By his own admission, he crossed the finish line in the lead after “going all the way” on his own. A year after his victory in the Transat Jacques-Vabre linking Le Havre to Fort-de-France, Thomas Ruyant has gone up a notch by winning the Route du rhum (Saint-Malo-Pointe-à-Pitre) category on Monday. monohull with its faithful sailboat Imoca LinkedOut. The Northerner, who lives in Brittany, completed the race in 11 days, 17 hours and 26 minutes of racing, beating at the same time François Gabart’s record dating from 2014. Interview.

How do you feel the day after this grueling finish?

I still feel a little on the water, under the influence of emotion, the adrenaline does not go down easily! Between the solicitations and the party, I barely had time to sleep. But it doesn’t matter, I’m so happy! These are magical moments, we don’t really want it to end.

This Route du rhum 2022 was particularly hotly contested and supported…

From the start, there was a pretty crazy intensity and, over the last three days, the level has risen even further. When I caught up with Charlie [Dalin], I understood that he would not let go. The commitment was total. I had never experienced such a struggle. We each went to great lengths in our resources to come out on top. Physically, I’m burnt out.

“We can easily reach 10 days for this crossing”

Tell us about this fatigue precisely. You say you haven’t slept for more than 36 hours…

It was extremely hard. I was lucky not to feel any pain during the race, just after cutting the line, when the pressure suddenly dropped, I had to lie down. I was paralyzed, I hurt all over! Over the last hours of the race, it was absolutely necessary to hold on, I knew that the lap of Guadeloupe was tricky. But I found myself falling asleep standing up, almost falling into my cockpit.

Winning the Transat Jacques-Vabre is great, but the Route du rhum is a monument. What does it do ?

It’s pretty crazy… This race is like our own Olympic Games, every four years, like the Vendée Globe. All my victories have something special, they are part of my story. But it’s true that the Route du rhum has a real place in French sport. There was, in addition, an incredible line-up this year, a lot of recent boats, unheard of.

Thomas Ruyant in Pointe-à-Pitre as winner on November 21, 2022.
Thomas Ruyant in Pointe-à-Pitre as the winner on November 21, 2022. – P.Bouras/TR Racing

Is breaking the speed record important or anecdotal?

The main thing was to arrive in front of the others. But this record means that the boats have made progress, that the sailors are putting in a lot of commitment, that the weather conditions were good too. I think we can go even faster. One can easily reach 10 days for this crossing. So the record will fall again, that’s for sure.

You have just completed the Atlantic double (Vabre-Rhum). Do you realize?

It remains exceptional in a career. I measure performance. But it was the collective objective, we work for it all year round. The sailors are the visible side but there is a whole team behind. My greatest pride is to see them all happy at the finish. We took a long time to make the boat reliable, we had some problems. Today we have mastered it, I was able to sail with my feet to the metal in complete confidence. It’s nice.

“The Vendée Globe? Clearly my big goal”

This Imoca sailboat LinkedOutit was his last race, as planned?

Yes. It’s the one with which I completed my first world tour, with which I wrote beautiful chapters. There is bound to be a little twinge in the heart. But there’s a new ship coming. Part of the team is already in Lorient preparing it. We will probably launch it at the end of February. I look forward. It’s a beautiful machine that we designed together, we hope very efficient.

What is Thomas Ruyant’s program now?

I stay in Guadeloupe for a week. I will try to rest, to surf a little. Then I’ll go home to my children, take a little vacation with them because they haven’t seen me much lately. And then, after, we will quickly be in the new season. The next race should be in August the Rolex Fastnet race. Then Transat Jacques Vabre 2023 which I will approach, this time, with a new machine. I will be in full focus.

And the Vendée Globe 2024?

That remains my next big goal, clearly. The new boat was designed for him. It won’t be faster than today, but easier to take around the world. We want to get a big result. Favorite tag? I take it with pleasure, it suits me.

A passage in multihulls one day, as several skippers have already done, is it a project?

I’m not much of the school of multihulls. I find that the Imoca class it is the queen class. It is the one where there is the most adversity, with historical trials. In addition, mono go as fast as multi now. So, no, it’s not on the program for me.

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