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Sail-World.com : Transat Jacques Vabre - Maitre Jacques claw back the miles

Transat Jacques Vabre - Maitre Jacques claw back the miles

'Maître Jacques - Transat Jacques Vabre 2011'    Pierrick Contin ©    Click Here to view large photo

Transat Jacques Vabre transatlantic race from Le Havre to Puerto Limon, Costa Rica is at the end of day 11. Today opportunity knocked and it was time to take it.

There are three boats in the fleet which have made gains of differing magnitude through being able to sail a more direct route than their opposition.

The biggest winners have remained Maitre Jacques who look to have swung the match with Actual for the Multi 50 title back from something close to ‘match point’ to ‘deuce’. The St Malo amateur duo Loics Fequet and Esoffier have come back from a 430 miles deficit on Thursday morning to trail by only 17 miles this evening, and the Maitre Jacques duo are on a direct route to their mark of the course at St Barths making very similar speeds to Actual.

Loic Escoffier said this morning: 'I really believed in this option, but I did not think we would claw back that amount of miles on Actual as quickly, for now it has paid off!'

Kito de Pavant and Yann Reginiau continue their rise with Groupe Bel. They have been able to pull back from the cow’s tail – ninth of nine IMOCA Open 60’s still racing – to get to sixth, up with the herd and poised to challenge for fifth place Banque Populaire with more speed down a more direct course to the IMOCA Open 60’s passage through to the Caribbean at the Dominican Republic. De Pavant said today that anything from sixth to ninth was immaterial to them, all the same and the podium was their target.

Gamesa - Transat Jacques Vabre 2011 -  Gamesa Sailing Team  

And Mike Golding and Bruno Dubois, who also took the southern routing this morning on Gamesa, have been rewarded so far with a more solid toehold on third place, gaining on Bureau Vallée which has stuck with the high road, on Macif which they saw on Friday evening, and on Banque Populaire.

For those on this more direct route, there will be a transition zone to break through, light and disorganised breezes as they work from the trade winds generated by the Azores high to those off the Bermuda high which their rivals ahead are planning to ride down to the south.

Jean Pierre Dick on the race leading IMOCA Open 60 Virbac Paprec 3 was still on message, repeating the mantra of prudence versus speed, but both he and Alex Thomson sound confident that they can hold their margin through to a two boat match in the Caribbean. 'We are confident in our lead, we sail well and we are comfortable in our contact with Hugo Boss. Luck might play a part near the finish. And of course many things can happen, including damage to equipment and so on, and we must stay a bit careful. We were surprised by this zone of high pressure last night when the wind decreased from 35 to 2 knots in about 10 minutes. We ended up with no wind to sail, only with the waves and it lasted for almost 4 hours but what is good that the gap remained the same with Hugo Boss.' Said Dick today, confirming they expect to finish in Puerto Limon in around 5-6 days time.

In light of his run of misfortunes over the last few years Thomson is savvy enough not to read anything into their second position on the race course just now, even with more than 200 miles in hand over his friend and rival Golding. Thomson paid tribute to his co-skipper Altadil today. The only potential tension on their horizon could be this evening when England take on Spain in a football friendly. Thomson said today their biggest source of stress just now has been their goody bag, sweets, chocolate, jamon, has become contaminated and is a sticky mess.

'Obviously being in second place for us is good, very positive, but the really positive experience for us in this race really is in understanding where the boat lies in terms of performance against the other boats and so certainly being able to hang on to the coat tails of Virbac Paprec for the last few days and we have been right in amongst it with the fleet, we could see where Cheminées Poujoulat lay, we could see where Macif lay, we have a real understanding of where this boat lies, and we have already started working with Farr, the designers, on improvements. So we will have a wash up meeting after this race, see where we go from here, but that is the biggest gain from this race, no matter what, understanding where we lie in the fleet.' Said Thomson.

Meantime far to the east the Class 40 contenders in the north were already starting to feel the light winds from the fast action Azores high which was spreading rapidly south. Hannah Jenner on 40 Degrees considered today that their best chance of glory was to push west through it into the trades on the other side: 'there is a big high pressure and it looks like Solo behind is doing the same as we are trying which is to try and get through the centre of it and get some very nice downwind conditions on the other side of it. Or we can bear off and follow everyone to the south which really would not get us anywhere. We are on a high risk strategy but we are hoping it will work out for us.'

Quotes:
Alex Thomson (GBR) skipper Hugo Boss (GBR):
'We crossed the area of light winds last night, got into S-SW’ly wind and reached west, to the shift to the right and now sailing in N-NW’ly breeze. We are happy, the clouds have disappeared a bit, the sun will break through when it gets high enough, and things are good.

It certainly feels good to be at the front of the fleet, but we are not counting any chickens. I’ll tell you what it feels like when we get to the end. We have a pretty direct course, one gybe should do us, the breeze will continue to go right all day and we are currently sailing with the J1 and full main, reaching pretty fast at 17kts. So the wind will go aft, we will put the gennaker up and it will go further aft, get the spinnaker up and then around midnight tonight GMT tonight we will put the gybe in.

It has been great to sail with Guillermo, he has so much experience, he has a lot to say all the time and we both work pretty hard all the time on making the boat go fast, but also making sure we don’t push it and break anything. He’s a strong character and I have enjoyed sailing with him and good fun throughout. He is a good bloke. I am always interested to hear about his experience, he has been around the world eight times, been on the big catamarans, sailed with the Kiwis and the French and I like to prise as many stories as possible out of him as possible. We really only talk about boats and sailing! Obviously being in second place for us is good, very positive, but the really positive experience for us in this race really is in understanding where the boat lies in terms of performance against the other boats and so certainly being able to hang on to the coat tails of Virbac Paprec for the last few days and we have been right in amongst it with the fleet, we could see where Cheminées Poujoulat lay, we could see where Macif lay, we have a real understanding of where this boat lies, and we have already started working with Farr, the designers, on improvements. So we will have a wash up meeting after this race, see where we go from here, but that is the biggest gain from this race, no matter what, understanding where we lie in the fleet. The guys behind, in terms of distance to go, they are 210 miles behind for Mike Golding and say 230 miles for Banque Populaire. When you look at if they have to follow us then the mileage is greater, they are further away. In a straight line they were 400 miles behind and so the boats that have to go over the top (of the cell) will see the mileage get bigger today.

I see Mike and Kito have turned south, as far as Kito is concerned then he had the choice of following or trying something different. The weather I have just got today he can just about squeeze through but it is not clear. I don’t know it that will work out or not.

As for Mike he is a bit further to the north and he is trying something similar to Kito. The weather we have now that looks a little but more risky, but I don’t think either of them will end up any closer, really. Our biggest problem is that the bag which has all the treats in it, the jamon, tins of tuna, chocolate, sweets, we had a bag of mixed coffee, sugar and milk powder burst about a week ago and so the bag is all sticky and messy and that kind of puts you off going for a bar of chocolate. Guillermo has emptied the bag, washed it, and it has had three washes so far and is still sticky.'

Hannah Jenner (GBR) skipper 40 Degrees (GBR):
'We are in a bit of a light breeze at the moment so we are taking the opportunity to clean up the boat and air the sleeping bags. We will get round to cleaning ourselves too. There is a big high pressure and it looks like Solo behind is doing the same as we are trying which is to try and get through the centre of it and get some very nice downwind conditions on the other side of it. Or we can bear off and follow everyone to the south which really would not get us anywhere. We are on a high risk strategy but we are hoping it will work out for us.'

JP Dick, skipper Virbac-Paprec 3: 'We are confident in our lead, we sail well and we are comfortable in our contact with Hugo Boss. Luck might play a part near the finish. And of course many things can happen, including damage to equipment and so on, and we must stay a bit careful. We were surprised by this zone of high pressure last night when the wind decreased from 35 to 2 knots in about 10 minutes. We ended up with no wind to sail, only with the waves and it lasted for almost 4 hours but what is good that the gap remained the same with Hugo Boss. We take time to look at the seascape of course; Nature is part of our sport. We got the full moon with dolphins. Even if we are focused, we take the time to look at the beauty of this picture show, including this morning, the sun rise with pretty colors and the Atlantic Ocean is wonderful to admire. My current picture: Jeremie is not very far away having breakfast. There are not too many clouds; the sky is blue with little waves on the surface with weed everywhere widespread that we catch on the appendices. We should reach Mona in two days, and after there will be 900 miles to the end, arriving in 5-6 days.

Kito de Pavant, skipper Groupe Bel:
'We were looking at this southerly option for several days although it might not have been that obvious on the routings. Following the IMOCA cavalcade we were forced on to the north path. We might be slower than our north rivals tomorrow, but we try a way to get to the podium. We are taking some risks, but they are calculated. We came to win, we were wrong on the southerly route that we definitely lost out on. We are trying a new option, which would allow us to come back a little bit. But between the sixth and ninth rank, really is immaterial to us. I am no longer very confident in this southern route because it may be very slow tomorrow night, there are two areas with no wind and we will try to sail between the two. That night we were under gennaker, with the pilot, the sea was less bouncy and we took the opportunity to get some rest: I had some lack of sleep. The sky is still grey and it is always stressful when we sail at 20 knots. The water is 26° Celsius so the water we get in the face is more pleasant. It will be too hot in a few days, but the sailing conditions are perfect today!'

Loïc Escoffier co-skipper Maître Jacques:
'I really believed in this option, but I did not think we would claw back that amount of miles on Actual as quickly, for now it has paid off!

We will face a small transition zone in front of us this evening or at the beginning of the night, we will have to manage that.
Yves (Le Blévec / Actual) is going to get to some wind. However, we should manage to come back.

Last night, we were sailing under gennaker, full mainsail, with the moon as a floodlight. We are sailing between 18 and 26 knots all the time. The rudder is still very noisy. I should have taken some headphones that I put for fishing to cut out the noise!

It's very physical but very good, we came here to enjoy the long legs of pure speed We get on well, the boat goes well, the changes made this year are good, it's an old boat that goes well with two amateurs on board! Even if we are 80 miles behind or more in St Barth you can count on us, we will not let anything slide away from us!'

Standings at 1700hrs CET on Saturday, November 12th, 2011
IMOCA
1 - Virbac Paprec 3 (Jean-Pierre Dick - Jérémie Beyou) : 1826,5 miles to finish
2 - Hugo Boss (Alex Thomson - Guillermo Altadill) : 41 miles to leader
3 - Gamesa (Mike Golding - Bruno Dubois) : 223.8 miles to leader

Multi50
1 - Actual (Yves Le Blevec - Samuel Manuard) : 2497.2 miles to finish
2 - Maitre Jacques (Loïc Fequet - Loïc Escoffier) : 17 miles to leader

Class40
1 - Aquarelle.com (Yannick Bestaven - Eric Drouglazet) : 2674.5 miles to finish
2 - ERDF Des Pieds et des Mains (Damien Seguin - Yoann Richomme) : 127.1 miles to leader
3 - Groupe Picoty (Jacques Fournier - Jean-Christophe Caso) : 238.5 miles to leader

For more rankings click here.

Andrea Fantini - Transat Jacques Vabre 2011 -  © Hip Eco Blue  

Transat Jacques Vabre website




by Hélène Tzara

  

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2011 Transat Jacques Vabre

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22 Nov 2011  Transat Jacques Vabre - Multi 50 Maitre Jacques second
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