Transat Jacques Vabre - After many meetings, votes, breaks for coffee and then more meetings racing was postponed three and a half hours before it was meant to start this past Sunday. The postponement was due to a massive depression that was rolling across the North Atlantic and was forecast to bring 60kt winds and up to 40ft confused seas. The general consensus was that we all came here to be tested on our racing skills and not how well we can survive a near hurricane strength storm. Although we were prepared to leave the dock Sunday morning I do believe that this was the right decision and the weather window for our 1500 start tomorrow, Wednesday November 2nd, is looking windy and rough but safe.
40 Degrees under Code 0 during the Prologue race - Transat Jacques Vabre 2011
For myself as a 26 year old American I am a bit of an oddity here among the fleet of mostly professional French sailors. Me and Hannah Jenner will be racing the Owen Clarke designed Class 40 '40 Degrees' in this 5000 mile race from Le Havre, France to Puerto Limon, Costa Rica. Hannah has sailed around the world as a skipper in the Clipper race and I have been racing and preparing shorthanded offshore boats in the States and Europe for several years now along with having raced the Mini Transat in 2009. Although our entry was a bit last minute I am confident in our ability to manage the boat and ourselves well and race competitively through to the finish.
We are racing in a fleet of 16 Class 40s and will be lining up against mostly professional French sailors that have been training together and preparing for this race for months, if not longer. We got a wonderful moral boost on Sunday when we finished fifth in the 14 mile prologue race that was put on to appease the press, sponsors and spectators that were all planning on watching us take the start that day. Our boat is well prepared and we are feeling as ready as possible to head out tomorrow and push as hard as we can all the way to Costa Rica. We are looking at a few days of windy reaching conditions, which our boat absolutely loves but can be punishing for the crew. Blasting along at 12-14kts with 20+kts of wind on the beam in the English Channel and Western Approaches is a bit like hanging onto a bucking bronco while getting sprayed with a freezing cold fire hose. I say bring it! After all the waiting and preparation I want nothing more than to get out there and do some racing. So now one last good French dinner and a long night sleep in a dry bed and then were off for three weeks or so of freeze dried food and sleeping in short stints on a damp beanbag. Make sure to think of us as you watch the tracker from whatever warm and dry place you happen to be.
Me and Hannah will be updating our Facebook page from on board during the race so make sure to like us to follow along. The race tracker will be live on the event website with updates coming every three minutes for the first thirty miles and then every three hours thereafter.
Au revoir for now from Le Havre,
Jesse Naimark-Rowse website
Hannah Jenner website
Transat Jacques Vabre website