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  • Photoboy
    Gdf suez win class 40

    Having had a unchallenged lead since the race re-started from Roscoff in the very early hours of the morning of Sunday 10th November, French duo Sébastien Rogues and Fabien Delahaye sailed GDF SUEZ across the finish line off Itajaí, Brasil this Friday evening at 2056hrs local time (2256hrs UTC) to win the Class 40 fleet of the Transat Jacques Vabre from 26 starters.

    The Class 40 winners’ elapsed time for the theoretical course of 5450 miles is 20 days 21 hours 41 minutes and 25 seconds. On the theoretical course they sailed at an average of 10.76kts. In reality they sailed 5578 miles at a real average of 11.12kts.

    Sailing the Sam Manuard designed Mach 40 design, the duo have been comfortable leaders for almost the entire race, only recently coming under pressure when they lead into light, unsettled winds at Cabo Frio at the entrance to the Bay of Rio.

    Early in the race they made a carefully calculated technical pit stop into Muxia on the north west corner of Spain to scale their mast and replace two vital wind vanes. Their stop cost them less than 50 minutes and they still lead the fleet by 19.8 miles when they emerged.

    Benefiting from sailing first into the robust, fast sailing of the Portuguese trade winds they were able to extend ahead of the German Franco duo on Mach 40 sistership Mare, Jorg Riechers and Pierre Brasseur. On 22nd November they lead into the notorious Doldrums with a lead of 77 miles on Mare. Their astute choice of route allowed them to increase that margin by 30 miles. Only later did they reveal that they had actually blown up two key spinnakers in quick succession which ultimately cost them some of their lead in the lighter conditions further down the race course. Indeed at Cabo Frio their lead was halved and the second placed Spanish duo Alex Pella and Pablo Santurde on Tales Santander closed to within 34 miles on the Bay of Rio.

    When GDF SUEZ crossed the line for victory the second placed Class 40 was around 50 miles behind. It is the first big ocean race win for both sailors.

    Rogues said that the two keys to their win were being able to break first through the high pressure ridge off Cape Finisterre which allowed them to get into the Portuguese trade winds first, and their passage through the Doldrums, identifying a narrow corridor using a series of Quickscat images

    Sébastien Rogue, skipper GDF SUEZ. “Without the big spinnaker it was difficult us and on the Brazilian coast we did not have the good sails, we saw the other catching up fast. When we launched the big spinnaker and it held then only then did we know we could be alright. We repaired it during the upwind after the Doldrums and only put it up recently. On the Brasil coast we did not need it. But on every ranking we could see the other were catching us. Three days ago we thought we would finish third, off Rio we put up the big spinnaker and saw that it worked, and only then with Fabien did we say, OK maybe we can win this race.”

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  • Photoboy
    Class 40 Leaders Near Finish

    From a truly international podium line up, the balance is still with the French duo Sébastien Rogues and Fabien Delahaye, a pair which combines the solid experience and tenacity of Rogues – who had four successful years in the Mini 650 – with the obvious talent of Delahaye one of the rising stars of French solo and shorthanded ocean racing.

    He follows very much in the wake of this year’s youngest ever Vendée Globe winner Francois Gabart, emerging through the Macif Skipper talent search programme. He was the 2011 French offshore champion, fourth in the Solitaire du Figaro last year. And Gabart’s first sailing appointment after winning the solo round the world race, was back in Port La Foret to sail with Delahaye.

    GDF SUEZ started in Le Havre on November 7th as the favourites with the outstanding track record in the class this season with five wins including the Les Sables Azores Les Sables race. They have lived up to their top billing, leading since the re-start in Roscoff. Into the final 90 miles to the finish line, Rogues and Delahaye were leading the Spanish pair, Alex Pella and Pablo Santurde by 48 miles.

    Santurde is more than just a super fast ex dinghy racer to support Pella, who has one circumnavigation and already did the 2009 Transat Jacques Vabre in the IMOCA Open 60 class with Pepe Ribes, finishing 5th on W Hotels. Ironically their average speed on this race is likely to be faster than the IMOCA race to Costa Rica. Santurde knows the recently launched design having worked on the build.

    Pella and Santurde on the Botin design Tales Santander 2014 have their hands full, racing hard to also stave off the attack from the Franco-German crew, Jorg Riechers and Pierre Brasseur. Racing a sistership to GDF SUEZ, this pair share the same level of experience as their title adversaries.

    Hamburg born Riechers is building an impressive early Vendée Globe campaign, having followed a perfect trajectory through the Mini class, wining the circuit outright in 2010 and taking sixth in Class 40 in the last Route du Rhum. In Pierre Brasseur he has an impeccable, polyvalent co-skipper whose experience spans 3 Mini Transats, the Figaro, Tour de France a Voile and the Multi 50 multihull.

    While the IMOCA Open 60s, MOD70s and Multi 50s are all berthed in Itajaí now, awaiting Saturday’s postlogue exhibition race, all eyes are fixed on the Class 40s with the winner expected to finish tonight. But with the very light winds expected to continue into the night, and more wind sucking clouds to roll in through the hours of darkness, there are no guarantees that the team which has lead the race throughout, and is looking to add to their 2013 honours, will be the one which breaks the finish line first. The pace has been impressive for the 40 footers, covering the 5450 miles from Le Havre in less than 23 days, and so averaging more than 10.5kts.

    They said:

    Jörg Riechers (GER) skipper MARE:
    "We are very close to the Spanish. The conditions are very unstable, anything can still happen and we will do everything to take second place. First place will be harder to get to now. GDF Suez looks set to win the Transat Jacques Vabre unless they have a technical problem”

    "It has been a great Transat. Good feelings , lots of wind and lots of downwind sailing. We are happy to finish in the top three. I cant wait to celebrate with a caipirinha, maybe two ! "

    Pierre Brasseur:
    "With the conditions off Itajai, it will be difficult to catch the Spanish but we will try to the end! We must work this long straight that leads us to the finish with crosswind of 15 knots. Over the whole race, there was no big strategic moves to make. There were the Doldrums which were good for GDF Suez but this race has mostly been about boats speed. And a lot of the time the leader is just unstoppable".

    Fabien Delahaye, co skipper GDF SUEZ:
    "The final promises to be difficult. The files are showing we should have 15kts of wind reaching with the gennaker but we are under big spinnaker in 5kts of wind. It is difficult to understand what is happening. And we just try to find the right sail combinations. We are close to 100% just now because the big kite is repaired. We are getting there but there can be plenty of pitfalls along the final miles.”

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  • Photoboy
    Back In The Hunt: Caterham Challenge's Quick Main Repair

    Morning all,

    Back out and with it the chase ahead of the pack. Boat moving well taken goal It Has A Few miles us to get away from the shore and into the stronger winds That the rest of the fleet are in, hence no gains have yet altho we-have

    Caught up in the boat Directly forehead by about 20 miles already. We are now on the right track and moving along well with A3, staysail and full main. Its nice not to worry about the-have to sail every moment. Now time to concentrate and start clawing back the miles and Some positions, our target is to get back to 11th by the finish.

    cheers mike

    Update from Mike and Brian last night, Having left Recife at 6:30 p.m. local time with a fixed sail and a bag of great experiences. We are back out and racing with great year repair in the hand thanks to Dave and the sail loft in Recife Who Did year great job, and thanks to John aussi Brinkers of North sails Have you got together the repair materials at zero notice on Sunday, fantastic team effort!

    Also special thanks to Graziela Have you got everything organised with the yacht club Cabanga, who were fantastically helpful, especially the marvelous Sueli. Have you sorted out all the customs and immigration issues. The yacht club aussi refused any payment so deserve special praise. We arrived early and removed the hanks and battens. The rib from the yacht club arrived 7.45 and the sailmaker was there at 8 and as promised, took to his the sail loft. Dave headed straight to the loft from the airport while Sueli took me to the relevant officials and Brian worked on the boat. Dave returned to the boat around 5 finished with the mainsail and the boat left around 6.15 and We were on the water for 6.30 out the harbor. We-have slipped to 16th 11th goal is just 100 miles ahead so time to get the hammer down. Nice to look up at a good looking mainsail without your heart in your mouth so lets get racing Thanks to all from the boat.



    At the head of the Class 40 fleet GDF SUEZ is coming under gradual but sustained pressure from the Spanish duo on Tales Santander. Alex Pella and Pablo Santurde have a popular following at home in Spain both on the north coast, around Santander where ex 470 racer Santurde is from, where the boat is based and where the Botin design office is, and also of course in Catalonia, around Barcelona where Alex Pella lives.

    Whilst this is Santurde’s first Transatlantic exploit, as well as being a circumnavigator on the last Barcelona World Race with Pepe Ribes, Pella was an extremely talented Mini 650 racer finishing third overall in the 2003 race and then second in 2005 when he won the second leg into Salvador de Bahia. And they have a fan base at Longitud Cero in Burriana where the boat, the second Tales, was built.

    Santurde is 26, from Santander, and raced on Tales 1 with Pella and the owner of the boat, designer Marcelino’s brother Gonzalez. Of his choice of co-skipper, Pella said before the start: "Pablo is a very good sailor. He knows how to and has a good feeling for sailing fast. And he was involved in the building of the boat and so he knows very well the onboard systems"‏‎

    Transatlantic rookie Santurde said in Le Havre: "I have heard many things about the different parts of the race and I have followed other races like this but this is my first time, so I am excited and a bit nervous about what we will find out there".

    Tales have been the quickest in the fleet this morning and have reduced their deficit to 86 miles behind GDF SUEZ, now the meat in a Mach 40 sandwich. The second Mach 40, Jorg Riechers and Pierre Brasseur’s Mare are 14 miles behind.

    The leaders Sebastien Rogues and Fabien Delahaye have slowed slightly but have 923 miles to go getting into lighter and shiftier winds so this compression is inevitable. Should be in Saturday night.

    But in saying that the 4th placed Watt and Sea are about 212 miles behind the leaders and they are now 21 miles ahead of 5th

    Brian Thompson and Mike Gascoyne are stopped into Recife with Caterham Challenge as of this morning. They reckoned on being 8 or ten hours but need to be quick as there was a real posse of boats behind them, but what will be will be….certainly motivated.

    In the IMOCA Open 60 fleet Bureau Valley (Burton- Le Brec) are still just ahead of VNAM but only by about 30 miles while around 80 miles further offshore the Polish duo on Energa remain a threat to both. And it remains an interesting reflection that the four top IMOCA Open 60s finished on the same day and the second phase, fifth to eighth are also predicted to finish on the same day, despite being a variety of different, older generation boats.

    Bureau Valley and VNAM are in contact within thirty miles of each other. But even if Louis Burton and Guillaume Le Brec are well positioned to win in Itajai, they need to maintain a gap of more than two hours on Bertrand de Broc- Arnaud Boissières if they are to hold on to fifth place in the final rankings. Taking into account the two hours of redress the International Jury awarded VNAM for rerouting towards the capsized Multi 50 Arkema - Region Aquitaine then this duel is on a knife edge.

    The Bay of Rio de Janeiro is in the throes of transition, the stormy fronts finally deported eastwardto leave Itajai back in summer sunshine and gentle breeze. During Tuesday afternoon there was just over fifteen knots, but tonight and tomorrow promises to be more complicated with a low pressure bubble forming off Sao Paolo.

    Latest routings give an ETA for the two Multi- 50s Rennes -Saint Malo Agglomeration in this evening and Vers un monde sans SIDA (Nigon Villeneuve) and that keeps them ahead of the IMOCAs.

    Bureau Vallée and VNAM will fight until around midday tomorrow ahead of the Polish IMOCA Energa (Gutkowski - Marczewski ) who are expected about four hours later. The then around sunrise Thursday Team Plastique (Di Benedetto-Monaco) and Initiatives Coeur (Lamotte- Damiens) who were separated by nine miles this afternoon.

    Sounds in English:
    Christof Petter (Vaquita)

    Maciej Marczewski (Energa)

    Michelle Zwagerman (Croix du Sud)

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  • Photoboy
    Podium Spots Complete For IMOCA Class

    In the end Marc Guillemot and Pascal Bidégorry (Safran ) managed to hold on to second place at 31min 44 sec ahead of Jéremie Beyou and Christopher Pratt (Master CoQ).

    Second place was hotly contested virtually to the finish line but Safran maintain a solid record in this classic two handed race across the Atlanticm making their third podium place over four editions. Guillemot finished second in 2007 when he and Charles Caudrelier lost out by just 58 minutes into Salvador de Bahia to Michel Desjoyeaux and Manu Le Borgne on Foncia and then won into Costa Rica the following year Caudrelier.

    Safran stayed closer inshore on the approach to Cabo Frio and gained some advantage there, extending clear of Maitre CoQ by more than 30 miles, but off Rio the two were again match racing with Maitre CoQ four and then seven miles clear. Only last night on the approach to Itajaí did Safran get back through their rivals again.

    Meantime in Class 40 GDF SUEZ continue to close on the latitude of Recife with a lead of 104 miles on Mare, whilst the Spanish pair Alex Pella and Pablo Santurde have dropped slightly back from Mare. The British pair Mike Gascoyne and Brian Thompson have confirmed they are planning to make a pitstop on Tuesday into Recife to repair the mainsail of Caterham Challenge.

    photos © Thierry Martinez


    They said:
    Marc Guillemot, skipper of Safran : " It was tough all the way, I have rarely been in such an intense race. With Pascal we were on the attack the whole way and he never let up. It was a race for nutcases. The course was long and you could not slow for one second such was the pressure. We are tired because we did not get much sleep. It is better to get here like this than three days later. We are really happy with second place.

    Pascal Bidégorry , co- skipper of Safran : " I thought it would be a bit tamer than the multihulls, but we just never stopped. We were always on it, pushing. You take so much water over the decks. IMOCA’s are submarines, but awesome reaching. Safran is really strong.”

    Guillemot: “ It is funny because PRB is the little brother of Safran, both were built from the same mould. They are great boats. But Vincent and Jean played it well. At Cabo Frio we might have been a bit greedy wanting to get past them, but it was a nice tussle with Maitre CoQ from the very beginning and several times we were racing in sight of each other. It was tight until the end.

    Pascal Bidégorry : "I thought we'd be less comfortable in windy conditions where you have to really press the boat. But we went well and found ways to get back at Maitre CoQ "

    Marc Guillemot: "We really only learn about each other in such a race . When fatigue accumulates, supporting one another gets a bit unclear because nerves get a bit raw. Imagine any couple at all who don’t sleep for a week and it can be a bit tetchy. Sometimes there was a bit of raised tones but that is just normal.”

    Jéremie Beyou: “ We seem to lack a little in speed, me the confidence to push the boat and so we were maybe a little step back. But we found ourselves in the fight with Vincent and PRB and with Marco on Safran, and so if you compare this result with where I was a year ago, then I am certainly happy with the result.

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  • Photoboy
    Vincent Riou and Jean Le Cam Take IMOCA Line Honors

    Itajai, Brasil, Sunday. Breaking the finish line on an overcast, humid morning in Southern Brasil, French duo Vincent Riou and Jean Le Cam won the IMOCA Open 60 class at 10h 41min 47 sec local time (12h 41m 47s UTC/GMT) completing the 5450 miles course to Itajaí from Le Havre.

    all images © Thierry Martinez

    The elapsed time for their race is 17d 0h 41mn 47sec‏, sailing at an average speed of 13.21 kts for the theoretical course. In fact they sailed 5771 miles on the water, at a real average speed of 14.12 kts.

    When they finished, the second placed IMOCA Open 60 was around 50 miles behind in second.

    It is the first major transoceanic race triumph for Riou since he won the Vendée Globe solo round the world race in 2005 and the biggest recent win for veteran Le Cam.

    Appropriately as winner of the class in this 20th anniversary edition Riou was one of the competitors in the very first edition of the Transat Jacques Vabre in 1993 racing a multihull.

    The duo win their class despite an express pit stop in Madeira to replace a rudder fitting. “Rudders are broken now because of the pressure we put them under, whether ours or that of MACIF” commented Le Cam prior to finishing, referring to near rivals MACIF (Francois Gabart and Michel Desjoyeaux) who also made an early pit stop, in Portugal, to complete a similar repair.

    The duel for second place was being played out as PRB finished, only a few miles separating second placed Safran (Marc Guillemot and Pascal Bidégorry) and Maitre CoQ (Jéremie Beyou and Christopher Pratt).

    The Story in detail, Brothers in Arms win together.
    Both individually and separately over their 25 years or so of ocean racing Vincent Riou and Jean Le Cam have suffered their fair share of misfortunes and hard times.

    But today in Itajaí, Brasil as they basked in the satisfaction of winning Transat Jacques Vabre’s IMOCA Open 60 class from a fleet of 10, all boats which started the last Vendée Globe solo round the world race, they finally shared the magical moments together, not only triumphing in the prestigious monohull class, but knowing that they put together a great race over the longest ever course in the 20 year history of the two handed ‘coffee route’ route from Le Havre.

    Their firm friendship was cemented after Riou rescued Le Cam from his upturned monhull of Cape Horn during the 2008-9 Vendée Globe. But close as they became, they confirmed today that episode was not a reason in itself to team up their talents. Indeed, Riou, winner of the 2004-5 Vendée Globe ahead of second placed Le Cam, said he now looked forwards to racing against his winning co-skipper again soon.

    “The friendship with Jean developed from the rescue in 2009 and gradually we grew closer together, but that’s not the reason behind this. We could have sailed together without that. Now I’d like to see him back out there as a rival.” Smiled Riou.

    Ironically today is almost exactly one year to the day that Riou had to abandon his last Vendée Globe after striking an unmarked steel buoy approaching the Brasilian coast.

    Both had to abandon their last Transat Jacques Vabre. While the typically effusive, charismatic Le Cam – his humour as dry as the salt encrusted hard on his face after 17 days at sea – summarised his first ever win in the Transat Jacques Vabre,

    “ This was my seventh race, so one (win) in seven. My last one was with Yves (Le Blévec) on the Multi 50 Actual and we finished in Cherbourg. Let’s say it is more enjoyable to arrive in Brasil”

    And it is doubly apposite too that Riou also finally wins this anniversary edition, as one of the 13 starters in the first ever race in 1993.

    The IMOCA Race
    PRB took the lead initially off Britanny’s Chenal de Four, setting a furious pace as the leaders headed into a challenging passage across the Bay of Biscay. In fact all of the top five latest generation IMOCA Open 60’s – MACIF, PRB, Safran, Maitre CoQ and Cheminées Poujoulat – all lead the class at some time.

    Francois Gabart and Michel Desjoyeaux, the Vendée Globe winning duo, were most regular leaders until their rudder failed and on the afternoon of Sunday November 10th when they were the first IMOCA Open 60 team to need to pitstop, making a rapid rudder replacement in Peniche, Portugal.

    PRB took control again then until they were forced to replicate MACIF’s technical halt, making a very similar rudder repair in the Cape Verde islands. It took them 45 minutes but it was enough to let MACIF – who also took the same passage through the islands – escape away to build a lead of 23 miles when PRB left Mindelo. And the match race was very soon back on.

    As they went through the Doldrums almost together, there was very little in it, emerging with just one to one and a half miles between them, speed racing in the SE’ly trade winds like an afternoon training session out of Port La Foret where they all train. MACIF do move progressively away.

    But on 21st November the news suddenly emerges that leaders MACIF have dismasted. The PRB team take the lead again, disappointed at the loss of their nearest rivals, who – they asserted – had been sailing a ‘perfect’ race.

    Although MACIF is forced out, the pressure stays on PRB until the final days, but as Riou and Le Cam pass through the final front their win is more or less assured.

    Late flash info: Marc Guillemot and Pascal Bidégorry aboard Safran crossed the finish line of the Transat Jacques Vabre line in second place at 14h 43m 23s local time in Itajaí , Brazil (16:43.23 UTC). Their elapsed time for the course is 17d 04h 43min 23sec. Their average speed on the theoretical course 5,450 miles from Le Havre was 13.08kts. They sailed 5748miles on the water at an average speed of 13.93 kts

    They said:

    Jean Le Cam, co-skipper of PRB
    “It was a bit of a race for hard headed nuts, you just never had time to stop and think, it was incessant keep your head down, and wet from beginning to end.”

    Vincent Riou, skipper of PRB
    "We have never taken the foul weather gear off, it was fast, it was tough, it was physical all the time. We were always pushing with very few rest periods. It was more like life on a multihull. My first Transat Jacques Vabre was 20 years ago and over the years Jean and I have had a lot of setbacks over the years so we are really pleased to win this time.”

    Jean Le Cam
    "This was my seventh race, so one (win) in seven. My last one was with Yves (Le Blévec) on the Multi 50 Actual and we finished in Cherbourg. Let’s say it is more enjoyable to arrive in Brasil”

    Vincent Riou:
    When we broke the rudder and looked at the charts, we could see there was an opportunity if we stopped in Madeira. We had three days to get to there, which was just enough time to transport another rudder out there. It was a bit tight with the flight schedules. Fortunately the damage was limited to the rudder blade, so all we had to do was slip it into place and set off again. We’re a bit tired, but managed our sleep well. At no time did we slip into the red. I feel we did a good job, because apart from the luck we had, such as when the rudder was changed so quickly, I think we sailed well from start to finish. We didn’t make many mistakes. The boat had a certain potential, which was quite good, but not always the best. I must admit I did make one big mistake at the start in the Bay of Biscay, but apart from that we had a fine race and manoeuvres went smoothly.

    We were always there at the helm when we had to go on the attack and we always found good courses and angles. I don’t have any regrets about our work and that is why I feel so pleased today. Jean Le Cam You never know what’s going to happen. The final part of the race was fairly quick. Yesterday I spotted a huge turtle 20 metres away from the boat. If it had gone into the rudder, it would have been over. We’ve also got a keel ram that’s out of alignment… A ring holding the ram in place split open causing it to move sideways… Vincent Riou There’s one thing about sailing that’s very special. When I started out I was about 14 or 15 years old and used to get magazines with all the champions in them. 10-15 years later, there I was out there sailing with them and then later still against them. The lifespan of a sailor is such unlike other sports, you can find yourself out there with your idols. And then, maybe even beat them. Jean Le Cam We weren’t very often sailing at less than 15 knots. We pushed the boats hard from start to finish. We never had time to relax with the wind from astern. It was all out reaching all the time. When rudders fail like that, you have to wonder why. Two rudders didn’t make it to Itajaí, while they managed to go all the way around the world. ends

    You can download the video of the IMOCA PRB here.

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  • Photoboy
    Cardinal Win, PRB Leading Near Finish

    Having crossed the final major weather hurdle, a stormy unsettled low pressure front as they passed the entrance to the Bay of Rio earlier, Vincent Riou and Jean Le Cam on PRB had less than 340 miles left to sail of the 5450 miles course of the Transat Jacques Vabre from Le Havre to Itajaí where the finish line for the IMOCA Open 60 class awaits them. The vastly experienced duo, a partnership galvanised in the aftermath of adversities and tribulations, had a lead of some 98 miles over second placed Maitre CoQ (Béyou and Pratt) and are expected in Itajaí just after breakfast time, local, on Sunday morning.

    If they can close out victory, it will be the first time that either have won their class over multiple Transat Jacques Vabre participations. Le Cam finished third in 2005 and fourth in 2001. Riou has never been on the podium, and might bring a series of disappointment to an end if he can win in the colours of his longtime Vendéen sponsors. His retirement from the early stages of the most recent Vendée Globe followed abandoning the last Transat Jacques Vabre. The two long time adversaries became close after Riou rescued Le Cam who had spent 16 hours inside his upturned VM Materiaux in January 2009, 200 miles west of Cape Horn. Riou’s mast tumbled down the following day. Riou won the 2004-5 Vendée Globe ahead of second placed Le Cam.

    Behind them the duel for second intensified as Jérémie Beyou – who won the last edition of this race, sailing with Jean Pierre Dick – sailing this time with Christopher Pratt took a very narrow lead, ten miles ahead of Safran (Guillemot and Bidégorry).

    In Class 40 there are now 1100 miles between GDF SUEZ (Rogues-Delahaye) and 11th Hour Racing ( Jenner -Windsor). The leaders passed the equator around 16:00hrs UTC yesterday whilst behind, in the Cape Verde islands the British-American duo shaved Sal Island at the same time. Both are sailing in the trade winds but not in the same direction, SE’ly in the southern hemisphere and NE’ly at the Cape Verdes for 11th Hour which of course had to return to Lorient to fix a rig problem. And in the peloton of Class 40 the Doldrums are still very much affecting the majority of the fleet, only really the top five or seven boats have really escaped as of last night. Behind SNCF Geodis (Amédéo-Tripon) the winds are not well established yet.

    And, really in the end, the ICTZ has been good for the leaders who have managed to open up on Mare (Riechers-Brasseur) who have lost at least 30 miles and in turn find themselves under pressure from the Spanish duo Alex Pella and Pablo Santurde on Tales Santander who are just twenty miles behind. In fact after the leaders there are five pairs racing head to head. The biggest fall has been that of Vaquita (Petter-Hanakamp) who have dropped five places and 150 miles.

    It will become ever more difficult to challenge Rogues and Delahaye as the descend into a rich get richer scenario, increasingly favourable breezes on the long close reach 400 miles to Recife and the corner of Brazil, and beyond.

    They said:

    Vincent Riou, PRB
    “The conditions at the front were quite interesting. As well as the winds we had the unruly seas to deal with. Now we are going between 17 and 22kts and we will have to keep pushing a bit but we are happy with the way we are managing things, they will come back at us because they will have more regular conditions, but with our lead I think we can afford to go a bit steady.”

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    ************************************************** **

    Itajai, Brasil Friday 0540hrs UTC Detail Erwan Le Roux and Yann Elies crossed the finish line of the Transat Jacques Vabre double handed race from Le Havre to Itajaí, Brasil at 03h 40min 15s local time, (05h 40m 15s UTC / GMT) early this Friday morning to win the Multi50 class.

    FenêtréA-Cardinal’s elapsed time since leaving Le Havre on Thursday 7th November is 14d 17h 40min 15s. Their average speed on the theoretical course of 5,450 miles is 15.3kts. They actually sailed 5872 miles on the water at an average speed of 16.6kts.

    The French duo finished at pace, covering the final miles into the finish line off the city in southern Brasil at around 20kts to close out a well earned victory. Le Roux and Elies have lead their fleet since 12th November – except for one day on 16th November when their rivals seized the lead for a matter of hours.

    In a thrilling final head to head match race down the Brasilian coast they kept their only real challengers in check. Second placed Actual, sailed by Yves Le Blevec and Kito de Pavant, were within 16 miles of the class winners yesterday morning (Thursday). Actual were around making 12-13 kts at 80 miles from the finish line as the winners crossed.

    Le Roux and Elies were jubilant as they touched the dock in Itajaí’s race village for the Transat Jacques Vabre. They arrived with their Multi50 completely intact, recalling how unsettled they were when rivals Arkema Region Aquitaine capsized 12 days ago and how they battled hard to stay ahead of nearest rivals Actual in a head to head dogfight down the Brazilian coast to Itajaí. Even last night Yves Le Blévec and Kito de Pavant were only 15 miles, less than one hour behind, and, they revealed this morning saw one of their two hairiest moments, coming close to capsizing.

    For Le Roux, victory with the 2009 launched Multi 50 which was the former Crepes Wahou!, on the longest course yet for the Transat Jacques Vabre more than makes up for narrowly missing out on the overall win in this summer’s Route des Princes fully crewed race around Europe.

    It is the second time Le Roux has won the class, the first time as skipper. Winning today follows up on his victory as co-skipper with Franck Yves Escoffier when they won this race on Crepes Wahou! In 2009 into Costa Rica. ‘Winning as skipper is all the sweeter’ was Le Roux’s conclusion this morning.

    And for Elies, winning on his first major double handed multihull ocean race caps a remarkable season after making history this summer becoming the first sailor ever to win back to back solo Solitaire du Figaro races, adding an incredible comeback overall victory to his win of last year. Elies’ appetite for multihull racing is clearly whetted.

    They said:

    Erwan Le Roux:
    "It is worth all the effort to get here. We had to really push to contain Actual’s challenge. We had a lot of fun together and this is the just the peak of a beautiful race when everything really comes together. This second victory (Ed Le Roux won in 2009 as co-skipper) is all the sweeter because I am the skipper of the project, so obviously it has a special flavour."

    Yann Elies:
    "Winning can be learned, you learn to cultivate it. This year I have improved. And I am really happy to share this win with him. I told him this morning after the 0330hrs ranking that no matter what happens I have had a great time. We always made the right choices. It was so intense crossing the Atlantic on a multihull. It is is something I had never done before. On a daily basis the commitment is similar to the Figaro, but this is 15 days. Because the boat is so demanding I loved having to attack all the time. As a duo there is always some comfort with the other person there, solo on a mulithull must be different."

    Erwan Le Roux
    "Sharing it together is is great. I learned a lot with Yann , I understand why he won two Solitaire du Figaro, you can see why . Having sailed with someone like that you come away improved, better . It was a great adventure , a great story , and it's great that it ends like this. But we are not alone in this project we have a great team behind us."


    Yann Elies:
    "Physically it is hard, we are tired. Coming to the finish in these final hours we never stopped pushing, always trimming and making little adjustment. And when you finish, even though you dont want to admit it, you feel it, you are physcially drained. We had two very difficult hard days, especially when the solent opened when the furler failed, and when we had problem with the mainsail track carriages, and the electronics failed and then, the cherry on top, a fishing net."

    "And of course for the win to be great there has to be a great second place and Yves and Kito have always been there, they have sailed a great race, keeping us under pressure to the end. Until this morning (yesterday ed) when they tried something one last time, which they knew might not work, but they tried. They also have put so much into this race, you can see from the rankings that they were always attacking us."

    The pressure from Actual

    Erwan Le Roux:
    "The race could have been lost in the Doldrums but really it was about the whole of the race, in the management of the Bay of Biscay but also we were very shocked at Arkema’s capsize.

    Yann Elies:
    "This victory was established before the start because even though we did not really know where to set the cursor, to set our level, we knew how we wanted to drive the boat to get there. And we get here with nothing broken. In the end Actual made us push extra hard. We had some techncial issues."

    Speed and life on board

    Erwan Le Roux:
    "14 days and 17 hours went quickly. We did a lot on the rhumb line, on the direct course downwind and reaching with open sails, it was fast and uncomfortable. But there were such moments of pure speed, skipping effortlessy from wave to wave like a flying fish, just extraordinary sensations."

    Yann Elies:
    "It is hard to live ebing constantly soaking wet and salty. The Transat Jacques Vabre is intense and stressful. Trying to stay fast and on the right route requires a lot of energy and commitment. Twice we got too close to the edge, once off the Cape Verde and once this morning. But pure happiness is going at 30kts without even thinking. I loved this boat, it would be more manageable alone than a 60 footer. I want to continue with multihulls."

    Capsize of Arkema

    Erwan Le Roux:
    "It was a real blow to our morale. Over that day we had been pushing hard to get past them. We had our bow pointing at their transom. And we talked and filmed. I could see their lights at night, and then suddenly nothing. But it’s a multihull and yes you can turn them over. Those are the risks you have to accept.”

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  • Photoboy
    Gabart On The Dismasting

    Vendée Globe winner Francois Gabart sounded as objective and upbeat as he possibly could this morning when he described the dismasting of MACIF which happened around midnight last night whilst sailing in relatively normal trade winds conditions, some 140 miles from Salvador de Bahia, Brasil.

    For them, leaders of the highly competitive IMOCA Open 60 class in the Transat Jacques Vabre double handed race from Le Havre to Itajai, Brasil was suddenly and summarily over.

    After being forced out of the Barcelona World Race in January 2011 when the top of their rig failed on Foncia when Gabart and Desjoyeaux were lying a close second, the empty feelings of deception and dejection are ones that the gilded duo know well, but Gabart was painting a brave face on things:

    “We look to the positives, it could have happened at any other time and that would have been worse for us and for the boat. It's been great since it happened in the Barcelona . There is no reason why it can’t follow on the same after this second dismasting.” Gabart told a live Radio Vacation with the French media assembled at the finish in Itajaí.

    Gabart confirmed that MACIF has had a new mast since he won the Vendée Globe in Fabruary, striving to save a little weight.

    The duo had around 1100 miles to race to the finish when their mast came down, having lead since November 17th. Vincent Riou and Jean Le Cam take over as leaders of the class, with 59 miles in hand over Marc Guillemot and Pascal Bidégorry on Safran who rose to second today, making up around 50 miles since yesterday.

    Gabart recalled: “ We were sailing on port tack with the full mainsail and big gennaker in 15-20kts of wind with a little sea from behind us, which was allowing us to surf a little, it was not unpleasant. An hour or two before we had been having some gusts but the wind was quite stable when the mast broke. We were under pilot, I was in the cockpit and Michel (Desjoyeaux) was resting inside. I suspect that it was the tube which broke rather than something peripheral (rigging/outrigger etc). The mast broke a dozen or so metres above the deck and that meant about 18 metres of mast in the water. The standing part was supported by the coachroof. We turned downwind.

    Fortunately we were all safe when it happened. It is certainly better not to be in the way of when the mast and sails come down. In about one hour we managed to separate the upper part of the mast from the lower section and to preserve the boom. We are both in the same state of mind, sad and disappointed. But we are two people who look forwards. And at these times it is certainly better to do that.”

    Some ideas “As soon as it starts to break within two seconds everything is down, so really I can’t speculate as to what might have happened. I know we were pushing the boat but we were in conditions which seemed pretty normal. And this is not exactly the first time I have been pushing the boat since it was launched two years ago.

    After the Vendée Globe we have set a new mast which is lighter. We wanted to save some weight without sacrificing reliability. If we still had the first mast maybe the same thing would have happened. But this second mast was always a bit more fragile in the harsh conditions of the Transat Jacques Vabre. I don’t want to second guess anything but it seems obvious.

    I don’t think our match race with PRB had any impact on how we pushed the boat. We held back at times, our goal was to sail better consistently. We did not want to overdo it, we wanted to sail cleanly and even if PRB had been a few miles ahead, or behind, then nothing would have changed.”

    Second time unlucky "I have had two dismastings in my life, both in IMOCAs between Brazil and Africa and both sailing two up with Michel. We think of the dismasting which happened two years ago in the Barcelona World Race. But the reasons are different. But there is the same feeling of sadness because all of a sudden everything just stops. At the same time we look to the positives, it could have happened at any other time and that would have been worse for us and for the boat. It's been great since it happened in the Barcelona. There is no reason why it can’t follow on the same after this second dismasting.”

    Heading to Salvador de Bahia
    We are sailing downwind towards Bahia. We would not have done too well trying to get upwind in with the storm jib ... We have some fuel but it is limited to get to Bahia. And we want to have enough fuel for when we get to port. Our work under storm jib is useful. The idea is to make the best possible course to sail. We are doing 3-4 knots under sail and under engine 6-7 knots . We might get the there tonight or tomorrow morning. The MACIF team is flying tonight to arrive tomorrow morning or later in the afternoon. In Salvador de Bahia we plan to set a better, more efficient jury rig to sail to Itajaí as the boat must leave by cargo ship in the next few weeks. "

    Multi Match
    Meantime the match race in the Multi 50 class looks set to carry on right to the finish line. FenetreA-Cardinal were resolutely holding Actual in check this afternoon 13 miles ahead with 220 miles to the finish. Actual (Le Blévec and de Pavant) were 48 miles to the north of the leaders FenetreA-Cardinal and both sailing at very similar speeds. The first boat is expected between 0200hrs and 0400hrs UTC Friday morning.

    The long time Class 40 leaders GDF SUEZ (Rogues and Delahaye) are under increasing pressure in the Doldrums, feeling it as second placed Mare (Riechers-Brasseurs) have closed to 28 miles behind but the chasing pack have gained some leverage to the west, potentially getting into more solid breeze before the leaders. Now eight boats are within ninety miles of the leaders, and tenth placed Caterham Challenge were now 120 miles behind the leaders, having made up around 100 miles.

    Alex Pella, Spanish skipper of Tales Santander 2014, reported today: “ We are in the middle of the Doldrums sailing upwind in light airs, 9-10 knots of wind and rain , so we de-salted ourselves and took our showers . We work hard between the squalls which we have been in since yesterday afternoon. We are making a course a bit to the west of GDF SUEZ because we can have some different conditions, it depends on the squalls, the drop away and come back again but what we try to do is stick to the rhumb line, the ortho route, and to get out of here as soon as possible. The fleet squeezes up but the accordion effect will be seen, but when we get out it should be fast enough.”

    Click here to see a video connection of François Gabart after dismating.

    Sounds in English:

    François Gabart (MACIF):

    Michelle Zwagerman (Croix du Sud):
    "We're almost the half race! We will celebrate it with chicken tikka !"

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    Last edited by Photoboy; 11-21-2013, 11:08 AM.

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  • Bitchin Bow Dude
    Bummer for Francois and Michel, so close yet so far!

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  • Photoboy
    News Flash: Imoca 60 Leader Macif Dismasts Off Brazil

    Whilst leading the IMOCA Open 60 Class of the Transat Jacques Vabre two handed race from Le Harvre to Itajaí, Brasil MACIF was dismasted around 0000hrs UTC on Wednesday (into Thursday) night whilst sailing some 140 miles from Salvador de Bahia, Brazil.

    French co-skippers Francois Gabart and Michel Desjoyeaux immediately informed Race Direction so they could warn shipping in the area in order that could avoid colliding with MACIF. Both sailors are reported to be safe and sound and have secured the boat by cutting away the rig. They are headiing towards Salvador de Bahia.

    Further information will be disseminated when it becomes available. Please refer to the website for the latest information.

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  • Photoboy
    Multi 50's On The Home Stretch

    With just 543nm and 583 nm left to go respectively, FenêtréA Cardinal and Actual are in a tight duel as they work their way down the Brazilian Coast with 15 knots of breeze and following seas. Actuals VMG currently is at 21 knots and is closing the gap on the leader who's currently maintaining an 18 knot average.

    all images courtesy Transat Jacques Vabre

    In the IMOCA divison, 23 nm seperate front runner Macif and PRB leading the 5 boat convoy reaching along at 13 knots, give or take with 1164 and 1183 nm's to go!

    Much further back with 2,328 nm miles and the doldrum yet to go, the Class 40 Leader, GDF Suez holds a 26 nm lead over Mare, with a whole herd of 40's marching down, the tale end of the fleet and race being 11th Hour Racing, some 1,181 in the rear with a whopping 3,509 to go!

    Official report:

    A notable compression of the fleet is under way in the Transat Jacques Vabre’s Class 40 fleet and now nine boats at the top are expected to squeeze up as they get into the Doldrums. Leaders Sébastien Rogues and Fabien Delahaye are not expected to have it easy as they get into the difficult, changeable conditions. Mare, sailed by Jorg Riechers and Pierre Brasseur, are only about three hours behind while the Spanish duo Alex Pella and Pablo Santurde on Tales Santander 2014 are only another 10 hours or so behind them. They have been very quick since the Canary Islands, as have the Austrians Christof Petter and Andreas Hannakamp on Vaquita who are now up in fourth. But largely it should still be a first in-first out situation, emerging into the SE’ly trade winds.

    And off the Brazilian coast Actual (Le Blévec and de Pavant) have made a strategic move in second place to try and compensate for a lost spinnaker, moving towards the shore and presently sailing some five or so miles off the beaches, trying to find a little more wind pressure. For the moment it does not seem to be reaping them much of a dividend, but there has been a gybe by the leaders FenêtréA Cardinal (Le Roux - Elies), 50 miles ahead, just to keep a cover on their pursuers. Their winds are more in the NE now and so the leaders have just chosen to keep their only real rivals ain check.

    And there is some risk for them. On the approach to Cabo Frio, at the entrance to the Bay of Rio there is a depression lurking, a stormy frontal system which will get to the two leading multihulls on Thursday afternoon. These systems are just at the very early stages of their generation and so are very difficult to understand and predict, so will the two Multi 50s follow the same strategy?

    Meantime in Madeira it had taken seven days for the upturned Arkema-Region Aquitaine to reach the port of Canical in the east of Madeira after being towed by the Portuguese tug WEST at an average of something around three knots. They arrived during the night of Tuesday November 19th after their tow of 260 miles.

    And then on Wednesday afternoon Arkema-Region Aquitaine was turned back upright by using a big crane, after which skipper Lalou Roucayrol reported that the Multi 50 is in good condition structurally:

    “We have got to land nine days after we capsized and will never forget this experience, including the tow! It was long and it was complicated to tow the boat this far and so we are very lucky to now find that structurally it is intact. I think that we made the right decision to come to Madeira and not to go to Lisbon as it was downwind as opposed to upwind. And the week on the tug will always be a memory. In the end we had 14 on board a tug made for a crew of six, Russians, Dutch, Filipino, it was a nice melting pot and we passed the time as we could. Now really the second phase begins and we are in a brand new marina here with all that we need to clean up the boat and then we will make a decision how and when to repatriate the boat to France.”

    Just over 500 miles behind them the first IMOCA Open 60s follow almost the same route as the trimarans all the way since the Doldrums. For the leaders there is an air of groundhog day, “same conditions as yesterday and the day before and tomorrow’ was Safran’s Marc Guillemot’s description. Racing the long straight line requires concentration and application to gain any small miles. Francois Gabart and Michel Desjoyeaux still hold their lead on MACIF at around 20 miles on PRB (Riou and Le Cam)

    The first first five IMOCA monohulls will face the stormy frontal system on Friday night at Cabo Frio and it will give them quite a testing time off Rio.

    They said:

    Marc Guillemot, skipper of Safran :
    "We have the same conditions as yesterday , as the day before yesterday and no doubt we will have the same tomorrow. There is nothing much exciting, there is not really a strategy. But nonetheless we continue to try and pick up a few miles here and there. This is not the kind of sailing which is extreme, but it is miles that must be done. The Brazilian coast is not easy. There is debris in the water left by fisherman, nets, big dead fish and so we are always on the lookout. In these conditions we steer a lot, much more than on pilot. We have someone on deck all the time to trim and steer. Conditions will be calmer for the approach to Cabo Frio and then onwards to Itajai. The ETA for us is November 26th at 1115hrs exactly".

    Vincent Riou, skipper of PRB :
    "There is really not much in the way of strategy at this moment, all along the Brazilian coast the seas are a bit chaotic and so the pilot does some of the work and it helps keep the boat going as fast as possible, us just trimming for maximum speed. The pilot works well and we trim to it. We are far enough offshore so that we dont meet or see that many people. And the seas are nearly 4000 metres deep here so there are not many fishermen about. That is a little advantage of being a bit further offshore, not having to watch out for traffic as much.

    Tomorrow morning the wind will ease and lift us a bit but it wont really change that much. But within the next 48 hours there will be a small front to negotiate. But the final phase does look difficult.

    We get the impression of not seeing the sun because the boat is always under water but we cant complain because we are mostly going pretty fast. We plan to arrive on Sunday morning".

    Pierre Brasseur, co -skipper of Mare :
    "We are getting closer to the Doldrums and it feels just like that as the skies are getting darker, it is squally, its humid and i trains. Tales is stuck to us but we are getting back at GDF SUEZ and so we are compressing a bit. We have been on the helm for 24 hours solid since Cape Verde and that is tiring but it is paying off for us. From the start in this race we know that you need to preserve the boat and the sails".

    Halvard Mabire, skipper of Campagne de France:
    "We blew our spinnaker and we are missing it. Without it we are a bit compromised. It is not really for repairing but we will see when the conditions improve a bit. We have had reasonable conditions, between 24 and 27 knots and the boat goes well in this. The spinnaker tear is a bit unexplained".

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    Last edited by Photoboy; 11-20-2013, 09:31 PM.

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  • Photoboy
    Compression and Pressure

    Closing fast on the finish in Itajaí Brasil, where the parties commenced Saturday, when the race village opened, a very warm and exhuberant welcome is expected for both MOD70s when they arrive. Expected during Monday afternoon (local time). Edmond de Rothschild still held a small advantage in to the final 500 miles but with a sequence of weather hurdles set in their way, victory in this eleventh edition of the Transat Jacques Vabre is set to be held in the balance until the very final hours.

    Compression, as the fleets compact in lighter winds, has been noticeable in the IMOCA Open 60 fleet who are fighting to get from the stifling Doldrums which are active and complex, into the oxygen of the south easterly trade winds, to establish a more decisive margin. MACIF had seized the lead again this afternoon, coming back from the lighter winds in the east, to squeeze back in front of PRB. But the concertina has squeezed hard and now there is only 30 miles separating first from fifth among the Famous Five, the posse of crews which train together out of Port La Foret. And there has been something of a squeeze in Class 40. The leading duo GDF SUEZ and MARE have not really felt it, still nearly 70 miles ahead of the chasing third placed SNCF Geodis. The Multi 50s are hard on the wind in the SE’ly trades with FenetreA-Cardinal back in a more commanding position over second placed Actual.

    The MOD70 match race is very close to its conclusion, but with less than 45 miles between leaders Sebastien Josse and Charles Caudrelier and long time pursuers Sidney Gavignet and Damian Foxall on Oman-Air Musdandam, the two head to head duos will leave nothing on the race course. Working constantly on the deck, snatching brief naps in the shelter of the small cuddy, Gavignet reported today that physically they are starting to bare the effects of their unrelenting work rate:

    “We are getting close to the finish and are in good shape on board. For the first part of the race we were operating very much as a duo, but now we’re able to operate single-handedly more and more which helps a lot with getting enough rest in order to be sharp and fresh to keep the speed up during the next watch.

    “We are helming a lot and our hands are suffering for it, not quite bleeding yet, but not far off – we’ve been on this tack almost exclusively since Cape Finisterre. Right now we are doing 21 knots of boat speed.” Gavignet told his team earlier today “There are still some challenges to come before Itajai; we have to get through a small front with very little wind behind it, there will be a little from the north and a little from the south. It will be pretty tricky for both boats.

    “In the meantime, I am going to get dry and sleep for 20minutes before heading back up on deck and getting on the attack for three hours!

    The low pressure system is squeezed between two high pressure zones, resulting in cloudy, difficult transition zones, which will mean a slow down for the leader before escaping again. Gavignet and Foxall were making sure they were fully energised for the final night.

    In the IMOCA Open 60s it is MACIF which has only just managed to pass in front of PRB as the two leaders fought into the first of the SE’ly trade winds. Making 16kts on the afternoon ranking suggests Francois Gabart and Michel Desjoyeaux have an edge which might multiply initially on the 750 miles tack towards Recife on the corner of Brazil.

    Class 40 sees the contraction in the peloton become more noticeable as they run into lighter breezes. Now just four miles separates third from sixth, Campagne de France (Miranda Merron and Halvard Mabire) dropping a couple of places over the early afternoon. Merron said this afternoon: “We are into a bit of a snakes and ladders phase right now so we really need full concentration as we get into a bit of a light patch. The boats behind will be catching so we have to minimise that effect.”

    “We lost out a bit with the staggered start which did advantage the boats which went out first, and again at Finisterre, but we really have been pushing hard to get back into it.”

    Speaking of their strength together as a duo, certainly one of the most enduring partnerships in the Class, Merron pointed out that more than 36,000 miles of sailing together, means they are able to push their boat to constant high average speeds.

    Quickest through much of the day has been Mike Gascoyne and Brian Thompson who are driving hard to try and recoup the miles they lost making a big repair to their mainsail. Lying 11th the British duo believe they have a good chance to come back:

    Talking on the live radio vacation with Paris, Gascoyne said: “It is great to be getting a chance to catch up the leaders, to make up some lost ground. I think it cost us about 150 to 170 miles we had a big rip across the main, just under the third batten, two thirds of the way down, going down one metre and across to within 30cms of the luff of the sail. So we lowered it on deck, looked at the material we had and unfortunately because we shredded the A5 as well we had some of it, the A5, available. So basically we repaired that all of the next day, hoisted it and 9 the following evening. We were conservative, baby’d it a bit, and it had moved a little but the key area by the leech of the sail was rock solid.”

    “We have just built it up and up since yesterday and we are pretty pleased with the ranking this morning and we are going well. The group we were with, Proximedia and that, we have left them behind and are chasing into the group ahead.”

    “We know the guys in front have slowed up and it is our turn to enjoy it.”

    “For us the guys up the front are going to be held up a little bit with lighter winds, the high is moving down and so we should hold the stronger winds and we think that looking at the leaders, if it goes the way it is looking we could be under 100 miles behind at the Doldrums. And I think that if that was the case, with a pretty straight route down there, we have the advantage of looking down the track and see what’s going on and we will be coming down quickly.”


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  • Photoboy
    MOD 70's Prepare For Final Flight To Finish

    The MOD70s are well within the final 1000 miles to the Itajai finish but those last miles are likely to be decisive. First there is the cyclogenesis zone off Cape Frio – where low pressures spin off the coast – and then the last stretch in to the finish is likely to be light, cloudy, shifty and all in all slightly random. Sidney Gavignet and Damian Foxall are certainly in shape and right up for the final fight:

    "We are through the worst just now and it is easier. The sea is relatively flatter and with the Wind we have it is going well. We have managed to reduce the gap a little to Edmond de Rothschild. How did we do it? (laughs)... Well we probably had more wind think. We are 46 miles apart now . We are always steering, always on deck".

    All images courtesy © Transat Jaques Vabre

    In the next 24 hours, the scenario is perfect with the wind, a small depression in the Bay of Rio means gybes and so the game is open until the end - until a few miles before the finish! We try be at the maximum for the near future. No Paris I am not tired at all!", Gavignet laughed.

    In the other multihull head to head duel, that of the MOD70 pair which are opening the course off Salvador de Bahia today, the lead of Edmond de Rothschild, the MOD70 sailed by Sebastien Josse and Charles Caudrelier – which has looked very solid for some days – has also been severely trimmed by their opponents Oman Air Musandam. The strategy of taking a more easterly passage through the Doldrums seems to be paying now for the French/Irish duo of Sidney Gavignet and Damian Foxall who are now less than 40 miles behind and sailing slightly quicker.

    There is no such significant change in the IMOCA Open 60 class where MACIF, sailed by Vendee Globe winners Francois Gabart and Michel Desjoyeaux, is on the most direct, rhumb line course at 23 miles ahead of PRB. The leaders in this class will be watching the evolution of the Doldrums and learning from what happens to the Multi 50s who are a matter of 180 miles – or 10 hours ahead.

    While the leading positions in Class 40 continue to be monopolised by the Mach 40 duo of GDF SUEZ (Rogues and Delahaye) and MARE (Riechers and Brasseur), Briton Miranda Merron and her French counterpart Halvard Mabire on Campagne de France currently have the better of ERDF des Pieds et des Mains (Seguin and Richomme) for the moment, rising to third overall but this duo are less than one mile apart on the water after nine days of racing.

    There is no let up in pace when there are such private battles as an added spur, and just as Campagne de France and ERDF press each other ever harder, so also Alex Pella and Pablo Santurde on Tales Santander 2014 are enjoying tight racing with Watt & Sea (Bestaven and Ducroz) which is four miles behind them.

    Speaking today on live radio with Race HQ in Paris, Pella confirmed that the Spanish duo are very happy with the speed of their very new boat which they are only now getting an extended chance to learn. They are well to the West of the rhumb line and – Pella said today – will need to get back to the east to avoid the worst of a Doldrums minefield up ahead.

    Italians Stefano Raspadori and Pietro dÀli revealed that they will stop in Tenerife imminently to make a repair to their mainsail track.

    They said:

    Jeremie Beyou - Maitre Coq: "Yes we have opened the gap with our nearest rivals. We worked the squalls and gusts a bit more than Safran and Cheminees Poujoulat. I think that last night we did a little more than they did and got . Conditions are optimal for great surfing! We have between 23 and 28 knots of wind, we sailed at 120 degrees AWA so we were sailing at 20-22 knots, which is cool the boats are fully loaded at this angle of the wind , so it goes fast but we must be careful. We will tackle the Doldrums shortly. We will try to do something good. Significant clouds are already in sight, so it will be difficult to predict".


    Class 40


    Multi 50

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  • Photoboy
    Pit Stoping On The Jacques Varbre Race Track

    IMOCA Open 60. In the Pits… and Out

    As PRB made their pit stop into the Cape Verde islands François Gabart and Michel Desjoyeaux on MACIF seized the lead in the IMOCA Open 60 class, passing through the island group in the wake of erstwhile leaders and carrying on when Vincent Riou and Jean Le Cam peeled off to rendezvous with their pit in Mindelo on the island of Sao Vicente.

    The diversion, no more than a dozen miles west from the route taken by the Vendée Globe winning pair on MACIF, took a little over an hour but it allowed Gabart and Desjoyeaux to resume the lead that they had last held off Portugal five days ago, before they themselves had stopped into Peniche on the pit stop for repairs. MACIF was leading by 31 miles this Friday afternoon, but PRB was quicker.

    Fifty miles to the west of the islands, Maitre CoQ (Beyou and Pratt) was giving chase with a deficit of a further 30 miles behind the leaders. But with a complicated and difficult Doldrums up ahead, the leading five are expected to compress again.

    Jean Le Cam, co-skipper of PRB, recalled: “We just stopped for an hour to give us enough time to change the rudder, so it was fast. It went well. The rudder had broken when we were close to Madeira and for sure when you push the boat it is normal that things can break. We have had an excellent first half of the race and hope the second will be good too. One of us is always on deck and at the helm. We are off under spinnaker and going as fast as we can. We are going to see what options everyone is taking so we have to work out how we get up to Macif.”

    And if the top five are engaged in an exciting tussle with the lead changing regularly – all five of the top boats have lead at least once – the scrap at the rear of the IMOCA Open fleet is as intense and challenging. Alessandro di Benedetto and Alberto Monaco on Team Plastique took over eighth place today ahead of the Polish duo on Energa, Zbigniew Gutkowski and Maciej Marczewski.

    Multi 50’s, Long Tow to Madeira for Arkéma - Region Aquitaine

    There is little change at the front of the Multi50 fleet where Erwan Le Roux and Yann Eliès on FenetreA Cardinal have Actual (Le Blévec and de Pavant) directly behind them as they start to contemplate their Doldrums passage, one which looks set to be less straightforward than that which prevailed for the MOD70’s. Le Roux and Eliès opened more than 20 miles on the second placed Multi 50 today and lead by 120 miles.

    Although they are safe on board the Portuguese tug and Lalou Roucayrol and Mayeul Riffet are recovering from their 85 hours ordeal in the upturned Arkema Region Aquitaine, they are not yet able to relax. Conditions mean that, along with the tug company, they have decided to tow the upturned hull to Madeira, 285 miles downwind. They expect to reach there sometime in the middle of next week.

    Speaking to French radio yesterday they relived the conditions in the capsized trimaran:

    “We are feeling a bit better having had a shower and some food”, explained Mayeul Riffet, the co-skipper on Arkema – Région Aquitaine. “We did try and turn the boat over but the maneouver is virtually impossible with the sea state being so bad. We tried to while away the time but had a lot of maintenance work to secure the boat which involved diving to clear rigging and daily check outside. We had time to talk and philosophize on life, the future and think. We had to set ourselves objectives try and achieve them. Each time the ETA for the tugs arrival was delayed, we found it really tough. Conditions really worsened and the waves were breaking over the upturned hulls. We were lucky to have battery power inside despite being upturned, which gave us light at night and the ability to communicate. With no beacons it was only thanks to the GPS position given, that the tugboat managed to find us.”

    Roucayrol described the transfer onto the tug as: “Dangerous and frightening with very strong winds and angry and breaking waves.”

    Class 40, Caterham Sail Loft Challenge

    In Class 40 the pace has slackened slightly but the lead of GDF SUEZ (Rogues and Delahaye) remains unchecked by second placed MARE (Riechers and Brasseur).

    For the British duo on Caterham Challenge, Mike Gascoyne and Brian Thompson the last 36 hours have proven costly in terms of miles and distance, dropping to 13th after a sail repair marathon taking the best part of 36 hours, repairing their mainsail and gennaker:

    “Finally hoisted the main at 9 last night.” Gascoyne reported today, “After a conservative first night we lowered it again to repair a small area that had inadvertently rubbed against the spreaders, re-hoisted and also took the time to fix the tack line. Finally at midday hoisted the spinnaker and started racing again. It’s been a tough 36hrs but it’s a long race and we need to push as hard as we can to catch up our lost ground.”

    MOD70, Brasil Ahead!

    In the MOD70 class the match race between Edmond de Rothschild and Oman Air-Musandam remains relatively even after the two crossed over the equator last night.

    Pointing at Recife on the NE Brazilian coast this afternoon, Sébastien Josse and Charles Caudrelier lead by 73 miles from Sidney Gavignet and Damian Foxall.

    They said:

    Bernard Stamm, IMOCA Open 60, Cheminées Poujoulat

    “Maitre Coq has managed to get a better wind angle, one that is more favourable for his boat, than the one we have. Things seem to have slowed for Safran, so we just have to keep an eye on the others. We have decided to go as far west as possible round the Cape Verde Islands to position ourselves to get to the optimum Doldrums crossing point. Conditions are a little strange, the sky is overcast and although we do not have the squalls or big clouds of the past few days, we do have a good established and regular wind. We have managed to get a bit of rest and the morale was boosted yesterday finding ourselves well positioned. It is not easy when you are leading and then lose ground, so it is tough; we have to keep on top of it all the time.

    I think we are well set up to get through the Doldrums, which are positioned well north this year, and that means we should be a bit faster out.”

    Jean Le Cam, IMOCA Open 60 PRB:

    “We just stopped for an hour to give us enough time to change the rudder, so it was fast. It went well. The rudder had broken when we were close to Madeira and for sure when you push the boat it is normal that things can break.

    We have had an excellent first half of the race and hope the second will be good too. One of us is always on deck and at the helm. We are off under spinnaker and going as fast as we can. We are going to see what options everyone is taking so we have to work out how we get up to Macif.”

    François Damiens, IMOCA Open 60, Initiatives Coeur:

    “We had some great speed yesterday and now things have slowed down a bit so we are losing ground. It is very frustrating when you are averaging 24 knots and now we are doing 11 / 12 knots. We have a blue sky, flat sea and gentle conditions. It is a bit like a holiday and completely different to what we had when we left Le Havre.

    Yesterday I saw a whale and her baby just 10 metres away from the boat. We have had a lot of dolphins and then a seagull that just landed then a little bird that joined us for 3 days. I am still in my tights, because I think they suit me, but now that the sun is out I suppose I should get the trunks on. I am waiting for Tanguy to wake up and then we can have breakfast and have a wash and will make the most to get the shorts out.

    We have Energa and Team Plastique close and so just a few miles away one is doing 8 and then other 12, so we just have to really keep en eye on the conditions on the water. You can just miss the wind trying to chase it.”

    Sounds in English:

    Michelle Zwagerman (Croix du Sud):
    "Things are very well today onboard Croix du Sud! The sun is out."

    Maciej Marczewski (Energa):

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  • Photoboy
    Mod 70's Near Recife

    The equator is already passed for both of the MOD70’s while the last Class 40 is off Lisbon. Now the fleet of the 11th Transat Jacques Vabre is spread over 3000 miles but the weather is quite similar, moderate trade winds, cloud cover to unsettle the breeze and good, effective speeds.

    The MOD70 duo passed into the Southern Hemisphere last night. Around 2030hrs UTC it was Edmond de Rothschild (Josse-Caudrelier) across first and then two hours later for Oman Air-Musandam (Gavignet-Foxall), the duo in good SE trade winds of 20kts, making them speeds of around 25kts has they head towards the Brazilian coast where they should reach this afternoon. At the current rate the first to finish this Transat Jacques Vabre is expected in Itajai on November 19th, after less than 12 days at sea. But there are still potential pitfalls between the passage of Cabo Frio where the low pressures spin out from the coast, and then light winds perhaps in to Itajai. Edmond de Rothschild’s lead is cut to just over 60 miles with Charles Caudrelier admitting
    “ We are in great shape but we have made a big mistake in the Doldrums against Oman. I think Sidney and Damian will have a better angle in the coming hours, but we will see"

    Brian Thompson

    "After a great day two days ago pushing out to the west and the fastest boat in the Class 40 fleet double disaster struck us on Caterham Challenge. Gybing onto port tack to head directly to the doldrums we suffered a huge rip practically the whole way across the mainsail two thirds of the way. We lowered the main and set off with just the A5 up and were still making 12-14kts. we were just evaluating if we could repair the main at sea or head for port when the tack line failed on the A5 and we had a big wipeout. We recovered the sail and furler but it is unuseable.We spent the whole of the next 24 hours on the mainsail repair with just the solent up. Finally hoisted the main at 9 last night. After a conservative first night we lowered it again to repair a small area that had inadvertently rubbed against the spreaders, reehoisted and also took the time to fix the tack line."

    Yoann Richmonde ERDF

    Stop in Cape Verde:

    IMOCA Open 60 leaders PRB have chose to make a technical pit stop in Sao Vincente in the Cape Verde islands, arriving before dawn this morning. The pit stop should only be very short and not really affect their strategic routing. Vendée Globe winners François Gabart and Michel Desjoyeaux on MACIF, at eight miles in their wake, were racing on the wheel of PRB but will not want to divert to evaluate the leaders’ skills on the pit stand. Their NE’ly wind, at 12kts, is a little hesitant. The chasing group, at eighty miles to the west and 90 miles behind, will pass nearly 100 miles to the west of the island group, but notwithstanding the outcome of PRB’s pitstop and who does better in the west, a general re-grouping is expected near the ‘in door’ to the Doldrums (ICTZ).

    Watt & Sea Region Poitou Charentes 2

    Team Plastique

    Sea and surf but no sun:

    For the first two Multi -50s up ahead of the IMOCA Open 60’s life is good. It is warm but with a lot of clouds, light breezes and a good course to the Doldrums which they will reach tomorrow night. FenêtréA Cardinal (Le Roux - Elies) has pulled out a few extra miles on their pursuers Actual ( Le Blévec and de Pavant ) while Rennes Saint - Malo Agglomeration (Lamiré -Mura) is going well along the Mauritanian coast 600 miles from the leaders, who are between the Canary Islands and Cape Verde.

    Class40 ' are passing to the west of Madeira in trade winds conditions which are slowly improving, up to twenty knots in a much more regular sea. Headsails have been changed and the overall risks reduced. Making speeds to 14kts the leaders are pursued by two groups, those in their wake and those working out to the east who will pass to the east of Madeira and perhaps through the Canary Islands. GDF SUEZ (Rogues-Delahaye) and MARE (Riechers-Brasseur) are still conclusive leaders


    Watt & Sea Region Poitou Charentes 2


    They said:

    Michel Desjoyeaux ( IMOCA Macif )
    "We are in the vicinity of the Cape Verde Islands . There are lights of Sao Vicente. We are 26 miles from the archipelago of Cape Verde. The trade wind has dropped a bit over night. As PRB passed between the islands we learned they stopped. You have to be careful of the wind shadows. I have been through the middle of the archipelago several times and there was always the wind. We decided to keep in touch with the leader, because there was a Transat Jacques Vabre winner a few years back who said he was stopping and he did not and the others were had. There is still some distance to the Doldrums but we are beginning to analyse. We watched the MOD70’s and they chose different passages and it opens the game. It works well on board, François spends a lot of time at the computer because he likes it, he makes the routing."

    Pierre Brasseur ( Class40 ' Mare)
    " It's great it was a magical night, the boat goes fast well . The wind has eased a little , it was about 25 knots and the sea calmed down and we can reall push it in the waves. These are ideal conditions for good speed in the waves with a beautiful moon. We are going quick and we take advantage ! But we see from the last positions that GDF will as well "

    Erwan Le Roux (Multi -50 FenêtréA Cardinal)
    "You woke me up, I 'm at the bottom of the bunk ... We thought we were a bit affected by the wind shadow of Cape Verde but not really we passed without much problem. We made some good averages yesterday and last night but for an hour now the wind begins to ease.
    The Doldrums are quite high (north) and wide. I think it went well for the MODs but it will be more complicated for us. We'll see tonight.”

    Charles Caudrelier ( MOD70 Edmond de Rothschild )
    "It's going great! We are into the southern hemisphere. It was hard work to get here but it's good but Brazil is in front of the boat! It was the worst Doldrums I have seen, lots of squalls, changes in direction, 35kt gusts, it was more difficult in the west than for Oman Air-Musandam. Now we have 25 knots of south-easterly trade winds because it has veered the last two hours and we’ll see between 25 and 30 knots. The sea is relatively flat , it's hot , almost too hot ! In 10 to 12 hours we'll be at the forefront of Recife and then it will be enjoyable. We are in great shape but we have made a big mistake in the Doldrums against Oman. I think Sidney and Damian will have a better angle in the coming hours we will see"

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  • Built to List
    4 nights on a capsized trimaran is 3 too many.

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