Transat Jacques Vabre
Imocas and Multi50s off from Le Havre
5000 milles to sail for 20 crews to join Costa Rica
dimanche 8 novembre 2009 –
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The slate grey clouds threatened menacingly on the distant horizons, but there were shards of sunshine momentarily slanting from the dark skies, as if on special order by the 14 crews of the IMOCA Imoca #IMOCA Open 60’s. If indeed they had a hotline to the weather gods they would doubtless have requested a little more breeze. But then, knowing that ahead the conditions over this first week, will certainly be complex, and even as one British skipper described them potentially ‘fruity’, a gentle start was probably welcomed.
And for all that the six Multi 50’s have a theoretical 5050 NM’s to complete, leaving Barbados to starboard, and the 14 IMOCA Imoca #IMOCA Open 60’s have 4730 miles to Costa Rica, leaving the Dominican Republic to starboard, no one was shy about pushing it on the start lines.
Appropriately, as leading lights in the class, in the multihulls Franck Yves Escoffier and Erwan Leroux were the first break the start line of this edition, easing away under gennaker in the 7-9 knots of breeze, picking up pace to forge through the sloppy, leftover sea and the spectator boat wakes. IAstern for the first few minutes, their rivals jostled with all the vigour of an intense, weekend afternoon inshore regatta.
The IMOCA Open 60’s pushed harder to their start gun. Kito de Pavant and Francois Gabart on Groupe Bel were the first to unroll their gennaker, early for the line. Forced to scrub off speed to make the leeward end of the start line, they broke to the left early. Dee Caffari and Brian Thompson proved they are out to give this course their all, and made a nicely timed start at the windward end of the line, with Seb Josse and Jean Francois Cuzon on BT in the middle of the lineup with Marc Guillemot and Charles Caudrelier urging Safran across, all virtually at the same time.
A complex weather scenario awaits. Fast reaching conditions in a NW’ly breeze were due to give way to variable, light wind conditions of a high pressure ridge for the first full day at sea. Strategically there still seemed to be the option of staying north and fighting winds of perhaps over 40 knots on the front of the first of a series of depressions which will track across the North Atlantic, or prudently to head south early and try and breach the lighter breezes of the first part of the Azores high pressure system first.
Mike Golding, starting his sixth Transat Jacques Vabre Transat Jacques Vabre #TJV2015 on his unsponsored Mike Golding Yacht Racing explained : “ The breeze will slowly back round to the left as the day reaches its end and overnight, then dropping quite light. Then it will keep going left until we are in SW’ly flow. Then we push to the west and fa ront which is quite active comes through. We will be tacking on to starboard and heading south. The question is when to tack south. That will be the difficult call.” My feeling is we have to cross the high ridge and so you might as well get on and do it and not risk anything in the north. The isobars are very close together. The systems are active.
“The further you go down the track and it is a typical scenario where the rich may well get richer further down the track.”If that high ridge fills in front of us though, the race might re-start again and everything we do up here might be for nothing.”
Dee Caffari (Aviva) : “ The weather looks interesting. Let’s just put it that way. It will not be a dull start then it will be an interesting few days ahead it will keep us on our toes. Nothing is clear cut and it is nice there is not an obvious route to follow. That gives us options. The race will be on all the way through the Atlantic, and so it should not all be over in terms of strategy with the first depression. I think it will be very wearing on boats and crews.” You are looking at us settling in at 99% rather than pushing at 101% because you do need to get the boat through each system. You are only as good as your equipment.” We have a very similar view on keeping the boat together and looking after each others That works naturally and easily for us. I think some other relationships on other boats may not be the same. Some may have differing opinions.” We are quite relieved we are the same. Is the short course worth the risk and the beating, when you could do just as well in easier conditions. If you can go easier on yourself and the boat you can perform closer to your full potential, whereas if you are beating yourself and the boat up you are never going to be at 100% of your polars.” There are no egos on this boat. For sure. We are in it together to get the boat to the finish and get a result.”
Alex Thomson (Hugo Boss) : “ I have been feeling a bit rough this morning. Just a little bit crook.” I don’t really get nervous after the Vendée. I am sure this time the fishing boats will get out of our way !” After a light, downwind start we’ll reach for a bit. Then nothing and a first depression Tuesday/Wednesday.” “It is important to make the right choices early on. When you run the routes just now there are some take you north, some west, some south. It’s just changing all the time, and so making that choice at some time is going to be critical. “As we just saw on the Route du Chocolat you make your choice and we have just seen Tanguy (Lamotte) end up in the south and do well.” I think we can push it more in this race because it’s a sprint, but you can’t break it.”
Ross Daniel (Hugo Boss) : “ It is a good weather forecast for my first two handed IMOCA Race. I never really thought I’d be doing this type of race when I look back five years or so, so it’s great. It’s great to have the opportunity. The only pressure is from myself, wanting to do well. I have known Alex for so many years we know each other’s strengths and weaknesses.”
Classement à 17 heures
Multi 50 :
1 Crêpes Whaou ! (FY Escoffier – E Le Roux)
2 Actual (Y Le Blévec – J Le Cam)
3 Guyader pour Urgence Climatique (V Erussard – L Féquet)
1 BT (S Josse – JF Cuzon)
2 Groupe Bel (K de Pavant – F Gabart)
3 Mike Golding Yacht Racing (M Golding – J Sanso)