Shorthanded Racing Revival
Published on October 19th, 2015
The entry for the imminent Transat Jacques Vabre appears to reflect a welcome upturn for shorthanded ocean racing if the number of rookies, that is those taking on the Transat Jacques Vabre for the first time, can be considered a useful barometer.
With the start on Sunday (Oct 25), the organisers are welcoming a record entry of rookies, 34 skippers who will race the renowned classic two handed Autumn Transatlantic for the first time.
They are between 22 and 55 years and are all driven by the same determination to finish and race well against the more established, more experienced racers. This new blood, all race newcomers, appears to come from all sailing backgrounds including crewed racing, the Figaro Circuit and the Mini 6.50.
Ultimes, The Land of the Giants
It is no surprise at all that there are no rookies in the four strong Ultime class. These giants are populated by leading, vastly experienced sailors, household names of the multihull world.
They include past winners of the Transat Jacques Vabre Roland Jourdain (winner in 1995 who sails with Lionel Lemonchois on Prince de Bretagne), Thomas Coville (1999 winner, sailing Sodebo Ultim’ with Jean Luc Nélias), Pascal Bidégorry (winner in 2005, who sails this time on Macif with Francois Gabart) and Yves Le Blevec (a winner in 2011 who sails this time on Actual with Jean Baptiste Le Vaillant).
Class40: Rookie Country
On the other hand Class 40 has 18 Transat Jacques Vabre first timers. There are 14 entries and so it does not take a mathematics degree to work out that some co-skipper pairs comprise two Rookies.
In fact there are eight boats on which both skippers are race first timers. They are Club 103 (Alan Roura and Juliet Petres), Concise 2 (Philippa Hutton-Squire and Pip Hare) Creno Moustache Solidaire (Thibault Hector and Morgan Launay), Groupe Setin (Manuel Cousin and Gérald Quéouron), Team Concise (Jackson Bouttel and Gildas Mahé), SNBSM Espoir Compétition (Valentin Lemarchand and Arthur Hubert), Teamwork40 (Bertrand Delesne and Nils Palmieri) and finally the Brasilian boat Zetra (Eduardo Penido et Renato Araujo).
These eight Class40 are sailed by the broadest cross section of men and women, including the race’s ‘benjamin’ the youngest in the fleet, Alan Roura 22 years and the oldest Eduardo Penido who is 55.
Meantime on Bretagne – Crédit Mutuel Elite, Nicolas Troussel a very experienced skipper is partnered by race rookie Corentin Horeau. Both are talented Figaro sailors. Maxime Sorel, skipper of V And B is lucky enough to sail a brand new boat designed by Sam Manuard, who is his co-skipper who already has strong two participations in this famous race under his belt.
Multi 50: A Mix of Experience
The Italian Giancarlo Pedote (40) is a newcomer to the race but is partnered alongside the last winner of the Transat Jacques Vabre in the Multi50 Erwan Le Roux. Both sailors add their sponsors together to develop this serious campaign for the Jacques Vabre aboard FenêtréA Prysmian. They are both originally shaped by the Mini class, and now after one year on the Figaro circuit, Giancarlo discovers multihulls in recent months, learning alongside one of the class’s best discipline. Aboard Arkema, on his eighth Transat Jacques Vabre Lalou Roucayrol sails with his sailmaker, Caesar Dohy (40 years old) who is a first timer on the race but who obviously knows the boat well.
IMOCA: Figaro and Mini sailors step on up…
No less than seven sailors from the Figaro Bénéteau Circuit will make their Imoca class debut. Adrien Hardy sails Souffle du Nord skippered by Thomas Ruyant. Charlie Dalin is fortunate to race with Yann Elies on Queguiner – Leukemia Espoir. Erwan Tabarly will be the partner of Armel Le Cléac’h aboard Banque Populair VIII. Romain Attanasio is co-skipper on Bureau Vallée along with Louis Burton. And the potent partnership on the new Safran are in fact race rookies Morgan Lagravière Morgan / Nicolas Lunven Safran. Another skipper making ready for his first Transat Jacques Vabre is Paul Meilhat, who has graduated from racing Macif on the Figaro circuit, remains. His co-skipper is a certain Michel Desjoyeaux on SM.
Among the IMOCA Transat Jacques Vabre first timers there are also a bunch of former Mini 6.50 sailors. Nicolas Boidevezi cut his teeth in a Mini 6.50 prototype and despite a tight budget start on Sunday alongside Ryan Breymaier, who takes on his first Transat Jacques Vabre also but is already an experienced Imoca (5th in the Barcelona World Race 2010/11). There are other rookis too who are very experienced like Eric Bellion, skipper of the Finot-Conq design Comme Un Seul Homme – Stand As One who chose Brit Sam Goodchild, whose third Transat Jacques Vabre it will be. Canadians Eric Holden (35 years) and Morgen Watson (26 years) are both in their first Transat Jacques Vabre together.
Eduardo Penido, skipper de Zetra (Class40): “We were extremely lucky to be able to buy GDF Suez, Sébastien Rogues and Fabien Delahaye’s winning boat from the previous edition of the Transat Jacques Vabre. Unfortunately, as Renato (Araujo) my co-skipper works in Brazil, we haven’t sailed that much. But we did manage to train in Lorient with Tanguy Leglatin and took part in the Normandy Channel Race and the Guyader Grand Prix. The main idea for me is to publicise ocean racing in our country, so that more Brazilians become interested. It’s a dream come true today seeing my boat moored up in Le Havre.”
Alan Roura, skipper de Club 103 (Class40): “I’m proud to be here in Le Havre. I had so much work to do to get this far. The Route du Rhum was a huge disappointment (cracks in the ballast tanks), so that’s why I wanted so much to compete in the Transat Jacques Vabre. Our aim is to make it to the other side and if possible, have four boats behind us.”
Morgan Lagravière, skipper de Safran (Imoca): “This is something new for me, sailing an Imoca and competing in the Transat Jacques Vabre. I’ve been getting to grips with the boat for six months now and with Nico, we have been working on the technical stuff and sorting out our priorities. It’s great that we are both rookies discovering this race. It’s what I wanted. We are different when ashore but complement each other well at sea, so it works well. Our aim is to get as much as we can out of the boat, so we don’t have any regrets.”
Charlie Dalin, co-skipper de Queguiner – Leucémie Espoir (Imoca): “It feels like I’m moving up a step, entering the world of IMOCA sailing. My long-term goal is to compete in the Vendée Globe, so this is important to me. I’ll be taking care of the weather charts and routing, offering an initial analysis to Yann (Eliès). It’s great to be sailing with him. In the Solitaire, we raced against each other. I think our pairing works as we are complementary.”
Nico Boidevezi, skipper de Adopteunskipper.net (Imoca): “The boat was delivered to me on 1st September, but I had already sailed 3000 miles on her with Alex Thomson’s team. I only have a small budget, but that allows me to do the Transat Jacques Vabre seriously. Ryan (Breymeier), my co-skipper is helping me a lot. He knows all about Imocas, having taken part in the Barcelona World Race, so he’s giving me good advice. The key idea here is for me to gain experience between Le Havre and Itajaí.”
Transat Jacques Vabre in brief
• A legendary race 22 years old and 2015 marks the 12th edition
• Two founding partners: the city of Le Havre and brand Jacques Vabre
• Four classes on the starting line: Class40, Multi50, IMOCA and Ultimate
• Starting in Le Havre (France) on 25th October for the 5400 miles towards the finish line in Itajaí (Brazil)
Report by event media.