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The Transat CIC - Perseverance is Clarisse Crémer's middle name

by The Transat CIC 14 May 10:03 PDT 14 May 2024
L'Occitaine en Provence - The Transat CIC © Jean-Marie Liot

After a strong, solid start to the Transat CIC, Clarisse Crémer suffered damage to the J3 bulkhead of her IMOCA L'Occitaine en Provence on May 1st which required her to divert 500 miles to the Azores for five days whilst her technical team completed repairs.

She is now back racing hard and today is some 700 miles from the finish line which she expects to reach in about three to four days, safely inside the closing deadline for the finish line, May 20th.

After returning to the race course Crémer appreciates more than ever the simple joys of sailing, racing solo, being alone on board, managing the weather, maneuvering. She set off to sea again fully focused with a touch of apprehension but looking to enjoy and share the unique sensations of the open sea. Now she wants to get finished and complete the job. "My main goal is to have a smile upon finishing and to again feel how incredible these boats are as means of transport," she explained before she left Lorient.

"At the time it was okay but the next day it was hard" Her first days of racing are up to par, she was getting closer to the 'top 10' on the passage past Ireland. "The first few days were up to expectations in terms of speed," she says. "I wasn't too sick at sea, I managed to find my bearings."

It was after four days of racing she was checking the boat after the two fronts had passed. It was then that she noticed that the bulkhead level with and supporting the J3 the had been badly cracked over nearly 4 meters. "I managed to be pragmatic, to discuss with the team and analyze the situation. We had to put the race on hold. At the time it was okay but the next day it was hard"

She filmed a video, looking worried before wiping away a few tears, exhausted. Already there are small repairs that she has carried out but it is a massive ask to head for the Azores, to think of fixing and getting going again, knowing she will inevitably be at the back or near the back of the fleet.

Five days of layover and an express repair

Clarisse therefore heads 500 miles further south, to the Azores. She moored on the island of Faial, in the port of Horta. There, it is his technical team - eight people have been mobilized - who begin a race against the clock.

"They did a crazy job, taking turns day and night to allow me to leave as quickly as possible." During these five days on site, Clarisse alternates between "rest and observing". One day, she allows herself a hike "to take her mind off things". "It's a magnificent place, I would have liked to discover it in different circumstances... But it's heartwarming."

By last Friday, there were 21 IMOCA skippers who had already completed the race, including Clarisse's companion, Tanguy Le Turquais (Lazare, 11th), who had an exceptional race (1st boat with straight daggerboards). That was the day that Clarisse returned to the sea. "The stopover in the Azores could hardly have gone better and then I left in almost ideal conditions." There are then just over 1900 miles to go until the finish.

A thrilling end to the race

The day after her new start she has a bit of a downturn. Psychologically, nothing is easy. You have to sail in a mix of "racing mode and in safe mode", live with the anxiety of not breaking anything - "I have the impression I just could not deal with any more problems". Also she realizes that now she will not be able to make the return trip to Brittany before the next race to see her daughter again. "I didn't plan on leaving her this long, that hurts my heart."

True to her stoic temperament when times are hard and doubts pile up, she holds on and copes as always. Yesterday, she had returned to the westwards course followed by all the competitors, pointing entirely to the West.

From now on, she has began to follow the cetacean protection zone located to her north and has been dealing with the currents of the Gulf Stream.

She hopes to complete the race within four days. "Clarisse is making high averages and should arrive on time (before May 20, line closure)," confirms Francis Le Goff, the race director. This should allow her to log the necessary miles for her participation in the Vendée Globe but also to be able to rest well and prepare her boat before the return transatlantic.

Before being able to breathe, the end of his race nevertheless promises to be copious. On the program: the av ant of a depression to overcome this Tuesday, a transition phase, strong wind, a ridge to negotiate... "I almost have a new system to cross every day between now and the finish," confides the sailor. And she concludes, by dispelling the few doubts that remain, with optimism: "I manage to have a good rhythm, to do clean maneuvers. Overall it's all OK!!"

RACE UPDATE. Five skippers still in the race!

The next boat expected on the finish line is that of Patrick Isoard, who should win in the Vintage category. The vintage Open 50 Uship for Children of the Mekong is less than 200 miles from the line. Currently in lighter winds he should cross in a little less than 24 hours. The other entered in the Vintage category, FAIAOAHE (Rémy Gerin), has passed the halfway mark and is progressing in a constant southerly flow which will intensify this Tuesday.

Among the IMOCAs, in addition to Clarisse Crémer, Oliver Heer (Oliver Heer Ocean Racing, 25th) made good progress almost 350 miles from the line. He should nevertheless "get into a slightly less windy area at the end of the day", explains Francis Le Goff, the race director.

Finally, the last Class40 entered, Anatole Facon (Good Morning Pouce) showed good pace, covering almost 200 miles per day. "If he continues to work well and work as hard as he does, Anatole can arrive before the line closes even if it looks close." Concludes.

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