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Nils Palmieri and Julien Villion win the Double-handed Transat

May 31, 2021 – Nils Palmieri and Julien Villion, aboard the Figaro TeamWork, crossed the finish line of the Concarneau – Saint-Barthélemy double-handed transatlantic race at 00h08 (France/Switzerland time) on Monday, May 31, 2021. They become the first to register their name on the list of winners of a transatlantic race aboard a Figaro 3. The Franco-Swiss duo will have taken 18 days 5 hours 8 minutes and 3 seconds to cover the 3890 theoretical miles from Concarneau, beating by 6 hours 40 minutes and 19 seconds the record for the event held by Adrien Hardy and Thomas Ruyant.

Nils Palmieri and Julien Villion will have covered 4239 miles at an average speed of 9.7 knots.

A victory with guts and heart

Starting out as outsiders, but with the undisguised desire to be in front, the TeamWork duo showed throughout this transatlantic race that they were sailing fairly and with determination. Whether upwind in the heavy weather of the Bay of Biscay or off Cape Finisterre, in the long, strong tacks under spinnaker along the Portuguese coast, in the strong gusts of wind as they passed La Palma (Canary Islands), in the doldrums and surrounded by sargassum in the middle of the Atlantic, or in the squalls at the end of the race, Nils and Julien never let their guard down and went for this victory with their guts and their heart.

We’re going to hold on to the adrenaline but it’s time for it to end! It’s been a tough 48 hours. We won’t give up! “wrote Julien a few hours before the finish.

A long thought-out and assumed northern option

On the way to the West Indies, about 1500 miles from the finish, the duos split into two distinct groups: those in favor of a northern option and those of a southern option. Nils and Julien delayed their choice until the last moment, after having analyzed the weather files over and over again. It was undoubtedly at this point in the race that the TeamWork skippers built their victory. By choosing the northern option, shorter but with a less stable trade wind, Nils and Julien were betting on the future and on the fact that the high pressure would reform to have a steady wind with a good angle at the end of the race, a bet that was long thought out and assumed. Once this decision was made, the Franco-Swiss duo spared no effort to take the lead of the northernmost group and finally the lead of the race on Friday afternoon, May 28, and never let go until the final victory.

The 2021 Double-handed Transat will remain an incredible sporting success for the two skippers of the Figaro TeamWork, who will have shown all their pugnacity, but also their talent and their sense of strategy on a demanding boat and in weather conditions that are sometimes very challenging.

Nils and Julien's reactions at the finish:

Nils Palmieri: “Winning a transatlantic race on this circuit is extremely valuable. And I’m really happy for Julien and for myself. Julien really deserved it because he is a great guy, he is very strong. It’s a sick thing, we still can’t believe it. The last 3-4 days were horrible with lots of sargassum and squalls. At one point we stopped completely, the boat across the sargassum, we thought ‘we will never get to the end’.

I knew that the Double-handed Transat was for us since I knew that I was sailing with Julien! The boat is very well prepared and I’m starting to get to know it well, Julien is very talented. From the beginning I understood that we were not going to leave anything to chance and that we could really have a great card to play. We were always on it, we did very, very short shifts. We were always on the ball to free the keel from the sargasso and to take the right reef. Julien and I are quite versatile. There are plenty of moments during the transatlantic race when one of us would say, ‘Hey, we could trim the boat like this. And the other would say ‘Oh yeah, I thought of that too, good idea, let’s go’.  There was never any disagreement, there were always compromises because we came from the same school.I knew that the Double-handed Transat was for us since I knew that I was sailing with Julien! The boat is very well prepared and I’m starting to get to know it well, Julien is very talented. From the beginning I understood that we were not going to leave anything to chance and that we could really have a great card to play. We were always on it, we did very, very short shifts. We were always on the ball to free the keel from the sargasso and to take the right reef. Julien and I are quite versatile. There are plenty of moments during the transatlantic race when one of us would say, ‘Hey, we could trim the boat like this. And the other would say ‘Oh yeah, I thought of that too, good idea, let’s go’.  There was never any disagreement, there were always compromises because we came from the same school.

This victory is magnificent. With Julien, we lived through very hard but very strong moments. We suffered together. It was very emotional. I thought it was going to be a small crossing like that. And here I had a blast. The welcome here in Saint-Barth is incredible, thank you. It’s amazing, it’s heartwarming. Julien and I are so happy, it’s fabulous. “

Julien Villion: “Between the Figaro 2 and the Figaro 3, it’s not the same commitment at all. We gave it our all. I don’t think I’ve ever given so much of myself. For the last 48 / 72 hours, I thought we were never going to make it. We had a lot of sargassum. Honestly, it was a pain in the ass, a real pain in the ass. We tore our hair out.

It’s a long transatlantic race and we had no weather information until late in the Atlantic. We had preserved our chances to play different tricks. And it’s true that we had a long aperitif one evening when the weather files were released, and when I presented the situation to Nils, I told him: ‘I feel like this, we have to go’. And the northern option was the right choice.

The fact that I am passionate about the weather served me well in this transatlantic race. I spent a lot of time thinking about Jean-Yves Bernot (editor’s note: meteorologist with whom Julien Villion worked) on the water. And I promised myself that I didn’t want to be in the router’s box and that I could win on the water. And it’s done, it’s very good.

We were confident in our chances, confident in our duo, we knew that it could work great and that we had weapons. This transatlantic race is open and it’s hard and it’s beautiful. In any case we forget everything all of a sudden, what a finish!

I’ll remember that arrival in Saint Barths for the rest of my life. It blew up in our faces. Two hours before we saw the first boat, we were in a rain squall, we thought that everything was over. It increased the moment of arrival tenfold, we felt that it was the end of the tunnel. After that cloud, there was the first boat, then one, then two… I never expected to see so many people. It was incredible. Thank you Saint-Barth. “

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