French skipper Jérémie Beyou (Charal) overcame a series of technical problems, not least with his wind instruments and his autopilot, to finish in a good second place on the inaugural Retour à La Base solo Transatlantic race. He crossed the finish line off Lorient at 21:53:31 UTC hrs tonight Saturday 9th December. An elapsed time of 9d 05h 53min 31s for the 3,500 nms course from Martinique sees him finish 05h 49min 43s hrs after race winner Yoann Richomme who earlier paid tribute to Beyou’s courageous, committed performance.

After a disappointing fourth place on the outward Transat Jacques Vabre race to Martinique which was badly compromised by a lost workhorse reaching sail when racing two handed with four times race winner Franck Cammas, Beyou was doubly determined to bounce back on his return to singlehanded racing.

He led the fleet from the exclusion zone at the south of Martinique and all the way up the 950 miles northwards climb to the western edge of the north Atlantic anticyclone. But when he lost all his masthead instruments his challenge diminished. In a video last weekend he revealed: “Everything at the masthead is gone,  my antennas, my wind speed and direction indicators, my Oscar camera, everything.”

Beyou pushed hard constantly to keep British skipper Sam Goodchild behind him, both electing to stay with the pack five days ago when winner Richomme moved north on the first low pressure system and opened a lead they could never close.

Fighting the extreme fatigue three days ago Beyou said, “I can no longer sleep since I don’t have an autopilot I have to be so vigilant,”

He may be pleased with his second place but the Retour à La Base has been another frustrating test of Beyou’s mental fortitude – just as his last Vendée Globe was in extremis – rather than a chance to really showcase his proven winning aptitude and the undoubted all round strength of his highly optimised Sam Manuard design.

The 47 year old Beyou, a three times winner of La Solitaire du Figaro, will set out next year on his fifth Vendée Globe. Tonight he has the satisfaction of another podium finish on his boat which was launched in June 2022. A year ago he finished third on the Route du Rhum, second this year on the  Guyader Bermudes 1000 Race (2nd) and won the Défi Azimut. And his second tonight is a sharp reminder that he will, once again, be among the favourites on the Vendée Globe in a year’s time.