white monohull, Banque Populaire, with its trademark dark blue sails, crossed the finish line off Sandy Hook at 11:27 local time – 16:27 CET.
The two-time Vendée Globe runner-up had completed the 3,050-nautical mile course from Plymouth in 12 days, two hours, 28 minutes and 39 seconds. His total time includes a 31-minute penalty for the accidental breakage of his boat’s engine seal. Le Cleac’h informed the Race Director about this at 16:26 local time on May 13.
The French skipper had sailed a total of 3,751 miles through the water at an average speed of 12.91 knots. As he crossed the finish line, waving in his moment of victory to his shore team on their coach boat, Le Cleac’h’s main rival for line honours in the IMOCA 60 class, Vincent Riou on PRB, was 31 miles out to sea.
Ever since day three, as the leading IMOCA’s surged westward after turning to starboard at Cape Finisterre, Le Cleac’h has kept Riou at bay and covered his every move.
This was a fascinating battle between the foiling Banque Populaire and the more conventional hull on PRB as two of the favourites for this year’s Vendée Globe went toe-to-toe. In the end, it was as Le Cleac’h was docking his boat at Brooklyn Bridge Park, that Riou was crossing the line, just two hours, 21 minutes and 32 seconds behind him.
Riou reported earlier on May 14 that 24 hours after the fleet set sail from Plymouth on May 2, he lost two of his sails overboard, which forced him to rethink his tactics and routing for the race.
Speaking at the dockside, Le Cleac’h says he was delighted to take his first win in the IMOCA 60 class for a decade.
“I am very happy,” he says. “Ten years ago I came into the IMOCA class and this is the first time I have won. I have finished second a lot of times – in the Vendée Globe, The Transat, the Transat Jacques Vabre and the Route du Rhum, so today is a new day for me. I hope to be the first in the Vendée Globe.”
(Vincent Riou on PRB)
He pays tribute to Riou, “Vincent is a very good competitor. He won all the races over the last year and he was my favourite at the start. It was a pleasure to do this transatlantic race, because every day I could see Vincent behind me, and I said to myself, ‘OK, this race is for me.’”
Asked about his new boat, Le Cleac’h comments, “The foiling boat is a good choice. Last year it was the first year with this boat and we had some little problems and we didn’t have good speed.
“But now, we make a statement. And I hope it is the best boat for the next Vendeé Globe and I proved it during this race. So I am very happy for me, for Banque Populaire and for this very nice boat.”
(Jean-Pierre Dick on St Michel – Virbac)
French sailor Jean-Pierre Dick crossed the finish line of The Transat bakerly off New York on May 15 at 02:58 local time (07:48 BST), as the third placed IMOCA 60 and rounding up the podium positions for the 60-foot monohulls.
Dick, at the helm of the IMOCA 60 St Michel – Virbac, completed the 3,050-nautical mile course from Plymouth in 12 days, 17 hours, 28 minutes and 07 seconds. A Transat Jacques Vabre and Barcelona World Race winner, Dick sailed a total of 3,706 miles through the water at an average speed of 12.13 knots.
On May 16, French skipper Paul Meilhat on board SMA, crossed The Transat bakerly finish line at 14:35:14 local time to finish fourth.
(Paul Meilhat on SMA)
His first race since the incident, the skipper covered 4112nm of the Atlantic ocean in a time of 14 days, 5 hours, 5 minutes and 14 seconds, averaging a speed of 12.06 knots. He also qualifies for the Vendée Globe.
The IMOCA Class bakerly Exhibition race will take place on Friday May 20 on the Hudson River.