In the Transat Jacques Vabre, with Class 40s having their weather stop and the MOD 70’s likely to be quick enough to avoid the worst of the weather in the Bay of Biscay – the big multihull duo should be at Finisterre, or near enough, by the time the worst of the weather hits, it looks like the IMOCA Open 60 fleet and the Multi 50’s might bear the brunt of the big winds and seas which are forecast to build almost as soon as they clear Ushant.
Start of the 11th Transat Jacques Vabre
First for them is the long, tactical beat out of the Channel, balancing the options of more breeze in the north against a more favourable shift in wind direction arriving first from the south. The advantage is likely to increase for the leaders and so there is considerable pressure to push as hard as possible to start with, but in the knowledge that maximum energies will be needed across the Bay of Biscay. In the very early stages it was the established favourites, Macif, sailed by Michel Desjoyeaux and Francois Gabart – who hold three Vendée Globe wins between them – who lead from the first mark, three miles from the start line, ahead of Marc Guillemot and Pascal Bidégorry.
The 190 miles leg to Roscoff is more akin to a super short Solitaire du Figaro sprint, offering several key tactical options but with a restart possibly in lighter winds and strong tidal currents, any gains or losses could be magnified after restarting.
Damian Foxall, IRL, Oman Air-Musandam, MOD 70: 'For us it is a race to get south to Finisterre before the next strong system coming in. We should be at Ushant tomorrow morning and Finisterre the following midnight. I think we might not get there before the new wind comes in from the SW so we might have to tack to get around there in a building breeze, probably 35kts but that should be quite short lived and we should get down the Portuguese coast. The boats immediately behind us will get a lot more. For us it does not look like anything extreme. Most of the options are heading out of the Channel, getting the shifts right as we get through, inside Ushant or not and then how much we pull the helm to accelerate towards the North Coast of Spain and try and get through in one, or go for a tack. More and more this morning we are looking at a tack.
We will very clearly watch what Edmond de Rothschild and do it better.'
Sam Goodchild, GBR, Concise 8, Class 40: 'It helps mentally to be getting out of the Channel well, to be near the front of the fleet rather than the back so that is important. With a new boat we need to know we don’t have to push too hard to catch up for example, it would be nice to hold the throttle back a little. We need to stay in touch, and not take any risks. You want to get to Roscoff without too much deficit. It will be upwind, building through the day for us.'
Jorg Riechers GER, Mare, Class 40: 'It is what it is. It is a good decision to go to Roscoff, it means we will get more boats to Itajai I think. I maybe look relaxed but the tension is inside! We have to attack the first leg like a leg of the Figaro, so no sleeping always on deck, pushing the boat really going for it because it can be quite important for the re-start which might be on Sunday with not a lot of wind and a lot of tide, so it is important. A good start and first leg is key.'
François Gabart FRA, Macif, IMOCA : 'We will be upwind for the whole channel all the way to Finisterre. There are a lot of things to do upwind and the weather models don’t say the same things. It will be interesting. Biscay looks pretty tough for us on the IMOCA’s but after Finisterre we will be going downwind in the sunshine.'
Brian Thompson, GBR, Caterham Challenge, Class 40: 'My preference would have been to carry on. It is probably going to be worse for the IMOCA 60’s and the Multi 50’s so it is looking like a wise choice to be in this class.'
Zbigniew Gutowski, POL, Energa, IMOCA: 'I am not looking forwards to the storm in Biscay so we need to be careful there but after that maximum acceleration. I am always confident. The boat is well prepared and we are ready not like the last time (Vendee Globe).'
Alessandro di Benedetto, ITA, Team Plastique IMOCA: 'The fastest boats will find themselves with the advantage so we are trying to go as fast as we can to start with and stay with them, we will push the boat as hard as we can. I am looking forwards to getting down into the tropical sunshine.
Transat Jacques Vabre