Transat Jacques Vabre: Two hearts!

Published on November 28th, 2013

(November 28, 2013) – The closest finish of the Transat Jacques Vabre’s IMOCA Open 60 class was saved to last as Tanguy de Lamotte and Francois Damien only just held off the effervescent Italian duo Alessandro Di Benedetto and Alberto Monaco on the final finish line. The delta between the two similar vintage IMOCA Open 60s Initiatives Coeur and Team Plastique which finished in ninth and tenth respectively in the Vendée Globe was timed at just nine seconds, or a matter of a bow after 5450 miles and 21 days of racing.

On the dock the two pairs of skippers, embraced and sprayed champagne over each other in the warm sunshine, all sharing the same feeling of satisfaction to have completed the race and having enjoyed the same intense competition that prevailed at the front of the fleet, rather than who won the duel to the line. Not only were their boats evenly matched but their crew profiles also. De Lamotte sailed with his friend a Belgian actor, whilst it was also the first big ocean race for Di Benedetto’s pal Monaco, preparateur and boat builder who claimed to have loved the race, but pledged to stay on dry land when Di Benedetto’s next adventure is mooted. The bubbly Italian sailed around the world in 2010 in 268 days on a 6.5m long Mini.

Approaching the latitude of Rio a few days ago the two IMOCA Open 60’s which are of the same vintage, 1998 launches with five Vendée Globe circumnavigations between them, were glued together less than one mile apart. They took photos of each other to record the moment and spoke on the VHF. At 230 miles to the finish Alessandro Di Benedetto and Alberto Monaco chose to gybe earlier in the NWly breeze of last night. And in the morning the two teams met up again, Initiatives Coeur having lost an estimated 45 minutes when they had to detour around a fishing boat laying a long net, some 40 miles from the finish line.

The wind dropped and went more to the west, forcing the duo into close contact to the line. Thirty miles from the finish there was less than half a mile in it after 21 days of racing. In the end it was Initiatives Coeur who only just made it across the line ahead of Team Plastque, Di Benedetto reporting later that a hat caught in the primary turning block for their headsail sheet meant they could not furl their gennaker away and had to drop it.

On all present indications the Class 40 podium will be close. Leaders since the restart in Roscoff GDF SUEZ (Sébastien Rogues and Fabien Delahaye) revealed today that they have lost two of their three spinnakers, explaining their loss of miles to the second placed Spanish duo Alex Pella and Pablo Santurde on Tales Santander 2014 before they rounded Cabo Frio last night. The leading duo have a deficit of around 0.5 of a knot depending on the weight of wind. It would seem that their heavy spinnaker is intact. Their losses have stabilised now after they took stayed further offshore to find more breeze.

It would appear the Spanish might have misinterpreted the sailing instructions, thinking it forbidden to sail through the fields of oil platforms which dot the coast off Rio. Pella and Santurde worked closer to the coast but this does not appear to have been as good in the medium term. In third palce Mare (Jorg Riechers and Pierre Brasseur) have taken a middle route, some 60 miles further out. The Spanish have gybed back out offshore in the meantime but have lost ten hard earned miles in the meantime.

Breezes are expected to be very light through tonight before a more regular wind in to the finish line.

They said:

Tanguy de Lamotte (FRA) skipper Initiatives Coeur: “It is amazing at just nine seconds. OK it is for last and second last, but we fought all the way. Today we found a fishing net which we managed to avoid and that cost us but then they could not furl their gennaker away. It was a win or lose situation but I think both win because it was so close. It amazing to finish a race like this after three weeks with only nine seconds. In the night they were going so fast I did not sleep. It was incredible racing.

The aim was to finish, and so we did that, and we managed to save five kids, and then the finish just nine seconds apart is unbelievable. It was a difficult race, really full on, all the time difficult and unexpected conditions, you just had to grunt up and just keep going, keep going. We worked well together but in fact there were not so many manoeuvres it was just a keep going, keep going thing. Francois most of all is a great friend and it is amazing to have done this with him. He is very happy now. This is another Transat for me and they are all different but this will be near the top of my memories because of this finish. We lost a spinnaker, broke a few lines, but the boat is in good shape. And that is good.”

Alessandro Di Benedetto (ITA-FRA) skipper Team Plastique (ITA): “We are very happy. Just nine seconds behind Initiatives Coeur was a great race to the line, we made a mistake and we had to pay for that mistake. A hat went into the swivel block and we had to cut it. We got a surprise when the strong wind came. We had to cut the sheet just an hour before the finish, we tried many different things. We blocked the winch, changed sheets to try and keep on going. We are very happy though, for the boat that we have it is a very good race. For more than 5000 miles to finish so close on Transatlantic Race. We are very happy with the result. We lost only the sock of the spinnaker, so we are very happy.”

Sébastien Rogues (FRA), skipper GDF SUEZ: “We tore two of our three spinnakers. We exploded them one after another in the Doldrums. That was a real blow to our morale. We tried to repair them with what we had on board during the descent of the South Atlantic but to no avail. The first time it held for about two hours but then the winds were too much. As you can see from the tracking our lead has melted like snow in the sun. We are battling the best that we can not to lose the miles, to sail the optimum route, to find a way to stay ahead in the race. The boat has suffered, we broke a lot of things, which we have fixed the best we could. The weather for the 300 miles from the finish line is very complicated, we can see light winds which are unstable in strength and direction. But we are really confident that we have just taken a dozen miles back between two rankings.”

Alex Pella (ESP) skipper Tales Santander 2014: “We have been sailing hard since we left Finisterre, we have been sailing very well and we have been very comfortable but last night was really hard for us. We made a mistake I think due to a misunderstanding of the sailing instructions, as we surrounded the gas platforms instead of going through them as Mare and GDF did. In fact sailing is forbidden in this area but you can sail there if you are on a race, that’s why we made the mistake, I think the sailing instructions are a bit confusing in this matter. But it is a mere anecdote for us, we are still in the race and have shorten distance with GDF. We are going to do our best until the end. Tonight will be hard because there is very little wind, but we might have luck and manage to be one step higher in the podium”.

See latest postions for the fleets:

Follow the race:
Live tracking updated every 30 minutes.
Race Tracker URL:
Positions will be updated every 3 hours: 0400hrs / 0700hrs / 1000hrs / 1300hrs / 1600hrs / 1900hrs GMT

Social Media 
Live updates through the start and through the race itself on the official facebook pages and on the twitter feed (@TransatJV).
And the Transat Jacques Vabre Application is now available on iPhone and Android and includes tracking facility.

Video footage will be available to registered broadcasters for download on the TV server:

For any queries please contact:
Hélène Tzara – – +33 (0)6 10 18 80 90

comment banner


Back to Top ↑

Get Your Sailing News Fix!

Your download by email.

  • Hidden
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

We’ll keep your information safe.