Transat Jacques Vabre - Safran sets off in third place

Start of the 11th Transat Jacques Vabre
The start of the 11th Transat Jacques Vabre was finally signaled by the Race Committee at 1300hrs local time today (Thursday 7th November) in Le Havre. They’re now on their way to Itajaí in Brazil. After thirty minutes of racing, Safran was one of the three frontrunners.

The theoretical distance they have to sail is 5400 miles. According to the most recent routing scenarios, the 60-foot Imoca boats should take between 17 and 19 days to complete this race. The transatlantic race is very much like the start of a Vendée Globe, among other reasons, as they have to make their way down to the Southern Hemisphere and therefore deal with the Intertropical convergence zone, the infamous Doldrums.

For the moment, at the foot of the cliffs at Cape de la Hève, it is in drizzle and a light NW’ly wind (around eight knots) and reduced visibility that Marc Guillemot and Pascal Bidégorry are attempting to get the most out of Safran. In all, ten IMOCA boats are competing and it is said that half of them can reasonably hope to make it to the podium.

With Marc Guillemot, Safran has already been successful on two occasions in this race: second in 2007 and the winner in 2009. This time François Gabart and Michel Desjoyeaux’s Macif, the most recent boat in the IMOCA fleet, is said to be the favourite. But an ocean race is never won until it’s over.

The first task that lies ahead is getting out of the English Channel in the best position possible, dealing with the strengthening of the wind and the current off the tip of the Cherbourg Peninsula, making their way to the tip of Brittany and then crossing the Bay of Biscay.

Thirty minutes after the start, Safran was up with the frontrunners getting off to a successful start to the race: at the France Info clearance buoy, Marc Guilllemot and Pascal Bidégorry were in third place, just behind Macif and Jérémie Beyou and Christopher Pratt’s Maître Coq.
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