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The Artemis Transat

Class40 highlights of the 2008 Transat

Giovanni Soldini first to arrive to Marblehead in 16d 22h 11min 57s

mardi 3 juin 2008Information The Transat

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The skippers of the 11 Class40s entered in the 2008 Atremis Transat included a diverse range in talent, experience and age : the highly experienced Italian solo sailor, Giovanni Soldini ; a Whitbread-Round-The-World-Race and Route du Rhum veteran, Halvard Mabire ; the hotly-tipped young German, Boris Herrmann, and newcomers to the solo sailing offshore circuit, Thierry Bouchard, Simon Clarke and Louis Duc. Despite the potential skill and knowledge disparity within the fleet, the evenly-matched Class40s provided a flawless platform for close - sometimes claustrophobic - racing for the entire duration of this exceptional transatlantic challenge.

A tight start into the Atlantic (Day 1-4)

After a light-wind start off Plymouth, the fleet kept tight formation around the Eddystone Lighthouse, 9 miles from the start and, over a sleepless first night, the yachts passed Lizard Point with Giovanni Soldini and Telecom Italia taking the prize awarded by Champagne Mumm for the best elapsed time between Race Gate 1, The Omega Gate at Eddystone Lighthouse, and Race Gate 2, the Champagne Mumm Gate at Lizard Point winning his height in champagne. It was at Lizard that Soldini squeezed into first place - just metres ahead of Boris Herrmann and Beluga Racer - and held the lead position for the entire race despite fierce challenges from the chasing pack. At dawn on the first morning at sea, the fleet were enveloped in thick fog as they slipped south of the Scilly Isles in shifting breeze and through the shipping lanes. But by dawn on Day 3, with the coast of Britain astern, different tactical options were evident as the fleet quickly spread to 120 miles north-south in following breeze. Alex Bennett on Fujifilm and Christophe Coatnoan on Groupe Partouche occupied the northern positions with Miranda Merron on 40 Degrees and Boris Herrmann on Beluga Racer - exhausted and drained by a bout of ’flu - kept south although a general southerly trend followed as the fleet lined up for the first high-pressure zone on Day 4 with Herrmann making a dramatic recovery and rocketing from 10th to 3rd overnight and Yvan Noblet’s Appart’ City shadowing Telecom Italia at the front.

Light winds into the 36 hour blackout (Day 5-7)

With the light zone approaching and the 36 hours position blackout looming, the fleet continued on a starboard gybe south in 9-15 knot northerly breeze with Christophe Coatnoan on Groupe Partouche to the north in 10th place running out of breeze and Benoit Parnaudeau on Prevoir Vie in the south making the best fleet average of 9.3 knots boatspeed and Boris Herrmann taking over 2nd place, trailing Soldini by 17 miles. It was on the eve of the blackout that mid-Atlantic democracy came into play with Halvard Mabire, skipper of Custo Pol, and Thierry Bouchard on Mistral Loisirs - Pole Sante ELIOR establishing an informal Class40 union requesting (or, possibly, demanding) that the entire fleet should be sent text updates of the IMOCA Open 60 fleet and the Class40 fleet : an innovation that allowed the skippers to read how their fellow competitors were faring with the pressure of racing. By Day 5, the Class40 fleet had divided into three distinct groups, fanning out over 180 miles north-south across a relatively shallow (450 metres) section of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge. In the north, Soldini slammed into the light-wind zone first, leading a French pack containing Thierry Bouchard on Mistral Loisirs - Pole Sante ELIOR (5th place), Yvan Noblet and Appart’ City (6th place) and Christophe Coatnoan on Groupe Partouche (8th place). Miranda Merron on 40 Degrees in 3rd place, was first in the middle group to report entering the high pressure as part of an Anglo-Franco-German sub-fleet of Boris Herrmann’s Beluga Racer (2nd place), Simon Clarke with Clarke Offshore Racing (11th place), Alex Bennett’s Fujifilm (4th place) and Halvard Mabire on Custo Pol (7th place). To the south, the French duo Louis Duc on Groupe Royer and Benoit Parnaudeau with Prevoir Vie held 9th and 10th place as the blackout descended.

Upwind to the ice gate via light winds (Day 8-12)

As the blackout lifted on Day 8, the Class40 fleet was spread out over 186 miles north-south and the three distinct groups present before the blackout had generally dispersed, although the northern group of Yvan Noblet with Appart’ City (5th place), Thierry Bouchard on Mistral Loisirs - Pole Santé ELIOR (3rd place) and Christophe Coatnoan with Groupe Partouche (8th place), remained inseparable, keeping north with the race leader, Telecom Italia. After a predominantly downwind first stage of the race in shifting and demanding conditions, the upwind slamming was beginning to take effect with many skippers admitting to fatigue and concern for their boats. On Day 9, with the ice gate south of Newfoundland the dominant tactical target, Telecom Italia led the fleet by a 59 mile margin ahead of Appart’ City with two other French yachts for company at the northern end of the fleet’s 142 mile north-south spread ; Mistal Loisirs - Pole Sante ELIOR - who reported impaling a whale on his keel bulb - in 3rd place and Groupe Partouche in10th place, all lining-up for a light patch blocking the route south-west to the gate. On the morning of Day 10, it was clear the northerly group had suffered least with Halvard Mabire in 6th on the most westerly boat in the southern group, Custo Pol, feeling the effects worst and the fleet’s backmarker in 11th, a very frustrated Simon Clarke on Clarke Offshore Racing, reporting an inability to sail efficiently due to badly calibrated masthead wind instruments. On Day 11, it was clear Telecom Italia had made the big tactical move overnight with the race leader, Giovanni Soldini, making his move south during the position blackout, ripping across the front of the Class40 fleet as the wind went right to 10 knots NW. By the afternoon, Telecom Italia held first place by 55 miles over Thierry Bouchard’s Mistral Loisirs - Pole Sante ELIOR in 2nd - a loss of only 2 miles since the pre-blackout, pre-manoeuvre ranking at 1800GMT the evening before. In 4th place, Yvan Noblet’s pace was slowed by technical problem on board Appart’ City with the loss of all information from his masthead instruments while Bouchard on Mistral Loisirs - Pole Sante ELIOR was just 10 miles ahead of Noblet’s yellow Class40 and Boris Herrmann’s Beluga Racer in 3rd, only 8 miles in front of Appart’ City with Bouchard and Herrmann passing within 50 metres of each other. Meanwhile in 11th, Simon Clarke experienced an horrific mastclimb to retrieve a jib halyard with Clarke Offshore Racing scorching downwind in 20 knots of breeze, heeling violently. Overnight and into Day 12, the leading pack were the first to catch new breeze with frontrunner, Giovanni Soldini and Telecom Italia taking the first bite of 15 knot south-westerly wind in the early hours, 85 miles from the ice gate. Beluga Racer in 2nd and Mistral Loisirs - Pole Sante ELIOR in 3rd constantly traded position ranking and Appart’ City in 4th caught the breeze soon afterwards. During the night, however, there were losers in the fleet. At the position blackout the previous night, Appart’ City was just 3 miles behind Thierry Bouchard’s Mistral Loisirs - Pole Sante ELIOR and Boris Herrmann’s Beluga Racer, although the gap widened to just under 30 miles overnight, instantly splitting the tight-knit trio by an unusual margin after 12 days of immensely close racing.

Storm at the ice gate (Day 13-15)

Shortly after 1800GMT on Day 12, the race leader, Giovanni Soldini, brushed the eastern end of the 130 mile long ice gate south of Newfoundland after a long beat south-west and turned Telecom Italia north-west towards the North American coast. As Soldini freed-off, his speed and distance over the rest of the fleet increased exponentially : on Day 13, the Italian averaged the highest speeds at 11.4 knots and increased his lead by 28 miles during the position blackout, leading 2nd place Beluga Racer by 82 miles at dawn. In 5th and 6th place, an increasingly close battle between two British boats had begun to develop despite severe furling gear damage and the near loss of a headsail on Alex Bennett’s Fujifilm with Miranda Merron on 40 Degrees intentionally positioning herself between the eastern limit of the ice gate and Fujifilm. However, Bennett had manoeuvred into the covering position overnight sailing higher and giving himself more options tactically. Although Telecom Italia passed the ice gate before the big winds arrived, the majority of the fleet faced a night of headwinds building from 30 to 40 knot gusts. For most, the gate obligation was completed in time, but one Class40, Yvan Noblet on Appart’ City, reported critical delamination shortly before crossing the ice gate in 4th place on Day 14, just over 40 miles behind Beluga racer in 3rd place. Retiring from the race, Noblet headed for the St. Pierre and Miquelon Islands, 25km of the coast of Newfoundland, 400 miles to the north-west. Following Soldini’s breakaway after the ice gate, Telecom Italia clawed west to fight through the windless zone, but speeds were down to a 4.3 knot average as Thierry Bouchard with Mistral Loisirs - Pole Sante ELIOR in 2nd and Boris Herrmann on Beluga Racer in 3rd kept the breeze further south and ate into the Italian’s lead. By late afternoon on Day 15, Telecom Italia had found some breeze and was back on the pace, although his margin over the chasing pair had shrunk to 94 miles. Three days earlier, Soldini predicted that the racing after the ice gate would be very tough and this prophecy was becoming a stark reality for the 10 Class40 boats still racing as the fleet sailed into the zone of light winds.

Big winners and big losers in another high pressure (Day16-17)

Overnight and into Day 16, Telecom Italia was gripped in light airs to the north with Soldini slowed to a crawl and the foul current of the Gulf Stream pushing him away from the finish line at 2 knots. Unaffected by the light winds during the morning, Beluga Racer in 2nd charged down on Telecom Italia at double the race leader’s speed, robbing 10 miles from Soldini in 4 hours. Boris Herrmann’s luck ran out at midday and the brakes went on gradually, although the German had closed down further before hitting the high-pressure ridge and trailed the race leader by 43 miles. In a reversal of fortunes after yesterday’s losses, Thierry Bouchard and Mistral Loisirs - Pole Sante ELIOR kept the breeze longest in the south, piling towards the leading pair, but by midday his speed averages were waning as the light air began to bite. It was, however, an excellent morning’s work for Bouchard who took 36 miles from Telecom Italia and trailed 2nd place Beluga Racer by 63 miles at dusk. The biggest winner for the 48 hours after the ice gate was Louis Duc averaging consistently high-speeds on Groupe Royer and rapidly climbing from 7th to 4th. For Halvard Mabire on Custo Pol, the previous night had been horrific with a violent collision below the waterline - most probably a whale. This mid-Atlantic nightmare for Mabire did not slow progress and Custo Pol joined Duc and Bennett in the southern pack in 6th place. Although Groupe Royer with Fujifilm and Custo Pol in the south and 40 Degrees to the north were separated by latitude, the trio were only 20 miles apart in terms of Distance to Finish and the arrival of new breeze would be crucial. Soldini’s torture in the high-pressure ridge off the coast of North America came to an end late on Day 16 and as the 12 hour position blackout lifted on Day 17, Telecom Italia had hooked into the new south-westerly breeze and was charging westwards with the finish in sight. 74 miles behind Soldini, Boris Herrmann in second place had changed down to staysail and first reef as the breeze began to build at around 0700GMT, but Miranda Merron on 40 Degrees and Benoit Parnaudeau on Prevoir Vie had suffered badly, positioned north in the high-pressure ridge with Merron dropping instantaneously from 4th to 7th trailed by Parnaudeau 14 miles behind in 8th. Forty-four miles behind Parnaudeau, Groupe Partouche had held 9th or 10th place for the majority of the race after a brief appearance in 7th five days earlier with a very frustrated Christophe Coatnoan battling constant technical problems. Meanwhile in 11th place, Simon Clarke and Clarke Offshore Racing trailed Groupe Partouche by 57 miles.

Tight battle for the finish (Day 18-20)

At 07:11 local time (11:11:27 GMT) on Day 18, Italian solo sailor, Giovanni Soldini, crossed the finish line in Marblehead, USA, taking first place after completing the North Atlantic crossing in 16 days 22 hours and 11 minutes having led the 11 boats in the fleet since passing Lizard Point on the south coast of England during the first night of the race. In the afternoon, Boris Herrmann and Beluga Racer were 74 miles from the finish line in 2nd and while Beluga Racer had 69 miles of separation between Thierry Bouchard and Mistral Loisirs - Pole Sante ELIOR in 3rd, the light winds meant a close finish for the chasing pack. At 01:09:47 GMT on Day 19 of racing, Boris Herrmann and Beluga Racer crossed The Artemis Transat finish line taking 2nd place behind Giovanni Soldini on Telecom Italia having held onto second place since the evening of Day 15 and racing consistently in the front three since Day 9. Thierry Bochard and Mistral Loisirs - Pole Sante ELIOR completed the Class40 podium taking third place behind Boris Herrmann and Beluga racer at 10:42:57 GMT. In the afternoon, Louis Duc, the youngest skipper in the race at 24 years, was first in the chasing pack to cross the line in 4th place with Groupe Royer, at 15:15GMT. Next across was Halvard Mabire, the oldest competitor at 52 years, on Custo Pol, just 14 minutes later at 16:05GMT. Chasing the pair in 6th place, Alex Bennett on Fujufilm crossed the line under three hours after Mabire at 18:53GMT. On Day 20, the final day of racing, Miranda Merron on 40 Degrees crossed the finish line at 08:19 GMT and at 10:21GMT, Benoit Parnaudeau on Prevoir Vie, crossed the line in 8th, a fraction over two hours behind 40 Degrees. Just over 3 hours later, Groupe Partouche and Christophe Coatnoan finished racing at 13:28 GMT after a transatlantic race filled with technical setbacks and Simon Clarke on Clarke Offshore Racing were the last Class40 across the finish line at 19:15:36GMT taking 10th place.

Site officiel :

Classement Class40, heure d’arrivée et temps au vainqueur

1 Telecom Italia 28/05/08 à 11:11:57GMT après 16j 22h 11min 57s à la vitesse moyenne de 7.23 nœuds
2 Beluga Racer 29/05/08 at 01:09:47GMT après 17j 12h 09min 47s à la vitesse moyenne de 6.99 nœuds (13h 57min 50s derrière Telecom Italia)
3 Mistral Loisirs - Pole Sante ELIOR 29/05/08 à 10:42:57GMT après 17j 21h 42min 57s à la vitesse moyenne de 6.84 nœuds (23h 31min 00s derrière Telecom Italia)
4 Groupe Royer 29/05/08 à 15:51:15 GMT après 18j 02h 51min 15s à la vitesse moyenne de 6.76 nœuds (1j 04h 39m derrière Telecom Italia)
5 Custo Pol 29/05/08 à 16:05:07GMT après 18j 03h 05min 07s à la vitesse moyenne de 6.75 nœuds (1j 04h 53 minutes derrière Telecom Italia)
6 Fujifilm 29/05/08 à 18:53:02GMT après 18j 05h 53min 02s à la vitesse moyenne de 6.71 nœuds (1j 07h 41m 05s après Telecom Italia)
7 40 Degrees 30/05/08 à 08:19:34sGMT après 18j 19h 19min 34s à la vitesse moyenne de 6.51 nœuds (1j 21h 07min 37s derrière Telecom Italia)
8 Prevoir Vie 30/05/08 à 10:21:02GMT après 18j 21h 21min 02s à la vitesse moyenne de 6.48 nœuds (1j 23h 09min 05 s derrière Telecom Italia)
9 Groupe Partouche 30/05/08 à 13:28:20GMT après 19j 00h 28min 20s à la vitesse moyenne de 6.44 nœuds (2j 2h 16min 23s après Telecom Italia)
10 Clarke Offshore Racing 30/05/08 at 19:15:36GMT après 19j 06h 15min 36s à la vitesse moyenne de 6.42 noeuds (2j 08h 03min 39s après Telecom Italia)
Abandon Yvan Noblet sur Appart’City au 13e jour de course

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