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Transat Jacques Vabre Normandie Le Havre promises a record entry for the 30th anniversary race

by TJV Media 11 Jul 2023 06:53 PDT 29 October 2023
Start - Transat Jacques Vabre 2021 © Aléa

At some four months before the start of the biggest, most competitive ocean race of the year, the Transat Jacques Vabre Normandie Le Havre reveals a comprehensive start list of all the boats and skippers entered to date.

Over 100 duos are expected (81 registered and 20 on standby), appropriately setting an historic record in this race's 30th anniversary year. There are four classes with four distinct starts, all following four different courses, resulting in four final classifications. On every level it promises to be an exciting contest.

Sunday October 29 will see the start of the most anticipated ocean race of the year. Once more, just as it does every two years, Le Havre in Normandy becomes the absolute hub of ocean racing. This 30th anniversary edition of the Transat Jacques Vabre Normandie Le Havre is already a record edition as 101 boats are set to start.

"This will be the largest fleet ever mustered in Le Havre, with 31 IMOCAs 42 expected), 39 Class40s (47 expected), 7 Ocean Fiftys and 5 Ultims. That is an exceptional line-up," enthuses race director Francis Le Goff.

To ensure each class gets its fair share of the limelight there will be a separate start for each class on Sunday, October 29th. The Ultims will go at 1:10 p.m local time, followed by the Ocean Fifty (1:20 p.m.), then the IMOCAs (1:30 p.m.) and then the Class40s (1:40 p.m.). "This sequence allows each class a chance to stand out, to benefit from the television broadcast and it is also best in terms of safety and security" reassures Le Goff. "It will provide spectators and race viewers with the best possible experience, seeing the fleet stretch away from the start and sharing the emotions of a start."

ULTIM, a battle of five musketeers
5 boats entered
Title holders: Charles Caudrelier - Franck Cammas (Edmond de Rothschild)

The Ultims promise and exciting race in every way. "Charles Caudrelier (Edmond de Rothschild, this time with Erwan Israel) will have to give their everything, Armel Le Cléac'h (Banque Populaire XI with Sébastien Josse) needs the win, Thomas Coville (Sodebo with Thomas Rouxel) is closing the gap in terms of performance," says Le Goff. "And also there is the transfer to new talent with Tom Laperche (SVR-Lazartigue) and Anthony Marchand (Actual) taking over in due course from François Gabart and Yves Le Blevec".

Charles Caudrelier: "Since we started out at Edmond de Rothschild with Franck Cammas our victory two years ago remains our high water mark. It's an amazing race and with the brand new course to Ascension Island, this race is going to be even more open. The course is very complete and very demanding in terms of weather. It will be a very tight, close match in the Ultims: we should see that the level is actually very even, as we are all getting closer to the full potential of our machines".

IMOCA, an absolutely unprecedented fleet
30 IMOCAs (42 expected)
Title holders: Thomas Ruyant - Morgan Lagravière (LinkedOut)

"The Transat Jacques Vabre Normandie Le Havre will be an absolute new high point in the history of IMOCAs. Never have so many of these monohulls mustered on a starting line. More than ever this Transat Jacques Vabre Normandie- Le Havre has become an unmissable event," explains Le Goff. "No one can afford to sit out this race!" All the best skippers of the moment will be there: defending champion Thomas Ruyant again with Morgan Lagravière (FOR PEOPLE), Charlie Dalin with Pascal Bidégorry (MACIF Santé Prévoyance) and all the new IMOCA. "This Transat Jacques Vabre has gained in even more in status, these top sailors will fight endlessly for the win."

Thomas Ruyant (For The People): "It's just crazy to think of so many IMOCAs on the starting line! We know that the editions preceding the Vendée Globe are always full, this will be even more the case this year. It's a course that I like a lot with a very strategic start to the race, the trade winds you have to get tor, the southern route then the West Indies. We'll have to hang on and really work with a high, high intensity. Double-handed, you can push a boat at 100% and we will learn fast what we are going to need to do with Morgan (Lagravière) in this first season for our new boat."

OCEAN FIFTY, a great battle in prospect
7 boats entered
Title holders: Sébastien Rogues - Matthieu Souben (Primonial)

On these impressive multihulls which are fast and need so much attention and input of energy it is hard to make predictions. Sébastien Rogues (Primonial) will launched a new boat and is putting his title back on the line but he admits, "Now, winning two years ago doesn't change anything, it's a new Transat Jacques Vabre and everything is new." He will have particularly tough competition, like Erwan Le Roux (Koesio, with Audrey Ogereau), winner of the Pro Sailing Tour, as well as Thibaut Vauchel-Camus (Solidaires en Peloton - ARSEP, racing with Quentin Vlamynck) who was 2nd in the Transat Jacques Vabre in 2019. There are Pierre Quiroga (Viabilis) and Luke Berry (Le Rire Médecin-Lamotte, with Antoine Joubert), who debuted in the class this year, and both will be strong contenders. "It will be interesting to see the constant commitment it will take to go for victory," says Race Director Le Goff.

Sébastien Rogues (Primonial): "The field is just incredible. We are looking at a superb competition with a very evenly matched class, some competitors who now have had a year to develop their boats. Having the chance to race with so many Ocean Fiftys across the Atlantic Ocean is just awesome. These are boats which really demand a lot from us; we know that we are going to be full on for a 15-day sprint and that we are going to have to find the right rhythm. But the advantage of being double handed is that you can be at 100% all the time."

CLASS40, so many different title contenders
39 Class40s (47 expected)
Title holders: Antoine Carpentier - Pablo Santurde Del Arco (Redman)

"Class40 is a fleet which continues to develop and, at the same time, the level is getting higher and stronger. The level of competition is always going up more and more and this means very competitive races" says Le Goff. He expects Class40s to be very close right to the finish line: "There are so many very good boats and good racers everywhere! The pre-season races highlighted just how hard fought wins are There are about ten duos all able to claim the final victory, including those who have already shone this year: Ian Lipinski (Crédit Mutuel, with Antoine Carpentier) in the Défi Atlantique or Alberto Bona and Pablo Santurde (IBSA, winner of the 1st stage of Les Sables-Horta).

Antoine Carpentier (Crédit Mutuel): "We are always happy to be able to line up at the start of a legendary race, especially when we are part of a project which has a good chance to claim victory. The level has gone up even more in recent months and this race promises to be exciting. During the season we do everything to prepare for this race. I had the chance to win it three times and of course I want to continue writing this beautiful story."

And so, in conclusion, never before has the Transat Jacques Vabre Normandie Le Havre been able to offer such a rich, challenging, exceptional line-up. It is gathering all of the big names in ocean racing, on a transatlantic race which has long since established itself as a totally unique event. And this 30th anniversary edition looks set to be truly special in every way.

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