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Transat Jacques Vabre - Safran ready to set off    
Thu, 7 Nov 2013

The Transat Jacques Vabre will finally commence at 1300hrs local time tomorrow. Marc Guillemot and Pascal Bidégorry will be leaving the pontoon at 1038hrs. This afternoon, they attended the final briefing set up by the organizers and updated their weather analysis and strategy…

Four days after the planned start, the whole of the Transat Jacques Vabre fleet will finally be heading out to sea on at 1300hrs on Thursday 7th November. The two strong gales which swept up the English Channel have passed over. The conditions will remain lively, but should be easier to deal with, allowing the sailors to set off from under the cliffs at Cape de La Hève. Marc Guillemot even believes the start is likely to be in rather light winds. The skipper of Safran explains, 'In Seine Bay, we should be able to sail on one tack to Barfleur, then in quite light SW’ly winds towards Cherbourg.'. After that, it becomes more a question of strategy. 'The wind will strengthen as we pass the Cherbourg Peninsula and will coming directly at us at around 250° (SW). So we will probably have to tack to the tip of Brittany and Ushant,' Marc added. This is when the first little skirmishes will break out between the IMOCAs…

Off Ushant, they are going to have to find the right trajectory taking into account the wind, seas, the fleet, but also the traffic separation scheme, the famous Ushant shipping lanes, which govern the movement of merchant vessels.

They will have to deal with the Bay of Biscay and some rough conditions: '30-35 knot westerly winds, with heavy seas, it’s going to be physical and wet,' Marc predicted. 'There are bound to be some little moves to make, heading off in a different direction and anticipating sail changes… Ocean racing never sees you sailing straight ahead.' The goal will of course to avoid breaking anything, to get some rest to keep a clear head and sail as quickly as possible on this long stretch down across the Bay of Biscay. 'The closer we get to Cape Finisterre, the more the wind will veer westerly or even north-westerly. As we pass the Portuguese border, we should be able to take advantage of the effects of the area of high pressure.' They will have to wait until they are out at sea to confirm these forecasts, continually updating the weather, which is something Pascal Bidégorry and Marc Guillemot will be working on together each day. For the IMOCA fleet routing is not allowed. When you are looking at a distance of 5400 theoretical miles to reach Itajaí – or in other words around 19 days of sailing – this is far from being a minor detail.

by Mathilde Mermod

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