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Sylvain Pontu et Christophe Rateau on Gustave Roussy have finished eighth in the Class40 of the 13th edition of the Transat Jacques Vabre after crossing the finish line in the Bay of All Saints in Salvador de Bahia, Brazil on Saturday, November 25, 2017 at 21:55:46 (UTC), 20 days, 09 hours 20 minutes and 46 seconds after leaving Le Havre, Normandy, France.
Gustave Roussy covered the theoretical course of 4,350 nautical miles at an average speed of 9.53 knots but actually sailed 4,584 nautical miles at an average speed of 9.37 knots. It finished 02 days, 22 hours, 36 minutes and 31 seconds behind the winner, V and B.
Sylvain Pontu and Christophe Rateau were among several crews sailing on this 13th Transat Jacques Vabre sailing for a good cause; research on cancer by the Gustave Roussy Foundation. For this high-level amateur project, the ambition was as much enjoyment as racing against boats of the same generation, and perhaps even to compete with some of more recent designs.
“We’re not pretending we’ll make the podium, but we’re going to give it a go along with the best of them,” Rateau, 56, had said with a smile in Le Havre after just arriving on the pontoon...still in his suit and tie. Together with the 43-year-old Pontu, Rateau, Parisian financial manager of a mutual fund, will be racing in his third transatlantic race, after a Transat AG2R and a Transquadra, on Damien Seguin's old boat, an Akilaria RC 3 from 2013. The two friends negotiated a month of unpaid leave from work to allow them to head for Brazil.
After a cautious start, Sylvain and Christophe decided to leave their group off Lisbon and shift to the west, an option that was not succesful, especially with the lack of wind in the Canaries. Gustave Roussy is one of the Class40s who covered the most miles to Salvador de Bahia.
Hanging on to 8th place, they caught up a bit with those ahead as they approached the Doldrums. Both skippers were Transat Jacques Vabre rookies, but Sylvain had passed through the Doldrums once before having raced in the Mini-Transat in 2005. On the last section, they had enough of a cushion against the two boats closest behind; Gras Savoye Berger Simon Obportus and particualrly Eärendil, which was faster in reaching conditions.