Please select your home edition
Edition
Selden 2020 - LEADERBOARD

Record sized IMOCA fleet launch straight into a strategic battle

by TJV Media 6 Nov 2023 11:06 PST 7 November 2023
Transat Jacques Vabre 2023 © TJV

For all that they have had an extra eight days waiting for the exceptionally stormy weather to clear and for an acceptable exit out of the Channel to open up, once the Transat Jacques Vabre Normandie Le Havre's record sized, 40 strong IMOCA fleet get under way from 0830hrs UTC Tuesday morning the duos will be launched straight into a very intense and demanding opening 48 hours.

A major front less than 24 hours after the start is set to bring gusts of 35-40kts of wind. And before they even reach Ushant and the gateway to the Bay of Biscay there will be a fundamental decision to be made - north and west or south - which some meteo experts consider might immediately shape the outcome of this 16th edition of the classic race which now follows a shortened course of 3750 nautical miles.

Because the island of Santa Maria now has to be left to starboard, the 'normal' shape of the IMOCA track is altered, limiting a very westerly route and rendering a high proportion of it upwind anyway. And even on the eve of the start, the main weather models oppose each other.

The Portuguese trade winds down the Iberian peninsula which might normally slingshot the fleet south are not well established. And so although the course has been shortened and made more direct, it looks very much like there is nothing simple or straightforward about it.

Nonetheless there was a great sense of anticipation around Le Havre's Paul Vatine Basin with less than 18 hours to go until the start gun fires. The time has finally come.

"It will just be nice to be going. We are going to get what we usually get at this time of year going out of here so I just really want to get on with it." Asserted Briton Pip Hare, the skipper of the IMOCA Medallia, on the verge of being stir crazy, "It looks complicated from the start, the first three days are really about looking after ourselves and the boat and then after that it will be about how we feel about the routings, certainly anything to the north seems to be bashing upwind and I am not sure we want to be doing that. So much of this race is about finishing, about getting to Martinique for Vendée Globe qualification and being able to do the solo race back."

Malizia Seaexplorer's Will Harris, co-skipper with Boris Herrmann, explains. "There will be big winds getting out of the Channel and we might see a little split in the fleet, but it won't be an important part of the race. It is after the front that we have to decide to go for the west option or the long route south to the Canaries. That way is super complicated, the long range forecast is very changeable and even by Ushant we need to see what the others are doing, and decide how our gut instinct is, how well we know the boat. It is all playing on our minds right now, and I think that will be true for everyone. I don't think we will see the fleet completely split apart, going west or south. I think south would be the preferred option because it is warm, it is comfortable but it is so much longer, it is 5-600 miles further to go that way. You could still end up with no wind. Going north you will always have wind, but it will be on the nose and with 4-5m waves. You are sailing a lot less miles. The question is where are the trade winds and what will it cost to get down there in terms of miles."

Among the favourites to win on his For The Planet, the IMOCA which triumphed on the 2021 race in the hands of Thomas Ruyant and Morgan Lagravière, Sam Goodchild adds that the evolution of the high pressure systems further south could prove key, "How they are and where you cross might be interesting, but most of all it will be about how the fleet splits and which boats are faster, it is going to be interesting."

The ETA of the first boats in Martinique is estimated to be around 17th November.

Follow the tracking at www.transatjacquesvabre.org.

Related Articles

4 fleets, 4 courses, 4 winners, 6 starts
77 boats finish Transat Jacques Vabre Normandie Le Havre At the start in Le Havre in late October, a series of powerful low-pressure systems were sweeping across the Atlantic. Posted on 6 Dec 2023
Pamela Lee and Tiphaine Ragueneau complete the TJV
To take 29th place in Class 40 fleet Pam Lee and Tiphaine Ragueneau, the Irish-French duo, who raced the Atlantic under the Cap pour elles initiative, crossed the finish line of the Transat Jacques Vabre Posted on 27 Nov 2023
Italian boats dominate TJV Class Class40 podium
lberto Bona and Pablo Santurde del Arco cross the finish line in fourth place With Alberto Bona and Pablo Santurde del Arco on the Italian Mach 40.5 IBSA crossing the Class 40 finish line in fourth place on the 16th Transat Jacques Vabre Normandie Le Havre this afternoon. Posted on 24 Nov 2023
Alla Grande Pirelli take first place in Class40
Ambrogio Beccaria and Nicolas Andrieu win the Transat Jacques Vabre Italian skipper Ambrogio Beccaria and French co-skipper Nicolas Andrieu sailing the all Italian Musa 40 Alla Grande PIRELLI took first place in the highly competitive Class40 race on the 16th Transat Jacques Vabre Posted on 23 Nov 2023
16th Transat Jacques Vabre update
Britons Pip Hare and Nick Bubb on Medallia finish 12th IMOCA British duo Pip Hare and Nick Bubb on Medallia crossed the finish line of the 16th Transat Jacques Vabre Normandie Le Havre at 22.12.56hrs this Monday evening off Fort de France, Martinique to secure 12th place in the IMOCA fleet. Posted on 22 Nov 2023
Class40's tantalising Transat plotline.
Hitchcock, Tarantino or Spaghetti Western? With less than 200 miles to the finish and the winner due across the finish line tomorrow mid-afternoon (UTC) the Transat Jacques Vabre Normandie Le Havre Class 40 title looks increasingly like it will be decided between crews who are Italian Posted on 22 Nov 2023
IMOCA's streaming in at TJV finish
Brits Alister Richardson and Brian Thompson are now in seventh While the IMOCAs will now continue to arrive in Martinique for the foreseeable future to complete their Transat Jacques Vabre race from Le Havre to Martinique it is the match at the top of Class 40 which is becoming more and more engaging. Posted on 21 Nov 2023
Transat Jacques Vabre Normandie Le Havre update
Sunday's seven close IMOCA finishes led home by Thomas Ruyant and Morgan Lagravière Bustling Fort de France, the capital of Martinique, has welcomed a stream of Transat Jacques Vabre Normandie Le Havre IMOCA racers, round the clock over a hectic weekend, starting with a truly exceptional win for defending IMOCA champions. Posted on 20 Nov 2023
Richomme and Eliès finish second IMOCA
A narrow second place in the Transat Jacques Vabre Normandie Le Havre Just as the sun was rising over the Bay of Fort de France, Martinique this morning French duo Yoann Richomme and Yann Eliès (Paprec Arkéa) crossed the finish line of the 16th Transat Jacques Vabre Normandie Le Havre Posted on 20 Nov 2023
Transat Jacques Vabre: Day 18 update and finishes
Transat Jacques Vabre: Day 18 update and finishes - mostly in English World on Water presents the latest update, mostly in English, for those following the fortunes of the four fleets in the 2023 TransAt Jacques Vabre, which started in the French port of Le Havre and finishes in Martinque. Posted on 20 Nov 2023
Doyle_SailWorld_728X90px-03 BOTTOM2024 fill-in (bottom)PredictWind - GO! exec 728x90 BOTTOM