Sébastien Rogues and Mathieu Souben cross the line first in Martinique

It was Tuesday, November 23, at 2:54 a.m. metropolitan time (9:54 p.m. local time, Monday), that the duo composed of Sébastien Rogues and Mathieu Souben cut first, aboard the Primonial, the line to Fort-de-France, after 15 days, 13 hours and 27 minutes of the 15e edition of the Transat Jacques Vabre in the category of Ocean Fifty, trimarans 50 feet (15 m). In the same category Cohesion and Leyton complete the podium.

Sébastien Rogues delivered his first words, on the pontoon : “We arrive with a boat that has not suffered any damage, nothing. Maybe we lost the pen cap, but it pretty much ends there. These are rare moments in a lifetime. We will enjoy, savor. ”

“This transatlantic race was hard because it was long, longer than expected, declared, for his part, Mathieu Souben. It required a lot of commitment, the game of chess on the Atlantic started in Ouessant, it is very early. We left a lot of energy and we arrive flat. “

Started in Le Havre in mainland France, the course for the fleet of seven small trimarans entered was shorter: 5,800 miles compared to 7,500 for the 32-meter Ultimes foiling trimarans. The first Ultime, Edmond de Rothschild, is expected late morning, Paris time, on the line.

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The Martinican destination is unprecedented in the history of the arrivals of this transatlantic race which is contested in duplicate every two years, just as the weather forecast for this crossing was unprecedented, which took place by taking three distinct routes in order to spare “grouped” arrivals. ”For this fleet of 77 boats divided into four classes (Ultime, Ocean Fifty, Imoca and Class 40). We will simply note four withdrawals after fifteen days of racing.

Indeed, the crossing took place in light to medium winds. In the Bay of Biscay, the sea was a real syrup, forcing the various fleets involved, in particular the Imoca and the Class 40, to knit edges in light winds along the Spanish coast and then the African coasts.

“Totally atypical” weather

“The weather was totally atypical”, explains Corentin Douguet, future competitor in Class 40 for the next Route du Rhum in November 2022, and who on this edition of the Transat Jacques Vabre ran the Ultimate SVR-Lazartigue (François Gabart- Tom Laperche) as well as the 50-foot trimaran Solidaires en Peloton – ARSEP (Thibaut Vauchel-Camus and Fred Duthil), – this last duo could not defend their chances, victim of the loss of their large gennaker in the south of the Cape Verde archipelago. “Usually, at this time of year, things get really tough in the Bay of Biscay. Then the trade winds were almost nonexistent. Hence the low speeds, which are quite unusual, including for the Ultimes ”, adds Corentin Douguet.

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The Rogues-Souben crew, aboard one of the oldest boats in the fleet (Primonial was launched in 2019), – also trapped at the passage of Ouessant, trying to reach the south with cruising boat speeds (6 knots which sometimes drop to 2) -, then knew how to combine placement and speed from Madeira to overtake the Le Roux-Macaire crew (Cohesion) which was slowed down in a windfall in Tenerife. The advance of Primonial then went from 40 to 100 miles.

The Breton-Vendée duo (Cohesion), who was then sovereign in this first half of the course, saw his chances of returning dwindling. Primonial will never let go of the Ocean Fifty heads thanks to this perfect negotiation of the Canary Islands from the west. He then managed to widen a significant gap, going up to 200 miles, with his competitors on the road to the intertropical convergence zone. The descent was quick and although the Doldrums wiped out his lead, he did not redistribute the cards, as was the case in the last edition of the Transat Jacques Vabre.

The two skippers have remarkably exploited their trimaran, winner in other colors of the last Route du Rhum (skippered by Armel Tripon in 2018), to reconstitute this mattress in advance in the last four days, giving rise to numerous gybes on along the exclusion zone off Brazil. The rubber band relaxes, but a boat will never come back within thirty miles of the transom of Primonial.

High cadence

The Rogues-Souben duo, with a third place in the race two years ago, managed to maintain a high pace knowing that the other two favorites, Cohesion and especially Leyton, led by the Anglo-French pair Sam Goodchild-Aymeric Chappelier, had flown over the season in the Pro Sailing Tour this summer, the new circuit for 50-foot trimarans.

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Sébastien Rogues (35 years old), a “minist” by training – used to the Mini-Transat, a solo race on 6.50 m boats -, enriches his record, he who has already won the Jacques Vabre transatlantic race in 2013 with Fabien Delahaye, at the time in Class40.

As for the podium of the Ultimes, except for damage, it seems to be made up: the Maxi Edmond de Rotchchild (Cammas – Caudrelier), whose hegemony will have marked this edition should cross the line in the morning followed by Banque Populaire XI (Le Cléac’h-Escoffier) ​​and SVR Lazartigue (Gabart-Laperche). The five Ultimates entered should finish the race.

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On Thursday, the Imoca (18 m monohulls) are expected, still led by Linkedout of the Rettant-Lagravière duo. The latter carries out an absolutely sumptuous race of mastery, knowing that, on their heels, are the two best teams and teams of the Imoca class: Apivia (Dalin-Meilhat) et Charal (Beyou-Pratt).

Regarding the first of the Class 40 (12 m monohulls) they are not expected before the beginning of next week. The trio Redman, Volvo and Mutual credit engaging, in the outposts, a fight of all beauty.

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