Roaring Forties, chapter 12: Boy Wonder

Roaring Forties, chapter 11: Karate can come in handy for a skipper
The first clash
Roaring Forties, chapter 12: Boy Wonder
Who is the youngest winning skipper of the race? He is French and his boat was as old as he was young. Find out in today’s 40th birthday tale!

1985-86: Southampton-Cape Town-Auckland-Punta del Este-Portsmouth

Chapter 12. Boy Wonder

The fourth edition of the Whitbread was the story of an old boat and the youngest winning skipper.

France’s Lionel Péan, just 29, had a crew of eight and a 58-foot boat, L’Esprit d’Equipe, that had already been around the world as 33 Export in the previous edition. Having a smaller boat turned out to be an advantage on Leg 1, the first of three victories for Péan and his team on corrected time.

The race turned into two distinct battles, with Pierre Fehlmann’s UBS Switzerland finishing first on elapsed time ahead of the other big maxis – shattering the outright Whitbread record by over two days – and L’Esprit d’Equipe triumphing overall on handicap, earning the right to pick up the Whitbread Trophy from Diana, Princess of Wales (and steal a cheeky kiss from Her Royal Highness).

A full 25 years later, Péan would once again skipper L’Esprit d’Equipe to victory in the first Legends reunion regatta on the eve of the 2011-12 race start in Alicante.

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