Previous winners of La Route du Rhum – Destination Guadeloupe show their love for the race six months before the start of the 12th edition
In exactly six months and one day, 138 sailors will be starting the twelfth edition of the Route du Rhum – Destination Guadeloupe off Saint Malo. Already the 2022 edition broke records for attendance and attracted the largest number of single-handed transatlantic racers ever assembled for a race. And as always, emotions are already rising as the intrepid solo racers contemplate their date with destiny, the start of the legendary Saint Malo to Guadeloupe race. Among them, seven previous class winners express their enduring passion for the Route du Rhum Destination Guadeloupe.
In fact, it is Friday May 6th that the “six months to launch” timeline has passed. In many ways, it’s an important marker for solo racers and their teams. On the one hand, there’s a certain impatience to return to Corsair City and enjoy the build-up before the start of the race, on the other hand, this date is a salutary reminder that preparation time is running out and the clock is ticking fast.
And while every participation in the Route du Rhum Destination Guadeloupe, especially the first one, is a career milestone, winning a division usually changes lives for the better. At this upcoming edition, four class winners will be back to defend their titles: Francis Joyon (IDEC Sport) in Ultim 32/23, Paul Meilhat (Biotherm) in Imoca, Armel Tripon (Les P’tits Doudous) in Ocean Fifty Fleet and Yoann Richomme (Paprec Arkea) in Class40. And then there are three other past winners: Erwan Le Roux (Koesio), winner in 2014 at Ocean Fifty, Roland Jourdain (We Explore), winner at both 2006 and 2010 at Imoca, and Philippe Poupon (Flo), winner at 1986 All will start on Sunday 6th November 2022.
Joyon, Meilhat, Tripon, Richomme, Poupon, Jourdain and Gavignet are all addicted to rhum.
Whether they’ve won it before, and on some rare, rare occasions twice, all of these winners have their own particular history with the ‘Rhum’. Six months before the start of the 2022 edition, seven past winners describe what makes this race unique.
Franz Joyon (IDEC Sport), winner of Ultim 32/23 in 2018, is putting his title at risk this year at the helm of the same boat as 4 years ago; an Ultim Maxi trimaran that has the unique record of having already won 3 editions of La Route du Rhum – Destination Guadeloupe (2010 – 2014 – 2018): “The Route du Rhum is the most beautiful of all crossings, a dream for every multihull sailor . No two editions are the same. We’re always venturing into the unknown, and I like that whole element of uncertainty. I know it’s getting harder and harder to win this race. In all sections, all classes have become more professional. With my small team we are on the amateur side but the Rhum allows me to meet some unusual sailors especially in the Rhum class. This race has enough unknown and challenging aspects to keep a truly adventurous aspect. With multihulls all of these races are dangerous and so I think there is still a great element of tension in this race. The Route du Rhum is unique in that it’s tough, the autumn lows throw up big waves, but overall the route towards the trade winds is always pleasant on these multihulls. I am not satisfied. I still have a big appetite for this incredible game. I feel good, still want to make it and believe in my luck.
Paul Meilhat (Biotherm), winner of the 2018 edition at the Imoca after that incredible finish when he overtook the penalized Alex Thomson. Meilhat returns this year with a brand new boat and is looking forward to getting out there: “La Route du Rum is a big part of my childhood memories and in particular the victories of Philippe Poupon and Laurent Bourgnon. Then there was (Roland Jourdain) Bilou’s double-in the Imoca, a little later, at the age when I started sailing dinghies. Personally, I have a special connection with La Route du Rhum because when I saw how the Imoca “Macif” at the start of François Gabart’s victory sailed class in 2014. I knew then that I would pick up this boat after it completed a four-year program that led me to victory in 2018. Since then I have been looking for partners for 4 years and my story starts again with this race.”
Armel Tripon (Le P’tits Doudous), defending champion in Ocean Fifty, is back this year to defend his title after an unforgettable victory in 2018: “Winning the rhum is above all the success of a team and a sponsor who participate in You believed. When “I won 2018. It was magical to feel this tremendous positive energy creating it all. I felt I could do this race thanks to a calm and well managed preparation. I will always remember the passage around the island and the completely insane finish. It was my first big win! And yes, I’d love to win it again, but it’s always harder to win again. That’s what makes the challenges exciting, what makes us surpass ourselves, what makes the alchemy work.”
Yoann RichommeWinner of the 2018 edition in Class40, this year is back in the running in the same category aboard “Paprec Arkea” before his new Imoca built for him is launched next season: “Beyond the mythical event that everyone knows , La Route du Rhum – Destination Guadeloupe is a race that motivated me to switch to routes other than La Solitaire du Figaro and it is also an event that changed my sailing career than I did four years ago got another twist for my sports project. It’s an extraordinary event, one of those that made me dream big. I’m really looking forward to going back. It was really unthinkable for me not to participate in this 2022 edition. It’s me. I’m happy to be back to defend my title.”
Philip Poupon (Flo) is one of those pioneering sailors who shaped the history of ocean racing and paved the way for generations of offshore racers. For this 2022 edition, the legendary solo racer who won in 1986 returns with a legendary boat in the Rhum Multi category: Florence Arthaud’s Pierre 1er, whose images of victory in 1990 are forever etched in people’s minds: ” Winning the Route du Rhum is a big moment. Winning a race that only happens every four years makes winning even more important. After four participations, a win and a second place I come back 32 years later. This time it’s a bit about the making of a film about Florence Arthaud by my wife Géraldine Danon and the purchase of the Pierre 1er boat – a great opportunity to pay homage to Florence.”
Roland Jourdain (We Explore) is one of the very rare double winners of La Route du Rhum – Destination Guadeloupe. Winner of the Imoca in 2006 and 2010, “Bilou” looks back on this race. On November 6, he will be at the helm of a catamaran built in flax fiber and registered with Rhum Multi, which he will launch: “My first victory was a real emotional whirlwind, on the one hand because it was a dream come true, but also because this first place was all the more beautiful because “it was the end point of a very good fight with my competitors. I had lost my keel a few months earlier at the Vendée Globe and this arrival in Guadeloupe, as the winner, was a great way to keep those memories drive out. For my second victory, the race was also very intense. I remember a complete state of grace, which is very rare. Everything happened as if I was in a floating animation. I was 14 years old at the start of the first route du Rhum.The aim of Mike Birch was a very strong moment, an image that still sticks in my mind.This race is a postcard of how boats have evolved over time of the time, and that’s why I really wanted to come back this year, with my linen boat! “.
Sydney Gavignet won rhum mono aboard “Café Joyeux” in 2018. Gavignet is not on the list of participants this year, but the navigator-turned-coach will nevertheless be present in Saint-Malo, alongside Alberto Bona (Ibsa), of whom he will be the substitute skipper, and of Oren Nataf (Rayon Vert), the supported both in their preparation: “For a sailor, winning the Route du Rhum – Destination Guadeloupe is a great opportunity, a milestone, a bit like the first circumnavigation of Cape Horn! I am deeply grateful for the event itself. My favorite part of this race is the ten days leading up to the start. I think I could do it again for that! There is something unique about this time; A pressure that grips everyone, starting with your loved ones, your partners and your team. When we can master it, do that work on ourselves that allows us to live it without it overwhelming us while remaining a ‘fan’ all the time, it’s a joy.
See you in 6 months… and a few days to find out the names of the sailors who, with their victory, will also mark the history of La Route du Rhum – Destination Guadeloupe!