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Route du Rhum - Destination Guadeloupe 2018: follow Lalou Roucayrol on the Multi50 Arkema

Find the latest news on the Route du Rhum - Destination Guadeloupe in which Lalou Roucayrol, skipper of the Multi50 Arkema trimaran, took part.


Salvage mission over for Lalou Roucayrol’s trimaran Arkema!


The trimaran Arkema arrived in Pointe-à-Pitre on 27 November, towed by the Lady Debbie vessel from the company SOMARA, following the salvage mission put in place by Team Arkema Lalou Multi.


When he arrived in the area of the capsize on Wednesday 21 November, 7 days after the event, Lalou Roucayrol was astounded to find his trimaran Arkema the right way up. The whole situation generated a great deal of disbelief, and still does. Never in the history of ocean racing had a capsized 3.5 tonne trimaran managed to right itself, all on its own.


After getting all their equipment ready and putting in place a procedure to board their “wounded” trimaran, Lalou and his boat captain Quentin Vlamynck stepped on board the Arkema to assess the damage.

Drifting alone for 48 hours, the trimaran actually suffered major damage to its port float and its foils, and water was leaking into its central hull. So both men spent many hours, in the water, pumping as much of it out as possible, carrying out a few makeshift repairs, and finally fastening and securing the boat ready for towing.


Lalou Roucayrol, now in Pointe-à-Pitre, analyzes the situation so:


Lalou, could you tell us about the circumstances of the capsize?

“I encountered squalls that were fiercer than before. I let go of all the sheets, the pilot began shooting forward, but the boat was already so high up that the rudders came off. I felt a violent shudder on the port float, like a complete standstill; the boat continued going up, and I capsized. I believe this incident is the result of a whole set of circumstances.”


Was the procedure put in place, from your own rescue to salvaging the boat, very complex?

“The objective of this procedure was to rescue me, while also recovering the boat as quickly as possible. The two transfer operations, from the capsized Arkema to the Olmix, and then to the towing vessel, were really difficult to execute. The sea was rough and this kind of rescue mission is never without risk. I’m infinitely grateful to Pierre Antoine for those two days I spent on board the Olmix bearing in mind he was in the middle of racing, and to the Route du Rhum Race Management for their professionalism.

I also want to thank the crew of the Lady Debbie from the company SOMARA who were great with us over the week that the trimaran was being towed. And I wish to thank and congratulate Fabienne and the entire Team Arkema Lalou Multi for the way they have handled this crisis. All the messages of support from Arkema personnel also touched me deeply.”


When you reached the area of your capsize on 21 November, what was your reaction when you realized that your trimaran was the right way up?

“I couldn’t believe my eyes! I’m still not sure what happened in the 5 days I was gone… After getting all our equipment together, we stepped on board the trimaran and noted the damage the boat had suffered, including water inside the central hull. We spent hours pumping, but in the end the water we were pumping out was simply coming back in…. We had a nasty surprise when we discovered a hole in the bottom of the central hull. We can think of plenty of scenarios of what happened, but all we can do is survey the damage now.”


Now that you’re in Pointe-à-Pitre, what’s your programme for the next few days?

“Lady Debbie is going to release us and we’ll be joined by several rigid inflatable boats. This should be done before the finish line of the Route du Rhum – Destination Guadeloupe race outside Gosier. In spite of what happened, we’re going to try to cross the finish line, even though we’re out of the race. It’s symbolic.

Then we’ll take the boat out of the water and take it to a shipyard, where it will be surveyed by the insurance company. The idea is to repair the worst of the damage before we ship it back to France by cargo.”


The trimaran Arkema found THE RIGHT WAY UP by the towing vessel Lady Debbie.


Wednesday 21 November 2018 will go down in the annals of Team Arkema Lalou Multi and ocean racing. The victim of a capsize on 14 November, Lalou Roucayrol’s Multi50 Arkema had been drifting for the past 8 days over 1000 nautical miles from Guadeloupe.


Unmanned since 18 November, when Lalou Roucayrol was rescued by Pierre Antoine (Olmix), the boat had continued to drift…


However, some striking facts soon became a cause for concern for Team Arkema Lalou Multi: 5 hours after Lalou had boarded the boat Olmix, his trimaran’s positioning beacon suddenly stopped emitting signals, whereas the emergency beacon (EPIRB) was activated (for the record, these two beacons are activated or deactivated manually or on contact with water).

There were many unknowns and no one really knew what the towing vessel, with Lalou Roucayrol and Quentin Vlamynck on board, was going to find when they reached the area on Wednesday 21 November.


Imagine their surprise when they got closer to a trimaran that was completely intact and floating the right way up! Yes indeed, the boat had quite simply righted itself, on its own.


Fabienne Roucayrol, Team Manager, has a few possible explanations for this completely unprecedented and unexpected situation: “As a possible cause of the capsize, Lalou explained that there had been water in the starboard float of his boat. We still can’t figure out how this water got into the float, but it must have continued to fill up while the boat was capsized. This most probably “sank” the float slowly, and with the help of the wind and a wave, the boat must have flipped over and righted itself. Lalou and Quentin can’t believe their eyes! We extend our sincere thanks to the Lady Debbie and to SOMARA (Martinique Towing and Rescue Company).”


At least it is excellent news for them, as they will not have to go ahead with the cumbersome, complex and risky procedure they were planning to right the boat before towing it.


“Lalou and Quentin will use a rigid inflatable boat to step on board the trimaran and pump out as much water as possible so it’s not too heavy for towing. They will be securing everything, fit the slings, and head towards Pointe-à-Pitre without delay” concludes Fabienne Roucayrol.

The whole Team Arkema Lalou Multi will keep a watchful eye until the boat arrives in Guadeloupe. With an average speed of 4 knots, the estimated towing time is 9 to 12 days, so the boat is expected to arrive between 30 November and 4 December.




Lalou Roucayrol has been successfully transferred to the towing vessel "Lady Debbie"!

At 6 pm (French time) on Sunday 18 November, Lalou Roucayrol stepped off the trimaran “Olmix” skippered by Pierre Antoine, who had come to his rescue two days ago following the capsize of the Multi50 Arkema.


Following a risky manoeuver involving this transfer between the two crafts, Lalou Roucayrol is now on board the “Lady Debbie”, a 35 meter towing vessel that set off from Martinique 48 hours ago, with the Arkema boat captain Quentin Vlamynck on board. The two men, accompanied by a team of professional divers, are now heading for the area where the Multi50 Arkema capsized, to try to recover the boat. With 550 miles to go, the towing vessel could take a little over three days to reach the area.


Lalou Roucayrol: “That’s it! I’m on board. It was far from easy… I had to jump in the water as we couldn’t launch the rigid inflatable boat because of the sea and the wind conditions in the area. I’m now with Quentin. Pierre Antoine was really TOPS. We’re now heading towards the Arkema trimaran at a rate of 8 knots.”




Successful rescue of Lalou Roucayrol!

Following the capsize of his trimaran Arkema in the Route du Rhum – Destination Guadeloupe race 48 hours ago, Lalou Roucayrol was this morning rescued by Pierre Antoine (Olmix) who had changed course to go to his help. Pierre Antoine, who was in the lead in his Rhum Multi category, has put his own race on hold to give assistance to the Arkema skipper. The Olmix trimaran is now heading for Pointe-à-Pitre.


Meanwhile, a towing vessel set off from Martinique on Thursday heading for the Olmix to pick up Lalou, who will join the team to salvage his overturned trimaran.




Following the capsize of Lalou Roucayrol’s trimaran Arkema, Team Arkema Lalou Multi, in close cooperation with the Route du Rhum - Destination Guadeloupe Race Management, assisted by CROSS Gris-Nez, has organized rescue operations for the skipper and his trimaran Arkema.


At the request of the Race Management, Pierre Antoine on board the trimaran Olmix (Rhum Multi) is currently diverting to give assistance to Lalou Roucayrol. Pierre Antoine is presently located 250 nautical miles West of the overturned boat, and should reach the area within the next 24 hours to pick up the Arkema skipper. Such assistance between competitors is the 3rd in the history of the Route du Rhum - Destination Guadeloupe, the previous instances being Ian Johnston rescued by Olivier Moussy in 1982 and Karine Fauconnier rescued by Bob Escoffier in 2002.


Meanwhile, Quentin Vlamynck, boat captain of the Multi50 Arkema, will board a towing vessel due to set off from Martinique this Thursday 15 November. Dominic Vittet, Pierre Antoine’s router, is currently looking into a route to allow the towing vessel to meet up with Olmix. The objective being for Lalou to board the vessel with a rigid-hulled inflatable boat on board, in order to join the Multi50 Arkema salvage team. The towing vessel will then take approximately 2 days at sea to reach the area. This procedure involving transfer at sea is unprecedented in the history of ocean racing.




French skipper Lalou Roucayrol has capsized on his Multi50 Arkema at around 0630hrs UTC/0730 CET this morning while racing in fourth place in the Route du Rhum-Destination Gaudeloupe approximately 1000 miles east of Guadeloupe.
Roucayrol is safe and well inside his boat. He made immediate contact with his shore support team to tell them of his capsize in very sudden and violent squall.
A rescue plan is under way. He has access to food and water but has limited communication. He is in the tradewinds belt with 20-25 knots of easterly wind.


The whole of Arkema and its employees are behind Lalou at this very challenging time, and the entire Team Arkema Lalou Multi team is rallying to come to his rescue.


-- UPDATE --

Lalou Roucayrol has given reassuring news after capsizing at 7.30 am UT on Wednesday morning.

The skipper of the Multi50 waited for sunrise before checking out the integrity of his overturned boat. At 11 am (French time) he stepped out of the central hull where he had taken refuge: the boat is intact structurally, and Lalou managed to free the mast to prevent it from breaking up and damaging the boat.


Lalou also made an inventory of his food provisions: he has 5 days’ worth of food and 10 days’ worth of water. In terms of energy, he is limited to recharging his iridium phone.


The Cross Gris Nez and the Race Management have diverted a cargo ship as well as one of the competitors, Pierre Antoine, whose trimaran Olmix (Rhum Multi) is currently 300 miles East of Lalou.

Finally, the boat captain, Quentin Vlamynck, is currently on his way to Martinique to put in place a towing procedure. 




While Armel Tripon continues to set the pace for the Multi50 flotilla, and, according to the race organizers, is expected to reach Pointe-à-Pitre on Thursday, a fight is going on in his wake for a podium place between Erwan Le Roux, Thibault Vauchel Camus and Lalou Roucayrol, the latter managing a superb comeback from the East with the most Southern position, which hopefully may still pay off. The boats of this tight threesome are bunched closely together, with a mere 30 miles separating them (Gilles Lamiré at the helm of La French Tech Rennes Saint-Malo is 60 miles behind them).


Lalou is not letting up. He has covered 381 miles in the last 24hrs at the helm of his Arkema multihull, sailing at a bracing speed of 16 knots on average, with a peak of 20 knots according to the last report, in other words Médoc-born Lalou is making the most of the trade winds.

The cat and dog fight that this compact threesome are engaged in could well be spiced up by the weather conditions in this undecided finish. The forecast indeed points to increasingly unstable trade winds, with squalls. The skippers will need to be extra alert, in particular at night, with full sails, and carry out repeated gybes to keep up with the shifting winds.




As of 9 am Monday 12 November, 7 days and 20 hours into the race, Armel Tripon, the Réauté Chocolat skipper, is still in the lead, 1340 miles from the finish line. Nantes-born Armel has even consolidated his lead over Thibault Vauchel Camus and his Solidaires en Peloton ARSEP trimaran, to 271 miles.

In 3rd position comes Gilles Lamiré at the helm of La French Tech Rennes Saint-Malo. Lamballe-born Gilles is now 332 miles behind the leader, just ahead of Erwan Le Roux and his Fenêtréa Mix Buffet, 356 miles behind Tripon.

Lalou Roucayrol is in 5th position, 413 miles from the leader on whom he gained 200 miles in three days. This is still a significant gap, but Lalou is keeping up. From the 5 Multi50 boats, his has covered the longest distance in the last 24 hours: 435 miles, or 800 km, which shows how well the Arkema trimaran is making headway.


Just now Lalou has been clocking up over 19 knots, his course being the most Southern of his fleet, ready to make the most of the best trade winds. “For as long as you haven’t crossed the finish line, there’s always a chance to make a move”, the highly experienced skipper was saying yesterday in his last radio session.


The victory of Francis Joyon is a prime example of this. The Idec Sport skipper came out on top last night after a breathtaking finale. He prevailed over François Gabart’s Macif Ultime after sailing round the island of Guadeloupe when the two skippers fought an epic battle. In the end, Joyon crossed the finish line first at 11.20 pm local time, after racing for 7 days 14 hours and 21 minutes (a new record). Gabart crossed the finish line 7 minutes and 8 seconds later!



Latest provisional Multi50 ranking in this 11th Route du Rhum: by 9 am Friday 9 November, 4 days and 20 hours into the race, Thibault Vauchel Camus, the skipper of Solidaires en Peloton ARSEP, is still in the lead of the Multi50 fleet. St-Malo-born Thibault has even increased his lead over Erwan Le Roux and his Fenetrea Mix-Buffet, now 178 miles behind.

Armel Tripon is next with a 181 mile gap on Réauté Chocolat. He is sailing alongside the leading IMOCA monohulls on the edge of the high-pressure zone, between Madeira and the Canary Islands, in rising trade winds. 

In 4th position comes Gilles Lamiré at the helm of La French Tech Rennes Saint-Malo. Cancale-born Gilles is now 189 miles behind the leading boat.


Lalou Roucayrol is in 5th position, 600 miles from the leader. He has moved up one place in the ranking, while Thierry Bouchard’s Ciela Village has suffered damage and so has to stop over in Lisbon for repairs.

Meanwhile Lalou is heading due South off the coast of Morocco, skirting around the area. Médoc-born Lalou is progressing at speed, at 19 knots, on calmer seas that whet the appetite. So, what better than Saint-Vivien beef and bottarga from the island of Groix to keep in tip-top shape! Goes down a treat!



08/11/18 :

After setting off from Porto early yesterday morning, the Multi50 Arkema skipper unfortunately had to contend with a zone of dead calm, with no wind or too little wind to make any decent progress.
So, South-Westerly winds of barely 4-5 knots forced the Arkema skipper to tack for several hours, before picking up stronger winds in the course of the night.


This morning Lalou continues to head due South off the coast of Portugal at a faster pace, clocking up close to 17 knots earlier on off Cape Saint Vincent, Europe’s most south-westerly point. Later on, Lalou has talked about a “somewhat radical option” that would involve trying to follow a course “around the South” to then pick up favorable trade winds.




Lalou Roucayrol and Arkema are back in the race! The skipper left the port of Porto just after 7 am French time.

Latest provisional ranking at 10 am on Wednesday 7 November, 2 days and 20 hours into the race:

Thibault Vauchel Camus, skipper of Solidaires en Peloton ARSEP, is in the lead in the Multi50 class. St-Malo-born Thibault is 20 miles ahead of Gilles Lamiré at the helm of La French Tech Rennes Saint-Malo.

25 miles behind are Erwan Le Roux and his Fenetrea Mix-Buffet. Armel Tripon is next with a 36 mile gap on his Réauté Chocolat.

Thierry Bouchard and his Ciela Village are in 5th position in the provisional ranking, 52 miles from the leader.

Armel Tripon pulled off a fine coup when he decided to head South and managed to haul himself away from the Portuguese coast.

Lalou Roucayrol, the other Multi50 skipper who also opted for a southern course, will have his work cut out to get his Arkema trimaran back in the game as he is now 285 miles behind.


That said, we should not focus on the official rankings at this point in time as these are computed from a direct course, which mathematically favors the boats in a Northern position. It is with renewed energy that Lalou has now left the port of Porto where he had decided to stop over to escape the storm raging over this zone of the Atlantic Ocean.


Team Manager Fabienne Roucayrol explains the choices made by the Team:

“We decided to stop as we thought it was best for the race. If it had put Lalou’s performance possibilities in jeopardy, we wouldn’t have done it. In fact, we had a choice of spending 15 h in the storm, with the risk of damage this entails, or seek shelter. And we decided the latter was the better option of the two. Not take excessive risks but instead guarantee the race.

Admittedly, Lalou is now at the back of the ranking, but he has been able to rest and the boat is intact. Physically, the others must have spent a great deal of energy to sail under those conditions. So yes, Lalou knows he’ll have to catch up, and that’s what he will try to do by giving his all. There’re still 2,800 miles (over 5,000 km) until Point-à-Pitre. There’s still a long way to go.”




At the head of the Multi50 fleet in the Route du Rhum – Destination Guadeloupe, Lalou Roucayrol chose to seek shelter for his Arkema trimaran in the port of Porto, given the weather conditions.

1 day and some 20 hrs into the race, Thierry Bouchard at the helm of Ciela Village now leads the provisional ranking. Next is Thibault Vauchel Camus, skipper of Solidaires en Peloton ARSEP. The gaps between the boats are small. The bulk of the fleet are sailing further North, following the most direct course. Lalou, like Armel Tripon, skipper of Réauté Chocolat, are quite further South, off the coast of Portugal.


Team Manager Fabienne Roucayrol explains the decision to head for Porto:

“What we decided last night with Lalou is to have a brief stopover in Porto in Portugal, to ride out the brewing storm. We want to protect man and machine, we’d rather sit tight during the storm. And we’ll be off again as soon as the conditions revert to reasonable.

We have known for a while that this storm was on its way. We didn’t know precisely how powerful it would be, or its exact course, but as days went by, the picture became clearer. And the scenario of a stopover had been discussed at length beforehand.”




Good start for Lalou in this 11th Route du Rhum - Destination Guadeloupe. The Arkema skipper has made sparks fly from the foils of his trimaran! 20 hours into the race, he is in the lead among the Multi50 flotilla.


A race against the clock is well and truly underway, with a storm brewing as the boats enter the Bay of Biscay. A storm stretching over some 2,000 km from A Coruña in Spain to Ireland with winds in excess of 100 km/h and 8 meter high waves!

Brief reminder of the facts:


14/11/18: Lalou Roucayrol’s Multi50 Arkema, racing in the Route du Rhum – Destination Guadeloupe, capsizes 1000 miles from Pointe-à-Pitre in Guadeloupe at 7.30 am (UTC).


15/11/18: The towing vessel “Lady Debbie” sets off from Martinique with Quentin Vlamynck on board.


16/11/18: Pierre Antoine (Olmix), in the lead in his category, Rhum Multi, diverts to give assistance to Lalou Roucayrol. After three attempts, Lalou is rescued and steps on board the Olmix.


18/11/18: Lalou Roucayrol transfers successfully to the “Lady Debbie”. Pierre Antoine and Olmix continue to race towards Pointe à Pitre while “Lady Debbie” heads towards the area where the trimaran Arkema capsized.


21/11/18: The towing vessel Lady Debbie locates the trimaran Arkema, in the open sea, the right way up! The trimaran, in tow, is expected in Pointe-à-Pitre between 30 November and 4 December.


27/11/18: After being towed for 6 days over 875 nautical miles at an average speed of 6 knots, the trimaran Arkema arrives in Pointe-à-Pitre.

Watch the start of the race

Facebook Live on 31st October, with Lalou Roucayrol

Just a few days from the start of the Route du Rhum - Destination Guadeloupe, Lalou Roucayrol replied to questions from web surfers in a Facebook live stream on Wednesday 31st October (interview in French).


Intense preparation

Lalou Roucayrol and the Team have been preparing for a long time for this 2018 edition of the Route du Rhum - Destination Guadeloupe race: physical and mental preparation, as well as preparation of the boat, with new improvements since the previous season.


Watch these videos to find out about the various aspects of this preparation.


“We have done everything to be in the best possible conditions for this Route du Rhum”


“It’s the race that gave me a passion for multihull boats and for making a career of it”