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Debriefing the 2019 Transat Jacques Vabre

by David Schmidt 12 Nov 2019 08:00 PST November 12, 2019
Apivia - Transat Jacques Vabre © Jean-Louis Carli/Alea

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 (TJV). This 4,335 nautical mile biennial race challenges Class 40, Multi-50 and IMOCA 60 sailors with a course that stretches from Le Harve, France, to Salvador de Bahia in Brazil. While the TJV is still unfurling for plenty of sailors, co-skippers Charlie Dalin and Yann Eliès, sailing aboard Apivia, sent the course in 13 days, 12 hours and 8 minutes to take first place in the ultra-competitive IMOCA 60 class.

Dalin and Elies were followed across the finishing line by Kévin Escoffier and Nicolas Lunven, sailing aboard PRB, and by Jérémie Beyou and Christopher Pratt, sailing aboard Charal.

North American interests were well-represented by co-skippers Charlie Enright and Pascal Bidégorry, sailing aboard 11th Hour Racing (nee Hugo Boss), who finished in fifth place in the IMOCA 60 class with a time of 14 days, 6 hours, 10 minutes and 23 seconds.

"It was a wild race," said Enright in an official 11th Hour Racing press release. "I went in with no expectations for us but the race itself lived up to everything I thought it would be. It was a great race. We were always pushing, always pushing, always pushing - and it went both ways. Both of us were pushing each other."

Enright and Bidégorry's strong finish wasn't without its share of tough challenges. Aside from the usual pressures of working the correct weather routing, the pair found some serious cruxes on November 5 when they lost - and recovered - a sail overboard, before finding a solid object with the keel, spotting a waterspout, and then playing nurse-cum-mechanic with the boat's overheated engine.

"[That] will go down as some of the craziest in my sailing lifetime," said Enright. "We had a 24-hour blip on the radar. It was literally one thing after another. Probably kept us from being on the podium, but I think the way we dealt with it... was pretty amazing... Finishing fifth after all the adversity we faced. That's a pretty big deal for me."

Meanwhile, amongst the multihulls, co-skippers Gilles Lamiré and Antoine Carpentier, sailing aboard Groupe GCA - Mille et un sourires, took the win in the Multi 50 class, beating out Thibaut Vauchel Camus and Fred Duthil, who were sailing aboard Solidaires En Peleton - ARSEP, and Sébastien Rogues and Matthieu Souben, sailing aboard Primonial.

For a point of comparison between the IMOCA 60 and Multi 50 classes, Dalin and Eliès earned their proud IMOCA 60 win with a time of 13 days, 12 hours and 8 minutes, while Lamiré and Carpentier dispatched with these same miles in just 11 days, 16 hours, 34 minutes and 41 seconds, despite being 10 feet shorter, LOA.

While the contest has been decided for the fastest IMOCA 60 sailors and the three-strong Multi 50 fleet, the race is still very much of an ongoing concern for Class 40 sailors.

As of this writing, co-skippers Ian Lipinski and Adrien Hardy, sailing aboard Credit Mutuel, are sitting in the pole position, followed by Sam Goodchild and Fabien Delahaye, sailing aboard Leyton, and Aymeric Chappellier and Pierre Leboucher, sailing aboard Aina Enfance & Avenir.

But, with more than 500 nautical miles nautical miles still separating Credit Mutuel's bow from the finishing line, and with only (ballpark) 65 miles separating Credit Mutuel's stern from Leyton's bow, this race is still an open and ongoing story amongst the Class 40s.

May the four winds blow you safely home,

David Schmidt North American Editor

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