Skip to content

Chaos in Route du Rhum

The Route du Rhum started yesterday from Saint-Malo, France, in the rain.

© 2014 Trépia de Pierre Yves Lautrou / Express

Two lost keels, broken amas, downed masts and a collision with a container ship – yes, the Route du Rhum has started. With conditions very rough from the get-go, the attrition has started too. In 35 knots and big seas, Thomas Coville’s trimaran Sodebo Ultim’ ran into a container ship while sailing under triple-reefed main and staysail. The starboard ama was damaged, and he is heading back to shore.

Sodebo suffered extensive damage to the starboard ama. The bow doesn’t look so good either.

© 2014 Alexis Courcoux

The starboard float of the Multi 50 Maître Jacques also broke, apparently all by itself. Skipper Loîc Féquet was sailing close to the coast preparing to pass the tip of Brittany in the middle of the night. "There were 25-28 knots and big seas, but I was not attacking. In fact, I was under double-reefed main and staysail. I did not hit anything." Féquet secured his boat and waited for a tow from a tug.

Two Class 40s lost their keels on the bumpy ride out. François Angoulevant had to be airlifted from Team Sabrosa, and Marc Lepesqueux on Sensation is limping back to port under power after filling the ballast tanks. Jean Galfione on the Class 40 Serenis Consulting hit a buoy and is heading back with hull damage.

The latest news of damage this morning was the dismasting of Alain Delhumeau’s Multi 50 Royan west of Ushant. Delhumeau is reported to be in good shape and is making progress southeast toward port. His track is being carefully monitored in case he requires further assistance. As we write this, he is four miles southeast of Ushant.

Even with all the grim news of broken boats, the race continues, and it looks like a good one with Loïck Peyron on Banque Populaire VII leading the entire fleet by 25 miles. He has weathered the worst of the conditions and escaped with the remaining Ultime Class.

Back in the Class 40s, Miranda Merron is in ninth place after a long first night. "It was a foul night with zero visibility once the driving rain started. But luckily it was dark, as the waves that revealed themselves at dawn around Ushant were huge." But she seems to be in good spirits. "Anyway, it’s sunny today, although rather wet on deck. Can’t have it all!"

Miranda Merron’s Campagne de France is chugging along.

© 2014 Jean-Marie Liot

Robin Knox-Johnston in his Open 60 Grey Power is hanging on in 13th place in Class Rhum. "I soon found myself surrounded by Class 40s most of yesterday evening, pushing hard. Those boats are quick, but when the forecast squalls of 40 knots arrived, I would not have wanted to be in one." The older and wiser Sir Robin summed up the first day: "I could do more if I put up more sail, but we’ll stay like this for the time being, as the wind is still 20+ knots and gusting higher – I just had one of 29 knots – and the sea very lumpy. It’s a long race, and no point in breaking things at the beginning, so I made a very cautious start." Smart man.

Leave a Comment

Brad Webb celebrates after Oracle’s victory in America’s Cup 34. © 2014 Oracle Team USA Right next to AT&T Park, between the Giants’ fabulous victory on Wednesday and Friday’s parade, SailSFBay managed to slip in a Thursday-night meeting at South Beach Yacht Club to discuss growing sailing participation in the Bay Area and to hear Brad Webb describe his rewarding path up the ladder of sailing.