Transat Jacques Vabre - Action begins next month on Paul Vatine Basin

Depart de la Transat Jacques Vabre 2011
© Alexis Courcoux
The Transat Jacques Vabre commences from Friday October 25th on Le Havre’s Paul Vatine Basin with one of the strongest fleets mustered for the event, the two handed race across the Atlantic, for twenty years. Not since 1993 has there been a racing fleet as big and as strong.

On Sunday November 3rd 88 co-skippers on 44 different craft will take to the starting line. Then the IMOCA monohulls and the Class 40 fleets will set off on a direct course for Itajai in Brazil. The multihulls, that is the MOD70’s and the Multi50’s will complete a prologue race which will count for the overall result before they take off for the Brazilian finish line a few days later. The course distance is 5400 miles and the objective is that the first boats arrive around 19th November which is when three weeks of festivities will begin, celebrating four different class winners.

Class40 yachts will be visible in big numbers around the Paul Vatine basin. Twenty five Class 40 duos have entered, forming what will be the most varied and most international class in the race. It is a heady mix of men and women, young and old, French and overseas, well known and unknown, veterans and first timers. Halvard Mabire and Miranda Merron will be racing on Campagne de France. This is Mabire’s first participation while Miranda has already done the race and won it before. 'This new edition to Itajai is a very attractive proposition, with a nice long course. With Campagne de France we have already done what equates to the first leg during the Global Ocean Race so that is really good reconaissance of the Brazilian coast. We feel like we know most of the difficulties which might lie ahead, and there are of course the usual surprises to be encountered in the South Atlantic.'

The race is also about sharing different experiences, such as those which will be enjoyed by the Paralympic medallist Damien Seguin and Figaro sailor Yoann Richomme (ERDF Les Pieds et Les Mains). The race will feature eight nationalities, including Australians, Belgians, Italians, Spaniards, Austrians and British. It will be a great battle on the water, one to be watched closely and enjoyed.

Of the IMOCA Class all ten have started the Vendée Globe in the past. Inevitably perhaps the favourites in the class will be the duo which together have won three editions of the Vendée Globe, François Gabart – winner of the last race – and double winner Michel Desjoyeaux on Macif.

'The Transat Jacques Vabre was the first big ocean race I did and Kito de Pavant really trusted me, it was a big step for him to take me and we were rewarded with the second step on the podium. That race really cemented the idea in my head that this is what I wanted to do with my life and I wanted to have my own project. And so here we are and my goal for 2013 is to sail well and to try and win.' Says Gabart.

But there are many of the IMOCA duos who have the skills and the craft to cause and upset to the favourites. And from the movies to thrillers on the water is just one small step, as Belgian actor François Damiens races along with Tanguy de Lamotte in Initiatives Coeur.

During June this summer the tightly matched Multi50s put up a great fight on the inaugural Route des Princes around Europe race and it is certain that they will do the same on this Transat Jacques Vabre.

Only launched this year Arkema is the newest 50 while the oldest (Vers un Monde sans SIDA), all share the same, common goal: to reach Itajaí fast.

Yves Le Blevec (Actual) is looking to retain the title he won in 2011 sails with Kito de Pavant . 'Our goal is to perform better on the classification, do as well as in the last edition! But there are especially four boats which are very competitive , it promises a great battle to reach Itajaí,' says Yves Le Blévec.

The Multihulls are a full part of the start on 3 November, making a coastal race to Etretat, then going back to the Paul Vatine basin for a few days before starting so that the main part of the fleet for the eleventh Transat Jacques Vabre will join together in Itajai during the third week of November.

For the first time in the Transat Jacques Vabre, the 70-foot MOD70 multihulls will start this famous race. All skippers of this class have already taken part in the race before but this time it will be on these high speed, very evenly matched one designs. This is the second transatlantic race for the multihulls but the first from east to west. It will mark the first ocean race in the class for Jean-Pierre Dick (Virbac- Paprec 70) who is already a three times winner of the Transat Jacques Vabre ( 2003-2005-2011): 'This is a race which is dear to my heart because of these successes, and in fact that is three wins out of three entries! Obviously I have great memories of Brazil and Costa Rica. But I have enjoyed those human relationships, the partnerships with Nicolas (Abiven) Loick (Peyron) and Jeremie (Beyou). And there is always a strong pull to Le Havre, because I have so many friends and veterinary colleagues who are very supportive: I love this city!

This time it is a new challenge in MOD70 racing with Roland Jourdain. We will be underdogs but there are some advantages as well... And to go to Itajaí, is great: Brazil is always a party and the course itself is very open: in fact that makes everything you need for a good race! '

'Le Havre is proud to be a partner city start of the Transat Jacques Vabre for 20 years. At the same time it’s a great race, this is a great, popular event. In 2011, we welcomed 300,000 visitors to the village and we hope to do even better this year', says Edouard Philippe, Deputy Mayor of Le Havre.

Clotilde Bednarek, Marketing Director Coffee Mondel?z International: 'The Transat Jacques Vabre is a sporting event but also a human adventure. For the 20th edition, we are once again partnered by Jacques Vabre alongside all the skippers with whom we share the same values??: passion, commitment, respect…'

'The number of boats coming to Itajai in the Transat Jacques Vabre is really welcome and exciting and shows us how the organizers' commitment is total. We are very proud to welcome the participants of this important sailing event and we will do everything in our power to offer the best of Itajaí', Jandir Bellini - Mayor of Itajai.

Beyond the sporting and human challenge, the Transat Jacques Vabre is an eco -friendly event. Since 2007 effective measures have been put in place to limit and offset its carbon footprint by encouraging the support of partners and stakeholders of the event. The reduction of CO2 emissions has been a major objective for all participants in the race and a comprehensive system for sustainable development was established by the organisation. Very concrete actions have been made on transport, energy, water, waste management, the use of recycled or recyclable materials and communication to the public. CO2 emissions have also been offset (100% of CO2 emissions of the organization) through reforestation operations in tropical forests. In 2013, this action for environmental progress continues in the same line and fervor.

Transat Jacques Vabre website
http://www.sail-world.com/114290