The 20th anniversary, eleventh edition of the Transat Jacques Vabre, mustered now in Le Havre, again underlines the status of this durable ocean racing classic as an event not to be missed by serious skippers. The format and appeal has outlasted many other races and with 44 entries across the four classes, it is as popular as ever.
Choices made many years ago retain the same draw today – racing as a duo, two handed, every second year, gathering monohulls and mulitihulls for a course which has changed periodically - all together this makes this autumn rendezvous in Le Havre’s Paul Vatine Basin an absolutely essential fixture on the racing calendar.
In 1993 when the city of Le Havre and the Jacques Vabre coffee brand got together to organise a new ocean race for multihulls and monohulls there were already numerous races available, the OSTAR (1960), the Whitbread Race (1973), the Route du Rhum (1978), the Transat Quebec-Saint Malo (1984), the Vendée Globe (1989). All these great events had a four year cycle. Then when the Transat Jacques Vabre was born in 1993, ocean sailing was growing fast with monohulls just back from the second Vendée Globe and Orma trimarans developing, looking for more regular races.
After four editions when the finish was set in Colombia, the Transat Jacques Vabre developed its popular format in 2001. With the finish in Brazil it drew 14 Orma trimarans, 17 IMOCA monohulls, five 50 foot monos, and two 50-foot multihulls. It was probably that edition that the race really came of age, an event, which the racers could not miss out on. And really since then it has been a permanent fixture on the seascape of ocean sailing. Run every two years, it is for two co-skippers and the finish still changes periodically to spice up the course and require different routing strategies to be developed.
And this 20th anniversary edition is true to the formula, racing across the Atlantic on a north south axis, this time at 5,400 miles the course is equivalent to one quarter of a round the world race, and there is a great variety of different craft, with top pros and amateurs competing against and alongside each other.
What does the Transat Jacques Vabre mean for you?
Vincent Riou, skipper of PRB, on his sixth participation: 'This event is important to me because I did it as my first solo transatlantic race in 1993. The Transat Jacques Vabre is one of the great classics of ocean racing; it’s a ‘must’.'
Bernard Stamm, skipper Cheminées Poujoulat on his sixth participation: 'The Transat Jacques Vabre does not always offer the same finish. Each edition is a race of discovery.'
Jean Le Cam, co -skipper of PRB, seventh participation: 'For the IMOCA to be a long-term class, we need solo races and double handed races. Hence the importance of the Transat Jacques Vabre, which opens the door for newcomers to the class.'
Guillaume Le Brec, co-skipper Bureau Vallée, first participation: 'This year promises to be longer, about 20 days at sea for the IMOCA . We'll go from one hemisphere to the other, through various weather phenomena. It’s going to be a great adventure.'
Solo or double, what are the major differences?
Bernard Stamm (SUI) skipper and Philippe Legros (FRA) - © Th.Martinez/Sea&Co
Pascal Bidégorry, co- skipper of Safran, fifth participation: 'Two up we push the boat harder, steer constantly especially upwind. Having two heads and four arms on board often is good, especially for stacking.'
Bernard Stamm: 'It gives you more strength and power for manoeuvres, it is more about being able to sail to the optimum while one sleeps, the other races hard.'
Louis Burton, skipper Bureau Vallée, second participation: 'It is a solo exercise where we can count on each other to help when there are big things happening. This is a long race with someone always on deck, so we are at 110% all the time.'
Who will win the IMOCA’s?
Vincent Riou: 'Five boats stand above the rest. Macif is the favorite François (Gabart) and Michel ( Desjoyeaux ) are comfortable, they are very skilled in the transition phases. But we have every chance: we must work to our strengths!'
Pascal Bidégorry: 'During training in Port -la-Forêt, we saw how Macif goes fast. But the fastest boat does not always necessarily prevail in such a demanding race. Safran is versatile and can do well provided we manage the many transitions.'
Louis Burton: 'Ten boats; this is a nice group. Five IMOCA’s are a bit faster than us. But there are also two boats of the same generation and two, which are older. So for us the race will be interesting!'
Bernard Stamm: 'We all know each other well, of course we train together. There will be a good fight. For me all of the Vendée Globe disappointments are eliminated. One boat that has evolved is Macif, others are made more reliable.'
Transat Jacques Vabre
by Soazig Guého
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8:25 PM Wed 30 Oct 2013GMT
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