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Global Solo Challenge updates, Transat Jacques Vabre finishes, Ocean Globe Race news

by David Schmidt 21 Nov 2023 12:00 PST November 21, 2023
Andrea Mura - Open 50' Vento di Sardegna © Global Solo Challenge

These must be heady days for singlehanded skipper Andrea Mura. The Italian sailor set out from A Coruña, Spain, on Saturday aboard his Open 50, with nothing but wide-open horizon in front of his bow. That, and the 13 other skippers who began the pursuit-style Global Solo Challenge ahead of him. As of this writing (Monday morning, U.S. West Coast time), Mura was roughly off the coast of southern Portugal, making six-plus knots of VMG.

"I was aiming for the Vendée Globe because I wanted to push myself beyond the competitions I had already won," said Mura of his circumnavigation attempt in an official race report. "Unfortunately, that project did not come to fruition. Now, the Global Solo Challenge offers me the opportunity to sail around the world with my 23-year-old boat."

While Mura might be just finding his sea legs, others have been at this game for months. Skipper Dafydd Hughes (UK) departed from A Coruña on August 26 aboard his 1971 S&S 34, and is currently skimming the northern barrier of the race's ice exclusion zone to the west and south of Perth, Australia.

Only Hughes and Philippe Delamare (FRA), sailing aboard his Actual 36, have made it past the Cape of Good Hope, but, given the pursuit-style nature of this race, both race leaders know that they are being stalked from astern by faster competitors.

The exact opposite is true for sailors who are still competing in the Transat Jacques Varbre, which takes doublehanded crews from Le Harve, France, to Martinique. Here, the hares (read: Ultim trimarans) started first, and were pursued (once storm Ciaran sufficiently passed and the race organizers allowed the rest of the fleet to begin racing) by the IMOCA 60s, Ocean Fifty trimarans, and Class 40s.

After 14 days, 10 hours, 14 minutes, and 50 seconds, skippers Armel Le'Cleach and Sebastian Josse, sailing aboard the Ultim Maxi Banque Populaire XI, took top honors. They were followed by skippers Francois Gabart and Tom Laperche, sailing aboard SVR Lazartigue, and Charles Caudrelier and Erwan Isreal, sailing aboard Maxi Edmond de Rothschild.

In the Ocean Fifty class, skippers Thibaut Vauchel-Camus and Quentin Vlamynck, sailing aboard Solidaires en Peloton, took the bullet. They were followed across the finishing line by Fabrice Cahierc and Aymeric Chappellier, sailing aboard Realities, and Pierre Quiroga and Ronan Treussart, sailing aboard Viabilis Oceans.

History was made in the IMOCA class as skippers Thomas Ruyant and Morgan Lagraviere, sailing aboard For People, took top honors. For Ruyant, this win was his third consecutive transatlantic win (two were doublehanded victories, one was singlehanded), which is a new record.

But, rather than bask in post-racing glory, Ruyant was already focusing on his next goal, which is the singlehanded Vendée Globe Race.

"We work to win," Ryant said in a TJV communication. "I know I've won the last three transatlantic races, but the Vendée Globe isn't a transatlantic race and there are other competitors. That's the goal and the whole group is working towards it. In the back of our minds, we're making our boat more reliable for the Vendée Globe. You can't write the history of the Vendée Globe in advance, but that's our goal."

Ruyant and Lagraviere were followed across the finishing line by Yoann Richomme and Yann Elies, sailing aboard Paprec Arkea, and by Sam Goodchild and Antoine Koch, sailing aboard For The Planet.

The leaderboard is still being contested amongst the Class 40s. As of this writing, Xavier Macaire and Pierre Leboucher, sailing aboard Groupe Snef, were in the pole position, with ballpark 500 nautical miles to go. They were being chased, some 60 nautical miles astern, by Ian Lipinksi and Antoine Carpentier, sailing aboard Credit Mutuel, and Ambrogio Beccaria and Nicolas Andrieu, sailing aboard Alla Grande Pirelli

Meanwhile, in the fully crewed and retro-style Ocean Globe Race 2023, race leaders have now cleared the halfway point between Cape Town, South Africa, and Auckland, New Zealand. As of this writing, skipper Marie Tabarly and her Pen Duick VI team were leading the charge, followed by co-skippers Marco Trombetti and Vittorio Malingri and their Translated 9 crew, and by skipper Heather Thomas's Maiden.

According to reports, crews are enjoying long-period Southern Ocean waves that are ideal for surfing.

"This place is just amazing," said Jean-Christophe Petit, who is the skipper of the Swan 57 White Shadow, in an official race report. "None of us can refrain from saying it day and night. Everyone is having such pleasure navigating here. You almost have a feeling of exclusivity because you know it takes a lot of effort to get here, not only to participate in the Ocean Globe Race but you have to cross a lot of oceans to get here. It's a long trip, but really, really perfect."

While we're not there, we suspect that sentiments are different aboard skipper Taylor Grieger's Godspeed/Skeleton Crew. Word recently broke that the team has dropped out of the race after equipment damage and complications that further hampered their efforts.

Also, the crews of All Spice Yachting and Explorer have been dealing with unexpected headaches, but as of this writing, Explorer's bow was once again moving eastwards.

Sail-World wishes all Global Solo Challenge, TJV, and Ocean Globe Race competitors safe and speedy passage on their respective racecourses.

May the four winds blow you safely home,

David Schmidt North American Editor

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