Rogues and Delahaye win Class 40 of the Transat Jacques Vabre
Published on November 30th, 2013
(November 30, 2013) – Having had an unchallenged lead since the race re-started from Roscoff in the very early hours of the morning of Sunday 10th November, French duo Sébastien Rogues and Fabien Delahaye sailed GDF SUEZ across the finish line off Itajaí, Brasil this Friday evening at 2056hrs local time (2256hrs UTC) to win the Class 40 fleet of the Transat Jacques Vabre from 26 starters.
The Class 40 winners’ elapsed time for the theoretical course of 5450 miles is 20 days 21 hours 41 minutes and 25 seconds. On the theoretical course they sailed at an average of 10.76kts. In reality they sailed 5578 miles at a real average of 11.12kts.
Sailing the Sam Manuard designed Mach 40 design, the duo have been comfortable leaders for almost the entire race, only recently coming under pressure when they lead into light, unsettled winds at Cabo Frio at the entrance to the Bay of Rio.
Early in the Transatlantic they made a carefully calculated technical pit stop into Muxia on the north west corner of Spain to scale their mast and replace two vital wind vanes. Their brief halt cost them less than 50 minutes and they still lead the fleet by 19.8 miles when they emerged.
Benefiting from sailing first into the robust, fast sailing of the Portuguese trade winds they were able to extend ahead of the German Franco duo on the Mach 40 sistership Mare, Jorg Riechers and Pierre Brasseur. On 22nd November they lead into the notorious Doldrums with a lead of 77 miles on Mare.
An astute choice of route allowed them to increase that margin by 30 miles. Only later did they reveal that they had actually blown up two key spinnakers in quick succession which ultimately cost them some of their lead in the lighter conditions further down the race course. Indeed at Cabo Frio their cushion was halved and the second placed Spanish duo Alex Pella and Pablo Santurde on Tales Santander closed to within 34 miles on the Bay of Rio.
When GDF SUEZ crossed the line for victory the second placed Class 40 was around 50 miles behind.
Rogues said that the two keys to their win were being able to break first through the high pressure ridge off Cape Finisterre which allowed them to get into the Portuguese trade winds first, and their passage through the Doldrums, identifying a narrow corridor using a series of Quickscat images.
Sébastien Rogue, skipper GDF SUEZ: “Without the big spinnaker it was difficult for us and on the Brazilian coast we did not have the good sails, we saw the other catching up fast. When we launched the big spinnaker and it held then only then did we know we could be alright. We repaired it during the upwind after the Doldrums and only put it up recently. On the Brasil coast we did not need it. But on every ranking we could see the other were catching us. Three days ago we thought we would finish third, off Rio we put up the big spinnaker and saw that it worked, and only then with Fabin did we say, OK maybe we can win this race.”
Tales of the unexpected
The Spanish duo had to settle for second, skipper Pella saying that a technical pit stop in La Coruna cost them any chance of winning.
Alex Pella and Pablo Santurde on Tales Santander 2014 crossed the finish line of the 11th edition of the Transat Jacques Vabre at 0036hrs 50sec local time (0236hrs 50 sec UTC) off Itajai this Saturday morning to take second place in Class 40.
The Spanish duo’s elapsed time for their race is 21j 01h 22min 15sec. They sailed the 5450 miles theoretical course at an average speed of 10.69 kts. In reality they sailed a course of 5660 miles at an average speed of 11.2 kts.
They pushed the Class 40 winners over recent days, getting their deficit down to 37 miles at one point but Tales Santander 2014 finished 3 hrs 40 mins and 50 secs second after GDF SUEZ.
For Pella and Santurde, second on the new Botin Partners designed Class 40, is a great result after losing valuable time early in the race when they had to make a technical pit stop into La Coruna to repair a rudder fitting. When they stopped they had around 50 miles of a deficit on the leaders. As they continued down the Portuguese coast in the strong trade winds there, Tales Santander 2014 was 156 miles behind GDF SUEZ. But they again showed the fast reaching speeds when they progressively pulled back 40 miles by the time they passed the Cape Verde Islands. Between the Canaries and the Doldrums Tales Santander 2014 pulled back more than 100 miles on Mare and progressively left their mainly French rivals.
Emerging from the Doldrums in third, just after Rio they managed to pass second placed Mare. As the leaders struggled for pace in the lighter breezes at times Tales Santander 2014 closed to within 37 miles of the lead. They elected to go inshore of the main oil platform field off Rio which cost them some of their margin against Mare.
For Barcelona’s Pella it is another endorsement that he is one of Spain’s brightest ocean racing stars, having already finished on the podium twice in the Mini Transat, completed the 2009 Transat Jacques Vabre in fifth in the IMOCA Open 60 class with Pepe Ribes and finishing fourth in the Barcelona World Race in 2011. For Santurde on his first big ocean race, second represents a great debut on the boat designed and owned in his native Santander and built in Burriana, Spain.
While the pair were pleased with second, Pella believes that their enforced pit stop cost them the race win. They sailed 200 miles across Biscay with one rudder and did not know if they would be able to finish the race. “We thought we might be going home to Santander” Pella said.
“We are happy with second, when you saw us on the second day stopping to repair the rudder in La Coruna that was a hard moment. When broke it we did not know if we could continue the race or go home to Santander. We decided to stop in La Coruna to see. It was Sunday of course and every machine shop was closed. The guys from the yard made it, went from Castellon to Valencia and drove by car to give us the fittings. In fact we only stopped for two hours to do the repair, but we did 200 miles with one rudder. And when we left La Coruna we had no wind and GDF SUEZ and MARE were away.”
Did it cost you first?
“What do you think? When you see the final miles now, then for sure it did.”
“We are happy. I am happy to have sailed this fantastic boat with Pablo. We sailed many miles close with many boats, we were two or three days with Watt & Sea, two days with Armel Tripon with Geodis, we learned as we went because the boat is new.”
“It is a fantastic boat. When it is windy and we are reaching, it is fantastic. We are lucky because a big part of the race is reaching and we were great in these conditions.”
Third step for MARE
The German French partnership of Jorg Riechers and Pierre Brasseur on the Mach 40 Mare crossed the finish line in third place in Class 40 at 0236hrs 30secs local time (0436hrs 30secs UTC) in Itajaí, Brasil.
The elapsed time for Mare to sail the theoretical course of 5450 miles from Le Havre to Itajaí is 21 days 3 hrs 21 mins 55 secs. Over the theoretical course their average speed is 10.64kts. They sailed a true course of 5669 miles at a real average of 11.1 kts. Mare finish 5hrs 40mins 30secs behind the Class 40 winners of this Transat Jacques Vabre, GDF SUEZ, Sébastien Rogues and Fabien Delahaye.
Riechers and Brasseur have always been in the Class 40 vanguard, virtually since leaving Le Havre. Chasing runaway leaders GDF SUEZ, their near sistership, the Mare pair were never far away from the lead. But not far after Recife Tales Santander finally took over second place. When Tales Santander made a mistake heading inshore of the Rio oil platforms, Mare were back up to second with a five miles lead, with 265 miles to sail to the finish line. But skipper Riechers, previously 2010 overall champion in the Mini 650 class, confirmed on the dock in Itajaí early this Saturday morning, that even between the Le Havre start line and Roscoff he felt they did not have the speed to win this race:
“For us it was a good race. I think we sailed a good an intelligent race. Unfortunately we just never had the boat speed to win. That was quite clear from the first leg from the outset in Le Havre to Roscoff. And that was confirmed on the way down to the Equator. While we are happy to finish third it was really good to be close to this second placed boat Tales, which is a really, really fast boat. We are happy to finish just ten miles behind them.”
“We lost second last December when we decided not to modify the boat. Sailing wise I don’t think we made any big mistakes. We were a bit unlucky when we exited the Doldrums. We were taken by a black cloud for two hours there. And from there it was tough because we were too far west, we could not get in line with Tales and we had lost 30 miles on GDF and from there it was clear we could not win this race. It was a boat speed thing, and the error was not to modify the boat in a certain way. It was a cool race for us.”
Arrival of GDF SUEZ (1st)
Arrival of Mare (3rd)
Interview with Jorg Riechers and Pierre Brasseur – Mare (GER at 2:27)
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