Édition 2023 25 November 2023 - 18h12

Vincent Riou: “What we must cherish what the Transat Jacques Vabre has become”

Their finish was as spectacular as any, a great breeze, sunshine, a foaming bow and two skippers enjoying their final moments of their Transat Jacques Vabre Normandie Le Havre. Ex free skiing champ Aurélien Ducroz and Vincent Riou, the only skipper on this race who competed on the inaugural edition, taking 26th position in Class 40 on Crosscall.

They had  tough race. A technical hitch on the way out of Lorient and then getting out of phase with the leaders’ weather. But 2004 Vendée Globe winner Riou, who is the only skipper in this race who was on the very first race 30 years ago, was cherishing the moments as much as ever. This was his tenth participation and he loves the public following for what has become a major French sporting event. …

Ducroz a former world free skiing champion said, “We took advantage of the good wind conditions for our finish into Martinique. It’s really the first time we’ve had this much wind since the start. It was a beautiful finish after a magnificent last night at sea with an incredible moon. We had a good approach to the West Indies. It’s nice to get here. This story wasn’t so simple. We're happy to be here, all the same.  A transatlantic race is a hell of an adventure, no matter what.

The race
Ducroz: “Everything seems to have been against us. From the beginning, and gradually, and finally permanently. As soon as we had some hope it vanished, whether due to the weather or technical things. It’s been a test of resilience all along. But it’s a transatlantic, with good times at sea which allows you to gain experience.”

Riou:This race ws atypical, but I don’t have bad memories of it, because we had such a good time sharing It with Aurélien, it was nice. We had a small technical bug the first days, 5/6 hours after the start and that was crippling. It’s the game. There are times when a few hours wasted initially can be erased in 24 or 36 hours; and there are other times when it just holds you back more and more... And there is nothing to do. It was also a calm Transar At the finish there that was the first time that we had this much wind since Cape Finisterre. Someone turned the fan off

Riou: “In the end, the dozen hours behind the leaders meant that we found ourselves stuck in a ridge near Portugal, and there wasn't much we could do. Then, we suffered, quite simply by spending more time in the light stuff than some of our rivals. We made a small mistake in the Canaries, but I don’t think it would have made a big difference in the standings. But we have no regrets. We did what we could, and there was no other solution than to suffer as we suffered.” 

He finishes, “The most important thing, and what must be remembered, is the public’s enthusiasm. The big difference is there. 30 years ago, there were 12 or 13 of us at the Vauban basin. And here, this time there were close to a hundred of us in the Paul Vatine dock with a spectacle worthy of a major sporting event. What we must cherish what the Transat Jacques Vabre has become.”