Last night, the final two competitors in the IMOCA class crossed the Route du Rhum finish line. Alessandro di Benedetto and Tanguy de Lamotte respectively grabbed sixth and seventh place. Shortly after them, the Spaniard, Alex Pella achieved a remarkable performance winning the Class40 category. This win should open a few doors for him as he looks forward to competing in the 2016 Vendée Globe. Here are the initial reactions from the skippers on the pontoons in Pointe-à-Pitre.

Alessandro di Benedetto (Team Plastique-AFM Téléthon): 6th IMOCA, after 16 days 11 hours 4 minutes and 30 seconds of racing. Eleventh in the last Vendée Globe and hoping to compete in the next, Alessandro di Benedetto completed his first Route du Rhum finishing in a respectable sixth place, taking into account the age of his boat, by far the oldest in the 60-foot IMOCA fleet. Alessandro di Benedetto: “It was intensive. I’d like to congratulate all the skippers who finished before me and particularly those, who made it to the podium (François Gabart, Jérémie Beyou and Marc Guillemot, editor’s note). They had a fantastic race. Personally, I think I sailed well, but with a boat dating back to 1998… I’m satisfied with this result, as there were nine of us when we set off from St. Malo and I finished sixth. I carried out repairs at sea, whereas Tanguy (de Lamotte) stopped because of his rudder problem. The same thing happened to me later in the race and I almost lost it. I went into the water with some epoxy, laminated it and managed to patch it up. It was stressful, as Tanguy was clawing back the miles. His boat is that much newer than mine and is faster. I feel more tired now than after the Vendée Globe. In a transatlantic race, you don’t have time to rest or make pancakes, and you’re stuck with freeze-dried food, so you don’t do much cooking. I kept hard at it throughout the race. I suffered from stomach cramps and got in contact with Dr. Chauve. I had to lie down as I had a pain around my kidneys… Fortunately I got through it. It was a fantastic race. I have already visited Guadeloupe racing aboard a Hobie Cat 16. It was my first world class event, but this is the first time I have finished a race here.”

Tanguy de Lamotte (Initiatives-Cœur): 7th IMOCA after 16 days 15 hours 28 minutes and 13 seconds of racing. For his first race aboard his new boat, a Farr designed boat from 2006 (Vincent Riou’s former PRB, which became Akena Vérandas skippered by Arnaud Boissières), Tanguy de Lamotte was unable to measure up against his rivals, because a damaged rudder forced him to carry out a pit stop in Brest and he was far back from the leaders, when he set off again. But Tanguy remains positive about this Route du Rhum, which taught him a lot, as he thinks about the 2016-17 Vendée Globe. Tanguy de Lamotte: “ The setback at the start with the damage to my rudder was dealt with well by my team. We never once doubted that we would be setting off again and checking out all the work we have done this year. So here I am in Pointe-à-Pitre with the boat and I’m proud, as we have done a good job in our charity campaign. We managed to save twenty children thanks to the Initiatives Cœur operation. So you could say I’m a winner without coming first! My boat is harder than the old one, but she is quicker… The work that is required is rewarded by higher average speeds. She feels very different. I’m really pleased to have raced in this event, as when you’re sailing on the ocean, you discover lots of little things. Sail choices for example and what life is like on board. They’re not things you learn necessarily during the training in Lorient. There’s a lot of work to do now for the Vendée Globe, but I really enjoyed myself in the Route du Rhum.” 

Alex Pella winner of the Rhum in the Class40 category

Alex Pella (Tales 2-Santander), winner in Class40 after 16 days 17 hours 47 minutes and 08 seconds of racing. Known for being the “body double” skipper of the 60-foot IMOCA in the French film “En solitaire” based around the Vendée Globe, Alex Pella enjoyed a perfect race. He managed to ward off all the attacks from his rivals in their Class40 boats, including one that everyone who follows the solo round the world race knows, Kito de Pavant, who is expected to take third place. The first Spaniard to win the Route du Rhum, Alex Pella also improved on the Class40 race record by more than a day. A record held since 2010 by Thomas Ruyant. Alex Pella could not hide his joy after this remarkable victory, as he looks forward to taking part in the next Vendée Globe. “It was a great race! Class40 boats are fantastic. There are a lot of competitors and the battle is always on at the front, in the middle and at the rear. I really enjoyed it, and it was a great experience. To win a race, you have to finish and I couldn’t relax until I had crossed the line. I had my share of problems. Just as we started, the rudder kicked up, so it was a bit hairy. After that, I caught up and was in second place off Cape Fréhel, and I could see that I had good speed and that I could get ahead. I kept a close eye on Kito (de Pavant), as he was sailing really well. Maybe he had a slight lack of speed in comparison to my boat, but he was always in the right place.”