Swiss wins trans-Atlantic race

Groupama needed just over 14 days to reach Brazil Keystone

Switzerland's Steve Ravussin has won the double-handed Le Havre to Bahia trans-Atlantic sailing race, along with French skipper Franck Cammas.

This content was published on November 19, 2001 - 00:37

Their 60-foot multihull Groupama crossed the finish line in Salvador, Brazil on Sunday 14 days nine hours and three minutes after leaving France. They beat Frenchman Alain Gautier and Englishwoman Ellen MacArthur by several hours.

Groupama covered 6,015 miles (11,390 kilometres) at an average of 17.43 knots (20 kilometres per hour).

"It was a very interesting race, we attacked a lot towards the end," said Ravussin. "I'm very, very happy to have won!"

The boat had a difficult time just before the race, suffering hull damage a few days ahead of the start in Le Havre after colliding with an unidentified object. Thanks to their technical crew, they were ready in time for the race.

The multihull suffered further damage during a storm in the Bay of Biscay. Despite trailing their opponents, the two teammates chose the best weather and the best route to get to Brazil.

Cammas said he preferred to look at the clouds rather than to listen to their land-locked route planner. This turned out to be the better choice since the duo could no longer contact the planner after their fifth day at sea.

Groupama was also lucky as their main opponents, MacArthur and Gautier, encountered mast problems shortly before the finish slowing them down.

Ravussin was surprised by his victory. "I'm here a bit by accident," he said, "I'm just a Swiss country boy."

"To win this race with the fantastic sailors taking part is rather exceptional," said Ravussin. "But the boat is fantastic."

swissinfo with agencies

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