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IMOCA shuffle in Transat Jacques Vabre

Published on November 6th, 2019

(November 6, 2019; Day 11) – What was believed to be an easy Doldrums crossing for the 14th edition of the Transat Jacques Vabre, that’s not what Jérémie Beyou and Christopher Pratt are finding on their IMOCA Charal after watching their 100nm lead turn into a 50nm deficit to Apivia after less than a day in the dreaded Doldrums.

“We were on a good track and we caught a last squall this morning and after that, curtains,” said Beyou from the favorite and the most optimized and practiced of the five latest generation foilers in the race.

It was heartbreaking for Charal, which had appeared unbeatable in the 4,350-mile biennial double-handed race from Le Havre, France to Salvador de Bahia, though Charal’s speeds are back up and appear to have stemmed the losses.

“We think an easterly flow has infiltrated the Doldrums,” explained Charlie Dalin, the skipper of Apivia. “In this phenomenon, the wind shifts (it passes to the east) and in front of that flow, there is nothing. We made placement, we got away with it.”

PRB in third are another 52 miles behind Charal, but after that just 40 miles separate 11 boats, including Malizia II in 12th.

Class40: Crédit Mutuel breaks 24-hour record
Never has a Class40 boat traveled as fast before as Ian Lipinski and Adrien Hardy on Crédit Mutuel. Last night they peaked at 415.86 miles at average speed of 17.3 knots over 24 hours between 03:30 on 4.11.19 and 03:30 on 5.11.19. That beat the old record of 377.7 miles at average speed of 15.7 knots by 2017 winners V and B, set in the last edition of the Transat Jacques Vabre.

It is no one-off wonder. They have broken the old 24-hour record several times over the last couple of days and have been over 400 all morning in their new David Raison-designed 40-footer launched this year. They have only had a couple of months training, so they are still learning about the new boat, with its most obvious innovation being its pronounced nose.

One thing they have learned is that with the correct and well-trimmed set-up they can leave the autopilot to it. They have not touched the helm since Ushant, the morning after the start.

“The boat is going on its own, we found the right sails, we’re monitoring it, but its going alone,” Lipinski said this morning. “We’re under medium spinnaker with 1 reef and 2 reefs in the mainsail. We’re getting around on all fours, the boat slams lot, we’re trying not to hurt ourselves. It’s a bit wet on deck, but I think it’s nothing compared to those behind us.”

Now past the Cape Verde islands at the 15:00 UTC ranking, Crédit Mutuel was 81 miles ahead of Leyton and 89 miles ahead of Aïna Enfance & Avenir. Both have both been regularly touching the old 24-hour record in their Manuard mach 3 boats but are losing miles at every ranking. All three will have Charal on their minds with the Doldrums looming.

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First held in 1993, the biennial Transat Jacques Vabre has three fleets of doublehanded teams – Class40s, Multi50s, and IMOCA 60s – competing from Le Havre, France’s to Salvador de Bahia, Brazil. The 4350nm race started October 27 with estimated race times as:
Multi50: 11 days
IMOCA: 13-14 days
Class40: 19 days

Source: Transat Jacques Vabre

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