Living with the challenges

Armel Tripon on Réauté Chocolat claims the role of third finisher in the 2018 Route du Rhum-Destination Guadeloupe solo transatlantic race, easily winning the Multi50 class of this iconic contest which comes along every fourth year.

The next arrivals – Alex Thomson (IMOCA) and Erwan Le Roux (Multi50) – may come soon, but it is Lalou Roucayrol whose wait is no longer for the finish line but for the rescue.

His race in the Multi 50 fleet came to an end yesterday approximately 1,000nm east of Guadeloupe, with a complete capsize of his trimaran along the 3,542nm race course from France. Here’s Lalou’s update from the Atlantic, upside down and 19° north of the Equator:

I’m about to clamber outside into the fresh air. I need to get out because I feel like I am trapped in a space capsule. There is a lot of noise with what remains of the rigging hitting the hull as there is quite a lot of sea running still.

Yesterday was hard and complicated undoing the rigging. I had to make sure it had totally gone. There were two bits and the stump of the mast which I could not get to, but I’d like to get to them before Olmix (Pierre Antoine, leader of the Rhum Multi Class) gets to me tomorrow morning.

I have organised myself for life on board. I have been here before with Mayeul (Note: Lalou capsized during 2013 Transat Jacques Vabre with Mayeul Riffet). The biggest problem is that is so hot and humid inside. I can’t open the hatches because there is too much sea around. And there is a lot of slamming on the deck. It is bloody noisy.

I do not really know what happened (regarding the capsize). There were 25/30 knots, I had reduced sail before the squally gusts were coming in. I was not under any stress with one reef in the main and gennaker. I felt quite safe. But I did know that I had some water in my leeward float which I had noticed a couple of days ago. Maybe it was half full of water; I can only think it was because of that.

The boat accelerated in a gust, I dumped the mainsail with the auto-release system and dumped the gennaker sheet too. The boat crashed into a wave and started going up and I think it tripped over the foil. I can’t really explain it. There was no reason to capsize there and then, but it is what it is.

I spent my day in the water cutting away the rigging and securing the boat. I was pretty scared a few times, I don’t mind telling you.

The best moment was when the Falcon (plane) flew over me. It was great, they stayed a long time with me; we chatted by VHF it was really nice. It was a good end of a difficult day with that lovely plane flying around.

The plan now is get on to Olmix with Pierre Antoine, and then I will sail for two days towards Guadeloupe with him. A tug leaves Martinique with Quentin Vlamynck (boat captain for the Multi50), who will take me off just a before Olmix gets to Pointe-à-Pitre.

I’ll join the tug. We will then go to the boat and try to right it or tow it if the conditions permit. I have to be patient. It will take time for all this to happen. But you learn to live with these challenges.

Background: The 11th edition and 40th anniversary staging of the Route du Rhum-Destination Guadeloupe solo transatlantic race got underway on November 4. This iconic 3,542-nautical mile course will take the record entry of 123 skippers in six divisions – Ultime, Multi 50, Imoca 60, Class 40, Rhum Multi, and Rhum Mono – from the start off the Brittany port of Saint Malo (France) to Guadeloupe.

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This article was written and/or edited by the UK-based MIN team.

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