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Davies and de Lamotte prepare to finish the Transat Jacques Vabre

by Soazig Guého 20 Nov 2017 11:24 PST 20 November 2017

Britain's Samantha Davies and France's Tanguy de Lamotte on Initiatives-Cœur are due to finish the 13th edition of the Transat Jacques Vabre in Salvador de Bahia in sixth place in the Imoca class at 20:00 UTC.

Meanwhile in the Class40, the Anglo-Spanish duo of Phil Sharp and Pablo Santurde have slipped back to third place. The brutal reality is that their boat, Imerys Clean Energy, is a generation older than those of their two French rivals, who have sailed past them in the same wind. There is just over 600 miles of racetrack left down the coast of Brazil to find some magic.

Imoca ETAs:

Monday, November 20
Initiatives-Cœur, 20:00 UTC

Tuesday, November 21
Bureau Vallée, 07:00
Generali 16:00
La Fabrique 16:30
Vivo A Beira 18:00

Wednesday, November 22
Newrest-Brioche Pasquier / La Mie Câline – Artipôle 01:00

De Lamotte and Davies, the popular duo, who finished fifth in 2015, and were both making their fifth participation in this bi-annual, double-handed Route du Café, fought back hard in this competitive fleet. They prospered, relative to their other captives in the Doldrums, as their easterly strategy paid out and they gained two places.

Davies, who grew up sailing on the Solent and has an engineering degree from Cambridge University, will now inherit from the De Lamotte, the Initiatives Cœur campaign and the powerful 60ft monohull for the 2020 Vendée Globe. The successful campaign supports the Mécénat Chirurgie Cardiaque charity, which enables children around the world to undergo cardiac surgery. The boat is a 2010-generation, but one that has been significantly upgraded with foils (it was Jérémie Beyou's boat which finished 3rd in the last Vendée Globe).

After celebrating with her partner on the water, de Lamotte, Davies will be back on the pontoon late tomorrow night to see in her partner in on land and life, Romain Attanasio on Famille Mary – Étamine Du Lys, who is due to finish on Thursday, November 23.

It was another busy day in the Bay of All Saints with German skipper Boris Herrmann and French co-skipper Thomas Ruyant, on Malizia II, finishing fourth in the morning at 10:06:53 (UTC), followed in fifth by Kito de Pavant and Yannick Bestaven on Bastide Otio in the afternoon at 16:34:46 – a tremendous result given that their boat was 5-10 years older than those around them.

Herrmann, backed by the Yacht Club de Monaco, only acquired this latest generation foiling 60ft monohull (Sébastien Josse's old Edmond de Rothschild) in January and is still learning to tame the beast.

Bestaven is well-used to managing close finishes in the Transat Jacques Vabre. He won the Class40 twice and will be casting an eye behind at the very tight race going on. It will bring back memories of 2015, when he won by just two hours from Maxime Sorel on V and B.

Class40 ETA: The leaders, Thursday, November 23, 02:00 UTC

Is it game over for Sharp and Santurde? That was the rhetorical question posed by his team today. The answer is "No, but..." Imerys Clean Energy, which had garnered a hard-earned 20-mile lead in the Doldrums, watched that evaporate yesterday as they crossed the Equator and was swallowed today as Aïna Enfance and Avenir and then V and B sailed passed them in the same wind. This is not about tactics, just pure boat speed in reaching conditions in the south-east trade wind. At 16:00 UTC Sharp was in third, 8.4 miles behind the leader.

The three boats are all Manuard design, but the two French boast are version 3 of the Mach 40 design and Sharp's is version 2. It has pedigree – it won the 2013 Transat Jacques Vabre, and though it fell into disrepair Sharp has returned it to its former glory. But Aïna Enfance and Avenir was launched this year is built specifically to be faster in these conditions.

"According to Sam (Manuard, the designer) the new generation boats are clearly faster over 15kts of wind and True Wind Angle (TWA) between 80 and 120 degrees," Sharp's team said yesterday. "This advantage is evident: Aïna has managed to do 22nm more than Imerys Clean Energy since the exit from Doldrums – on average sailing 5% faster. Phil and Pablo will be working at a ridiculous pace to keep the boat at top speeds – in fact, they are sailing at over 103% of their target speeds, which is impressive, especially at this stage of the race, but this is simply not enough. Sam did a perfect job in designing the latest generation."

Sharp and Santurde's best hope lies in the hope of more favourable conditions overnight and tomorrow. They have about 100 miles of these reaching conditions before more downwind and lighter breezes on the coast of Brazil.

Rankings at 16h06:

1 - Aïna Enfance & Avenir
2 - V and B
3 - Imerys Clean Energy

1 - Arkema
2 - FenêtréA - Mix Buffet
3 - Réauté Chocolat

1 - St Michel - Virbac
2 - SMA

1 - Sodebo Ultim'
2 - Maxi Edmond de Rothschild

Update from Phil Sharp:

The battle is raging here at the front of the Class 40 fleet. We are all within a few miles of each other again after 3500 miles of racing, but unfortunately we are not leading anymore. Overnight we have been reaching in 18-20 knots, and the newer generation Mach 3's a more powerful evolution to our boat, have been in their element. We have only been able to watch helplessly as Aina sailed past at a frightening pace. Despite pushing Imerys Clean Energy right to the ragged edge, there is nothing we can do to hold on in these boats in such conditions. We have been counting down the miles to Recife when, hopefully, the wind will move aft and we can match their speeds once more.

Yesterday the crew of Imerys Clean Energy were very pleased to toast a dram of Bruichladdich to Neptune as we passed through Latitude Zero and into the south. The Classic Laddie sure does taste good even in the tropics, and I'm sure that King Neptune was always impartial to a few drams, and without a doubt preferred some fine scotch over champagne! Phil

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