Please select your home edition
Edition
Selden

A look at the 2019 Transat Jacques Vabre

by David Schmidt 29 Oct 2019 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

Olympic moments abound
The Summer of Sailing around Port Phillip has been quite the big deal The Summer of Sailing around Melbourne's Port Phillip has been quite the big deal. How cool would it be to have Australia represented in the 470M, Laser, 470W, Finn, 49er, FX, Nacra, and also Laser Radial Posted on 16 Feb
Rolex awards, anticipating four Aussie worlds
Honoring sailing's greats and looking forward to Down Under worlds US Sailing's annual Rolex Yachtsman and Yachtswoman of the Year Awards are two of the biggest honors that are awarded to U.S.-flagged sailor. Mike Martin and Adam Lowry, as well as Daniela Moroz, received these honors for 2019. Posted on 11 Feb
Steve Burzon on the Caribbean Multihull Challenge
An interview with Steve Burzon about the 2020 Caribbean Multihull Challenge I checked in with Steve Burzon, event organizer of the 2020 Caribbean Multihull Challenge, via email, to learn more about this exciting, warm-water multihull event. Posted on 11 Feb
Welcome sign, not toll booth, nor boom gate
The question of participation is the proverbial whipping boy of yachting Quite possibly, and even more so than keels of Unobtanium and constantly dynamic sail membranes filled with Helium, the question of participation in our sport is the proverbial whipping boy of yachting. Posted on 9 Feb
Gladwell's Line: SailGP rings changes for Season 2
SailGP was very much at the forefront of the sailing stage this week SailGP was very much at the forefront of the sailing stage, this week - and not for what happened on the water. Great Britain SailGP announced a crew line up stacked with members of the INEOS Team UK America's Cup team and a minority investor signed on. Posted on 9 Feb
James Mitchell on the 2020 Laser Worlds
An interview with James Mitchell about the 2020 Laser Worlds I checked in with James Mitchell, event chair of the 2020 Laser Worlds (February 9-16, 2020), via email, to learn more about this high-level One Design world-championship regatta. Posted on 6 Feb
Guy deBoer on the 2022 Golden Globe Race
An interview with Guy deBoer about his preparations for the 2022 Golden Globe Race I checked in with Guy deBoer, a newspaper publisher and one of two U.S.-flagged entrants in the 2022 Golden Globe Race, via email, to learn more about his preparations ahead this challenging retro race. Posted on 4 Feb
Tea Route update, Cup news, 2020 Laser Worlds
Latest Sail-World newsletter from David Schmidt in the USA While most North American sailors are still contending with cold, Super Bowl aftermath, and the Iowa caucuses, life is simpler for the five sailors aboard the maxi trimaran IDEC Sport, who are attempting to best the Tea Route record. Posted on 4 Feb
Making the 470 even more valid
You know, sailing is more than ever a wider, and divergent set of groupings You know, sailing is more than ever a wider, and divergent set of groupings. It is not simply Off The Beach or Keelboat, inshore or off, low ride v high ride, planing over grading the ocean, symmetrical or A-Bag. Posted on 2 Feb
Debriefing the 2020 Hempel World Cup Series Miami
Latest Sail-World USA newsletter from David Schmidt After years of tough headlines for U.S. Olympic class sailors, last week's 2020 Hempel World Cup Series Miami proved extraordinary, with three Gold Medal finishes, a critical country qualification earned, and other top-ten performances to be celebrated. Posted on 28 Jan
iSails 2020 - February - FOOTERRS Sailing 2019 - FooterNorth Sails 2019 - NSVictoryList - Footer