Loick Peyron crossing the finishing line
Peyron claims third victory
French yachtsman Loick Peyron has won the 2008 Artemis Transat setting a new monohull record. It's his third victory in the the Plymouth to Boston single handed race.
Loick Peyron sailed Gitana Eighty across the finish line of The Artemis Transat in Boston at 03:15 GMT on Saturday 24 May claiming a third victory in the event as well as a new race record.
Peyron exceeds the two-time record he shared with another French sailing legend Eric Tabarly, and for his efforts received a message of congratulations from French President, Nicolas Sarkozy.
The legendary French yachtsman combined tactical intuition and textbook racing skills to complete the Atlantic crossing in 12 days, 11 hours, 45 minutes and 35 seconds including a deduction of the 2.5 hours awarded by the jury for his rescue of Vincent Riou.
In doing so, he has beaten the existing monohull record set by Mike Golding onboard Ecover in 2004.
Finishing 7 hours and 43 minutes later, Armel Le Cléac'h aboard Brit Air captured second place in the 2008 event.
Breton yachtsman Yann Elies on board Generali took third place in the Open 60 class.
Briton Sam Davies takes fifth
Out of the 13 Open 60 yachts entered in the 2008 race, only three Britons made the start line after Mike Golding, Brian Thompson and Jonny Malbon were forced to withdraw at the last minute.
Sam Davies crosses the finish line
First home was Samantha Davies, who put in a fantastic solo performance to bring Roxy across the finishing line in 5th place.
Davies sailed the Transat 'blind' having lost the use of her radar on the first night. Her achievement against some of the world's best solo yachtsmen has reinforced her place in the premier league of offshore solo sailing.
Sam said: "My worst moment in this race was the night where I hit a whale, quite hard, doing 13 knots.
"Luckily the damage to my daggerboard was quite localised, but as a result I didn't do very well during the 24 hours following the incident. I was thinking: What if I hit something else? What if I damage the keel???
"It makes you think back to reality and realise sometimes what we do is quite dangerous. It was the only night I didn't enjoy."
Alex Bennett crosses the line
Racing in the smaller Class 40 fleet, Devon yachtsman Alex Bennett finished in 6th place - crossing the line on at 18:53 GMT on Thursday 29 May.
"Awesome racing, really first class," said Bennett shortly after finishing.
Alex Bennett on deck
"We've been stuck together like glue. Close racing always makes life tougher, especially when you're solo, but that’s what we're here to do.
He was at sea for 18 days and five hours in a race that proved to be highly tactical.
"We always said this was the grandad of all races if you're a solo sailor and it certainly lived up to its reputation of being one of the toughest ocean races in the world.
"We got a hell of a battering in the middle of the Atlantic trying to get round the ice gate that the officials had put in place for our safety.
"Certainly the whole fleet took a hammering and I'm really pleased to reach the finish line in such a good state.
"I'm looking for forward to a pizza, after that it's got to be a shower and some good uninterrupted sleep.
The winning Class 40 yacht, Telecom Italia, skippered by Italian Giovanni Soldini, crossed the finishing line at 11:11 GMT on Wednesday 28 May.
Soldini completed the North Atlantic crossing in 16 days 22 hours and 11 minutes, having led the 11 boats in the Class 40 fleet since passing Lizard Point on the first night of the race.
Top skippers pull out
With 13 IMOCA Open 60 and 12 Class 40 monohulls entered, the 2008 Artemis Transat boasted an impressive line-up. However several of the leading contenders were forced to pull out of the race.
The fleet included the 2004 overall winner, Michel Desjoyeaux, making his big comeback on the monohull scene.
Desjoyeaux was favourite to win the Open 60, but had to retire on Day 5 (Thursday) after his yacht was damaged in a collision with a whale. The boat is still safe, but not up to the rigours of the race, so he is heading back to his home in France.
The damage to Foncia (Artemis Transat)
"It's the first time I have to retire from an offshore race, that's how bad it is," said the Frenchman.
Desjoyeaux is the only man to have won the three most prestigious single-handed events - the Vendée Globe, the Route du Rhum and the Transat.
Another big name to pull out was Sébastien Josse. Josse has three circumnavigations under his belt and held the outright round-the-world record, the famous Jules Verne Trophy.
He was skippering the IMOCA 60 yacht BT, but was forced to retire when the mainsail came crashing down on Day 7.
On Day 10, the leader of the Open 60 class, Vincent Riou had to abandon his yacht PRB after a collision with a large sea mammal.
Riou initially thought the damage was superficial. However, he later realised one of his keel pins was missing. With an approaching storm, the Race Direction team asked Loick Peyron onboard Gitana Eighty to go to PRBs aid.
"I felt a shock which didn't worry me too much since," said Riou. "I'm sure it was a shark, and actually I think I cut it in two since I saw two portions emerge at the back of the boat.
"I didn't really want to face the gale expected on a boat whose keel could fall off at any time.
Loick Peyron rescues Vincent Riou
"Gitana Eighty was only 15 miles from me, I prepared the boat before leaving it. I filled the ballast tanks*, stacked the sails down below to lower the centre of gravity, activated the beacons and got ready. I took that decision quickly, knowing that the weather allowed for a safe operation.
"Now all I can do is make some phone calls to organise the salvage of the boat."
Having completed the rescue, Loick Peyron resumed the Atlantic crossing and went on to win the race.
And they're off!
The sun shone on Plymouth Sound, as the competitors in the 2008 Artemis Transat Race headed out at the start of their sprint across the Atlantic.
An estimated 1,000 spectator boats joined the skippers in The Sound, as the starting gun was fired at 2pm on Sunday 11 May.
They gave the yachtsmen a fantastic send-off, and for the racers, their next stop will be Boston, USA.
Winds were light, making things slow-going for the fleet, which includes some of the world's greatest solo yachtsmen.
As well as the crowds on the day, some 120,000 people visited the Race Village on the Barbican in the week leading up to the start. And 10,000 people went on board the Tall Ship in Sutton Harbour.
The fleet leaving Plymouth for Boston
As he set off from Plymouth, Alex Bennett thanked the crowds for coming out in such huge numbers: "Fantastic start, great to see such a huge spectator fleet - lots of cheering going on! It was like a yacht race in France which is nice to see for an English race.
"It's only right we say a very big thank you to the people of Plymouth for the support."
The Artemis Transat is the oldest solo ocean race. The single-handed sprint across the North Atlantic is a daunting prospect for any sailor with the inherent risk of huge storms, icebergs and dense fog.
The Transat has remained one of the ultimate ocean racing challenges since it was created more than 48 years ago.
The first race, held in 1960, was co-founded by Devon sailor Sir Francis Chichester, who was the first to reach New York after 40 days.
* The full leaderboard can be found on the official Artemis Transat website, which is linked from this page.
last updated: 30/05/2008 at 10:22