The Transat Jacques Vabre will start on Monday

Saturday, 02 November 2013

After a constant and careful analysis of the weather forecasts for Sunday, the directors of the Transat Jacques Vabre double handed race from Le Havre to Itajaí, Brazil have taken the decision to postpone the start until Monday 4th November at 1415hrs (local).

All of the fleet of twenty-six Class 40’s, ten IMOCA monohulls, Multi-50’s will head off for the 5400 miles course direct to Itajaí but the two MOD70’s will contest a coastal course before standing by in Le Havre’s Paul Vatine basin until Wednesday.

“The weather conditions would be really too difficult and we don’t think it is a good idea to start in conditions which we would consider unsafe. And the MOD70’s should start on Wednesday.” Said Manfred Ramspacher, Sports Director for the Transat Jacques Vabre organisation.

The appearance of a new low pressure system over the English Channel on Sunday night into Monday has prompted the decision agreed by sport director Manfred Ramspacher, Race Director Sylvie Viant and Chairman of the Race Committee Christophe Gaumont, delaying the start of the 11th Transat Jacques Vabre by 25 hours.

The fast passage of this system leaves behind a moderate N’ly wind flow area in the middle of Monday morning leading to a marked improvement in the sea conditions on the Channel in what are due to be strong tidal currents (coefficient101). In fact the Atlantic is peppered by low pressure systems for three weeks and depressions follow one another on an almost daily basis. In Le Havre tomorrow Sunday lunch will be marked by a strong westerly breeze 25-30 knots gusting to 40-45 knots and so the organisation chose to cancel the prologue. The 44 yachts will therefore remain in the basin Paul Vatine through the weekend, slipping their lines only on Monday.

The Class 40 ' IMOCA monohulls, the Multi-50 and MOD 70 will race a short course to Sainte-Adresse before reaching down the Channel towards Ushant. Both MOD -70 will return to Le Havre to wait for two days for their Wednesday 1300hrs start. The fleet will not really enjoy gentler conditions until they pass the latitude of Lisbon, but before that they will have three fronts to negotiate before getting into good reaching weather after Cape Finisterre in 25-35 knots.

England Expects……
In Class 40, which is the biggest and the most international class with ten different nations represented in the 26 boat fleet, in some quarters hopes are high that one of the teams from outwith France will make it on to the podium, or perhaps even win. The level is almost certainly higher than the last time when 16 boats started and seven retired. Won by Yannick Bestaven and Eric Drouglazet, the British/American duo Hannah Jenner and Jesse Naimark finished third on 40 Degrees. Jenner is back, this time racing the same boat but as US backed 11th Hour along with New Yorker Rob Windsor.

“We are a lot more prepared than last time, but then so the pressure is on more this time because last time we were very much under the radar, under cover and no one was paying much attention to us. But we have a new mast since last time and Rob and I have sailed about 6,000 miles, including a Transatlantic. We are making a good team so far.” Jenner explains.

Taking a brave, northerly routing paid a big dividend for her and Naimark in 2011 en route to Costa Rica, but this course has fewer options: “We had a good clear strategy last time and we stuck to it. We know what makes this boat tick but we are not as fast on a reach as some of the newer boats so we do have our work cut out against the brand new boats. We are kind of hoping for a lot of light winds, if we have a 110 deg true wind angle blast reach for a while then we will struggle!” says Jenner.

But getting on the podium in Costa Rica last time has raised the 33 year old’s expectations this time: “Obviously making the finish line is important but having had the podium last time that is what we are hoping for again, that would be awesome. But our sponsor, 11th Hour Racing, have an environmental message and so we are looking to get there with no fossil fuels used except getting off the dock.”

Her partnership with Windsor plays by their relative strengths according to Windsor, whose first Class 40 transoceanic race is: “We are very different people other than being male and female, but figuring things out together, using our relative strengths, we make a really great team.”
“I have been doing Class 40 racing in the USA and was a preparateur here last time, but I work on a bunch of Class 40’s in the USA and for me the Class 40 is a perfect boat for long distance two handed stuff. But this will be the biggest race I have done. I am excited to be here; to be up against so many Class 40’s in the one fleet is so exciting. It will be pretty awesome.”

And the young British duo Sam Goodchild and Ned Collier-Wakefield admit wryly that they learned a tough, painful lesson from their retirement from the last race. Only when they took the race lead just before the Azores did they discover a delamination problem with their boat after the continual thrashing they had taken since the start. With only ten days of preparation time with their relatively radical new Jason Ker designed Concise 8, they say the first part of the race will be about learning what makes their boat tick: “I am surprisingly less nervous and more excited than before.” Goodchild says quietly, “Normally the last 24 hours you get nervous. The only potential compromise we feel is that we have not tested the boat enough but the boat is really as ready as we want to be. We are not setting out thinking, ‘oh we have to be careful of this or that’.”

“We have done as much as we could in the timescale we had. We found a few problems and solved them. Having seen the project from the very beginning to completion and having taken it apart and put it together again then we know every component well.”

Collier-Wakefield recalls their bitter disappointment, their learning, and heightened motivation: “I think we both found it very hard after what happened in the last race. But it did definitely give us more drive to be back this time with a new boat, one which will give us the opportunity to win, and here we have that.”

“It was a big learning lesson for us. Offshore racing will always be part adventure and so enjoy that part of it.” Goodchild adds, “ We learned a lot from that, that you across the Channel and break something it’s a shame but if you are going across the Atlantic then it is much harder. We could have done things last time to make sure it did not happen. We have learned the hard way. If it is the same this time we will almost certainly throttle back a lot more. It is shame to have learned it that way but if you push too hard in rough weather you are going to break the boat. We could have helped the situation, but equally other boats in the same bit of water were doing the same and did not break. We are not entirely to blame but we did not help the situation.”

“This race the first week or two will be about learning the boat and building confidence in it. We have only done 10 days sailing on the boat and so the first week will be learning the boat, what’s fast and what’s not, what’s pushing it and what’s not. With the time we have had we have ideas when the boat is quick and maybe we won’t have to push too hard and other times when we have to push harder to keep the boat going.”

“Expectations are always the same. We come here to win. But, I know it is the old old cliché, but to finish first first you have to finish. It’s cheesy, yes, but it’s true.”

“Thankfully the course for us is a lot kinder this time. There is very little chance of spending two weeks going upwind like we did last time. The rhumb line, for example, goes past Portugal compared to Newfoundland for the course to Costa Rica, so there is a very big difference. That plays into our favour for sure.”

2011 Title Defenders

Monohull 60':


Jean-Pierre DICK & Jérémie BEYOU

15days 18h 15min 54sec

Multihull 50':



17days 17h 7min 43sec

Class 40': 



21days 17h 59min 8sec

   Soazig Guého

See  Transat Jacques Vabre images

Last Updated ( Saturday, 02 November 2013 )