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THE TRANSAT: SECOND PLACE FOR THOMAS COVILLE ON SODEBO...
 
      'One man, one boat, the sea...The Transat established in 1960 as the OSTAR'

 
At 2338 GMT today (Tuesday, 8.6.04) Frenchman Thomas Coville crossed the finish line of The Transat at the entrance to Boston Harbour to claim second place in the 60ft ORMA multihull class of the historic solo transatlantic race. Coville raced the 2800 mile course in 8 days, 10 hours, 38 minutes and 0 seconds at an average speed of 13.47 knots. Michel Desjoyeaux claimed victory at 2129GMT setting a new transatlantic race record of 8 days, 8 hours, 29 minutes, 55 seconds. The previous record for the race was held by solo round the world record holder Francis Joyon who set a record of 9 days, 23 hours and 21 minutes in the last race in 2000. Desjoyeaux has taken 38 hours and 52 minutes off the record. Despite closing on Desjoyeaux in the final stages of the race to within 26 miles at 1700GMT on Tuesday afternoon (8.6.04), Coville had no real opportunity to overtake 'Le Professeur' and crossed the finish line between Deer Island Light and Long Island Head Light at the entrance to Boston Harbour, four miles from downtown Boston, 2 hours 8 minutes and 5 seconds behind Desjoyeaux. A total of 37 boats, included 12 ORMA trimarans, started the race at 1300 GMT on 31st May and to date five boats have abandoned the race. The remainder of the ORMA fleet will finish in Boston over the next few days whilst the Open 60 monohull class leaders are expected to arrive from Saturday (12.6.04) onwards.

ORMA 60 RACE SUMMARY:
The 2800 mile single-handed transatlantic race from Plymouth to Boston started at 1300GMT on 31st May. Weather conditions experienced by the 12 boats in the ORMA 60 multihulls class sent them further north than in previous races and the third night of the race saw them tackling a giant North Atlantic depression bringing with it 45 knot winds and ferocious seas. These were the worst weather conditions the multihulls had experienced since the 2002 Route du Rhum race when the fleet were decimated by hurricane force winds. Aiming straight for the centre of the first low the leading multis in the north tacked first and took a fast ride out of the back of the low before facing the next onslaught. In total the multihulls had to tackle three low systems - not exceptional conditions for this time of year. Due to their northerly route the direct route to Boston would have taken the boats through a densely populated area of icebergs to the east of Newfoundland, but in a gentleman's agreement, the skippers agreed upon an ice exclusion zone (47degN 47degW) moving their course south. From Newfoundland on the weather changed to the other extreme as the skippers were kept glued to their tillers, as they had to negotate extensive periods of light winds.

SODEBO'S RACE:
31.5.04-1.6.04: Sodebo in top 3 trading places with Geant and Groupama.
2.6.04: Extreme close racing with Geant (Michel Desjoyeaux) only 200m apart at times through the night with thick fog: "A strange atmosphere, like sailing through soft cotton. The feeling of speed is intense."
3.6.04: Heads for centre of first depression and tacks south at approx 2030GMT.
4.6.04: Halway stage - third place 71 miles behin Geant.
5.6.04: Sodebo has high-speed collision with unidentified object - impact knocks Coville off his feet and he knocks himself unconscious for a short while.
6.6.04: Makes and loses miles but cannot really gain on Geant 69 miles behind Geant at last poll of the day at 1700 GMT. Reports passing large iceberg.
7.6.04: 1700 GMT had closed the gap to 57 miles.
8.6.04: As Geant is sailing fast in flat waters, Sodebo struggles in short choppy seas as he climbs coastal shelf at 1500m depth. Sodebo falls behind but at 1700 GMT positions, Sodebo was only 38 miles behind Geant now slowed by lighter airs as they approach land less than 100 miles away.

THOMAS COVILLE PROFILE:
Date of birth: 10/05/68 (age 36)
Nationality: French
Place of birth : Rennes
Current residence: Saint Philibert
Personal status: married, 1 child
Previous participation in The Transat: 2000 / Rtd Class 1 Monohull
Of all the skippers in the ORMA class Thomas Coville has had the most rounded career having had his feet in both the French open short-handed classes as well as the Anglo-Saxon keelboat classes including racing in the French Admiral's Cup, winning the One Ton Cup and the America's Cup in 1995 on Marc Pajot's Ville de Paris. He regularly crewed on board Laurent Bourgnon's Primagaz trimaran and in 1997 he sailed on Olivier de Kersauson's Sport Elec when they set a new record for the Jules Verne Trophy.
It was only in the late 1990s that Coville focussed on solo sailing. He finished second overall in the 1997 Mini Transat and the following year raced in the Figaro class before quickly graduating to an Open 60 when he took over the helm of Aquitaine Innovations from skipper Yves Parlier at the eleventh hour. Aboard her he won the Open 60 class in the 1998 Route du Rhum.
In 1999 Coville took over the Sodebo sponsorship and aboard his new Open 60 and won the Transat Jacques Vabre. He dismasted in the Europe 1 New Man STAR but he finished sixth in the 2000/01 Vendée Globe.
Coville had a new 60ft trimaran built to compete in the 2002 Route du Rhum and was leading until he was forced to pull out due to structural problems.

PR CONTACT
Name: Corine Renié-Peretié
Company name: Champs Médias
T: +33 (0)1 53 93 84 55
F: +33 (0)1 42 89 09 49
Email: c.peretie@champsmedias.fr
Web address http://www.thomas-coville.com
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For further information, please contact Lou Newlands or Isabel Genis
lou@offshorechallenges.com
isabel@offshorechallenges.com (French/Italian/Spanish speaking)
T: +44 (0)870 063 0218
F: +44 (0)20 7681 2912
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