Sodebo Ultim’ wins Transat Jacques Vabre in record time

Image: Transat Jacques Vabre

Having match raced each other down the Atlantic after leaving Le Havre last Sunday, Thomas Colville and Jean-Luc Nélias struck a blow for experience by holding off Sébastien Josse and Thomas Rouxel on their newly-launched Maxi Edmond de Rothschild to win the 13th edition of the Transat Jacques Vabre.

Sodebo Ultim’ crossed the finish line in the Bay of All Saints in Salvador de Bahia on 13 November at 10:42:27 (UTC), 7 days 22 hours 7 minutes and 27 seconds after leaving Le Havre, Normandy, France.

Sodebo Ultim’ sailed 4,742 nautical miles at an average speed of 24.94 knots. Their time smashed the previous record of 10 days 0 hours 38 mins 43 seconds set by Franck Cammas and Steve Ravussin on Groupama 2 in the 60ft multihull class in 2007 (the last time the race finished in Salvador) by 2 days 2 hours and 31 mins and 16 seconds.

Colville and Nélias lost a hard-fought 2015 Transat Jacques Vabre to François Gabart and Pascal Bidegory by under eight hours. Gabart sent a message from deep in the South Atlantic, where he is 9 days into his attempt to break Coville’s solo round-the-world record.

Josse will only get faster as he gets to know Maxi Edmond de Rothschild but Coville has shown he is far from yesterday’s man against these new kids on the block.

Sodebo Ultim’ had looked like playing the role of plucky underdog, hanging in there, but they have held the lead since taking it in the early hours of Thursday morning as Maxi Edmond de Rothschild were forced to gybe west into their wake.

Maxi Edmond de Rothschild had started favourite as the bigger, newer beast on the block and Josse beat his own prediction of an eight-day finish, but it was not enough. They sailed further and faster – 4,838 nautical miles at an average speed of 25.21 knots – but finished just 1 hour 47 minutes and 57 seconds behind Sodebo Ultim’, but could not get close enough in the last 24 hours to suggest they would overtake. Josse and Rouxel arrived at 12:30:24 (UTC), a race time of 7 days, 23 hours 55 minutes and 24 seconds.

The smaller Ultime, Prince de Bretagne (Lionel Lemonchois / Bernard Stamm) is a distant third, 1,100 miles from the finish.