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Transat Jacques Vabre: Nov 5 - Banque Populaire heads for Ascension Island

by Richard Gladwell, Sail-World.com/nz 5 Nov 2023 12:34 PST 6 November 2023
SVR Lazartigue (François Gabart and Tom Laperche) - November 6, 2023 © SVR Lazartigue

Maxi Banque Populaire XI (Armel Le Cléac'h & Sebastien Josse) is the first in the Ultim class to round the required turning point of the islands of São Pedro and São Paulo. The race leader is now headed for the next rounding mark Ascension Island.

The 105ft Maxi trimaran has also wriggled their way through the Doldrums and at 1200UTC on November 5, was back up to sailing at 25kts.

Earlier Le Cléac'h & Josse had their lead over second placed Maxi Edmond de Rothschild (Charles Caudrelier & Erwan Israel) reduced to 24nm, when their speed reduced to 5kts. However Banque Populaire covered their tactical options by staying between their competitor and the mark, and eventually sailed into the same low pressure and their speed dropped to 1.4kts as Le Cléac'h & Josse accelerated away sailing at 18kts.

For a time Caudrelier & Israel were passed by the third placed SVR Lazartigue (François Gabart and Tom Laperche), however SVR Lazartigue worked out slightly to the west and hit another area of soft pressure with their speed dropping back to 11.5kts, while Caudrelier & Israel accelerated back up to 25kts, following Banque Populaire's track who had now built up a 92nm lead over the second and third placed Ultims.

Sodebo Ultim 3 (Thomas Colville & Thomas Rouxel) and Actual Ultim 3 (Anthony Marchand & Thierry Chabagny) are both negotiating the Doldrums with their speeds dropping to just 7kts.

After the passage of two storms Ciaran and Domingos, the three remaining classes will start on Monday and Tuesday mornings.

On Monday November 6, at 10:30hrs, the six Ocean Fifty trimarans will set off for the second phase of the race between Lorient and Fort de France, leaving the island of Sal (Cape Verde) to starboard. This 4,320 mile course will force the trimarans to aim far south as they exit the Bay of Biscay. Their speed will allow them to outrun a new front which arrives on Wednesday, but with winds of lesser strength than the two previous weather systems. Winds are expected to peak at 35kts with 4 metre seas.

In a second start at Monday at 10:45hrs, also from Lorient, the Class40s will in turn set off on a 3,500 mile course towards Fort de France where they will be required to leave the island of Porto Santo to starboard. This more direct route will force the monohulls to cross Wednesday's front, where they will have to negotiate the stronger winds, or find an easier path.

There are two official retirements in the Class40 category (Movember and Acrobatica). Three boats are under repair (Crédit Mutuel, Sogestrans-Seafrigo and Dékuple) and have expressed their intention to resume the race on Monday. The start line remains open for 72hrs to cope with any late starters.

On Tuesday, November 7 at 0930hrs, the 40 IMOCAs will set off from Le Havre. Their 3,750 mile route also plans to leave the island of Santa Maria (Azores) on the starboard side like the Class40s.

ETA arrival in Fort-de-France in Martinique of the four classes:

  • ULTIM: between the evening of November 12 and the morning of November 13
  • IMOCA: November 17
  • Ocean Fifty: November 18
  • Class40: November 22

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