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Italian boats dominate Transat Jacques Vabre Class40 podium with first and third

by TJV Media 24 Nov 2023 06:36 PST 24 November 2023
2023 Transat Jacques Vabre © Jean-Marie Liot / Alea

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 their aggregate time of 18 days 21 hours 22 minutes and 47 seconds secures them third place overall. Adding to Ambrogio Beccaria's winning Musa 40 Alla Grande PIRELLI, Italian boats take an unprecedented first and third overall.

As he welcomed Bona and Santurde to the dock in Fort-de-France, Martinique, Beccaria, who had predicted in Le Havre that two Italian boats might finish on the podium, grinned today:

"We have good sponsors who push us to be here and do good things. We are good skippers and I think we manage our projects well. We choose good co-skippers in Nico and Pablo, we have good sponsors. But this is a rare event and we are so proud. When Alberto and I started we did not have sponsors and so to be here with good sponsors and good programmes with good people."

And he paid tribute to Italian racer Giovanni Soldini a pioneering spirit in Class40 who won the 2007 Transat Jacques Vabre with Pietro d'Ali and who continues to set records and compete around the world.

"For every Italian sailor Giovanni is a big inspiration. He is a wonderful guy who did great things in sailing, some great adventures, catching the imagination of the public and the sailing people. He is still always there pushing innovations with a lot of courage. He is always pushing. And that inspires because sometimes if you have a little success you don't take more risks. But he continues to do so and that is inspiring." Added Beccaria.

And Spanish ace Pablo Santurde del Arco contributed in a big way as co-skipper to Bona. And in finishing third on IBSA, he extends his remarkable record to four consecutive podiums in Class40 on the Transat Jacques Vabre Normandie Le Havre.

After finishing third with Phil Sharp in 2017, second in 2019 with Alex Pella and winning last year on Redman with Antoine Carpentier, yesterday morning Santurde though he and Bona were destined to finish sixth.

Sanurde said, "It was a tough race. It was not at all obvious yesterday morning that we would finish on the podium. We know this would not be an easy race, last edition we were ahead from the Cape Verdes. I think we are generally happy with our race but a week ago the wind dropped and we did not find the right set up for the boat, or maybe it is not the right boat for those conditions. We knew it would be difficult in these light trade winds. We were lucky to have some wind at the end there and finish in a good position."

Santurde smiled, "I'm pretty happy with my record. I feel just very lucky to be part of good projects and sail with great people. Yesterday morning we thought we were over, that we were sixth. During the night we had clouds that gave us good wind in a good direction and we were flying along at 19kts straight to the finish line!"

French ex Figarists Achille Nebout and Gildas Mahé on the 2022 Lift 40 V2 Amarris - Yoann Richomme's winner of the last Route du Rhum - took second overall after finishing third into Fort-de-France. The second placed Crédit Mutuel of Ian Lipinski and Antoine Carpentier was dismasted on the first stage and so carry a weighty first stage time allocation equivalent to that of the last placed boat plus six hours.

The French duo came close to pulling out after Mahé was injured, Nebout recalled "We thought it was over when Gildas was injured. He seemed unaware of what was going on. I understood that it wasn't normal. These boats are so violent. It all happened at the same moment when I decided to take the western option. The Southern group came out quicker than we imagined. The weather was very different from the forecasts. So we went on that route. The boat does well except when slamming into the waves. We wanted to gain on the others, even if Ian gave us some idea of what was ahead of us. I never imagined finishing second."

Britons Alister Richardson and Brian Thomson finish fifth overall just 1hr and 39 minutes from the podium at the end of an excellent hard driving race on the 2019 Mach 40.4 T'quila. They had an intense match race for the last week with the Edwin Le Draoulec's Everial which they finished less than 10 minutes behind this afternoon.

"It was a great race, we really enjoyed it. We pushed really hard making a point of driving as much as we could during the days and that really makes a difference. I think we did a lot of things right in terms of strategy. We had one bad day when we lost to Everial when we had been 15 miles ahead but we caught up again and even last night and this morning we pulled back a lot of miles on them. But this is such a great class with so many good sailors now, all these new scow boats and all these guys coming in from the Figaro class, the standard just goes up and up, so we are very happy." Said Thompson, "And we are for sure between Al and I the duo with the oldest combined age - over 100 - and I am pretty sure we are the only duo with no shore team at all which is why it is lovely to have Sam Davies and Miranda Merron here to take our lines!"

"We are pretty happy." Said Richardson, "We worked hard to stay fast driving long and hard and we do think that makes a difference. When you are sitting trying to catch and work each wave and thinking 'bet no one else is pushing like this' it really all adds up. And the race we had with Everial was pretty amazing, it has been non stop for days and we really pushed each other up through the fleet and we kept the level high between us."

The young German duo Lennart Burke and Melwin Fink (Sign For Com) are on course for an excellent 11th place on their first Transat Jacques Vabre Normandie Le Havre. Taking a northerly option they have scythed through the fleet to move up from 24th six days ago to this afternoon overtake EdenRed which is skippered by young Frenchman Basile Bourgnon who is the youngest sailor in the fleet at 21 a few weeks younger than Fink who was runner up on the 2019 Mini Transat.

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