Joyon wins Route du Rhum-Destination Guadeloupe

Francis Joyon snatched victory in the Route du Rhum-Destination Guadeloupe, finishing just 7 min and 8 secs ahead of Francois Gabart after overtaking him in the last miles of the race.

Francois Gabart was the first to reach the Basse Terre buoy, some 24 miles before the finish line on his maxi-trimaran, MACIF.

Gabart arrived at 18:03 UTC Sunday, closely followed by Francis Joyon on his Trimaran IDEC at 19:10 UTC.

But after a match-race to the finish line over the final miles, Joyon, 62, glided across the finish line on IDEC Sport at 23:21.47 local time (03:21.47 UTC) to pip the poster boy of French sailing, François Gabart on MACIF by just seven minutes and eight seconds.

Competing in his eighth Route du Rhum-Destination Guadeloupe, Joyon, aged 62, set a new record time for the 3,542-nautical mile course of just seven days, 14 hours and 21 minutes.

This reduces the previous best time set in 2014 by the French sailor Loïck Peyron sailing the same boat as Joyon but under the name Banque Populaire VII.

At one point in the last two hours Joyon had extended to be over three miles ahead of his younger adversary, but Gabart proved faster in the very light airs.

At one mile from the finish the two solo skippers were racing side by side.

But it was Joyon who took the finish gun to huge cheers, taking line honours and winning the ULTIME class for the biggest yachts in the race.

In a fleet of six ULTIMES sailed by some of France’s highest profile most successful skippers, Joyon was considered very much the outsider.

His boat is three tonnes heavier than Gabart’s newer foil-assisted MACIF. But his lifetime of ocean racing and record-setting experience perfectly complemented his IDEC Sport trimaran, on which he and five crew set the current 40-day, non-stop, round-the-world record in 2017.

Gabart's team has now revealed that the first damage to MACIF occurred off the tip of Brittany in the first small depression of the race, when there was a failure of the hydraulics that control the J3.

Then on the night between Monday and Tuesday, Gabart realised he had lost his starboard foil. There was no collateral damage to the hull or to the rudder but the foil had gone.

Then on Tuesday morning, off the Spanish coast, Gabart heard a crack and discovered that he had also lost part of his port rudder blade which snapped just under the head of the stock.

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