One of the fascinating duels in the RORC Transatlantic Race was between two JPK 1180s; Richard Fromentin’s Cocody (FRA) and Dawn Treader (GBR) skippered by Ed Bell. Cocody was the only boat in the fleet to brave the northern route knowing that they would encounter brutal conditions from two depressions. Meanwhile, Dawn Treader took a southerly route to Camper & Nicholson’s Port Louis Marina Grenada. The lead after IRC time correction swung in the balance many times during the 3,000 mile RORC Transatlantic Race.
First to finish in the battle were Fromentin’s battling Bretons on Cocody in an elapsed time of 15 Days 21 Hrs 24 Mins 26 Secs. After IRC time correction Cocody was second overall and the winner of IRC One. Owner of Cocody, Richard Fromentin also scored the best IRC corrected time for an owner from Yacht Club de France, winning the special trophy from the famous club which supports the RORC Transatlantic Race.
“We only decided to go north 10 minutes before the start,” commented Richard Fromentin. “We spoke with weather experts and they all agreed that north would be very hard but potentially much quicker. We had six metre waves; it was not a comfortable sail but we powered through the big waves with our small jib and one reef in the main; we changed the watch every two hours. On Cocody we have trained in these conditions and it was very tough, especially at night when driving the boat was very difficult.
“We applaud the RORC for their excellent organisation of this race, but especially for the philosophy, that it is up to the skipper and the skipper alone to decide to race. It was our choice to take the hard route. We have a saying on Cocody, which is ‘never give up’ and the crew were magnificent, pushing and pushing, even though we were all very tired by the end. After we got through the bad weather we did have to make repairs to one of our rudders and it took us many miles to find the best way to cross the transition zone to get into the tradewinds to the south. Dawn Treader was very competitive and at times we were behind them on corrected time. We look forward to racing against them in the RORC Caribbean 600,” concluded Fromentin.
Dawn Treader is ranked second to Cocody in IRC One and third overall under IRC. This was Ed Bell’s first Transatlantic Race. The skipper was in charge of five prodigies, all in their 20s, except for Ed’s son George who is just 18 and the youngest competitor in the race.
“We ruled out the northerly route,” commented Ed Bell. “A week of upwind in an Atlantic storm was more than I thought we could cope with. We plugged south and we were lucky enough to stay in the breeze for most of the time, and we were tracking Cocody all the way.
“The African coast had its problems with a lot of ships, but we got some good thermal affects through the Cape Verdes and then it was about crossing the transition zone. The wind was better than forecast so we got the speed on earlier than expected. However, we unfortunately hit something. We heard a bang. We didn’t think it was that consequential, but as we picked up speed over the next few days we got some rudder oscillation. It was manageable to start with and we could see we were gaining on Cocody to the north, so we kept the pressure on, but after a few days the rudder oscillation became a bit scary, to be honest, and we throttled back. We had blown out our A5 so we did not have a slow kite option, so we had to reduce sail. Cocody sailed very well and sustained their speed and got away from us at the end. But it was a great race, we loved it; definitely a journey and we were very pleased with the experience,” concluded Bell.
Congratulations to the latest boats to finish the RORC Transatlantic Race which are all from France: Mark Lepesqueux’s Class40 Sensation, Bernard Giroux’s Solaris 55 Team 42, skippered by Dan Segalowicz, and Jean-Francois Guillon’s Solaris 50 Sea-Nergy.
Lead image: Team Cocody © Arthur Daniel/RORC