Transat Jacques Vabre: After the Watershed
Published on November 27th, 2013
(November 27, 2013) – Itajaí, Brazil’s finish city for the eleventh edition of the Transat Jacques Vabre, turned on the fierce summer sunshine to welcome the steady stream of finishers crossing the line to end their Transatlantic adventure which started off Le Havre on Thursday November 7th. If there were moments of tension and excitement surfacing among the emotions evident around the finish pontoon, perhaps they will pale when the conclusions of the intense Class 40 battles are played out starting late on Friday night.
It was in the darkness and still, humid conditions that Gilles Lamiré and Cagliaria, Sardinia’s Andrea Mura crossed the line at 0203hrs local time (0403hrs UTC) on Rennes-Métropole Saint-Malo Agglomération to round out the Multi 50 class podium with their third place. Ghosting across the line at 1118hrs local time, as the sun really started to heat up, were Erik Nigon and Samy Villeneuve on the veteran Multi 50, Vers un Monde sans SIDA, a 1988 Nigel Irens design, to finish fourth. Nigon is one of the first non full time professional sailors in, a respected IT consultant who mixes his high pressure business roles with ocean and offshore races such as the AG2R, the Route de Chocolat and the Route du Rhum. An ex Olympic classes racer, Nigon adds the coffee route race to his roster of successes.
The day’s real tension came after the IMOCA Open 60 fleet’s ‘benjamins’ – the youngsters – Louis Burton and Guillaume Le Brec broke the line in fifth place on the 2007 built Farr designed Bureau Vallée. They crossed the finish at 1218hrs and 45s for an elapsed time of 20 days 02 hours 18 minutes and 45 seconds. The delta between Bureau Vallée and the first IMOCA Open 60, PRB (Vincent Riou / Jean Le Cam) is 3 days 1 h 36 min 58 s. Their fifth place hung in the balance for two hours though. After Bertrand de Broc and Arnaud Boissieres were diverted towards the upturned Multi 50 on VNAM they were granted two hours of redress by the international jury.
It was always going to be close. When Bureau Vallée crossed the finish Votre Nom Autour du Monde were just over 30 miles behind making between 14 and 16kts in a breeze which would inevitably soften as the powerful Finot Conq design got closer to Itajaí. Whilst the younger pair held their breath the time recompense expired, but there was just 15 minutes and 20 seconds in it in the end, disappointing for the VNAM duo but underlining how close the earlier generation of IMOCA Open 60s finished after nearly three weeks of racing. Energa, the Polish duo, Zbigniew Gutkowski – Maciej Marczewski are expected in later this Wednesday evening to become the first all Polish duo to complete this race in its 20 year history. Behind them Team Plastique Alessandro Di Benedetto – Alberto Monaco and Initiatives Coeur, Tanguy de Lamotte – François Damiens, were glued together only three miles apart this afternoon with 250 miles or so to the finish line. They should arrive in the early morning of Thursday.
There is no let up in the attack in Class 40 of the Spanish duo Alex Pella and Pablo Santurde Tales Santander 2014, nor indeed that of third placed Mare, Jorg Riechers and Pierre Brasseur. Three days ago Tales Santander were 107 miles behind the leaders Sébastien Rogues and Fabien Delahaye on GDF SUEZ. This afternoon it is a even more threatening 45 miles, and Tales remains consistently 1.5 to 2 knots quicker. The leaders were sliding into softer going and will get into the Cabo Frio frontal systems first, but they were staying very cool today.
“It’s a bit quieter right now, we are getting down to the south more and so it is cooler again. We keep watching the files and preparing our strategies. There is a little front to pass at Cabo Frio and then we will get back into wind, nothing exceptional. The Spanish are going great when you watch them. This is a great boat for this kind of Transatlantic but downwind and reaching I don’t think there is much difference.”
“There is a small area of light winds and that can be the difference, but by Saturday night we will be in port” said Rogues.
After making their mainsail repair in Recife, the British duo Brian Thompson and Mike Gascoyne were back on the race course yesterday evening on Caterham Challenge, their pitstop costing them six places to 16th, but Gascoyne said this morning that their target is to get back to 11th, or better.
Guillaume Le Brec, co-skipper of Bureau Vallée (IMOCA): “We’re very pleased with this 5th place having sailed for a while with five boats in front that were a notch above us. It was a fantastic transatlantic race and a great journey. I’d like to do it again. It was a very competitive race and you had to be on the attack. The first to hoist extra sail made his getaway each time.”
Bertrand de Broc, skipper of Votre Nom Autour du Monde: “We were hoping to catch Bureau Vallée. The fifth place was a closely fought contest and it was interesting to have to fight until the finish with our rival so close. The two hours redress we were given added to the fun. We have learnt a lot during this race. We’ve made progress. With Arnaud, we complemented each other well. We were a bit unlucky with the weather, and I’ve rarely seen such conditions. It was tough on the nerves and on the boat. Enough to get you really mad. Fortunately, I had Arnaud Boissières to calm me down.”
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