Proving beyond doubt that her One Star and Vendï¿½e Globe successes were no flukes, Ellen MacArthur triumphed in a grueling two-boat duel against fellow Brit Mike Golding to win the Open 60 class in the storm-wracked Route du Rhum. She also trimmed two days off the monohull record for this grueling 3,540-mile race, and for a time, even appeared to have a chance at the elapsed-time prize — a feat no monohull sailor has ever accomplished. But in the end, Michel Desjoyeaux coaxed enough speed out of his 60-foot trimaran Gï¿½ant to take line honors by a scant 5.5 hours. Out of 18 starters, only three Class I multihulls reached the finish.
Unlike the big tris, the Open 60 fleet weathered the storm reasonably well, suffering 33 percent attrition. Likewise, the less extreme Class II multihulls produced five finishers from a fleet of eight with no major breakdowns or capsizes. Franck-Yves Escoffier won this group aboard a 50-foot trimaran assembled from cut-down 60-foot components.
Australian Nick Moloney dominated the Open 50 monohull class, and like Ellen, trimmed more than two days off the previous record. Rï¿½gis Guillemot topped the ï¿½amateurï¿½ monohull Class III.
Mike Birch, who won the inaugural Route du Rhum in 1978, has raced all six editions. But 2002 was his first aboard a monohull. At age 71, he finished a creditable 9th among the Open 60s.