75 seconds separates first and second after 2,000 miles

After sailing 2,000 miles you would expect there to be quite a time difference between competitors in the Vendee St Petersbourg sailing race for 50 foot multihulls. And so it proved to be with the winner Whaou! 3 completing the course in 7 days, 19 hours, 31 minutes and 49 seconds and the last of the 9 boats who set out from St Gilles Croix de Vie on Sunday the 16th May finishing in 10 days, 19 hours, 36 minutes and 10 seconds – 3 full days distance from 1st to last.

But between 1st and 9th there are of course a further 7 places and the extraordinary fact about the first leg of of the inaugural Vendee St Petersbourg was the time between first and second place – an incredible 75 seconds. Now if that isn’t extreme sailing what is? Yves le Blevec’s Actual had sailed an additional 11 miles which could be argued cost him the race.

In third place came Crepes Whaou! 2 in 8 days 12 hours followed by the rest of the pack – Region Aquitaine Port Medoc 9days 23.5 hours, Fenetre A Cardinal 10 days and 30 mins, Naviguez Anne Caseneuve 10 days 49 minutes,La Mer releve nos sens 10 days 2 hours, CLM 10 days 4 hours and finally Pir2 10 days 19 hours – times have been approximated.

Without any doubt, the time spent in front of the Peter and Paul Fortress will have been among the highlights of this short week in Russia. St-Petersburg was celebrating its 307th anniversary this weekend and in spite of the threat of rain, the city was dressed to impress. The crowds turned out on Nevsky Prospect. Visitors came to the city centre to watch the bridges open and the multihulls go by, and these memories will remain engraved in their minds long after the trimarans have made their way out into the Gulf of Finland.

A parade in front of the Hermitage Museum of three trimarans sailing on the River Neva between the Peter and Paul Fortress and the left bank. The multihulls had to weave their way around passenger boats offering an unprecedented scene of boats under sail in the heart of the city.

Sailing on the Neva in the heart of St Petersburg – photo courtesy of Jean Marie Liot

With little over 4 and a half hours (at the time of writing) to go before the start of the return leg to St Gilles Croix de Vie and a north easterly blowing at between 15 and 25 knots the return journey through the Gulf of Finland and the Baltic Sea to Oresund could be quick – we will await with great interest to see if Yves le Blevec can haul in Franck Yves Escoffier by the time they get back to France.

One thing we know for certain is that both sailors will be pushing their boats, their crew and themselves to the limit in order to cross the line first and be proclaimed the winner of the first ever sailing of the Vendee St Petersburg.

In the video below from oceanfanatics you can watch the two main protagonists in the race, Actual and Crepes Whaou! 3 in action.

We will keep you posted on how the return leg goes.

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