Please select your home edition
Edition
Naiad 728x90px_Rescue

A look at the 2019 Transat Jacques Vabre

by David Schmidt 29 Oct 08:00 PDT October 29, 2019
11th Hour Racing Team departs L:e Havre in the 2019 Transat Jacques Vabre with a fleet of 59 boats, including 29 IMOCAs, to sail to Salvador De Bahia. Charlie Enright and Pascal Bidégorry are co-skippers in the double-handed race. © Alea / Transat Jacques Vabre

These are exciting days for fans of Grand Prix offshore racing, as the fleet contesting the biennial Transat Jacques Vabre departed Le Harve, France, on Sunday, October 27, with their bows pointed towards the finishing line off of Salvador de Bahia in Brazil. Teams are competing in this race as two-person, double-handed crews and are racing aboard Class 40s (27 boats), Multi 50s (three boats) and IMOCA 60s (29 boats). While there's no question that this race represents 4,335 tough nautical miles for all competing skippers, there's also no question that most spectator eyes are on the new-generation, foil-equipped IMOCA 60s, such as skipper Alex Thomson's Hugo Boss.

Some backstory. The "TJV", as it's commonly known, began in 1993 as a shorthanded Transatlantic challenge that was largely attended by French skippers (famed American skipper Mike Plant was involved in the inaugural TJV, and he had planned on entering the race's second edition but tragically did not make the starting line), however some notable British skippers have also historically been involved in the mix.

To date, only French-flagged sailors have won the TJV (at least in the IMOCA class), and today this race continues to serves as a tough, Transatlantic challenge, as well as an important preparatory step for many short-handed and singlehanded sailors preparing for circumnavigation races such as the 2020-2021 Vendee Globe.

Not surprisingly, this year's TJV fleet is a largely Francophile affair, with several notable exceptions, including Thomson's Hugo Boss (Thomson is sailing with co-skipper Neal McDonald [GBR]), and skipper Charlie Enright (USA), who is sailing aboard his team's 11th Hour Racing with co-skipper Pascal Bidegorry (FRA).

Careful readers will remember that 11th Hour Racing recently purchased this IMOCA 60 from Thomson's Hugo Boss team. Careful readers may also remember that the 2021-2022 edition of The Ocean Race (nee The Volvo Ocean Race) will be contested aboard two classes, the One Design Volvo Ocean 65s and fully crewed IMOCA 60s.

Drawing a line between the 2019 TJV and the 2021 edition of The Ocean Race for 11th Hour Racing isn't terribly difficult (the team has openly stated their interests in competing), and while Enright has already lapped the planet twice in the Volvo Ocean Race, first as skipper of Team Alvimedica in the 2014-2015 edition of the race, then as skipper of Vestas 11th Hour Racing (2017-2018), in addition to winning this summer's Transatlantic Race and Fastnet Race as sailing master of David and Peter Askew's Volvo Open 70, Wizard, these miles were earned aboard canting-keel monohulls, not aboard foiling IMOCA 60s.

Sail-World.com had the chance to check in with Enright for an exclusive email mini-interview, where we posed two questions to this globe-girdling, 35-year-old skipper and father of two small children, just before he and Bidegorry began racing.

How different do you think it will be racing across the North Atlantic aboard a foil-equipped boat, versus crossing in a VO65/VOR70 or a traditional maxi?

CE: It's not all that different in terms of routing the boat. That will be the same with what the routing software gives us. But onboard, the liveability is a lot more difficult than the bigger boat, that's for sure.

The conditions are tight, there's no watch system. You need to do it all on these boats in a two-handed set-up. That's been the biggest adjustment.

It's been refreshing but also a challenge, and I think that will probably be the biggest change for me in this race versus the bigger boats that I've raced on Transatlantic.

Also, have you been sailing Moths or other foiling dinghies to get a feel for foiling, or have you been sailing the IMOCA 60 a lot?

CE: I really don't have a ton of time for recreational sailing to be honest, but I do own a WASZP. That foils, but it doesn't really translate in any way to the kind of foiling we're doing on these IMOCAs, so my practice time is strictly from the training camps we've had.

Enright might not have had a lot of time to foil his WASZP ahead of this year's TJV, but — by all appearances — it certainly looks like he and Bidegorry learned a lot in their training camps, as 11th Hour Racing is currently sitting in second place (as of this writing) and is just 10 nautical miles astern of co-skippers Jeremie Beyou and Christopher Pratt who are sailing aboard Charal.

But, with more than 4,000 nautical miles to go before the finishing line, there will be ample time to test the lessons that all teams have learned in their build-up to this year's TJV.

Sail-World.com wishes all competing TJV skippers safe and successful passage to Salvador de Bahia, and we encourage readers to follow this exciting biennial race, as it unfurls.

May the four winds blow you safely home,

David Schmidt
Sail-World.com North American Editor

Related Articles

Stephanie Roble and Maggie Shea on 49erFX sailing
Stephanie Roble and Maggie Shea on their 49erFX campaign for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics I checked in with Stephanie Roble and Maggie Shea, via email, about their campaign to represent the USA in 49erFX at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics. Posted on 13 Nov
Debriefing the 2019 Transat Jacques Vabre
Latest Sail-World USA newsletter from David Schmidt While the winds were much lighter than average for this weekend's Round the County Race here in the Pacific Northwest, conditions were significantly more boisterous in the doublehanded Transat Jacques Vabre. Posted on 12 Nov
Shredded Cabbage
It's a handy ingredient for dim sims, coleslaw, burritos, soups, and a bunch of other dishes It's a handy ingredient for dim sims, coleslaw, burritos, soups, and a bunch of other dishes. It is not so flash when it comes to ocean racing, however. Sail makers often refer to them as CVDs, or Commercially Viable Days... Posted on 10 Nov
Mark Light on the Clipper Round The World Race
An interview with Mark Light about the 2019/2020 edition of the Clipper Round The World Race I checked in with Mark Light, race director of the Clipper Round The World Race, via email, to learn more about this demanding, pay-to-play race-cum-adventure experience.  Posted on 7 Nov
Get on the Water with Borrow a Boat
We caught up with Matt Ovenden about their plans to make getting out on the water accessible to all We caught up with Matt Ovenden, founder of BorrowaBoat.com, recent sponsors of Southampton Boat Show and industry innovators, about their plans to make getting out on the water accessible to all. Posted on 7 Nov
Keith Whittemore on winning the 2019 J/24 Worlds
An interview with Keith Whittemore about winning the 2019 J/24 Worlds I checked in with Keith Whittemore, 2019 J/24 World Champion skipper, via email, to learn more about his team's proud win in this highly competitive class. Posted on 6 Nov
TJV drama, Mini Transat update, Paris 2024 updates
Latest Sail-World USA newsletter from David Schmidt If you're an ocean-racing junkie, November can be a thirsty month in North America. Fortunately, this year's fix comes in the form of the biennial Transat Jacques Vabre, which involves doublehanded racing aboard IMOCA 60s, Multi 50s and Class 40s. Posted on 5 Nov
Shirley Robertson on her new sailing podcast
An interview with Shirley Robertson about her new Sailing Podcast I checked in with Shirley Robertson, host of Shirley Robertson's Sailing Podcast, via email, to learn more about her great podcast, and the kind of stories that motivate her as a world-class, multi-media sailing journalist. Posted on 5 Nov
It's a beautiful world
So yes if you are old enough, dust off your flowerpot hats, and sing away in memory of Devo So yes if you are old enough, dust off your flowerpot hats, and sing away in memory of Devo. Of course if you are not old enough to remember the new wave, post-punk, alternative, synth pop, rock band, you could be wondering why is he devastated. I'm not. Posted on 3 Nov
Debbie Huntsman on the 2019 WOWZR!
An interview with Debbie Huntsman about the 2019 Women on the Water Zonie Regatta I checked in with Debbie Huntsman, event chair of the 2019 Women on the Water Zonie Regatta, via email, to learn more about this exciting event. Posted on 31 Oct
PandB 2019 Autumn Sale - FooterFestival of Sails 2020 GIF - FOOTERNorth Sails 2019 - NSVictoryList - Footer