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Class40s in the Transat Jacques Vabre Day 6 - Skimming and stretching

by Denis van den Brink 12 Nov 2021 07:23 PST 12 November 2021

At the end of five days of a race with a totally unpredictable scenario, the 45 Class40s strong fleet is stretching from the Bay of Biscay to the latitude of Lisbon. The favourites of the race, with a few exceptions as they are so many in this growing class, now occupy the places of honour and are having a great time in this trade wind known as the Portuguese trade wind, which is very much oriented to the North and which imposes a lot of tacks downwind.

The high pressure system, which has been blocking the fleet's route since they entered the Atlantic, is crashing against the western tip of the Iberian Peninsula, and once again subjecting the Class40s to the torments of being parked next to the rocks of Galicia. The bottleneck of Cape Finisterre and its DST is thus a lifesaver for a large number of competitors struggling to hang on to the last miasmas of the northerly wind, while a small gruppetto that has gone west is also going to be flirting with a new centre of high pressure coming up from the Azores.

Now scattered over nearly 400 miles of latitude, the Class40 fleet is experiencing contrasting fates; squalls to the north, downwind slips to the south. The rich are getting richer, according to the well-known sailing adage, and a small group in which many of the event's favourites can be recognized is whipping along in a small corridor of wind compressed by the high pressure system.

In the wake of the impressive Normans Alexis Loison and Nicolas Jossier (La Manche#Evidencenautique), five of the fleet's top sailors are hard at work to get the best out of their recent boats, which are cut out to match the day's pace. The Mach 40.4 Banque du Léman (Koster-Gautier) and Edenred (Le Roch-Quiroga), the Max 40 Volvo (Gerkens-Hantzperg) and the other Mach 40.4 Redman with the Franco-Spanish duo Carpentier Santurde, at over 15 knots vmg, are making the gap. A gap that Ian Lipinski and Julien Pulvé (Crédit Mutuel) are trying to fill. Including Avanade (Cauwe-Bonnier), there are 18 boats in less than 120 miles, surfing along Portugal.

The race against the clock and the establishment of the calms of the anticyclone on the tip of Galicia is launched for the Kervarrec family, father and son (Samsic- E. Leclerc), side by side with Jean Edouard Criquioche and Eric Barais from Martinique (Groupe G2C - Martinique) who are aiming for a mouse hole to manage to slide south. On the other hand, we are worried about the sailboats still struggling with the Bay of Biscay, and that the high pressure is definitely not letting go, Rennes Saint Malo-Rêves (Hulin- Bachmann), the Canadians of Stormtech (Barkey-Schaffer) or Lenzi - Lanternes de Paris (Duchatelet - Renouard).

In the West, something new. A small group of Class40s, including one of the often-heralded outsiders, Serenis Consulting (Galfione-Péron), has managed to get a westerly wind and is about to round Cape Finisterre far offshore. Less traffic for these daredevils, but the heavy threat of the High pressure which is moving up on their route. Unless, as Clara Fortin and Martin Louchard (Randstad -Ausy) and Seb Audigane and François Jambou (Entrepreneurs pour la planète) are doing, they manage to slip through the narrow corridor of wind that remains to the west of the DST.

In short, the wind is blowing south, sometimes at more than 20 knots, with a threat of calm to the north. The fleet will continue to stretch throughout the day, to the point where it may split into two groups of almost equal size, one in the trade winds, the other in the calm.


Four Class40s deserve the vintage appellation, and will engage in their own personal challenge in the heart of the Transat. They are naturally the venerable N degrees1, Terre Exotique of Georges Guiguen and Morgan Pinson, the 30 UP SAILING Unis pour la planète of Morgane Ursault-Poupon and Julia Virat, the 44 SEC HAYAI of Dutchmen Frans Budel and Ysbrand Endt, and finally the 103 G2C GROUPE - Martinique of Jean Edouard Criquioche and Eric Baray.


The Class40 Project Rescue Ocean is heading to Cascais for a technical stopover.Since Thursday morning, 8:45 am, the boat is indeed affected by a breakage at the level of the ball joint and the high fitting of the starboard rudder. After having considered a technical stop in a Portuguese port further north, Axel Tréhin and Frédéric Denis managed to carry out a makeshift repair allowing them to benefit from the strong wind for longer. They are planning an express repair in Cascais and a return to the race as soon as possible.

UFO for Everial

Stan Thuret and Mathieu Crépel hit an Unidentified Floating Object last night. A structural part of a rudder is broken. The two Everial sailors have made a makeshift repair that seems to be holding. The race goes on, with always this unfailing good mood displayed by the young duo!

Quotes of the day

Pierre Louis Attwell - Vogue avec un Crohn: "Finally double digit speeds! It's been a long time! This long crossing of the Gulf of Gascony will at least have allowed us to have real long nights without turning around a rock. We are back to our favourite passion tonight with the passage of the Finistère cape, tacking between the coast and the dst and trying to catch the air flow which is escaping from the south. We hope to widen the gap with our pursuers and reduce the gap between us and our friends in front."

Maxime Cauwe - Avanade: "After a day and an early night almost perfect downwind with wind (especially!!) things are getting a little (a lot!) the routings suggested the western option with 24 hours advance to Sal on the eastern option, but a lot of road and sea conditions that can slow down the boats, so in the end we take the risk not to go. This leaves us with the East option, and again, there was a choice of East or West from the DST, we took the West because the door to the East looked like it was closing, but given the positions of the guys this morning, it gives a little taste of regret!"

Emmanuel Le Roch - Edenred: "It's going well, everything is going well, we're under spinnaker, it's sliding well, it was a bit hot earlier because the wind came up well but now it's fine. We are in the leading group, we cross at each gybe, we talk on the VHF. We crossed paths with Luke at 1 mile from the gybe, with Volvo and Banque du Léman at 200 meters. The beginning of the race was difficult the first two days. We had to deal with some big crossings with the tides in the Channel. We found our rhythm on board, we have the speed compared to the others and Pierre is making good trajectories so everything is going well. There is a lot of wind along Portugal, the idea is to stay in this wind band. The idea is to be well placed in relation to the others in the fleet, we are faster than Luke and Achille (Lamotte-Module Creation) and Alexis and Nicolas (Lamotte #EvidenceNautique), we want to pass them. There are transition zones to come and everything is not yet clear, in two days everything can come back from behind. As long as we can gain we're not going to shy away!"

Luke Berry - Lamotte Module creation: "Another intense day yesterday. In addition to our spinnaker falling into the water, we had a pilot problem that resulted in a very big start on the wind. We were a bit afraid for the equipment and especially the spinnaker but we managed to put everything back in order and repair what had to be repaired... the sea is forming quite well and we have a good 22-25 knots which gives an advantage to our friends scows. Moreover, we had a fish in the keel all night long and it made the boat vibrate as soon as we exceeded 16 knots. We had to wait for the day to see it with the camera under the boat. We try to rest but it changes the 1st days without wind with the boat which did not tap. I must have had a good blackout during one of my naps because Achille apparently took several minutes to wake me up and I was asking where I was and where we were going like that."

Seb Audigane - Entrepreneurs for the Planet: "Everything is going well on board despite the ranking, however we still haven't solved our wind vane problem. Since leaving the port of Le Havre, we have no information about the wind, direction or strength. We don't know why, it was working fine. My wool strands installed on the shroud are working well but do not indicate precise figures for the wind angle".

Track the fleet

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