Skip to content

Last, but Still Loved

It was a wild time down at the docks in old St. Barth in the French West Indies this morning, as MemoireStBarth.com and Groupe Bel, the last two of the 25 doublehanded entries in the TransAt AG2R La Mondiale, crossed the finish line at the entrance of the port of Gustavia just seconds apart. The French love their yacht racing, so this event was the subject of constant coverage in the major media outlets back in Paris. Can you imagine major live media coverage in the United States of the last two boats finishing the TransPac or Pacific Cup? We can’t either.

No matter where a boat finished in the standings or what time of day or night, spectators were always there to cheer them on.

latitude/Richard
© Latitude 38 Media, LLC

This was the 10th running of the AG2R, which this year featured a 3,710-mile course from Carcaneau, France, to St. Barth, non-stop via the Canary Islands. The people and businesses of the tiny island of St. Barth go ape for the event, with a week of constant carnival-like festivities that started well before any of the finishers arrived. It’s a major attraction for the young, the old, and everyone in between.

The French develop an appreciation for yacht racing at a very young age.

latitude/Richard
© Latitude 38 Media, LLC

The winners of this years event were Armel Le Cleac’h and Fabrien Delahaye of Brit Air. They arrived shortly after midnight on May 5, having been pressing for 22 days, 16 hours. Their three closest rivals were less than three hours behind. All of these boats were escorted for the last five miles or so by scores of vessels with cheering fans. The harbor and anchorage reverberated with the sound of horns, and there was wild partying in the race village at the Charles de Gaulle Quai until dawn.

After 3,709 miles, the competitors have to go to white sails for the last mile or so to the finish, splitting the anchored fleet outside of Gustavia and dodging the spectator boats and turtles. But what a great place to finish.

latitude/Richard
© Latitude 38 Media, LLC

The finish of the last two boats this morning was a real crowd pleaser. Kito de Pavant, who won the race in ’06, and his crew Sébastian Audigane, had broken one of their rudders on Groupe Bel after hitting a whale near the Canary Islands. Having to stop for 22 hours put them out of the running. As for MemoireStBarth.com, crew Richard Lédée and Christophe Lebas had sailed too far north and put themselves out of the running. Out of contention, Richard and Christophe decided it would be sporting to slow down to cross the finish line in company with Groupe Bel. Indeed, they anchored their boat off Fort Oscar and spent the night sleeping to wait for their fellow competitors. The two boats played with each other for the last few miles, and crossed the line just seconds apart, to the delight of all the cheering spectators in boats and along the shore.

Group Bel and MemoireStBarth.com seemed to take turns urging the other to sail the last few feet across the finish line.

latitude/Richard
©2010 Latitude 38 Media, LLC

All in all it’s been a great time, and the big party isn’t even until tonight. When it comes to yacht racing and supporting their sailors, you have to say, Vive la France!

Richard and Christophe were the last to tie up to the quai, but none of their fans seemed to mind. There was yelling, clapping and cheering, champagne squirting, and jumping into the water, all backed by the beat of one of the carnival bands. Yeah, it was great.

latitude/Richard
©2010 Latitude 38 Media, LLC
Contribute

Leave a Comment




We’d like to think our piece in last Friday’s ‘Lectronic contributed in some small way to the 133-ft schooner Adventuress‘s narrow win of the popular vote — and a $125,000 grant — in the Puget Sound Partners in Preservation initiative, a grant ‘competition’ sponsored by American Express and the National Trust for Historic Preservation.
Elizabeth Larson of Lake County News reported yesterday that Lake County Sheriff Rod Mitchell confirmed that Russell Perdock — Mitchell’s once-upon-a-time right-hand man — was fired from the Sheriff’s Office late last month.
Considering that she slammed her boat into the side of a freighter during her shakedown cruise, Australian singlehander Jessica Watson, 16, has turned out to be one smart and tenacious sailor.