It was the final night which decided the outcome of the inaugural edition of the Europa Warm’Up and it was Riou on PRB which proved slightly quicker and smarter to hold off the hard driving Gabart who has shown a maturity beyond his years in how he paced himself and pushed on this second leg.
Thirty miles before the Occidentale de Sein buoy and PRB and MACIF were separated by less than one mile. Riou attacked by setting a big spinnaker. He stuck to the helm to drive hard with PRB overpowered for much of the time, building a gap which finally allowed him to add another win to a list of honours. Riou is not short of podium successes in his career, but this is his first victory since winning the 2011 Fastnet race with Jean Le Cam. It is a win which is a good reward for PRB a very supportive and passionate Vendée supporter, but which proves how close the top of the IMOCA Open 60 fleet is, and how well prepared PRB is.
Gabart is proving the talented IMOCA Open 60 rookie with no pretences or ego. He is clearly talented and hard working who is showing the benefit of his early mentoring by Michel Desjoyeaux but also his ground work at the centre if excellence at Port La Foret. Already having won the BtoB on his first IMOCA Open 60 solo outing, Gabart is surely worth ranking among the Vendée Globe favourites.
Armel Le Cléac’h never gives up and it is not for nothing that the soloist from the Bay of Morlaix has been dubbed The Jackal. But on this occasion it was a broken halyard lock hook on his mainsail which annulled Le Cléac’h’s predatory instinct. He managed to keep finding workable solutions which kept him just ahead of Cheminées Poujoulat, Bernard Stamm’s stalking black cat which took fourth.
They said:Vincent Riou (PRB): “This week was only 2300 miles long but it was a very intense week. Apart from the first leg of the course where we had lighter weather, we sailed in sustained strong winds and that brings with it a certain amount of stress in hard racing conditions. The boats are finely tuned and the level is very even. The level has never been higher at six months before a Vendée Globe. What did it take to win? Some success at key times, I suppose. You need to make the difference at key times and for example this morning I took an early risk to set the big spinnaker because I really wanted to make the difference. Winning is great and obviously this gives me confidence. But you can see the overall level. There are a few who have made real progress and it is very interesting today. And there is only six months to go until the start, six months of work, six months to fill in the gaps we have seen during this Europa Warm’Up. There is no time to rest.”
François Gabart (MACIF): "I finished second, behind a winner of the Vendée Globe, Vincent Riou for my second solo race in the IMOCA, I could not ask for more. In real terms, I have a job list on the computer which must fill two full pages. I learn a lot about this boat since it was launched and that learning does not stop. What is reassuring is that I have almost nothing broken on the boat. We had conditions which really were not easy and I'm glad the boat held up so well. I think I have a great machine for the Vendée. Vincent sailed a great race. Just after his nice tactical move by moving to the west of Sao Miguel he followed up by showing he had an ability to accelerate. In any event, it is very reassuring to see that we are in the game. Now, the Vendée Globe, that is something else again but there is still lots of work to do before getting to the starting line. "
Armel Le Cléac'h (Banque Populaire): "It was really hard. Just after rounding the island of Santa Maria, Azores, I broke my mainsail hook. I was able to do a rough, makeshift repair which held to the Fastnet. But once we were upwind, the mainsail halyard itself broke. I had to find an alternative by hoisting the sail on the spinnaker halyard and taking the first reef. But the operation has forced me to hoist and lower a dozen times to make it work ... Anyway, this race is excellent preparation for the Vendée Globe. It was more than 4000 miles of sailing from Port-la-Foret and that is invaluable ... "
At 09h 22m 50s this Sunday morning (UTC, CET -2hrs) Vincent Riou on PRB crossed the finish line of the two leg Europa Warm'Up Race to win the 3,200 miles second stage from Cascais to La Rochelle.
Subject to protests and jury, Riou also wins the inaugural edition of the Europa Warm'Up overall.
The second leg course took the IMOCA Open 60 solo skippers via the Azores and the Fastnet. Riou's elapsed time is 7 days, 18h, 22m, 50s at a theoretcial average of 12.4kts. He actually sailed 2542 miles at an actual average of 13.54kts.
François Gabart on MACIF crossed the finish line at 10h 33mn 58s (UTC) to take second place on the leg, 1h 11m 08s behind winner PRB. So the solo skipper of MACIF also takes second place in the overall standings behind Vincent Riou. His elapsed time for the second leg from Cascais to La Rochelle is 7 days 19h 33m 58s. His theoretical average speed is 12.32 knots. MACIF has actually sailed 2518 miles at a real average speed of 13.43 knots.
Armel Le Cléac'h on Banque Populaure crossed the finish line at 13h 11mn 15s (UTC). He completes the podium for the leg, and for the overall Europa Warm’Up in finishing third. His elapsed time for the course is 7d 22h 11m 15s, a theoretical average of 12.15kts, finishing 6hrs 24mins 25secs behind the winner Riou. Armel actually sailed 2527 miles and his measured average is 13.29kts.