Class40 finishes at Transat Jacques Vabre
Published on November 14th, 2019
Salvador de Bahia, Brazil (November 14, 2019; Day 19) – Ian Lipinsky and Adrien Hardy on Crédit Mutuel have won the Class40 division of the 14th edition of the Transat Jacques Vabre, crossing the finish line today at 04:36:23 (UTC), 17 days, 16 hours 21 minutes and 23 seconds after leaving Le Havre, Normandy, France on October 27 at 12:15 (UTC).
Crédit Mutuel covered the theoretical course of 4,350 nautical miles at an average speed of 10.25 knots but actually sailed 4,714.35 nautical miles at an average speed of 11.11 knots.
Leaving Le Havre, Crédit Mutuel was on everybody’s list of favourites. The big nose of the new Mini-inspired, David Raison-designed scow attracted a lot of attention on the pontoons of the Bassin Paul Vatine. They were a known unknown.
“They’ve got two very good sailors and a new boat,” said Sam Goodchild, who teamed with Fabien Delahaye on Leyton, destined to be their chief pursuer. “They’ve only been in the water for two months. We’ve been sailing with them and their times are a bit quicker; they haven’t blown us out of the water yet, but they’re not going to get worse.”
Prophetic words. Crédit Mutuel only got better as the race wore on. They sailed their own race and had the skills and boat to back it up. Reaching out of the Channel, their northerly strategy was immediately apparent and after the first night they were one of only two boats to stay north of the Ushant Traffic Separation Scheme.
On the third night, they tacked south in seventh, 35 miles behind. Aïna Enfance & Avenir, the narrowest of runners-up in 2017 and most people’s marginal favorite at the start, leading by three miles from Leyton.
By the fifth day, the fleet compressed in tricky upwind conditions with boats stuck in single figure boats speeds. “Our shift north? We still don’t know if it will be beneficial, but we think it’s not that bad,” Lipinski said. It wasn’t and a few hours later and five and a half days, on the latitude of southern Portugal, Crédit Mutuel took a lead they would never relinquish.
But it was far from plain sailing. They still led by only 9 miles from their formidable and proven pursuers as they approached the Canary Islands.
But by the ninth day, they had clearly begun to enjoy themselves and were sounding ominously confident. The four lead boats got through the ridge of high pressure around Gibraltar unscathed and in the north-east trade winds extended away from the rest of the fleet under spinnaker.
“We haven’t touched the helm since Ushant,” Lipinski said in what became a repeated refrain. “We’re as happy looking at our track on Adrena (routing software), as a skier looking back at his track after descending a slope.”
In the north-east trade winds they powered away remorsely 20 miles to the west and on the 11th day after planing past the Cape Verde islands, they repeatedly broke the 24-hour speed record. They peaked at 415.86 miles at average speed of 17.3 knots over 24 hours between 03:30 and 03:30 on November 4-5.
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. Despite the much less favorable conditions, they were only six hours outside V and B’s 2017 course record of 17 days 10 hours 44 minutes and 15 seconds.
“The boat is going on its own, we found the right sails, we’re monitoring it, but it’s going alone,” said Lipinski. “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.”
Crédit Mutuel was 81 miles ahead of Leyton and 89 miles ahead of Aïna Enfance & Avenir. Both were regularly touching the old 24-hour record in their Manuard mach 3 boats but are losing miles at every ranking.
After that, it appeared that they just had to avoid being swallowed in the Doldrums to secure victory and they managed that with aplomb, never offering Leyton a genuine sniff, ultimately finishing in second, 8 hours 21 minutes and 48 seconds behind the winners.
Leyton’s finish today would be at 12:58:11 (UTC), 18 days, 0 hours 43 minutes and 11 seconds after leaving Le Havre, Normandy, France on October 27 at 12:15 (UTC). Leyton covered the theoretical course of 4,350 nautical miles at an average speed of 10.05 knots but actually sailed 4,663.32 nautical miles at an average speed of 10.78 knots.
“It’s a release finally,” Goodchild said on the pontoon by the Terminal Turistico Nautico da Bahia in Salvador. “The last two days have been pretty stressful and before that I think we had two half dry days on deck and apart from that we had waves on deck the whole time. Second place is now secure – we’re pretty happy about that.
“The Crédit Mutuel guys sailed an awesome race. They sailed in the right way, fast and never gave us opportunity to come back to them after they got their advantage.”
The race unfolded in ways Goodchild, the 29-year-old British skipper, had predicted before the start in Le Havre. The latest generation David Raison-designed Crédit Mutuel, showing incredible speed downwind in big seas for 2-3 days, its distinctive big bow riding the waves more efficiently.
“We don’t have many regrets; there’s always places where you gain, but there was nowhere where we made huge mistakes and could say, ‘Ah! Next time we wouldn’t do that’,” Goodchild said.
Most significantly Goodchild and Delahaye’s entente cordiale beat Leyton’s Manuard mach 3 sistership, Aïna Enfance & Avenir, which was a close runner-up in the 2017 edition and is due in this afternoon.
“We’re pretty satisfied with ourselves with how we sailed against Aïna,” Goodchild said. “I mean, Aymeric (Chappellier) knows that boat like the back of his hand and he’s been sailing it for three years. We’ve got a few miles under our belts, but nothing like… We had a bit more trouble choosing sails than Aymeric but every time we lined up we had good speed.”
The whole fleet will have noted the comeback of the Swiss duo on Banque du Léman, which has moved into third, albeit by only 0.44 miles at the 15:00 UTC ranking. The new Manuard mach 4, which has only been in the water for three weeks before the start, has made up 23 miles on Crosscall Chamonix Mont-Blanc in the last 24 hours
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.
Source: Transat Jacques Vabre