Best of arrivées 19 November 2023 - 11h51

Richomme and Eliès (Paprec Arkéa) finish second IMOCA, pipping Britain’s Sam Goodchild and French co-skipper Antoine Koch (For the Planet) to third. 

Just as the sun was rising over the Bay of Fort de France, Martinique this morning French duo Yoann Richomme and Yann Eliès (Paprec Arkéa) crossed the finish line of the 16th Transat Jacques Vabre Normandie Le Havre race at 06:11:16hrs local time (10:11:16 hrs UTC) to take a narrow second place.

After the wind died in the lee of the island Richomme and Eliès had a nervous hour as they could do next to nothing whilst nearest rivals Britain’s Sam Goodchild and his French co-skipper Antoine Koch on For the Planet caught up nearly five miles. 

The two IMOCAs were all but side by side before Paprec Arkéa caught a whiff of a breeze offshore. They rolled out their masthead code zero sail and ghosted off to hold on to second. 

The elapsed time for Paprec Arkéa is 12 days, 01 hours, 41 minutes and 16 seconds, completing the  3,750 miles course at 12.98 knots. They actually sailed 5448.80 miles at an average speed of 18.81 knots on the water and their delta behind the winners Thomas Ruyant and Morgan Lagravièreis 4h 8m 45sec. The first two boats are new sisterships launched in 2023 to the design of Goodchild’s co-skipper Koch in collaboration with Finot Conq. 

Double, back to back Route du Rhum winner in Class40 Richomme said, “Our aim for two years has been to finish the Jacques Vabre. Mission accomplished. The boat finishes in good condition. We learnt a lot. I didn’t think we could win it, as we had so much to learn. Particularly me. Thomas and Morgan had better knowledge of their boat than us. So we don’t have any regrets. We took a lot of notes, because these boats are crazy.”

“On the way out of the Canaries, we saw they had a faster pace. We suffered when the wind fell below 17 knots. We saw that too in the final days with For the Planet. It was a handicap. I think we did well in spite of this deficit. At the start, Charal and For People were the boats we feared. It took a lot to keep up the pace set by those ahead.” 

Britain's Goodchild best non-French IMOCA result in this race since 2011
Finishing just 9 mins 16 secs later in third Goodchild, on his 34th birthday, earns his third consecutive podium finish on this biennial two-handed race from Le Havre to Martinique and scores the best IMOCA class result by an international skipper on this Coffee Route passage since Britain’s Alex Thomson and Spain’s Guillermo Altadill finished second in 2011. He and Koch sailed the IMOCA which won the IMOCA class in 2021 as Linked Out. 

Their elapsed time is 12 days 1 hour 50 minutes and 32 seconds for the 3750 nautical miles course averaging 12.97kts, actually sailing 5333.58 miles at an average of 18.40kts. 

“We are really happy with third. We did not expect that at the start. We did not have a very good start and had a lot of catching up to do and so getting up to third is amazing. We were in a good position coming already in third and had not a lot to lose and so when we saw an opportunity to attack second we gave it a go. “ said Goodchild on the dock in Fort de France, “We struggle a bit against the new boats when we are downwind in a sea state which there was the last couple of days. It becomes harder to live on as the motion is more violent and it is harder work.”

Goodchild said (in French) "It was beyond my hopes and the result is thanks to the team with Thomas. We’re going in the right direction. I feel I have so much support from the team. Next up, the solo race back. I feel I have been well prepared to tackle that. It’s going to be nice to have ten days to rest. We learnt a lot about how to handle the boat. We had a few small problems, so that taught us a lot too. It was nice to do the race with Antoine, because of his experience of IMOCAs."

Co-skipper Koch said: "I was pleased to share this race with Sam. It was good training for what lies ahead. I’m pleased to have worked on the two boats ahead, but we must remember they had fantastic crews and avoided all the traps. 
The forecast for the trade winds looked good with 18 knots of wind, but in reality, it’s demanding. The waves toss the boat around. The wind suddenly drops off. Then, there are the squalls to deal with. I admire people who do this, as it’s really on a razor’s edge.