François Gabart “Emotions all round!”

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François Gabart “Emotions all round!”_2
Yvan Zedda / Macif

Now is not yet the time to closely assess what happened to the MACIF trimaran and the amount of damage she underwent. At the moment, François Gabart says he's happy with his finish at Pointe-à-Pitre and to have been able to battle to the end, even though Francis Joyon stole the victory by taking the lead at the finishing line, just 7 minutes ahead of him. The MACIF skipper has a positive approach and, in any event, will remember this Route du Rhum as a classic.

First Thoughts

François Gabart: "It's been a wonderful race and it's a good second place, because it wasn't easy to win. It's not a victory, but it is just as good as one, because it was a well-earned. I experienced some amazing things and lots of emotions all round right to the end, in fact, right up until now."

Losing on the Last Tack

F.G.: "Yes, it's awful, you cannot imagine such a thing will happen. In the last two or three days, Francis made a strong comeback and I thought he was going to sail past me when I started to tackle Guadeloupe, but I held strong. It went fairly well at first, but everyone knows the sail round Guadeloupe. It's a classic. I succeeded in coming out a little ahead and, in the last hard section between the Saintes and Guadeloupe, I hit one last area of flat calm and I got stuck there a little too long. That's life and it made for a good race."

A Series of Breakages

F.G.: "What you need to understand is that I could have stopped in Spain. In the first 48 hours of racing, I had as much damage to the boat as during the full length of my round the world. I lost a rudder, the foil, the J3 actuator and, you would not think it, but it's really hard to manoeuvre a boat like this without these parts. Before the start, I felt that I was going to have to adapt my sailing, but I did not think it would demand quite so much."

Was it predictable?

F.G.: "It was interesting, a great experience. We have made a lot of progress, but we knew that we would have to make the boat more reliable. We felt capable of achieving something in a race like the Route du Rhum."

Why did you continue?

F.G.: "I could have retired, yes, but I believed I could do it! The whole thing could have worked out okay. In the end, the breakages happened as the race went on and every time I asked myself two questions: 'Are you safe? Do you feel that you are capable of entering a harbour? The answer was yes. I believe I have never raced single-handed without having a few problems. You take them as they come and you manage them. I know how to do this. However, I believe that I have never had as many problems in so short a space of time."

Are these last three hours hard to swallow?

F.G.: "The last three hours around Guadeloupe were not the hardest, contrary to the last three days. It was frustrating not to be able to get the boat up to the kind of performances I know she's capable of, but you have to make do with what you've got. And I could feel Francis's inevitable comeback. It was hard to handle."

Were you frightened?

F.G.: "I was never frightened, but there was a constant dose of stress on board, since the boat was not in its normal state. It's not easy to luff with a trimaran when you only have one foil to work with. I mostly felt frustrated not to experience the sensations."

Francis Joyon's Win

F.G.: "I'm really delighted to finish behind Francis. If I had to choose someone to finish behind, it would be him. He is an incredible sailor and I have always admired him. Winning second place behind him is just amazing, because he's a wonderful winner. And I'm really delighted that we were there to write this year's version of the race."

François Gabart's record of achievements on board the MACIF trimaran


Second in the Route du Rhum – Destination Guadeloupe in 7 days, 14 hours, 28 minutes and 55 seconds


Single-handed round the world record in 42 days, 16 hours, 40 minutes and 35 seconds

Winner of The Bridge, with crew, in 08 days, 00 hours, 31 minutes and 20 seconds

Winner with crew of the ArMen Race USHIP


Winner of The Transat Bakerly in 08 days, 08 hours, 54 minutes and 39 seconds


Winner of the Transat Jacques Vabre in 12 days, 17 hours, 29 minutes, and 27 seconds, with Pascal Bidégorry 

Information from Macif



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