Luke Berry and Lamotte Module Création, 6th of the Route du Rhum
Yesterday at 15.21 local time the Lamotte Module-Création skipper crossed the finish line of the Route du Rhum – Destination Guadeloupe race after 17 days 6 hours, 51 minutes and 30 seconds at sea. Arriving in 6th place in the Class 40 group Luke provided us with details of an epic crossing where he encountered some extreme weather conditions and several technical problems that he managed to fix, aswell as the match race between Kito de Pavant and Arthur le Vaillant nearly right to the end ! Here’s a look back at this magnificant race and some of our champion’s thoughts.
A head start during the first 24 hours
Nearly two weeks ago on November 4th, Luke Berry in his Class 40 Lamotte Module-Création crossed the start line in Saint Malo of the mythical race, Route du Rhum- Destination Guadeloupe that he and the team had so meticulously and passionately prepared for during the eight previous months.
After a cautious start Luke very quickly started to overtake each of his Class 40 competitors and soon found himself at the top of the leaderboard for his class at Cap Frehel before heading out to sea where he left behind all the supporter boats full of friends, partners and family who had come to wish him well and see him head off to open sea.
A tribute to his great race start was that Luke won the Brittany Ferries’ Trophy for the first 24 hours in his Class 40 category.
Yohann Richomme then took the lead and didn’t let go until the finish line in Guadeloupe. As far as Luke was concerned he prepared himself to face the numerous weather depressions that were ahead of him in the Bay of Biscay and beyond. He knew that the initial part of the race was going to be extremely tough for the boats and sailors alike.
Depressions during the first week and the first technical problems.
Right from the second night of the race the sailing conditions began to deteriorate for the skippers. Some of them decided to take shelter off the Brittany coast, some in Spain and some in Portugal. Meanwhile Luke and the more tenacious decided to ride it out and face the three depressions that were forecast for the Bay of Biscay.
On Wednesday 7th of November Luke discovered a problem with one of the main shrouds on his mast. In fact the port D2 was not tight and was moving about precariously. In order to tighten it he was going to have to climb the mast, something he couldn’t do straight away due to the terrible weather conditions. He was obliged to reduce his speed in order not to break the mast or cause any other damage.
I really learnt in this race what it means to look after the boat when sailing in very strong weather conditions. I had never sailed with three reefs and a storm sail before. I had never sailed in 55knots and nearly 7 metres of swell. You get through it, you get through it… (he laughs) but it is very uncomfortable. I know however that some boats didn’t get through unscathed. Obviously we are all thinking of them. I felt for my mates who had lost their masts or damaged their boats. It is never good news to hear that a mate has had to abandon a race.
The Alizés and the leader group !
It wan’t until three days later that our skipper could carry out his repairs and finally switch on the right hand indicator in order to return to the leader group of Class 40s that had managed to get passed the weather fronts. Slowly but surely the group pick up the Alizé winds and get out the spinnakers. For Luke the joy of sailing with his big spinnaker lasted only for 20 hours….as the sail splits in several places after a sudden gust of wind, so he looses his 5th position. He spends hours and hours of mending and sewing to try and patch together this crucial light airs sail. But it doesn’t work and after several attempts Luke has to accept the fact that he can only use his Medium spinnaker for the rest of the race.
Many congratulations to the guys ahead of me. They’ve sailed really well. Everyone has had problems and I believe Kito has also had problems with his big spinnaker. I used mine for only 20 hours before it burst in a gust of wind. I tried to repair it but it finished by ripping. My big regret in this race was not being able to use it in order to attack and so loosing speed when the wind dropped. I like going for it full on and unfortunately wasn’t able to do it at 100% .
6th place with suspense…
Amongst all competitors everyone has his share of problems and gradually as the race progresses the gap between the competitors begins to widen. A race within a race develops that keeps us glued to the georace tracking. Luke Berry, Kito de Pavant- Made in Midi, Arthur le Vaillant- Leyton and Antoine Carpentier – Custopol fight it out and won’t let go. Each one looks for the optimal route, hopes to make the right decisions and sometimes take risks in order to gain advantage over the others in order to take the lead.
On arrival at the northern point of Guadeloupe, La Tête à l’Anglais, Luke who has maintained 6th position for several days manages to steal 5th position from Kito de Pavant. Unfortunately it doesn’t last long as another problem occurs when they hit a « no wind » zone. The medium spinnaker halyard gets stuck at the top of the mast so Luke can’t take down the sail. In order to finish the race he needs to change sail so this entails a third ascent of the mast to free the trapped spinnaker. The fact that he does this in 30 knots with the wind behind him and a very choppy sea explains the unusual route at the end of the race.
The welcome committee appears with familiar faces : he’s on his way again ! The finish line is not far off and so time to make the most of the the final tacks of this unique sailing experience – of a dream come true. In a few minutes Luke crosses the line in 6th position for Class 40 and can finally step ashore, happy and proud of all that he has achieved !
It was a great race in the Alizé winds – a patchwork of wind shifts and heavy showers. The wind would gust from 20 to 30 knots and then would shift 30°. I spent my time putting in and taking out reefs. The only advantage of not having a choice of spinnakers (having shredded the large one) was that I didn’t have to make a choice and had to stick with the medium !
I have really learnt a lot but still have a lot to learn as from what I can see around me the standard is very high.
A big thankyou to everyone who came out on the water to welcome me and to my family who came all the way out to the south of the island to greet me. I saw them first from the top of my mast when I was trying to get the spinnaker down. Thanks also to all the partners and friends who came to the finish – you’re the best !!
Relive Luke’s arrival at Pointe à Pitre – a happy and emotional time