Thomas Ruyant crossed the finish line off Les Sables d'Olonne in fourth place at Thursday January 28th at 04 hours 42 minutes and 01seconds UTC, after 80 days, 15 hours, 22 minutes and 01 seconds at sea.
Ruyant finished his solo race around the world, without stopovers and without assistance, 11hours 37mins 15 seconds after Bestaven’s corrected time.
The skipper of LinkedOut was widely tipped as a podium favourite – indeed as a possible winner – but after having to cut away his port foil after it was damaged on November 25th, just 17 days into his race when he was lying second, the 39 year old skipper from Dunkirk was never again able to realise the full potential of his smartly optimised, well proven latest generation Verdier design.
After his damage Ruyant fought bravely and cleverly and was still always among the leading contenders after he learned how to make the best of his compromised performance. Only during the final, unprecedented five-way sprint to the line did he slide off the podium, relegated by Yannick Bestaven who finished behind him but carried 10hrs and 15mins of allocated time because of his role in the rescue of Kevin Escoffier.
Ruyant proved himself on the 2016-17 race when he was making progress up the fleet before he struck an object in the water and had to nurse his boat 250 miles to New Zealand while it was threatening to break up.
Backed by a group of businessmen and enterprises from his native Dunkirk and surroundings, Ruyant sailed in the colours of LinkedOut an inclusion initiative supporting getting individuals back into work in his home region in the north of France.
Ruyant topped the leaderboard on 20 occasions during the race. His is an impressively consistent performance, especially given the loss of his port foil before passing the Cape of Good Hope.
A late starter to offshore and ocean racing, he quickly created a reputation for himself with victories in the 2009 Mini Transat, before he moved to the Class 40, winning both the Normandy Channel Race and Route du Rhum in 2010.
Ruyant’s boat was designed by Verdier’s group of collaborators originally for the Volvo Ocean Race but was adopted as a good allround option by Ruyant’s backers for a project managed by Ireland’s Marcus Hutchinson.
Only a couple of months after it was launched the boat took Ruyant and co-skipper Antoine Koch to fifth place in the 2019 Transat Jacques Vabre, which he followed with a podium position in last year’s Vendée Arctique Les Sables d’Olonne.
He pushed hard from the start, almost neck and neck with the leaders of the group that headed west to gain maximum advantage from the first weather front. Less than two weeks into the race he set the record daily run for this edition of the Vendée Globe, covering 515.3 miles in 24 hours at an average speed of 21.5 knots. At the same time he lost a major adversary when British skipper Alex Thomson slowed down to undertake structural repairs, in advance of his later retirement with rudder damage.
Imagine Ruyant’s disappointment then, when a few days later while in second place, he heard a loud noise and discovered damage to the structure of his port foil.
Fortunately this time it did not mark the end of his race, but he was forced to climb out onto the appendage to cut away the most badly damaged section using an electric saw. LinkedOut was therefore compromised on starboard tack for the remaining 19,000 miles of the race.
However, the loss of this foil didn’t prevent Ruyant’s return to the top of the fleet. After diving south below Australia with the leading pack he took a narrow lead ahead of Charlie Dalin on December 15. Now at 53 degrees south, Ruyant held the lead for a day and a half before Bestaven gained a 10 mile advantage, while Dalin slipped 140 miles back.
But just as he had fought back into contention, Ruyant’s advance was suddenly halted when his bow compartments filled with water. The only prudent option was to slow right down to take as much pressure as possible off the boat’s structure, while he pumped enough water out to assess the damage.
This discovery was doubly troubling for Ruyant, given he was almost at the same point where he had struck the object four years earlier. But while the loss of miles to Dalin and Bestaven were to prove crucial, the cause was straightforward, a pair of deck hatches had not been closed properly against the fire-hose effect of the waves. By the time LinkedOut got back up to speed Ruyant had lost more than 100 miles on Bestaven.
Nevertheless, he held onto third place at Cape Horn. Then, in a move that Vendée Globe veteran Mike Golding described as a potential game changer, Ruyant broke away from the other three leading boats, continuing west of the Falklands after passing between mainland Tierra del Fuego and Staten Island.
However, it didn’t have a dramatic affect. LinkedOut gained useful distance on Charlie Dalin, but Bestaven continued to extend his lead and Damien Seguin moved up from fourth place to second.
After the big restart in the semi-permanent cold front off Brazil’s Cabo Frio, Ruyant sailed a relatively conservative course, never far behind the leaders, waiting for another opportunity to break away from the peloton and regain the lead for the critical final approach to the finish. He was unable to impose himself and finished fourth across the line.
Thomas Ruyant/LinkedOut statistics:
2nd on 18/11/2020 at 19h08 UTC after 10d 05h 48 min of racing
Cape of Good Hope
2nd on 1/12/2020 at 13h41 UTC after 23d 00h 21min of racing
2nd on 13/12/2020 at 14h37 UTC after 35d 01h 17 min of racing
3rd on 04/01/2021 at 00h40 UTC after 56d 11h 20min of racing
4th on 16/01/2021 at 23h05 UTC after 69d 09h 46min of racing
Number of top rankings (reference Vendée Globe scores)
21 November 4h UTC to 23 November 8h UTC (1d 04h)
15 December 17:00 UTC to 16 December 8:00 UTC (1d 4h)
Best distance over 24 hours: 21st November, 518.08 miles at 21.6 knots (South Atlantic)
The boat: LinkedOut, Guillaume Verdier design, Persico (Italy) construction, launched 2019.
Ruyant sailed the 24, 365 nms theoretical course at 12.59kts
And actually sailed 29, 175 miles at 15.07kts