Recently, RIVA Racing Team Rider Cyrille Lemoine, who completed the Karujet in Guadeloupe this past March 17-20th, earning his 12th cumulative Offshore World Championship title, provided a personal insight on his experience racing what is known as the most difficult race in the world. The four day event crosses over 600kms of open ocean and takes its toll on both man and machine. He writes:
I have won this race in 2006 and 2008 and my last participation was in 2010. I had a little bit of time away from the Karujet because the brand for which I was running had no competitive jet for this kind of race, but now that I’m at Yamaha we have a jet that is perfect.
Day 1 (Thursday)
A little training and some sea time for the first stage of 52 km in the morning. The race is very long and it is really important to make a smart race strategy to get to the end. So the first day was used to see just how we compared to other drivers and machines. I took a very good start and had topped the first buoy, and had known my Yamaha FX prepared in the workshops of RIVA Motorsports in Florida was quite efficient to win, when I turned to see two pilots who were at the same pace as me: American Chris MacClugage and Guadeloupe’s Vincent Thomas.
It was not really a surprise, as they are very good drivers with great experience! I raced in front for most of the round, but the last crossing was made with the waves at our back so the jet of the American was more effective in these conditions. I finished in second place with a few seconds delay. The afternoon leg was the same scenario. In the evening I was second with less than a minute to make up.
Day 2 (Friday)
Two races including one 65 kms to Marie Galante. The conditions were different, the voyage at sea is really much more difficult and brittle for the drivers than for the machines. I also wanted to increase the pace and widen the gap over my competitors. I arrived first with 3:40 min ahead of second place. For the second round of St. Anne with only 22km to Viard, I still dug my lead to end 4:20 min ahead at the end of the day.
Day 3 (Saturday)
The hardest stage of the race! 110kms non-stop racing with a return to Saintes, with the famous canal in Saintes well known for its harsh conditions. I got a good start once again and I enjoyed difficult conditions to further dig deeper my lead, I turned first to the return of Saintes with 3:20min advance. So I attacked the second shorter and easier leg when my jet loop started to make a strange noise and underwent a sudden big loss of power!
I said ‘That’s it’ and I opened the saddle, but no smoke or leak, so I decided to try to leave the jet and restart, but it continued to lack power. An injector wire was cut following the violent shocks of the waves. I ended up somehow on 3 cylinders instead of 4. So I gradually lost the lead I had taken in the first round to Vincent Thomas a few meters from the finish! We limited the damage because I finished just 9 seconds ahead.
Day 4 (Sunday)
I arrived relatively confident with respect to the ranking because despite my worries of the day before I was 4:20 minutes ahead of second, but we still had two races, one of 90km. I still had the fear of a mechanical problem because all the material was strained. The two races on Sunday were going perfectly for me, and then I ran my race to still stay in front but saved my jet maximum.
I arrived first both runs with a few seconds of advancement on Vincent Thomas. What a relief when I saw the checkered flag on Sunday afternoon!! Finally the victory after more than 600kms and 4 days of racing! So I won my 12th world title and I am the only driver to win the Karujet 3 times.
It’s a long race but I have a great race team so I want to thank Yamaha for the machine, RIVA and Jesus for the preparation, Jet Style and Al mech service for local logistics, Joanna and all my friends who were there to facilitate my spot!