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Transat Jacques Vabre

Virbac’s victory, 3 Brits on podium with Sill 2nd, Ecover 3rd

Just 19 minutes 26s separates 2nd from 3rd place after 4,340m

mardi 18 novembre 2003Information Transat Jacques Vabre

Virbac win the Transat Jacques Vabre Transat Jacques Vabre #TJV2015 Open 60 Monohull class with 6 hours, 51 minutes and 70 miles advance ; Sill finds the edge to come 2nd just 19m ahead of Ecover in their intense match-race for the podium ; next boat to finish tonight is PRB.

It was at 0518hrs GMT 5s (0218hrs local time) that the brand new Farr 60 Virbac, skippered by Jean-Pierre Dick and Nicolas Abiven, ghosted across the finish line in the darkness of the Brazilian night to take a convincing victory in their first ever major oceanic yacht race. Out of 13 boats still racing, and 17 starters in the international Transat Jacques Vabre Transat Jacques Vabre #TJV2015 Open 60 Monohull class, it was Virbac who came in 72 miles ahead of their nearest rival Sill (Jourdain/Thomson) and covered the 4340m theoretical route in 16 days, 15 hours, 18 minutes and 5 seconds at an average theoretical speed of 10.87 knots. Chapeau !

Jean-Pierre Dick reacted quietly to this landmark achievement : "It hasn’t really sunk in. Last night was particularly difficult. We were both on deck pushing as hard as ever. Truthfully, though, this is a total success. Every day since our Tour Voile victory 2 years ago when we launched this project, we’ve been working hard with a few new concepts, to bring in our regatta experience, and this is what has brought us here. We may have sailed less miles in oceanic races but we’ve brought other skills to the discipline.

"The boat is quick on every point of sail. It’s not everyday that you put a hi-tech formula one style machine into a new pair of hands and they win on their first race, so we still have things to refine but already I feel a great synergy with the boat. After all we have sailed 18,000m together, that trip was not for nothing. I think we have a similar feeling as Ellen and her boat Kingfisher - well, I certainly hope Virbac and Jean-Pierre Dick will form their own attachment…"

"Our experience of inshore, regatta racing has aided us a lot in this victory. We were always reacting to everything happening, and perhaps over did the sail changes ! We changed the gennaker to spi and back a few times today, even on the last mile to the finish. I always race as if it’s the last leg of a Tour Voile, always 100% non-stop, reacting to every minute change on the boat."

sillb02.jpgThe Anglo-French team of Alex Thomson and Roland Jourdain crossed the finish line on Sill in Salvador da Bahia at 1209hrs GMT 11s (0909hrs local time), to clinch 2nd place just 19 minutes 26s in front of British duo Mike Golding and Brian Thompson on Ecover who finished in 3rd place at 1228hrs GMT 37s, after 4 days of match-racing match-racing #MatchRacing neck and neck right down to the line.

Sandwiched between two brand new Open 60 yachts, the 1999 Lombard design, recently acquired by 29 year old skipper Alex Thomson for the Vendée Globe 2004, covered the theoretical distance of 4,340m in 16 days 22 hrs 9 mins 11 s at an average boat speed of 10.69 knots. Ecover, the new Owen/Clarke steed also for the Vendée, spent 16 days and 22 hrs and 28 minutes 37s on the water with an average theoretical boat speed of 10.68 knots.

Ecover admitted to losing their final lightweight spinnaker a week ago, which was thought to be a crucial drawback if the home stretch was a spinnaker run and yet they clung to their advantage due to impressive pure boat speed and higher sailing angles where they did not need their spinnakers. And yet in the final 24 hours after 16 days of intense, non-stop racing, Sill slipped back into second after Ecover suffered a technical problem ; the runner fitting had come away from the mast, forcing Golding to climb the rig to repair it, but lose precious miles by stopping the boat in the process.

However, the new boat was soon back up to full power and encroaching again on Sill’s advantage to just 2.4 miles. As soon as dawn rose at 0445hrs local time Sill and Ecover were then racing in sight of each other. Sill changed to their big spinnaker, their trump card, knowing that Ecover were using gennaker, and began to notch up fractional gains in the steady Easterly breeze. With just 16 miles to go, Sill and Ecover both gybed to cover each other, but at 5 miles Sill turned the corner first at the Barra Lighthouse, gybed and changed to Solent and full main, to finish in glorious close reaching conditions on a fetch to the line a mere 19 minutes and 26 seconds ahead of Ecover.

After a traditional Bahian welcome of fireworks, samba music, tropical fruit and caipirinha cocktails on the pontoons of the CENAB marina, the four battle-weary sailors went to welcome each other, and then spoke about their race against each other’s boats.

Alex Thomson’s immediate reaction to being the first British skipper in his first major oceanic event : "Just fantastic. Bilou never held back on information when I constantly asked him questions about his boat - but he left me with half the work on board, and I feel very at one with the boat now, as if I’ve learnt 4 years of experience in 2 weeks - in all a good ’after sales service’ ! One thing I’ve learned from Bilou is to calm down a bit, I’m always reacting to every change when you need to hang in there a bit to see if you need to change a sail configuration or not, but on the other hand I am sure I can find more speed out of her though to remain competitive with the new boats. We’ll see how I can do on my own in the Vendée Globe qualifier race which starts in 12 days time…"

Current IMOCA Imoca #IMOCA and FICO-Lacoste World Champion Open 60 skipper, Frenchman Roland Jourdain, responded to questions asked about the boat’s performance and its new British owner : "It was a good race for us to see that Sill is always competitive against the new generation of Open 60 boats, and as for Alex, I think he is a real concurrent for me in the next Vendée Globe ! This boat is proven for the round the world race as it is a much longer endurance event, and I am happy that someone as good as Alex will take the helm and take care of the boat now. The next time we race will be against each other, so it is also good for me to know my rivals well !"

Mike Golding recounted the story of his proving race for the new boat : "Well, we weren’t out initially to push the boat but to learn more about her and get to the finish in good shape. In the upwind stuff in fact it wasn’t that bad for us, the sail configuration worked beautifully and the boat just flew. But after the first 6 days of constant battering by strong headwinds and heavy seas, we thought, phew, it will be easy from now on - and then in just 11 knots of wind two halyards chafe and we lost 3 spinnakers in 24 hours - that wasn’t so good. There was no particular incident, just one minute the sail is there and next minute it’s not ! After that we thought we didn’t actually need the spi’s after all and could make it without so decided to push the boat a little more. We were pretty confident nothing big would then break, and yet the runner fitting came off - and the mast stayed up - it’s a magic mast ! But we can see Ecover is very quick in every way, which is what we set out to prove, although Sill is still very quick too !"

Brian Thompson was asked about his thoughts on sailing Open 60 monohulls compared to his usual ride on giant multihull boats : "True it is much safer on a monohull, but really it is much harder work, there are more headsails on a monohull, we had 5 downwind sails whereas there are only 2 on a multi. I was very glad to be sailing with Mike and very impressed too, I soon realized that these boats are tough as well as sensitive to handle, and I can’t imagine how much more hard work it is on your own, so I’d take my hat off to anyone doing a Vendée Globe campaign, it’s very hard work."

The next boat due in is PRB (Riou/Beyou), 50 miles from the line and due in tonight. Behind VMI (Josse/Autissier) has pulled out a 55 mile lead on Team Cowes, and Moloney and Davies are unlikely to be able to catch them given the stable conditions. Sam remains optimistic : "What a race - fantastic to be so close to PRB and VMI all the way. We haven’t given up hope of catching VMI yet, although it is looking pretty hard task right now, as we have had some head winds tonight that they didn’t get and now we are 55 miles behind. If there are some light winds tomorrow (as forecast) it might give us a chance. Anyway, boatspeed is 16 knots right now, big sails up and we’re sending team cowes as fast as we can to the land of the caiphirinha."


- 1. VIRBAC 17/11/03 AT 0518hrs GMT 5s and covered the 4340m theoretical route in 16 days, 15 hours, 18 minutes and 5 seconds at an average theoretical speed of 10.87 knots
- 2. SILL 17/11/03 AT 1209hrs GMT 11s and covered the 4340m theoretical route in 16 days, 22 hours, 9 minutes and 11 seconds at an average theoretical speed of 10.69 knots
- 3. ECOVER 17/11/03 AT 1228hrs 37s and covered the 4340m theoretical route in 16 days, 22 hours, 28 minutes and 37 seconds at an average theoretical speed of 10.68 knots

- 1. GROUPAMA 16/11/03 AT 0810GMT 41S covering actual distance of 4,624m in 10 days, 23 hours, 10 minutes, 41 seconds at an average speed of 17.57 knots on the water
- 2. BELGACOM 16/11/03 AT 0922GMT 42S covering actual distance of 4,675m in 11 days, 00 hours, 22 minutes, 42 seconds at an average speed of 17.68 knots on the water
- 3. SERGIO TACCHINI 16/11/03 AT 1220GMT 28S covering actual distance of 4,700m in 11 days, 03 hours, 20 minutes, 28 seconds at an average speed of 17.58 knots on the water
- 4. GEANT 16/11/03 AT 1527GMT 31S covering actual distance of 4,700m in 11 days, 6 hours, 27 minutes, 31 seconds at an average speed of 17.38 knots on the water
- 5. BISCUITS LA TRINITAINE 16/11/03 AT covering actual distance of 4,687m in 11 days, 8 hours, 11 minutes, 55 seconds at an average speed of 17.22 knots on the water
- 6. BANQUE POPULAIRE 16/11/03 AT 1827GMT 44S covering actual distance of 4,842m in 11 days, 9 hours, 27 minutes, 44 seconds at an average speed of 17.71 knots on the water
- 7. SODEBO 16/11/03 AT 2020GMT 15S covering a theoretical distance of 4,340m in 11 days, 11 hours, 20 minutes, 15 seconds at an average theoretical speed of 15.76 knots on the water
- 8. GITANA 17/11/03 at 0450GMT 45S covering a theoretical distance of 4,340m in 11 days, 19 hours, 50 minutes, 45 seconds at an average theoretical speed of 15.29 knots on the water
- 9. FONCIA 17/11/03 AT 0538GMT 6S covering a theoretical distance of 4,340m in 11 days, 20 hours, 38 minutes, 6 seconds at an average theoretical speed of 15.25 knots on the water
- 10 SOPRA GROUP 17/11/03 AT 0555GMT 50S covering a theoretical distance of 4,340m in 11 days, 20 hours, 55 minutes, 50 seconds at an average theoretical speed of 15.23 knots on the water
- 11. BONDUELLE 17/11/03 AT 1140GMT 21S covering a theoretical distance of 4,340m in 12 days, 2 hours, 40 minutes, 21 seconds at an average theoretical speed of 14.93 knots on the water
- 12. BAYER CROPSCIENCE 18/11/03 AT 2131GMT 02s after 12days 12hrs 31m 02s
- 13. BANQUE COVEFI 18/11/03 AT 0404hrs GMT after 12 days 19hrs 4mins

• POSITIONS at 15:00 hrs GMT 17/11/03

- Pos. / Boat / Name / Latitude / Longitude / Speed / Hdg / DTF / DFL
- 4 PRB 12 38.32’ S 37 36.64’ W 8.2 269 61.8 0.0
- 5 VMI 12 18.52’ S 36 37.64’ W 8.8 199 122.4 60.6
- 6 TEAM COWES 11 37.96’ S 36 04.12’ W 11.5 228 169.8 108.0
- 7 CARREFOUR PREVENTION 8 31.24’ S 34 35.00’ W 9.9 217 361.3 299.4
- 8 ARCELOR-DUNKERQUE 1 47.52’ S 29 10.84’ W 10.9 215 878.4 816.6
- 9 GARNIER 1 43.04’ N 30 10.24’ W 12.1 209 1028.2 966.4

- 1 MOLLYMAWK 13 52.40’ N 26 01.56’ W 7.4 172 1796.2

- 1 HELLOMOTO 2 04.96’ N 26 08.12’ W 6.7 218 1173.8 0.0
- 2 STORAGETEK 7 27.76’ N 27 37.20’ W 2.4 227 1405.4 231.6
- 3 DEFI VENDEEN 6 33.48’ N 25 39.88’ W 1.6 172 1411.3 237.5

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