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Ciaran Keeps IMOCA's, Ocean 50's And Classe 40's In Port, Ultims Back In To The Breeze!


  • Ciaran Keeps IMOCA's, Ocean 50's And Class 40's In Port, Ultims Find The Breeze!

    02 November 2023 - 11h56

    ULTIMs in search for the Trade Winds

    After nearly four days and some 1500 miles of racing of racing the leaders of the ULTIM class on the Transat Jacques Vabre were around 120 miles NW of the Canary Islands a all five of the boats and all were in a radius of 30 miles.

    This very much unprecedented in the history of the class of the giant 32m trimarans. Francois Gabart and Tom Laperche on SVR Lazartigue were still leading the fleet, which compressed together again as they made their way across the ridge of high pressure yesterday and that is now behind them. However, they need to keep pushing hard as the trade winds are still south of the Canaries at latitudes that they will reach late today.

    After 24 hours spent finding their way across the ridge of high pressure, remaining in front is something of a small victory for SVR Lazartigue, but Francois Gabart and Tom Laperche are not in that comfortable a position... While they are keeping their closest rival, Maxi Edmond de Rothschild in check, the blue trimaran can only watch the attacks from further east and west. To port, Sodebo Ultim 3 and Actual Ultim 3 managed to get back to around twenty miles of them and need to be taken seriously as opponents.

    To starboard, Banque Populaire XI has moved further away passing Madeira via the west during the night. This option enabled the pair formed by Le Cleac’h-Josse to avoid the wind shadow of the island, although to find more wind, it extended their route. “A daring option,” declared Thomas Coville when contacted this morning. It has paid off, as Banque Populaire XI is the fastest in the fleet by far. Second at the moment, they have managed to claw back miles since the middle of the night.

    The wind does not appear to have the strength from west to east and over the last four hours, Banque Populaire XI has accelerated to an average speed of 18 knots, while SVR Lazartigue and Maxi Edmond de Rothschild are finding it hard to get above 12 knots, as Francois Gabart confirmed this morning, “We need to be patient as our friends are faster than us and it seems that whatever we do in the three boats, we keep finding ourselves back together. It’s true we don’t have much wind yet, but at some point, it will turn into the trade winds.”

    The trade winds this evening

    The wind will veer to the right going from the NW to the NE and strengthen today, which should enable the ULTIM boats to start to think about when they will gybe to stay on course for the islands of Sao Paulo & Sao Pedro, the next course mark. “We still have another 2000 miles to go to get there,” explained Armel Le Cleac’h this morning, “and we are waiting for the weather charts to see how we need to adjust our trajectory. It’s not very easy and we are making the most of a bit of wind for now to get some rest, as it was a busy night getting around Madeira.” Pleased with his option, the skipper of Banque Populaire XI carried out a lot of manoeuvres with his co-skipper, Sebastien Josse to sail windward of the island, an option that they were alone in choosing and had planned by heading off to the west of the fleet throughout the day yesterday.

    After SVR Lazartigue’s option around Ushant and this strategic choice by Banque Populaire XI off Madeira, this is certainly a fascinating race for the ULTIM. Sodebo Ultim 3 and Actual Ultim 3 also got back in the game sailing together since yesterday evening and adding more excitement to the contest: “I can see Sodebo,” declared Anthony Marchand this morning. “Being back in the game is very motivating. With Thierry I am pleased about our easterly option, and we took advantage when approaching the ridge of high pressure.” The fastest of the five ULTIM boats in terms of the Great Circle Route over the last 24 hours, Actual Ultim 3 has shown that in light conditions, the speed differential between the boats from various generations is not that great. “We sailed cautiously at the start of the race and Thierry and I are pleased about our pace. We listen to what the other has to say and the boat is giving her full potential, which is no bad thing, as there is still a fortnight of high-speed racing to go.”

    Thomas Coville was equally enthusiastic. “We wanted a fight and we have got one. It’s great that we caught up and we will soon see conditions for which these boats were designed to fly and speed over the water. This morning everything is fantastic here with Thomas, and we’re really enjoying ourselves.”


    Transat Jacques Vabre Normandie Le Havre fleet kept secure during the passage of storm Ciaran No start before Monday for any class, including the IMOCAs

    All of the docked 90 boat fleet of the Transat Jacques Vabre Normandie Le Havre have been kept safe and secure through last night’s Storm Ciaran which ravaged the Brittany coast and the English Channel.

    Meteo France say they recorded gusts of over 80kts last night. This morning the winds eased off and as the tide dropped the seas around the docks in Lorient Las Base allowing skippers and technical teams from the Class 40s and Ocean Fifty classes there to be able to carry out a full check of boats and their mooring lines ahead of another storm expected Saturday.

    In Le Havre where the 40 IMOCAs are securely tied up in the Paul Vatine basin, a chop was whipped up to 80cms by the storm force winds in the enclosed docks. The winds peaked in Le Havre at the end of the morning.

    “We remained very vigilant especially when the dock gates opened between noon and 1:10 p.m., with a one-meter surge, which caused the pontoons to rise by that much. Fortunately, the wind dropped at the same time and there was no damage.” explained Race Director Francis Le Goff.

    All day Race Direction continued to work on scenarios for a new start, in collaboration with Christian Dumard, meteorologist for the Transat Jacques Vabre Normandie Le Havre.

    Francis Le Goff explained “The possibility mentioned yesterday of seeing the IMOCAs set off on Sunday is now no longer possible, in particular because of the strengthening of the westerly wind, which is going to impact heavily on the coast around Le Havre”

    Added to this is a time constraint with the gates of the Le Havre basins closing at 3:30 p.m. for sunset at 5:30 p.m. that day.

    So no start on Sunday. The decision making process was shared by the IMOCA class sports commission which represents the 40 duos entered in this class.

    The Race Direction team is working on a starting scenario, the first option at the moment being Tuesday November 7 at the very beginning of the morning, with an IMOCA exit out of the docks the morning open gate (from 5:00 a.m. to 6:15 a.m.). Other scenarios after this date are also studied. The preferred option for the course now is a direct route to Martinique.

    “For the Class40 and Ocean Fifty for which nothing was already considered possible before Monday, there is no change. The goal is always to go at the first opportunity, in collaboration with the classes, for next week,” concluded Francis Le Goff.

    More information will be communicated later.
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