French Outremer 51 Piment Rouge takes line honours in ARC+ with multihulls BigBird and Helios in second and third place

“Incroyable!” says skipper Pierre De Saint-Vincent as he celebrates line honours in the second leg of the ARC+ rally from Cape Verde to Grenada. “It’s an experience that will be on your mind for the rest of your life.”

The French catamaran crossed the finish line off Quarantine Point, St George’s, at 23:10 on Wednesday, just in time to avoid the local curfew between midnight and 4am.

Delighted with the Outremer 51

Pierre was delighted with the performance of Piment Rouge (Red Pepper), an Outremer 51, which he acquired in July after selling his home and business.

“In the first leg we averaged around 10 knots, and in the second leg, 8.5 knots,” he told PBO. “A boat like this is for sailing. In my old boat, if we sailed at 10 knots it was extraordinary. I’d be afraid, but this one is so secure. When you surf down a wave, you can take a drink – enjoy the serenity.”

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Being narrower than a lot of the multihulls in the rally, Piment Rouge sails better on a broad reach than dead downwind, says Pierre, so their tactic was to make at least 20 directional changes in the second leg of the rally, managing a 249nm run in the last 24 hours.

Marvellous Marcel

Their 7th crewmember, the B&G autopilot, nicknamed Marcel, performed exceptionally well, but Pierre confessed they hand-steered for most of the voyage in order to maximise the speed when surfing.

Piment Rouge (Red Pepper) is an Outremer 51

“I want to win, it’s like my job,” says Pierre, a supermarket entrepreneur from Bordeaux. “I like the competition, and I like having a competitive route.”

Safety first

Pierre still allowed a lot of time for fun, and prioritised safety over everything else. Having fallen overboard on a previous yacht, and luckily been rescued by his wife, he doesn’t leave anything to chance.

“It was a miracle my wife found me, because she wasn’t experienced,” recalls Pierre. “I was doing a repair at the bow when I was suddenly projected 5m into the sky and into the water, I lost consciousness for a minute, and when I came round, the boat was 100m away. My wife circled back and got me.”

Multihulls take the lead

Throughout the voyage, Pierre and crew were carefully tracking the other yachts, especially US boats BigBird, a Neel 47 trimaran, which arrived the following morning, and Helios, a Lagoon 52, which arrived around 5pm on 02 December.

A few more yachts are expected today, with the majority of ARC+ yachts arriving on the weekend.

This is the first year that the ARC+, the sister rally to the ARC, has finished in Grenada, with the yachts being accommodated at Camper & Nicholsons Port Louis Marina.

For more information on the ARC, visit the World Cruising Club website.