12 June 2021 - 11:13 • 1001 views

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When LinkedOut crossed the Stage 2 finish line into Alicante, Spain Thomas Ruyant and his crew delivered their first victory for the skipper from the north of France. Triumphant on The Ocean Race Europe leg between Cascais (Portugal) and Alicante (Spain), the LinkedOut team took first place, with one offshore race and one coastal race till to be sailed.

When LinkedOut crossed the Stage 2 finish line into Alicante, Spain Thomas Ruyant and his crew delivered their first victory for the skipper from the north of France. Triumphant on The Ocean Race Europe leg between Cascais (Portugal) and Alicante (Spain), the LinkedOut team took first place, with one offshore race and one coastal regatta still to be sailed.

The passage round the southern tip of the Iberian Peninsula and in through the Straits of Gibraltar promised sudden, contradictory changes in the wind. After racing downwind from Cascais, the fleet gybed to pass the Cabo San Vincente – the most south-westerly point of Europe - in a strong downwind breeze. But through the famous Straits the local phenomena took hold , going form reaching in light airs to upwind in 16 knots of east followed by light upwind conditions in the Med to Alicante.

In this weather maze, Thomas Ruyant, Clarisse Crémer – both, of course Vendée Globe finishers, Morgan Lagravière (Thomas’ co-skipper for the next Transat Jacques-Vabre), Laurent Bourguès and François Pernelle  read the signs best and managed this time to convert their lead on the leg to a winning gun.  

“We all left Cascais determined to give everything,” sums up the skipper Ruyant. “ From the outset, things went well with the strong winds like we and so we pushed hard and the boat went well, under a big spinnaker in more than 35 knots of wind close to the Moroccan coast. We worked well to get up through Gibraltar. The atmosphere on board was great full of good humour, great skills and a desire to do well ".

Thanks to a "big comeback", to borrow the words of Benjamin Dutreux whose English language is also getting better every day, and deploying his outstanding navigational skills, Offshore Team Germany took second place across the finish line. The conventional boards equipped Owen Clarke design was good in the light upwind conditions and was just 18 mins 30secs behind LinkedOut . Robert Stanjek’s crew are tied on points with LinkedOut, as is 11th Hour, who finished 3rd in Alicante, 7 minutes behind. Bureau Vallée and Corum L’Epargne paid for a tactical choice which did not pay off.

 

The IMOCA class is having a close match which will only reveal its winner after the Genoa Coastal race so close are the gaps, the VO65 class is rich with suspense too. The Mirpuri Foundation Racing Team skippered by Yoann Richomme scored their first victory in Alicante, coming back to sit level on points with Chris Nicholson's Akzonobel Ocean Racing. Longer overall and sailed by more crews and of course with straight daggerboards, the VO65s were slower in the strong, foiling conditions but faster in the headwinds of the Mediterranean.

Clarisse Crémer concluded, “Every time you sail, you learn new things, you have new conclusions, and you try to move forward. This race will perhaps help us, as IMOCA sailors, to develop our boats. Sailing like this is the best training you can dream of, which is why we are here. "