Arkema's Lalou Roucayrol and Alex Pella cross the finish line of the Transat Jacques Vabre as winners in the Multi50 class
On 16 November at 8.49 am (French time), Lalou Roucayrol and Alex Pella crossed the finish line of the Transat Jacques Vabre in Salvador de Bahia (Brazil) as winners in the Multi50 category.
After leaving Le Havre on 5 November, the Arkema pair took just 10 days 19 hours 14 minutes and 19 seconds, averaging a speed of 16.81 knots, to cover the course’s 4,350 theoretical miles. It was an outstanding performance for the two skippers who overcame both technical and physical hurdles to claim victory. The pair were also indebted to the invaluable support of Karine Fauconnier who was in charge of routing from land.
Roucayrol and Pella were well placed from the start and always in the top two spots among the fleet. Throughout the race down the Atlantic towards Salvador de Bahia, the Franco-Spanish pair were engaged in a fierce duel with FenêtreA-Mix Buffet skippered by Erwan Le Roux and Vincent Riou. This superb victory for the duo was the first for Lalou in his ninth Transat Jacques Vabre race.
The race wasn’t without its moments of drama as they had to overcome a number of hurdles. Firstly, they suffered electronic failures whilst trying to receive weather data from the team weather strategist, Karine Fauconnier, and then they had many physical challenges to confront not least on the fifth night of the race when Pella sustained two broken ribs when trapped between the boom and the winch grinder. Yet despite these problems, the pair refused to give up and they secured victory whilst breaking a number of records*:
– Record of the distance covered over 24 hours in Multi50: 568 miles / 24 hours
The previous record, 524 miles, was held since July 16, 2016 by Ciela Village (Thierry Bouchard) on the occasion of Quebec / Saint-Malo.
– Multi50 Record of the Transat Jacques Vabre on the course Le Havre / Salvador de Bahia: 10 days, 19 hours, 14 minutes and 19 seconds
The previous reference time was held by Crepes Whaou! in 2005 with Franck-Yves and Kevin Escoffier: 12 days, 06 hours, 13 minutes.
– Average speed record on the Transat Jacques Vabre in Multi50:
16.81 knots on the great circle (direct route).
They improve the performance of FenêtréA-Cardinal (Erwan Le Roux / Yann Eliès) who raced at an average speed of 15.3 knots in 2013 (on a longer course between Le Havre and Itajaí).
* Subject to WSSRC validation
Spanish sailor Alex Pella will now join Lalou Roucayrol on board Multi50 Arkema for the Transat Jacques Vabre 2017.
It comes after Roucyrol’s original co-skipper, Karine Fauconnier suffered an injury during training.
Pella and Roucyrol now have less than 80 days to get to know each other’s sailing styles before crossing the starting line off Le Havre on 5 November.
They will need to work as an effective team to beat the others racing the historic coffee trading route towards Brazil.
Fauconnier will still remain actively involved in the team, and will be on land in charge of routing and weather strategy.
“We’re very sorry about this situation as the Lalou and Karine pair had already put a lot into this. They were working very well, and now we have to start all over again,” explained team manager, Fabienne Baron-Roucayrol.
“But this was the wisest and most reasonable decision when it comes to the health of a sailor and the performance of a boat,” he added.
Pella has an impressive nautical CV and a superb record of achievements to his credit: three round-the-world races (one on a monohull, two on a multihull), joint holder of the Trophée Jules Verne with the IDEC Sport crew skippered by Francis Joyon, winner of the legendary Route du Rhum 2014 in Class40.
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“Alex Pella is an international skipper with an eclectic profile. At sea he’s ruthless, very hard-working, He will go to any length and is very good at sailing and managing the boats,” stated Multi50 Arkema’s skipper, Roucayrol.
“He’s a good all-rounder who sails a lot, on monohulls, on multihulls, on traditional boats. He’s not too familiar with the Multi 50, but I’m absolutely sure he will soon get the hang of it,” he continued.
We have 80 days to sail together, get to know each other better, qualify, practice getting our bearings together, and sail the Multi 50 Arkema efficiently,” added the 53-year-old, who won the Transat Québec-Saint-Malo 2016 in Multi50 Arkema.
Commenting on his appointment as the new co-skipper of the Multi50 Arkema for the Transat Jacques Vabre, Pella said: “I’m going to give it my all!”
“The Multi 50 are boats of a reasonable size, relatively straightforward, and no doubt a lot of fun, especially with the foils! I have sailed a lot on bigger multihulls in recent years: on the maxi trimaran IDEC Sport, on MOD 70, on the trimaran Prince de Bretagne… So I won’t be lost,” he noted.
“The challenge is to catch up as quickly as possible to help Lalou run an excellent Transat Jacques Vabre race, if not win it. I’m certain we can achieve this,” continued Pella.
“It’s a big challenge for me personally and from a sporting viewpoint. The competition is going to be tough and this is spurring me on even more,”concluded the 44-year-old.