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Quentin Vlamynck in second place


Our skipper Quentin Vlamynck finishes 2nd of the Route du Rhum - Destination Guadeloupe! Congratulations Quentin for this magnificent crossing of the Atlantic which excited us.
 

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11/21/2022

What a finish! When asked at the start how he would approach this Route du Rhum - Destination Guadeloupe, Quentin was quite clear in his mind:

"It's a huge responsibility to get Arkema to Guadeloupe safely. I might not have a chance to race in a Route du Rhum every four years. It’s an opportunity and I’m going to take it and not let myself be pushed around.”

After racing for exactly 10 days, 21 hours, 54 minutes and 5 seconds, the sailor from Gironde finished in second place, only 18 minutes and 13 seconds behind the winner Erwan Le Roux (Koesio), and is without doubt “the first great revelation of this Route du Rhum - Destination Guadeloupe. We welcome the comments of the organizers of this most famous French solo transatlantic race.

On Sunday 20 November at 7:09:55 am local time, the Arkema skipper crossed the finish line in Pointe-à-Pitre in this 12th edition of the Route du Rhum - Destination Guadeloupe race. He covered 4,186.67 miles between Saint-Malo and Pointe-à-Pitre at an average speed of 15.99 knots, after taking the lead of the Ocean Fifty fleet from the Tip of Brittany.

By breaking away from the fleet sailing out of the Four channel west of the isle of Sein, whereas the other competitors were heading south through the Raz de Sein, Quentin Vlamynck showed from the start that his game was not going to be playing a pursuer’s role. As observers have pointed out, “few observers would have bet in the Bay of Biscay that the young 30-year old skipper, a rookie in this race, would still be in the same position nine days later”.

Quentin Vlamynck proved them wrong by completing a race that was all the more splendid as it was his first multihull transatlantic competition! Erwan Le Roux's experience spoke for itself, and the Koesio skipper, who had already won the 2014 edition, came within a hair of seeing the ace sailor Quentin Vlamynck beat him to it.

“I didn't expect to be in the lead all the way. The boat is going well.”

Quentin Vlamynck’s first words as he arrived in Pointe-à-Pitre:

“It was a great race, a tremendous first for me, I had a lot of fun. But in the end, Erwan (Le Roux)’s experience paid off. My boat is in perfect condition, she’s ready to go again, we did a great job with the onshore teams and me at sea. I think that this beneficial relationship helped us achieve an impressive result.

Now I have no choice but to take on the Route du Rhum again. I'm going to be sailing four more years to be even better. Sailing round the island of Guadeloupe made for some pleasant surprises. I managed to pass Erwan and then he overtook me one last time. I didn't expect to be in the lead all the way.

The boat is going well. Everyone has done good work, the Lalou Multi team and Arkema. I had some questions at the start in Saint-Malo on how I was going to manage single-handed sailing, and it went really well. The end of the race was hard mentally speaking. I sent Lalou a message to thank him. I had dreamt of bringing him back the cup; indeed he has been on the podium three times without ever winning it. Lalou told me that he could now pass the torch on to me.”

“What a race, what intensity, what a story!”

Lalou Roucayrol's comments:

“So, just a few words to conclude this incredible ocean race that Quentin has taken us through. While Koesio was in the lead with 5/6 miles to go, Quentin tenaciously took advantage of sailing through a calm zone to catch up with Erwan, even managing to overtake him off Bouillante. But shortly before the Basse Terre buoy, Quentin himself hit a calm zone. Erwan, then a few boat lengths behind, offset to starboard, caught a gust of wind that helped him speed up and cross the finish line in the lead. Quentin could have benefited from this gust of wind, but fate had other plans.

What a race, what intensity, what a story! Quentin's first major ocean race is a success. He skippered and managed his boat with wisdom and foresight as the good sailor that he is. We’ll now be able to breathe a little and sleep a little too. I hope it has been exciting for you too. For me, I feel very proud to have had the support of Arkema and its employees throughout our 10-year partnership. I’m also proud to have been able to develop over the years and help Quentin become the great sailor that he is now.”

11/18/2022

8 days and 18 hours into the race, 860 nautical miles (1,600 km) from the finish in Pointe-à-Pitre, Quentin Vlamynck is still in the lead at the helm of Arkema (8:00am time check Friday 18/11). Our Ocean Fifty was sailing at 18 knots (the equivalent of 33 km/h).

The Arkema skipper is fighting to fend off the huge pressure from his pursuers, in particular the awesome Erwan Le Roux at the helm of Koesio, who is now just 27.4 miles behind (50 km) Quentin. Sébastien Rogues and his Primonial Ocean Fifty, in 3rd position, has lost some ground, now 85 miles behind. In 4th position, 261 miles behind, is Armel Tripon’s Les P'tits Doudous multihull. In 5th place in this provisional ranking, Éric Peron (Komilfo) is 281 miles behind, followed by Gilles Lamiré (Groupe GCA), who brings up the rear of the Ocean Fifty fleet 920 miles behind the leader.

 

“Fatigue is piling up, but Quentin fights on.”

Lalou Roucayrol's comments from our routing cell in Denia, Spain:
 
“Even though Quentin has been sailing downwind full on for the past three days, the long-awaited trade winds are yet to appear, but we’re getting there, gradually. The wind shifts erratically between 50° where the angle is favorable on starboard, and 80° where we are naturally on port. So now we’re as close as possible to the direct route to the Tête à l’Anglais, the northeastern tip of Guadeloupe. Therefore, the axis of the wind is virtually on our course, and given that our multihulls are slower downwind, we’ll need plenty of gybes. Each time, 30 meters of sheets (ropes used to adjust the angles of the sails) need pulling back, the mast needs turning, the foils lowering on one side and raising on the other, in short all very hectic. There’s a lot of pressure on board as moving fast downwind means playing on a knife edge with, at times, abrupt accelerations from 22 knots to 28 knots and more, and luffing (steering the nose of the boat into the wind) before recovering an average speed after a wave or some acceleration that’s often a bit tricky.
All this to say that Quentin, the night before, didn't have the ideal speed he wanted, not to mention the fatigue, the stress, and an incorrect setting on the automatic pilot. We worked together with the support of Madintec to solve this problem, and Quentin had the whole day to regain confidence in his pilot and take a few restorative naps between two gybes. The strategy now for us is to stay a little downwind of the fleet, a little to the north, and to mark our direct competitors as closely as possible, in other words, be on the same tack as them so as not to let them try out an option on their side, while staying as close as possible to the direct route. A delicate balance where we sacrificed a few miles to position ourselves north of the fleet.
 
Fatigue is piling up, but Quentin fights on. We communicate a lot by email. He’s keeping his spirits up and sometimes treats us to jokes, which shows us he’s upbeat. His physical preparation throughout the year with Marion and Valérie is paying off now that the race is nearing the end. So, the wind should stay approximately the same in strength but become steadier, with fewer squalls, and gradually shift the angle to a long port tack, which will give Quentin a bit of a break. At least, that’s what we’re hoping for.”

11/17/2022

7 days and 18 hours into the race, 1254 nautical miles (2305 km) from the finish in Pointe-à-Pitre, Quentin Vlamynck is in the lead at the helm of Arkema (8:00am time check today). Our Ocean Fifty was managing 18.7 knots (the equivalent of 35 km/h).

The Arkema skipper is fighting hard to counter the pressure from his pursuers right on his heels. He now has a 40.6 mile lead over his nearest competitor Erwan Le Roux at the helm of Koesio, closely followed by Sébastien Rogues and his trimaran Primonial 43.5 miles from the leader. In 4th position, 172 miles behind, is Armel Tripon’s Les P'tits Doudous Ocean Fifty. In 5th place in this provisional ranking, Éric Peron (Komilfo) is 264 miles behind, followed by Gilles Lamiré (Groupe GCA), who brings up the rear of the Ocean Fifty fleet 745 miles behind the leader.
 

“After 8 days of racing, nervous and physical fatigue sets in, and it becomes difficult, and this is when, often, your mind starts wandering off.”

 
Lalou Roucayrol’s comments from our routing cell in Dénia, Spain:
 
“This Route du Rhum really is not in the bag yet! Since the start, not much of a break for Quentin. The wind has now picked up for everyone, but is now quite unstable along the route, with squalls peaking at 26/29 knots (53 km/h) and angle variations of 20/30 degrees... As a result, once again we have to be on top of it, I mean, we have to ease the sails, open them up, go from a 140° angle between wind and boat and 150° which slows it down a bit.
 
I mention the angle because in these conditions we sail, especially at night, with the automatic pilot in wind mode, that’s to say with adjustments to the wind angle relative to the boat. Pilots are essential for the high-performance operation of modern racing boats. Their accuracy, responsiveness and anticipation are crucial. We equip our boats with Mad'intec pilots that incorporate artificial intelligence for anticipation (a system we adopted following my 2018 capsize). In short, even though the pilots can always be improved, they are nonetheless increasingly more effective, and are a skipper's best asset in these variable wind conditions. That said, you still have to be on top of it, so not much sleep.
 
And after 8 days of racing, nervous and physical fatigue sets in, and it becomes difficult, and this is when, often, your mind starts wandering off. After umpteen gybes since last night (Wednesday evening), the pressure dropped a bit, and we got Quentin to catch up on some sleep as he was started to lose focus. We advised him to make some adjustments to put him in relative safety. He takes 20 minute naps.
 
Tomorrow (Friday) the conditions will be similar. We’re westbound, so we're aiming for a waypoint a little north of the direct route to find more stable winds with fewer squall lines. All while keeping an eye on the route of our direct competitors Primonial and Koesio. The gybing battle should be less intense as we move ahead, but there’re still about 555 km of this chaotic route to the west before we can finally point straight towards Guadeloupe.
 
The uncertainty of the situation means we can have an optimistic scenario. In fact, some of the wind data we are working with allow us to aim our course earlier straight towards the direct route. At daybreak, Quentin will need to steer to be more reactive and effective, and therefore faster, especially in order to anticipate how he can best cope with the squalls. Few options are possible. They now all have more or less the same variable wind, shifting with the squalls along the way, and a proper race is looming. And in this game, Arkema and Quentin have plenty of might in store!”

11/16/2022

6 days and 18 hours into the race, 1582 nautical miles (2929 km) from the finish in Pointe-à-Pitre, Quentin Vlamynck is in the lead at the helm of Arkema (8:00am time check today). Our Ocean Fifty was sailing at a handsome 17 knots (the equivalent of 31 km/h). The Arkema skipper picked up speed again whereas his competitors had a slower pace.
 
He now has a 25 mile (46 km) lead over his nearest competitor Erwan Le Roux at the helm of Koesio. In the wake of the Morbihan-born skipper comes Sébastien Rogues and his Primonial trimaran at 32 miles from the leader. In 4th position, 88 miles behind, is Armel Tripon’s Les P'tits Doudous Ocean Fifty. In 5th place in this provisional ranking, Eric Peron (Komilfo) is 286 miles behind, followed by Gilles Lamiré (Groupe GCA), who brings up the rear of the Ocean Fifty fleet 477 miles behind the leader.
 

“What’s griping is that all of our nice lead has melted away in the sunshine of the high pressure system.”


Lalou Roucayrol’s comments from our routing cell in Denia, Spain:

“It's time, a week into the race, to take a look back. A great start by Quentin, well placed. Sailing through the Four channel at night without giving anything away. Passing the isle of Sein where we in the routing cell screwed up a bit, but perfect sailing down the Bay of Biscay and initial decision not to confront the worst in this area, which saw Quentin come out on top in the first 24 hours. Then, negotiating the two fronts kept us busy.

And although Quentin may have lost his leading position for a while, he kept a cool head to protect his boat, whereas the very fast Arsep paid the price (Thibaut Vauchel-Camus, the Solidaires en Peloton-ARSEP skipper, was forced to retire). Arkema was now back in the lead and pulling away from its pursuers!

Until two days ago, a great week, and we can be collectively proud of the work done by Quentin.

Unfortunately, another obstacle has been in our way for the last two days. I'm talking about positioning and the edge of the zone of high pressure. Good Lord, isn’t this one hard to shake off! And above all it’s very, too, stable. It’s hardly moving and it's up to us to get around it. What’s griping is that all of our nice lead has melted away in the sunshine of the high pressure system The wind ahead is easing off as we get closer to it, but still remains stronger behind us, hence the famous back-and-forth elastic band relaxing. We’re having so much trouble getting around the high that at the beginning of the night, to avoid getting caught up in it, Quentin started a gybing battle (changing tack, downwind direction) to go south and pick up fresher, more stable winds.

Today (Wednesday 16/11) will be more or less the same, with increasing winds as we move away from this edge, which will enable us to pick up the trade winds now slowly gaining strength again. We should again find stronger winds tonight. We should then find them ahead, therefore before our rivals. The next few hours will be spent gybing down towards the curvature point of the high. So there it is, there’re still plenty of miles ahead for Quentin and reasons for us to tear our hair out. Have a nice day everyone.”

11/15/2022

After 5 days and 18 hours at sea, 1826 nautical miles (3380 km) from the finish in Pointe-à-Pitre, Quentin Vlamynck is leading the pack at the helm of Arkema (8:00 am time check today).

Our Ocean Fifty was sailing at an average speed of 15 knots (equivalent to 28 km/h) over the last 24 hours. Quentin has increased his lead somewhat over his rivals in the last few hours. The Arkema skipper is 73 miles (135 km) ahead of his pursuer Erwan Le Roux at the helm of Koesio. In the Morbihan skipper's wake is Sébastien Rogues and his Primonial trimaran, 84 miles from the leader. In 4th place, 128 miles behind, is Armel Tripon's Les P'tits Doudous Ocean Fifty. In 5th place in this provisional ranking, Eric Peron (Komilfo) is 420 miles behind, followed by Gilles Lamiré (Groupe GCA), who brings up the rear of the Ocean Fifty fleet 494 miles behind the leader.

“This is my first solo race, but I have sailed a great deal with Lalou Roucayrol over the past ten years, and it helps!”

 
arkema-quentin-2.jpgQuentin Vlamynck’s remarks at 5:00 am today (15/11):

“Last night was a little rougher than expected. All day yesterday, I had trouble making progress. I didn't have quite the same wind as my colleagues, and then late in the afternoon, I had to negotiate a number of squalls. After that, it was all systems go. We weren’t expecting to go that fast, but we were able to clock up over 20 knots. It started to calm down two hours ago. I was able to rest.

You have to adapt because this is not what the weather data was indicating. Normally, and I mean normally because it has constantly been changing over the last few days, we'll be able to round the Azores high by hoisting the gennaker (intermediate headsail between genoa and spinnaker, with its surface area between the two, which helps optimize the boat's performance upwind in light winds). We mustn't hit the lack of wind in the middle of this high. That will need several gybes. We'll see what happens.

The race is exciting. Erwan Le Roux knows the way, it’s his fourth Route du Rhum. We have to watch out. The goal is to not let go until the end and not have any regrets. Now that I’ve had a good rest, I'm going back on the attack! The boats are not very comfortable, so the idea is to get to the other side as fast as possible, and I'm going to do everything I can. That's what motivates me! This is my first solo race, but I have sailed a great deal with Lalou Roucayrol over the past ten years, and it helps! It's great to be where I am, and I'm going to try to cut sailing time, it will be easier!”

“The back-and-forth “elastic” phenomenon is giving us cold sweats.”

 
Lalou Roucayrol’s comments from our routing cell in Dénia, Spain:

“Yesterday was a hard day for Quentin. The wind was particularly unstable with squalls, sometimes quite strong at 20/25 knots. The boat experienced a back-and-forth “elastic” phenomenon all day long. Moving a little forward when you pull and then backward when you let go.

It's always a worry when you seem to go backward as Erwan Leroux moves fast in these conditions, as we know. It's not always easy to live with. It's also difficult to trim your boat properly in such fickle winds. You have to be on top of it all the time. Your nerves take a beating. You can't sleep. You’re tired. Nevertheless, Quentin is holding up! He's on top of it, how he trims his boat. We have asked him several times whether his rudders and accessories were clean (from seaweed, etc.) and whether his settings were ok.

Today will not do Quentin's nerves any good. The average angle has opened up a bit, he should be sailing at an angle between wind and boat of around 100/110 degrees, which is right for the small gennaker, but it's feasible, as the wind should drop a notch as well, with perhaps even some weak zones. Note that we have to contend with this famous high pressure edge to our right, which is itself influenced by the strong air mass of the big low pressure system further north, and releases gusts of air that you can’t always see on the weather models that we (Eric Mas, who is in charge of analyzing the data, Alex Pella and I) are working with. We’re trying to make our course as smooth, as fluid as possible along the direct route.

Today, the wind, while dropping, should become more stable as we get away from the influence of this famous depression. But the “elastic” phenomenon should give us some cold sweats because Quentin will be the first to enter the dead calm (light wind) zones while his pursuers will still be in the wind. The race is not over yet, far from it, and our trade winds (winds in the intertropical zone) prospect remains vague.”

11/14/2022

4 days and 18 hours into the race, Quentin Vlamynck is in the lead at the helm of Arkema (08:00 am time check today). Our Ocean Fifty is sailing at an average speed of 15 knots.

Quentin has widened the gap with his challengers in the last few hours. 67 miles (124 km) behind Quentin is Erwan Le Roux at the helm of Koesio. In the wake of this skipper who won the 2014 Route du Rhum and came in second in the previous edition in 2018, comes the multihull of Sébastien Rogues on Primonial, 68 miles from the leader. In 4th place, 88 miles behind, is Armel Tripon's Les P'tits Doudous Ocean Fifty. In 5th place in this provisional ranking, 235 miles behind, is Éric Peron (Komilfo), followed by Gilles Lamiré (Groupe GCA) who brings up the rear for the Ocean Fifty class, 293 miles behind.

The Route du Rhum was unfortunately over for Thibaut Vauchel-Camus when his Solidaires en Peloton-ARSEP, which had brilliantly taken the Ocean Fifty lead on Friday evening, capsized between Portugal and the Azores. He had just passed the second cold front that had tossed the fleet around in the Atlantic, with gusts of 35 to 40 knots (64 to 74 km/h) and messy seas. He did not sustain any injury fortunately, and was able to shelter in the central hull of his trimaran until he was rescued on Sunday morning.
 

Arkema should be able to hoist the gennakers tonight to turn the trade winds to its advantage

 
This is what Quentin was saying at 6 am today:
“I'm where I wanted to be, so that's great. However, I continue to be very cautious. As I was leaving the archipelago behind, there was a small sluggish zone to contend with. It's starting to get better, but even so there’s no certainty that it will remain stable today. In any case, what has been gained is a gain. I've hardly steered at all since the start, and I'm in great shape. I know I'll have to watch out for the many traps that are still ahead, and I'll keep on moving forward step by step. The gennaker should go up at the end of today, and that's good news. I thought it was never going up.”
 
“Our trimaran loves these fast conditions when aerodynamics, one the strong points of Arkema, gives us an advantage.”
 
Lalou Roucayrol’s comments:
“After a rather uneventful day that gave Quentin a chance to rest and entirely check the boat, when he noted a few scars from the last front, for example damage to a forestay fairing part, and some work required on a rudder head - using, we should point out, the Born2Bond™ instant filling and repair adhesive developed by Bostik -, Arkema headed through the Azores archipelago.

Our job then was to work out a course that avoided the wind shadow (dead calm) as much as possible, and to consider two options out of the zone: the famous northern route that goes around the high with a few fronts but is windier, or a more southerly route close to the direct course but more uncertain. A decision that had to be made when sailing through the Azores, knowing that, being in the lead, we have to keep an eye out for our rivals. We finally decided to follow the southern route as closely as possible to the direct one by staying on the edge of the high pressure zone.

We like our position because it gives us some control over our pals, downwind. The wind was very unstable on the way out of the archipelago, but Quentin maintained the settings and made the most of the many wind shifts and variations in strength. Last night the wind became more stable and he was able to rest. The wind is now picking up again and should be around 15/20 knots with some squalls during most of the day, gradually turning in his favour (opening up to the wind so he can open up the sails and quicken the pace). It’s going to be less comfortable, but our trimaran loves these fast conditions when aerodynamics, one of the strong points of
Arkema, gives us an advantage. So we're keeping an eye on the rear view mirror while trying to decode our route as best we can through the many traps still ahead of Arkema in the hands of Quentin.”

11/11/2022

Following an emotional send-off in Saint-Malo at 2.15pm on Wednesday 9 November, Quentin Vlamynck quickly got into his race and, from the very first night, took the lead of the Ocean Fifty fleet, which he has maintained since. Unfazed, the Arkema skipper shares a few words from the open sea:
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"I’m very happy with the start of the race. I knew there was a ploy on hand, so I gave it my all to get to the front! I'm on the attack but remain cautious. It has been rough since the start, but I'm lucky to be dry under the cockpit roof. I'm able to rest and eat, but the wind is very unstable so I have to be very focused. Anyway, the boat is in excellent condition and I’m enjoying the race. I mustn’t let go of anything as my mates are right behind, and I must keep a close eye on the boat's settings so they don’t catch up with me. I feel great on board and very happy with this start to the Route du Rhum.”
 

In the eye of the routing cell

Based in Dénia in Spain, on Alex Pella's boat, Quentin's routing cell monitors the weather forecasts and runs the routings to identify the best course to follow. Lalou Roucayrol, who is rather more used to being at sea, has taken on the role of onshore router for the first time, accompanied by Eric Mas and Alex Pella, and acknowledges that he is really enjoying this new role:

“It's new but it's very enjoyable! The three of us are working together, in shifts, have regular exchanges with the boat, and are happy with Quentin's start to the race. He quickly took the lead of the fleet and has maintained it for almost 36 hours. We know that the boat is very efficient in these conditions, and Quentin is an excellent skipper. He clearly knows how to handle the trimaran, and has come into his own very well. He’s coping well with life on board, and manages to rest and eat. This will be key for the rest of the race.”
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He will indeed need to dig deep to cope with the next two days. Starting this afternoon, the Arkema skipper will have to deal with the passage of an initial weak front, with rather light and very unstable winds, but it will be the condition of the sea that will complicate the trimaran's progress. “He has already slowed down a bit this morning,” Lalou comments, “and it's difficult to make progress when the sea conditions deteriorate and the wind drops.”

Saturday is shaping up to be a much rougher day, with the arrival of a second, much more active front. With winds of 35 knots forecast and a heavy sea with around 4 metre swells, there are going to be challenging conditions for the skipper. “It's not a storm, but it’s going to be full-on sailing. All competitors are tightly bunched together, and it promises to be a very intense race in the Ocean Fifty class.”

11/10/2022

With just over 18 hours into the race and a distance travelled of 258 km (139 nautical miles), Quentin Vlamynck is leading at the helm of Arkema (8:00 am time check today). Our Ocean Fifty is sailing at an average speed of 14.1 knots (the equivalent of 26 km/h).
15 km behind, not much in it, is Sébastien Rogues at the helm of his trimaran Primonial, followed by the multihull Koesio skippered by a great ocean racing specialist, Erwan Le Roux, winner of the Route du Rhum in 2014 and second in the previous edition in 2018. In fourth place, 18 km behind, comes Eric Peron and his Komilfo. Armel Tripon's Les P'tits Doudous Ocean Fifty is in fifth place in this provisional ranking. A formidable competitor too. Indeed, this skipper from Nantes won the event in 2018 after 11 days, 7 hours and 32 minutes. He concedes 22 km on the current leader.
 

“A pretty invigorating start!”

“Hi everyone!
First overnight message from
Arkema. All is well on board! Going back to yesterday's start from Saint-Malo, it was beautiful, but it was a close-run thing! We were carried to the line by the current around the not-so-maneuverable Ultims. We had to stay focused, and I'm happy to have started D2 cautiously.
I’ve had plenty of maneuvering to do since, to take shelter and then make the most of the current. Things got tougher past the tip of Brittany as expected, and I'm happy with the way I sailed through the Four. We're all trying to make up as much ground as possible southward to find calmer seas without losing too much pressure.arkema-rdr-20221110.jpeg
I managed to sleep 4 x 20 minutes after passing Ile de Sein, and I’ll do it again shortly. The wind should pick up during the day, upwind still, such a comfortable pace (!!). Then we’ll come up against the first front tomorrow. All is well on board, and it’s a great start to the race.
Here’s a snapshot of the first sunrise of the
Route du Rhum!
Be in touch soon, Quentin”

 

Sam Goodchild retires

The Ocean Fifty class has unfortunately lost one of its representatives. Just as the start of the Route du Rhum was underway in Saint-Malo, Sam Goodchild, skipper of Leyton, was forced to abandon the race. Whilst trimming the sails of his trimaran, a technical problem caused the pedestal winch to backwind and the 32-year old English skipper was hit hard by the handles. He was evacuated from the boat and taken to hospital by doctors, and was able to see his family.

11/09/2022

Find in pictures the exit of the locks.

11/08/2022

The delayed start of the Route du Rhum - Destination Guadeloupe will finally take place tomorrow, Wednesday 9 November at 2:15pm from Saint-Malo. Relieved that the start of the race had been postponed, Quentin Vlamynck has remained focused over these extra three days on land, surrounded by his team and his partner Arkema. The young 30-year old skipper is now fit and ready to tackle his first solo Atlantic crossing in an Ocean Fifty. Interview.
 

Quentin, what was your reaction when the start of the race was postponed?

Quentin Vlamynck: It was a huge relief for all of us! We really had no idea how we would handle the start without damaging our boats, and we had already made several plans to seek a safe shelter.

Sailing on an Ocean Fifty in 50 knot winds and 6 m swells would have been truly treacherous. I'm now in competition mode, whereas 48 hours ago I would have been in survival mode.
 

How did you keep busy during these three days in Saint-Malo?

I had a lot of rest and we spent an unexpected weekend with my partner Arkema and the many employees who were there to watch the start. In the end, they had a chance to get close to the boat and chat with the technical team.

We were able to give them a lot more time than initially planned. I spent Saturday evening with managers from Arkema's French facilities. It was great because normally, the day before the start of a race, I'm always on the go and can't spend much time with people. On Sunday, they were able to board a boat chartered for the occasion for a trip and lunch out at sea. Everyone delighted in a weekend that was turned upside down yet so enjoyable!
 

What does the weather forecast look like now?


The weather forecast is much more promising! We should be able to sail out of the English Channel windward in 15-20 knot winds, tacking nicely. As we pass the island of Ushant, we'll need to make a strategic choice: either directly head west, or head southwest to sail through the Chenal du Four and the Raz de Sein.

Then, we’ll hunt down 2 fronts, with winds forecast at 25 to 35 knots. We’ll be able to adjust and position the cursor based on the race, the contact, and our position within the fleet at the time. However, we’ll have to manage to catch the trade winds, which, according to the weather reports, are not steady yet.

Lalou Roucayrol and Alex Pella from my routing cell, assisted by Eric Mas for the weather, will carefully watch out for any evolution in these trade winds. Anyway, the forecast is quite stable and promises us a great competition, with plenty of strategy. With this weather forecast, there’re a number of routes to Guadeloupe!
 

How are you feeling on the eve of the start of the race?

I love these Atlantic racing conditions and they're interesting. I know I have a good boat, I feel good on board, and I’ll be more comfortable than in a big storm. I'll have to give it my all over the first two days to get through the two fronts in a good position, as it's better to be ahead from the very start. I know I have a good chance in this Route du Rhum.

Technical and physical preparation

Last training sessions for Quentin before the departure of the Route du Rhum - Destination Guadeloupe, with technical preparations for the boat and physical preparations for the skipper.

10/26/2022

Quentin and Arkema are in Saint-Malo!

Arrived on 25 october, Quentin took part in the parade and is now spending 12 festive days. He was able to fine-tune Arkema in the last week before the boat made its way to Saint-Malo.

“We are perfectly on schedule, we have ticked all the boxes on the list. The supplies are ready, everything is organized into daily food rations, with only the fresh food still to be brought on board. I don't feel any pressure because we have done everything that needs to be done!”

Quentin sets out his program for the 2 weeks in Saint-Malo: “In the first week, I’ll make myself available where possible for the media and partners. But in the last week before the start, I'll be ‘off’ in the morning and then working on the weather from 2.00 to 4.00 pm.”

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10/21/2022

Here are the key moments that will punctuate the life of Quentin Vlamynck and Arkema before the start of the race:

 

  • October 25 – Arrival of Arkema trimaran in the Saint-Malo lock at 5:35 pm.
  • October 26 – Distribution of “Kit à partir” to all Route du Rhum - Destination Guadeloupe skippers.
  • October 28 - Sailings in J80 boats as part of Échappées Bleues operation organized by Surfrider Foundation.
  • October 30 - Presentation of the skippers to the public in Saint-Malo.
  • November 2 - Safety briefing by the race organizers.
  • November 5 - Last weather briefing.
  • November 6 - Start of the Route du Rhum - Destination Guadeloupe race at 1:02 pm
Relive Quentin's departure in video.

Quentin, fully confident about the race

As he prepares to embark on the legendary single-handed transatlantic race, Quentin Vlamynck, 30 years old, has no doubt about the great potential of his trimaran“The boat works very well, I have a real affinity for it. It's very reassuring in the run-up to a solo transatlantic race!”

“The Drheam Cup solo race was great training. I also had plenty of outings offshore, and have prepared the boat well technically speaking. I’m getting more confident because racing solo on one of these highly demanding machines is far from obvious. With Erwan Le Roux (Koesio), who won the Route du Rhum in 2014, we also set up a few training sessions and that was great,” Quentin explains.

Read Quentin interview

Managing the skipper on board: just as important as preparing the boat!

In addition to his training and the meticulous preparation of his boat, the young skipper is also working on managing life on board: meals, sleep, hygiene...

Preparation is key and will undoubtedly be the ticket to success: “These boats require you to be constantly on the sheets. You can't take your eyes off the settings. In the end, that's the most stressful part. Clearly, training and learning to sleep can help you stay with the pack, if not win! In Arcachon, with the help of a sleep doctor, we studied and defined the best periods for me to recover, knowing that, in any case, it’s going to be a complicated and exhausting exercise!” Quentin says.

"It's a 10 to 12 day race and you need to know how to manage your sleep over time.”

Concerning food, Quentin likes to prepare things in advance: “I’m taking 24-hour bags that I prepare in advance. I like everything to be in order, then I know what I'm eating. It's not always easy to eat properly at sea given the weather conditions."

But what about personal hygiene? Quentin explains: “Toothbrush and toothpaste are essential! I try to brush my teeth in the morning. I must say that it feels good. In the evening, I wash my face to remove the sun cream. These are small things that give you quite a boost...”

More about Quentin preparation

In the shoes of Quentin Vlamynck

Let's dive into Quentin Vlamynck's daily life!

Take part in the race on Virtual Regatta

Sail with Quentin Vlamynck on Virtual Regatta in the real race conditions. The Arkema Virtual Regatta will start on Sunday, November 6, just like the real race.

You can play from :

Once your Virtual Regatta account is created, join the Route du Rhum race in the "Ocean Fifty" category. 

Enter the partner code ARKEMA22 to play under the colors of the Arkema trimaran and try to win prizes from the Team, if you finish the race in Pointe-à-Pitre.

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