Mike Birch, first winner of the Route du Rhum, is dead

the Telegram announced Wednesday the death of Mike Birch, at the age of 90. The Canadian navigator had entered into sailing legend, recalling the first edition of the Route du Rhum in 1978. This course had become legendary, since Birch had won ahead of Michel Malinovsky (deceased in 2010) with only 98 seconds in advance. He officiated on a small 12m trimaran, called Olympus Photo, when his competitor was on board a powerful 23m monohull (Kriter V).

An adventurous life

Born in Vancouver, the Canadian had had an adventurous life, details the Telegram : miner, oil worker, breeder, sailor… He had discovered the world of sailing, conveying boats, alone or with a crew. Mike Birch then embarked on the competition. His first performance was to finish second in the English Transat in 1976, two years before his exploit on the Route du Rhum.

The Canadian also has the only edition of Monaco – New York in 1985 and the transat Lorient – Saint-Barthélémy – Lorient in 1989 to his credit. He competed seven times in the Route du Rhum, finishing third in 1982 and fourth in 1986 and 1990.


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