Minefields in Transat Jacques Vabre
Published on November 9th, 2021
(November 9, 2021: Day 3, 20:01FR) – It has been a stumbling start for the Transat Jacques Vabre as the double-handed teams struggle for fair current at Ushant and steady pressure in the Bay of Biscay, especially for the monohulls at the rear of the fleet. However, the fastest boats are leaving the high-pressure zone behind and approaching Spain, where they expect to pick up some breeze.
Ultimes approaching Cape Finistere
At last the Ultime trimarans have found some breeze, in fact the leader has managed 30 knots. The head of the fleet is made up of 4 of the 5 boats in the class as only Banque Populaire XI is slightly behind (by around fifty miles). Sodebo Ultim 3, Maxi Edmond de Rothschild, SVR – Lazartigue and Actual Ultim 3 are approaching Cape Finistere.
Yves Le Blévec is delighted to have his team mate Anthony Marchand aboard Actual Ultim 3, given how close and tense things are approaching Spain, “It’s a bit like a Figaro single-handed race here which he’s used to. In this kind of situation, there’s a lot of information coming in at once, you have to make choices and know how to make the right decisions.”
Ocean Fifty still in touch
Erwan Le Roux, at the head of the 50-foot fleet on Koesio, is savoring his chance to challenge the huge Ultimes, “It wasn’t necessarily planned, but after 48 hours we’re still in contact with the Ultime boats, we sailed with Banque Populaire all night last night. It was good to have them with us, it gave us some weather indications.”
But Gilles Lamiré, at the helm of Groupe GCA – 1001 Sourires, insists on keeping his feet firmly on the ground, “It may not last, we mustn’t start dreaming, the race has only just begun!”
Earlier today Koesio found a shift to the west that allowed her to take a more direct route towards the tip of Spain and hit a better wind angle. A move that has consolidated the team’s lead. Solidaires en peloton – Arsep and Primonial are just behind to the east. Le Roux remains cautious however, “I think we’re out of the high, but there are still a few small gaps ahead of us.”
Apivia continues to lead the IMOCAs but LinkedOut closes in
Whilst the multihulls have broken free of the high pressure zone, the IMOCAs are now close to doing the same. The transition can’t come soon enough for the class whose leaders Charlie Dalin and Paul Meilhat on Apivia, are sailing about 13 knots slower than the slowest Ocean Fifty.
There was little to separate the leaders this evening. LinkedOut was second, around 12 miles behind Apivia. Morgan Lagravière, co-skipper with Thomas Ruyant, says, “We’ve done pretty well compared to some of the others, it’s good to see, but it’s a long way to go. This afternoon the pair pulled away from Charal and 11th Hour Racing Team Mālama. Other IMOCA boats are in a good position; on a more westerly route Arkea Paprec and 11th Hour Racing Team Alaka’I are looking good whilst Sam Davies (GBR) is doing well to the east on Initiatives-Coeur.”
Class40s remain becalmed
The class remains locked in the windless high-pressure zone and sits bunched up between Brest and Lorient just off the north west coast of France.
Nicolas Jossier and Alexis Loison, on La Manche #EvidenceNautique, are still leading the way and are just ahead of a group of around twenty boats. This group includes Volvo, where Jonas Gerckens has already been analysing the weather around Cape Finisterre: “We’re spending quite a bit of time reading the data and using a chart table that we have. The data is still changing quite a lot, it’s very random, which means hours in front of the screen and the weather charts to choose the best trajectory towards Cape Verde.”
Seafrigo – Sogestran, another boat in the chasing group are thinking of taking a route through the Azores. “This route is not very usual,” said Jérémie Mion, “Neither Cédric Chateau nor I know it. I can’t wait to do it and for us to be able to show the boat’s capabilities sailing downwind.”
Standings as of 18:00 (French time):
1. Sodebo Ultim 3 (Thomas Coville – Thomas Rouxel)
2. Maxi Edmond de Rothschild (Franck Cammas – Charles Caudrelier)
3. Actual Ultim 3 (Yves Le Blévec – Anthony Marchand)
1. Koesio (Erwan Le Roux – Xavier Macaire)
2. Primonial (Sébastien Rogues – Mathieu Souben)
3. Solidaires en peloton – Arsep (Thibaut Vauchel-Camus – Frédéric Duthil)
1. Apivia (Charlie Dalin – Paul Meilhat)
2. LinkedOut (Thomas Ruyant – Morgan Lagravière)
3. Initiatives Coeur (Samantha Davies – Nicolas Lunven)
1. La Manche #EvidenceNautique (Nicolas Jossier – Alexis Loison)
2. Tquila (Brian Thompson – Alister Richardson)
3. Lamotte Module Création (Luke Berry – Achille Nebout)
The Transat Jacques Vabre is a double-handed race featuring four classes of boats starting November 7 from Le Havre, France. At nearly 30 years old, having first run in 1993 and every two years since, the 15th edition in 2021 attracted a record-breaking 79 boats: 5 Ultimes, 7 Ocean Fifty, 22 Imoca and 45 Class40s.
The course endures often brutal winter conditions, with a shift this year for the finish, moving from South America to Martinique in the Caribbean, in addition to various mid-Atlantic turning marks for the four classes.
Source: Transat Jacques Vabre