With 74 competitors at the start, this famous solo Trans-Atlantic race had never reached such a level of participation, but the race also went on to reduce the 1998 record of Laurent Bourgnon on Primagaz, who completed the crossing in 12 days, 8 hours and 41 minutes. This record was beaten with four days to spare by Lionel Lemonchois on Gitana 11, winner of the Trimaran class.
However, the weather conditions that allowed this exploit didn’t last. For the others, low pressure systems caused capsizes, technical problems and 12 withdrawals in total, before finishing with slack air. The last arrivals beat records for the slowest crossing, so striking were the trade winds by their absence. As a result, the date for closing the finishing line was put off to the 24 November instead of the 21st. Only Alain Grinda on Fantasy Forest, in Monohull Class 3, was not classed.
Saint Malo, France to Guadeloupe: the Caribbean connection
While already being well represented in Saint Malo, Guadeloupe rocked to the rhythm of Zouk and new arrivals for three weeks. Events villages sprouted up along the coastal towns and the crowds came to welcome exceptional sailors and superb boats, not least for the Guadeloupean and Martiniquais arrivals, whose stories are told below:
Régis Guillemot (Martinique) – Abandon
Winner of the Route du Rhum in 2002 in Monohull Class 3, he had to withdraw on November 2, while competing for first place, because of a broken rudder on Regis-Guillemot-Charter-Martinique. Despite attempts to repair the damage, he had to be towed to the Azores, which he left on November 11 in order to return to Martinique.
Anne Caseneuve (Guadeloupe)
After a third place in 1998 and a second place in 2002, Anne was equally unlucky to be forced to withdraw on November 6th because of a broken rudder.
Claude Thélier (Guadeloupe)
For his second Route du Rhum (following on from a 4th place in the 50-foot multihull class in 2002), he arrived on the 10th November at 00:58:51 in 11 days, 11 hours, 56 minutes and 51 seconds. 8th in the ORMA class, he had reached his objectives: reach Pointe a Pitre with no damage and beat Laurent Bourgnon’s record. “My arrival was magical, fabulous. The best reward was to share the moment with Guadeloupeans on my arrival.”
Gilles Lamiré (Martinique)
Arrived on the 20 November at 00:00:50, in 21 days, 10 hours, 58 minutes and 50 seconds, to make 11th in the ORMA class. On an almost non-existent budget, Gilles reached Guadeloupe in time, despite numerous technical problems which forced him to stop at the Azores. “I’ve been drooling with the light weather these last days. I’m happy to have arrived. Even if it’s a bit after the others, I’ve arrived. This was my first race and I’ve learnt a lot.”
Philippe Fiston (Guadeloupe)
Arrived on the 20 November at 20:28:43, in 22 days, 7 hours, 26 minutes and 43 seconds. With no pretensions on his first attempt, Philippe arrived at his native island in 10th place in the IMOCA class, after a stop at the Azores. “I wasn’t expecting such a welcome. I was like a kid. The emotion blew everything away.”
Luc Coquelin (Guadeloupe)
Arrived on the 20 November at 22:03:04, in 22 days, 9 hours, 1 minute and 4 seconds. After two second places in 1998 and 2002, Luc was hoping for a victory at his third attempt, but had to be content with a third place in Monohull 2 after losing time with numerous technical difficulties. Still, three consecutive podium finishes are his. “To be honest, I don’t think that any of the things that happened to me would have changed anything in the finishing order, but might have closed the gap.”
Philippe Chevalier (Guadeloupe) Winner, Classe 1
Arrived on the 22 November at 11:53:42, in 23 days, 22 hours, 51 minutes and 42 seconds. The Capitaine of the Marina Bas du Fort, in his first attempt in Monohull 1, was only hoping to complete the crossing. He finished in first place, however. “I was going to see what state I was in when I reached the Azores to see if I would continue. I saw that I was with friends, and threw myself into the competition. The boat was very kind on me, because when it comes to mistakes … I made plenty!”
ORMA TRIMARANS: 12 registered, 1 withdrawals
Gitana 11, Lionel Lemonchois : Arrived on 06/11/2006 at 06:21:06, in 7 days, 17 hours, 19 minutes and 6 seconds, at an average speed of 19.11 knots.
Banque Populaire, Pascal Bidegorry : 06/11/2006 at 17:27:07, in 8 days, 4 hours, 25 minutes and 7 seconds, (18.03 knots).
Sodeb’O, Thomas Coville : Arrived on 07/11/2006 at 02:41:02, in 8 days, 13 hours, 39 minutes and 2 seconds, (17.22 knots).
Region Guadeloupe-Terres de Passions, Claude Thelier : 10/11/2006 at 00:58:51, in 11 days, 11 hours, 56 minutes and 51 seconds, (12.84 knots).
Madinina, Gilles Lamire : 20/11/2006 at 00:00:50, in 21 days, 10 hours, 58 minutes et 50 seconds, (6.88 knots).
IMOCA MONOHULLS: 12 registered, 2 withdrawals
Sill et Veolia, Roland Jourdain : 11/11/2006 at 01:00:58, in 12 days, 11 hours, 58 minutes et 58 seconds, (11.81 knots).
VM Matériaux, Jean Le Cam : 11/11/2006 at 01:28:58, in 12 days, 12 hours, 26 minutes et 58 seconds, (11.79 knots).
Virbac-Paprec, Jean-Pierre Dick : 11/11/2006 at 09:29:58, in 12 days, 20 hours, 27 minutes et 58 seconds, (11.48 knots).
Adriana Karembeu Paris, Philippe Fiston : 20/11/2006 at 20:28:43, in 22 days, 7 hours, 26 minutes et 43 seconds, (6.62 knots).
TRIMARANS Class 2 : 8 registered, 2 withdrawals
Crêpes Whaou!, Franck-Yves Escoffier : 10/11/2006 at 06:30:11, in 11 days, 17 hours, 28 minutes et 11 seconds, (12.58 knots).
Trilogic, Eric Bruneel : 12/11/2006 at 03:51:03, in 13 days, 14 hours, 49 minutes et 3 seconds, (10.84 knots).
Laiterie de Saint-Malo, Victorien Erussard : 15/11/2006 at 07:31:54, in 16 days, 18 hours, 29 minutes et 54 seconds, (8.80 knots).
Anne Caseneuve : Abandoned
TRIMARANS Class 3 : 3 registered, 2 withdrawals
Imagine-Institut des Maladies Génétiques, Pierre Antoine : 21/11/2006 at 01:54:38, in 22 days, 12 hours, 52 minutes et 38 seconds, (6.55 knots).
MONOHULLS Class 2 : 4 registered
Artforms, Kip Stone : 16/11/2006 at 11:38:28, in 17 days, 22 hours, 36 minutes et 28 seconds, (8.23 knots).
Vedettes de Bréhat Cap Marine, Servane Escoffier : 17/11/2006 at 13:27:43, in 19 days, 25 minutes and 43 seconds, (7.76 knots).
Cap Guadeloupe 971,Luc Coquelin : 20/11/2006 at 22:03:04, in 22 days, 9 hours, 1 minute et 4 seconds, (6.60 knots).
MONOHULLS Class 3 : 6 registered, 3 withdrawals
Roaring Forty, Michel Kleinjans : 22/11/2006 at 09:37:29, in 23 days, 20 hours, 35 minutes et 29 seconds, (6.19 knots).
DangerousWhenWet, Aurélia Ditton : 23/11/2006 at 15:28:22, in 25 days, 2 hours, 26 minutes et 22 seconds, (5.88 knots).
Fantasy Forest, Alain Grinda : missed the cut.