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“It feels good, it’s a great joy, a relief.” Armel Le Cléac’h expressed his delight after crossing the finish line of the Transat Jacques Vabre race in Fort-de-France, Martinique. Alongside Sébastien Josse, they completed the race in 14 days, 10 hours, 14 minutes, and 50 seconds on their 32-meter foiling trimaran, Maxi-Banque-Populaire XI.
Starting from Le Havre, France, on October 29, the duo aimed to outperform the four other Ultims competing in the race. They covered a distance of 9,263 miles at an average speed of 26.75 knots, leading the majority of the race.
“We ended up with good averages of over 35 knots (nearly 65 km/h), but the whole race was fast, apart from a short stop near Madeira, with little wind,” said Armel Le Cléac’h. With the guidance of their Dutch router, Marcel Van Triest, they took the lead by choosing a route around the Portuguese island from the north.
François Gabart and Tom Laperche of “SVR-Lazartigue” briefly regained the advantage as they passed Ascension Island in the South Atlantic. However, “Banque Pop” managed to secure the lead by maintaining high average speeds downwind, reaching up to 40 knots in the final days of the race. Sébastien Josse exclaimed, “We stole all the time. The boat is now reliable, and 40 knots is becoming commonplace; when we are below, we are poorly adjusted.“
Armel Le Cléac’h celebrated several “firsts” after the race. He remarked, “This is my first victory in a trimaran, my first in the Jacques Vabre, and the first for this boat. This proves that we have the ability to seek victories with Popular Bank.“
Good mood on board
In 2005, Armel Le Cléac’h experienced a capsizing incident during his first participation in the Jacques Vabre race. Since then, as a skipper of the “sailing bank” multihulls, he has faced numerous disappointments. However, his recent triumph in the Transat Jacques Vabre adds to his impressive sailing career, which includes winning the 2017 Vendée Globe and three Solitaire du Figaro titles.
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