Cap Istanbul: Isabelle Joschke takes victory in Aghios Nikolaos

Tuesday, 30 September 2008


At the helm of Synergie, Isabelle Joschke crossed the finish line on Monday 29th September at 23 hours 18 minutes and 40 seconds. In so doing she takes victory in the 3rd leg of the “European Capital of Culture – Cap Istanbul”, a 540 mile (1000km) dash between Marzamemi in Sicile and Aghios Nikolaos in Crete. Her average theoretical speed was 6.94 knots. Victory took place under the cover of darkness, beneath a starry Mediterranean sky, and adds a new page to the annals of ocean racing: indeed Isabelle has become the first woman to achieve such success as a leg victory*, on a Figaro circuit renowned for being demanding and for forging some top solo-sailing talent. This young rookie to the Figaro class sailed a superb course between Sicily and Crete. Inspired, precise, skilful, she kept hold of her lead against a fleet of formidable competitors experienced in the art of battling single-handed on equal terms. At the head of the race for the last 48 hours, Isabelle didn’t give an inch even when she encountered the worst conditions as a brutal low hit the Ionian Sea. Leading at the entrance to the Aegean Sea, and in some favourable winds, she didn’t stumble over the last 120 miles of the course along the north coast of Crete. Her performance then has been absolutely faultless and her victory will certainly create waves in the solo sailing world…

Isabelle Joschke: “I can’t really believe it. I certainly didn’t expect this in my first Figaro season, but that just makes my win all the more pleasurable. I only began to believe I could do it when I was leading the fleet at Antitykhitira. I was then lucky enough to have the necessary wind to keep ahead. In fact the sailing off Crete was a real treat, even though I didn’t sleep or eat the whole day. I had to hang on in there. The key to success? Strategy first of all. After that I’ve gained a great deal of speed since the first leg and naturally that’s a motivation…”

At 31 years of age, Isabelle Joschke is contesting her first season on the Figaro circuit. Coming straight from the Mini 6.50 circuit, where she excelled for two years, solely victory in the Transat 6.50 escaped her after breaking gear. Driven by a fierce competitive spirit and very at ease in the open water, she has demonstrated today that she is also a fine regatta sailor and that she has found, at the helm of her one-design Synergie, a circuit which measures up to her talent. “She is tenacious, she really deserves to be in the lead and the position suits her well. She has sailed a faultless course.” confided Nicolas Bérenger yesterday. These words were further echoed by Thierry Chabagny who sincerely congratulated Isabelle on her course during this 3rd leg, marked by some particularly difficult sea conditions.

In Isabelle’s wake, Thierry Chabgny and Nicolas Bérenger battled all the way to the line. The skipper of Suzuki Automobiles thus takes 2nd and that of Kone Elevators 3rd!

1 ) Isabelle Joschke (Synergie) finished at 23h18’40’’ in 3d 05h 37 min 40s

Thierry Chabagny (Suzuki Automobiles) finished at 00h16’ 32’’ in 3d 6h 35’ 32’’ a total of 57’ 52’’ behind the winner

Nicolas Bérenger ( Kone Elevators) finished at 00h25’55’’ in 3 d 6h 44’ 55’’ a total of 1h07’ 15’’ behind the winner

* The annals of the Solitaire du Figaro reveal that only one woman, Claire Francis, has previously scored a leg victory. It was in 1975 and this great offshore event was called La Course de l’Aurore and the one-design wasn’t yet in force.

Caroline Muller  translation Kate Jennings
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Le Figaro images

Last Updated ( Tuesday, 30 September 2008 )