After 62 days at sea, Club Med co-skippers Dalton and Profitt stepped ashore last night to come to terms with their world-beating status in the welcoming warmth of Marseilles
It’s been an extraordinary event, both in conception and execution, and several times it looked like The Race was a non-starter but at 1956 yesterday, Club Med scythed across the finish line off Marseilles and into history. Sixty-two days, six hours and 56 minutes after leaving Barcelona, the 110ft Ollier design catamaran has become the fastest offshore sailboat in the world after knocking a stunning nine days off Olivier de Kersauson’s 1997 record, 71 days, 14 hours and 18 minutes. Their 24 hour distance record of 655.2 miles, combined with regular 500-mile days, leaves them with an awesome average speed over the 27,408 miles (50,759km) of 18kn (33.9kph).
“We hadn’t even stopped to consider too much what it would be like – the past 24 hours were pretty tough,” said a gaunt Dalton on arrival. “We had a bad night last night with a lot of wind – it was only today that I started to think that this was ours and we we’re going to have this victory!
“Suddenly out of the night we came, doing 25 knots, boats scattering everywhere and that was just the start of it. And all these people here now. It’s perfect – Saturday night – all the crowds on the dock. I didn’t know what to expect – I never expected the response we have had tonight, it has been unbelievable. We’re all humbled by everyone turning out to see us – we had no idea there was so much interest. We absolutely can’t believe it. Winning a race like this is never easy, but somehow it’s always easier afterwards.
“We sailed a very controlled race. We weren’t really pushed that hard so it’s hard to judge but there were times when it was easy, times when it was really tough. In general it was fantastic event. We’re going to savour tonight. We’ve done what we set out to do. Loick Peyron and his boys on Innovation Explorer have done a fantastic job – they have chased us hard and they pushed us all the way – full credit to them as well. The crew has done a great job.
“Sixty-two days at sea is a long time – whether they ever want to sail with me again is another story! We brought this international mix together and it’s worked. We’ve all learnt a lot about each other – including how to sail these boats – and I think they’ve all benefited from the experience and I know they will savour it as well. I think it was probably our most clinical and our best win. Maybe your first win is the best, the most special – for me as skipper it was NZ Endeavour in the Whitbread – but this is right up there. I’m happy – I’m really happy tonight!”
Second-placed Innovation Explorer was 667 miles from Marseilles at 0700 and is due in on Monday. Until then, hats off to Dalts and his crew, all of whom were no doubt looking forward to a real meal, perhaps a couple of celebratory drinks, a bath and a stationary bed after almost nine weeks of white-knuckle riding onboard the wet, wild and superfast next generation of maxi-multihulls.
Grant Dalton – Skipper
Franck Proffit – Co-skipper
Mike Quilter – Navigator
Ed Danby – Boat captain
Neal McDonald – Watch captain
Stefano Rizzi – Trimmer
Jacques Caraes – Trimmer/Video
Hervé Jan – Helmsman
Fred Le Peutrec – Helmsman
Guillermo Altadill – Helmsman
Alexis de Cenival – Doctor
Jan Dekker – Crew
Nicholas Pichelin – Crew