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"" In the end, I had more or less the same gap at the finish as when I made my decision to head south: so it wasn't a mistake!""


Finishing second in the Class40s mid-afternoon on Friday, Louis Duc set himself apart from the fleet as soon as he reached the Azores via the southern route...

"When we set off from Plymouth, we thought we were going to get wanked off permanently in the lows... And we started by sailing south! An English transatlantic crossing through the Fromveur and the Bay of Biscay: a crazy thing. Then things started to get back on track with the first low-pressure system, which we were able to get around to the north, so I decided to cut the route a little. It was pretty tough, though, because the wind fields were full of 50-knot gusts! I was probably the most exposed as I skimmed the center of the low-pressure area, but I got away with it... It was fun under three reefs and reduced staysail: the boat averaged fifteen knots for three or four hours! I really got a kick out of it, because the sea state remained fine.

At the exit, we were down to four boats in the lead, but I knew that I had a slight speed deficit in relation to the trio due to the age of my mount: I looked for a solution to do things a little differently. I saw a "door" opening in the south with much more reliable weather. In the end, I had about the same gap at the finish as when I made my decision, so it wasn't a mistake. But it shifted me to the south, which gave me other opportunities.

"Eleven hours ahead at the finish is a lot! But I was very careful to protect my equipment, particularly my sails. I twice set off at 90° from the course so as not to be hit by a gust of wind...".

But I was mainly thinking about the Gulf Stream, because I'd already taken part in The Transat eight years ago, and we'd been through it. Unfortunately, the charts we had weren't accurate enough, and I pushed through more currents than I'd anticipated... But sailing in seawater at 23° when you're at 40° North is unusual! On the other hand, the sea state was tough: I felt as if I'd been passing through the Raz Blanchard for a thousand miles... The boat suffered a lot, it banged around a lot.

That's a lot of eleven hours! Behind Thibaut Vauchel-Camus. But at the same time, I'm really happy to get to New York, because that's not the case for all the racers, because it's been a very tough transatlantic race for the boats, and also because I "saved" my Route du Rhum, where I had to abandon, and at the same time, taking so much time at the finish gives me a bit of a bitter taste. I'm going to have to come back and fight for victory!

I've been very careful to preserve my equipment, especially my sails: I don't have a furler on my solent jib, so I was able to remove it and stow it inside. But in the last few days, I damaged my staysail. And then I didn't suffer the low-pressure system to the north that cost Phil Sharp dearly: I chose to set off at 90° for ten hours of the route so as not to have any technical problems. I lost some ground, but I was able to hold on to second place.