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Transat Jacque Vabre - Four podiums full and seven boats still racing

by Transat Jacque Vabre on 24 Nov
Phil Sharp (Britain) and Pablo Santurde (Spain) - Imerys Clean Energy - Transat Jacques Vabre 2017 Jean-Marie Liot / ALeA / TJV17
After a late night finish that will go down in transat racing legend, the podiums of all four classes in the 13th edition of the Transat Jacque Vabre are complete.

If the Ultime class had seemed like a close finish on Monday, November 13, with less than two hours separating first and second place, the Class40 was balanced on a razor’s edge. Maxime Sorel and Antoine Carpentier on their 40ft monohull, V and B, beat Aymeric Chappellier and Arthur Le Vaillant, on Aïna Enfance and Avenir by just 17 minutes and 42 seconds.

Phil Sharp (Britain) and Pablo Santurde (Spain), on Imerys Clean Energy, who led the race for 12 of the 17 days finished hours later still under the cover darkness in the Bay of All Saints in Salvador de Bahia.

“What an incredible fight we have been through over the last two and a half weeks,” Sharp said. “An intense three-way boat design battle against the Mach 3s Aina Enfance et Avenir and V and B, a battle against different weather extremes, and a battle against our own personal limits.”

The biggest winner of the day though was Sam Manuard, who watched as the first four places in the Class40 were taken by boats he designed.

Sharp and Santurde won the race-within-a-race between the older generation boats, beating Bertrand Delesne and Justine Mettraux (Switzerland), on TeamWork40 into fourth. Imerys Clean Energy was pushed past its supposed maximums but still could keep pace with the latest generation French boats that remorselessly hunted him down and passed him.

“Whilst Phil’s Mach 2 is a great all-rounder, the Mach 3 evolution was designed to achieve different goals,” Manuard, who finished second with Sorel in V and B in 2015 explained. “Clearly the gains are in reaching and they also have a sweet spot in certain downwind conditions. Phil and Pablo have done an amazing job, once again proving what great sailors they are.”

It was a fact that the French skippers were keenly aware of as they passed Imerys Clean Energy in the same wind on Monday, November 20. “We felt for Phil and Pablo (Imerys Clean Energy) because they couldn't do anything,” Antoine Carpentier, co-skipper of V and B, said. “We spent the day ovetaking them in the trade winds, we went 1.5 knots faster. We didn't dare to get them on the VHF for fear that it is badly received.” Rivals and comrades – such is the spirit in offshore sailing and the warm hugs on the pontoon between all three teams were testimony to the spirit of this Route du Café.

• Read the finish report here
• Read the blow-by-blow of the Class40 race here

Lanterne rouge

Meanwhile, back in the Atlantic, seven boats are still trying to reach the line. The most pressure is probably on the lanterne rouge (backmarker) Esprit Scout, which because of a technical pit stop is far behind the rest and may struggle with an active Doldrums, which it will enter tomorrow. It must average 7 knots over the 1,500 miles still to go if it is to cross the finish line before it officially closes on December 2 at 23:19:15 UTC.

Arrivals

Wednesday, November 22

Winner

Maxime Sorel and Antoine Carpentier on their 40ft monohull, V and B at 23:19:15 (UTC).
Race time: 17 days 10 hours 44 minutes and 15 seconds

Second place

Aymeric Chappellier and Arthur Le Vaillant, on Aïna Enfance and Avenir at 23:36:57 (UTC).
Race time: 17 days, 11 hours 01 minutes and 57 seconds

Third place

Phil Sharp (Britain) and Pablo Santurde (Spain), on Imerys Clean Energy at 04:33:41 (UTC).
Race time: 17 days, 15 hours 58 minutes and 41 seconds

Fourth place

Bertrand Delesne and Justine Mettraux (Switzerland), on TeamWork40 at 13:22:46 (UTC).
Race time: 18 days, 00 hours 47 minutes and 46 seconds

Fifth place

Oliver Cardin and Cédric Château, on Région Normandie Junior Senior by Evernex at 15:16:56 (UTC)
Race time: 18 days, 02 hours 57 minutes and 41 seconds

ETAs:

Friday, November 24

Colombre XL 05:00 UTC / Le Lion d’Or 14:00

Saturday, November 25

Eärendil 23:00

Sunday, November 26

Gustave Roussy 01:00

Monday, November 27

Mussulo 40 Team Angola 05:00

Quotes:

Phil Sharp, skipper of Imerys Clean Energy (Class40)

“What an incredible fight we have been through over the last 2.5 weeks. An intense 3-way boat design battle against the Mach 3s Aina Enfance et Avenir and V and B, a battle against different weather extremes, and a battle against our own personal limits. “It has been a great privilege to sail with Pablo. I couldn’t have asked for a more motivated and skilled co-skipper for this race. We had a lot of laughs on board, even in the most extreme of circumstances, and above all he even learnt how to make a damn fine porridge to alleviate my morning cooking duties.”

“I’m not going to hide the fact that watching our lead wither away over the last few days has been difficult to swallow. Though it’s not exactly the result we had hoped for, or had worked towards during this race, I am satisfied to say that we really did give it our all. We pushed the boat and ourselves to 100% over the whole race and made the most of opportunities that came our way. Unfortunately, the cushion from the doldrums wasn’t enough to fend off the newer, more powerful Mach 3s in the South Atlantic with the reaching conditions that we faced. Once we finally entered a level playing field off Recife, it was too late to catch up and so with nothing to lose we tried the only alternative, to go offshore, which sadly gave no advantage. In the end this was a game of boat evolution, and the latest design won.”

Maxime Sorel, skipper of V and B (Class40)

'Thanks for the welcome on the line, it was crazy. This victory feels magnificent because there are two outstanding competitors behind us. We left Le Havre together, we arrived in Brazil together, everything came down to the last night. They did an incredible job and so did we. It was nice from the start, we were happy to pass the buoy at Fécamp in the lead. We said 'There's one battle won, now it's the war!' But we had lots of moments of despair. “At Brittany point, we had a broken bulkhead; we called Sam Manuard the designer (of the boat) who advised us on how to fix it. We thought that if we wanted it to hold, we had to wait. We waited three hours seeing our competitors pass. It was hard, we sat down, we had a coffee on the advice of Sylvie Viant (race director). When we left, we had 50 miles to make up. But in the end, it may have helped us because we didn't push the boat to the limit.'

Antoine Carpentier, co-skipper, V and B (Class40)

'It's a competitive class. It was what people were saying before we left; half the fleet (of 15) could have won the race. In the end, the new generation boats go much faster reaching. We felt for Phil and Pablo (Imerys Clean Energy) because they couldn't do anything. We spent the day ovetaking them in the trade winds, we went 1.5 knots faster. We didn't dare to get them on the VHF for fear that it is badly received. Phil and Pablo raced like crazy. They found a lot of pace. But we knew it was good to come out of the Doldrums with them. Even in the south east trade winds after that, they held a moment.'

Pablo Santurde, co-skipper of Imerys Clean Energy (Class40)

“I’m really happy with the fact that we never gave up and we fought to the maximum. It has been a fantastic race – I had everything I could have asked for: competition, perfect sailing conditions and great company. Losing our advantage has been tough and has been difficult to go through, but I guess in a few days we will give more value to this third place. It’s a complete contrast to my last TJV when four years ago we were forced to stop at the beginning of the race and we ended up catching up over a long distance. As always it has been a great opportunity to share this race with Phil, with lots of lessons learned from him and great memories together.”
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