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Transat Jacques Vabre - Bassin Paul Vatine full to bursting

by Kate Jennings on 26 Oct 2013
Edmond de Rothschild in action Lloyd Images © http://lloydimagesgallery.photoshelter.com/
With nine days left till the start of the 11th Transat Jacques Vabre, the Bassin Paul Vatine is full to bursting. This comes as no surprise given that this Friday 25 October was the deadline set by the organisers for everyone to get to Le Havre. Having arrived in Norman waters at lunchtime on Thursday, the trimaran fitted out by Baron Benjamin de Rothschild is among the 44 entries that will be participating in the famous double-handed transatlantic race bound for Brazil (Itajai for this 2013 edition). At the helm of their multihull, Sébastien Josse and Charles Caudrelier are feeling calm as they prepare to tackle the last few days leading up to the race start.

Having set out from her home port of Lorient at noon on Wednesday, the trimaran fitted out by Baron Benjamin de Rothschild made it to the gates of Le Havre late morning yesterday after a delivery trip of over 300 nautical miles. Sébastien Josse and Charles Caudrelier benefited from a short and somewhat milder weather window along the Breton and Norman coasts to make Le Havre, from where the start of the Transat Jacques Vabre will take place on 3 November 2013.

This delivery trip of a little less than 24 hours was the final offshore sea trial for the Edmond de Rothschild duo prior to the race itself: 'Ultimately, this final sea trial proved to be fairly calm, even though the initial hours were quite lively with squalls and fairly big seas as far as the north-west tip of Brittany. For the rest of the delivery trip we benefited from virtually perfect conditions with a medium wind and relatively flat seas. These few miles in shorthanded configuration gave us one last chance to do an offshore check of all the onboard systems, especially the automatic pilot, as well as review the entire sail wardrobe. We got the boat alongside with a virtually empty jobs list, which is a very good sign, and Edmond de Rothschild would be ready to leave tomorrow if need be,' said a delighted Sébastien Josse yesterday on arriving dockside.

The first boat in her category to tie up in the basin that bears the name of the late lamented local sailor Paul Vatine, the MOD70 Edmond de Rothschild has since been joined by her only adversary in this event: Musandam – Oman Air. Indeed, the one-design trimaran class, which was initially made up of four pairs, has had two boats withdraw from its ranks. Spindrift Racing and more recently Virbac Paprec were forced to retire after each of them suffered capsizes. As such it’s a duel on an Atlantic scale that’s on the cards for the four remaining sailors. Isn’t it tough to motivate yourselves under these conditions? 'Absolutely not', reply Sébastien Josse and Charles Caudrelier: 'There aren’t so many boats lining up for the start of course, but the stakes of crossing the Atlantic double-handed and on a multihull are still the same and it remains a real sporting and human challenge. The fact that there are just two of us will certainly influence the on-the-water strategy, as it’s sure to involve more controlling moves, but ultimately we’re still heading out with the same objectives: to finish and to win!' The co-skipper of Edmond de Rothschild goes on to add that: 'The Transat Jacques Vabre is one of France’s major offshore racing events. We’ve been preparing for it for nearly a year now and it’s really satisfying to be moored in the Bassin Paul Vatine with just a matter of days to go till the big day. This will be my 4th participation, the 3rd for Sébastien, and we feel very lucky to be here.'

For this first weekend of festivities, the skippers will take part in a promotional race contested in double-handed configuration aboard 7.50m monohulls; a sociable and sporty way to mark the start of this 11th Transat Jacques Vabre. As such all the classes will come together as one on the same craft and these now famous races will be contested just a stone’s throw from the Bassin Paul Vatine on the Bassin de l’Eure. Tomorrow, Saturday, will be devoted to qualification rounds, whilst Sunday will see the final phases being played out. In addition to the sailing entertainment the usual inspections will begin for the whole fleet with the aim of checking that all the boats conform with the measurement rule for their respective classes: 'The boat is now in the safe hands of the shore crew. For Charles and I, our programme for the upcoming days in Le Havre will essentially involves briefings (safety, weather, etc.), media interviews and also some sport. We’re going to try and do the latter together every morning so as not to fall off the pace. After that, the closer we get to start day, the more our daily schedule will focus on the weather forecasts,' Sébastien Josse explains.

'For now, we’re still quite far away from the theoretical start day announced by Race Management as we’re currently set to leave Le Havre on Friday 8 November, some five days after the monohull fleet (these staggered starts have been devised to enable the various fleets to arrive en masse in Brazil). This is particularly the case given how unstable the weather has been lately. As a result we’re going to have to be patient for a few more days yet before we can really study in detail what one might consider to be ‘reliable’ grib files. At that stage we’ll be able to focus on the routing and analysis, but that won’t be before the middle of next week. Despite all that, we’re keeping an eye on the general situation. For the past fortnight we’ve noticed that the Azores High is nicely in position, over the Azores as its name indicates, thus enabling a string of depressions to roll across the Atlantic. The English Channel is in line with their trajectory. The zone of high pressure can put on a few little spurts and climb up to the North slightly, but that doesn’t last long as it’s a lot weaker at this time of year than it is in the summer. In essence it’s the classic situation for November.'

The Edmond de Rothschild duo

Sébastien Josse, skipper

38 years of age, lives with his partner
Six Solitaire du Figaros, two Vendée Globes, one Volvo Ocean Race, one Jules Verne Trophy
2011, joined the Gitana Team and performed his first tacks on an oceanic multihull
Third participation in the Transat Jacques Vabre, first on a multihull
To find out more about Sébastien Josse, click here

Charles Caudrelier, co-skipper
39 years of age, married, two children
Eight Solitaire du Figaros, 11 transatlantic races, one Volvo Ocean Race
Fourth participation in the Transat Jacques Vabre, second on a multihull, including one victory in 2009 in the Imoca class with Safran
To find out more about Charles Caudrelier, click here

Transat Jacques Vabre
11th edition, celebrating its 20th anniversary this year
Double-handed transatlantic race between Le Havre and Itajaí (Brazil)
5,400 miles to cover over a direct route
Four classes of boat entered (Class40’, Imoca60, Multi50 and MOD70), 45 duos competing
Prologue for the MOD70s*: Sunday 3 November
Start for the MOD70s: between 3 and 8 November (exact date to be announced on 1 November according to the weather conditions)

* An inshore course of around forty miles with a sprint between Le Havre and Etretat and back. This prologue will count towards the overall ranking as the MOD70s will take the start in the order that they complete this preliminary course.
Gitana Team website

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