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Thread: 2017 Transat Jacques Vabre

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    2017 Transat Jacques Vabre




    A pumped up Phil Sharp and Pablo Santurde (Imerys Clean Energy) – the Anglo-Spanish pair – were first across the line in the Class40 as the 13th edition of the Transat Jacques Vabre 2017 started at 13:35 (French time) from its home in Le Havre, in Normandy, France today (Sunday). Beautiful light but lively weather greeted the fleet of 37 boats and 74 crew.

    With 15-18 knots of north-westerly winds, a choppy shallow sea and plenty of current against them, they negotiated 15 miles of coast to round the first marks at Antifer and Étretat. It will be a highly technical and tactical starting phase, with lots of sail changes and no sleep tonight.






    The Ultime should be passing Ushant around midnight, followed by the Multi 50 in the middle of the night. The Imoca and Class40 are likely to suffer most in a softening wind against the strong currents at the tip of Cotentin, and the gaps with the multihulls will already start to widen.

    It may be a marathon not a sprint, but Sharp, the leader of the Class40 championship, was raring to go as the boats had their tremendous send-off from the pontoon. “(I’m feeling) anticipation and hunger to get out there,” the 36-year-old Sharp said. “I feel the pressure of it (being one of the favourites). I’m hoping for 17 days, I’m aiming high.”
    All four classes are looking at record times for this bi-annual double-handed transatlantic “Route du Café” race of 4,350 miles to Salvador de Bahia, in Brazil.









    With every kilo counting, Britain’s Sam Davies said they had taken two days of food off Initiatives-Cœur. Some benefitted from this: “We got our ham,” were virtually Sharp’s final words as he pushed off. “Alex Pella (the Spanish sailor on the Multi 50 Arkema) had an excess of jamon so he gave us some. We decided we would take the same amount of food but just eat more every day, the worst thing you can do is run out of food.”

    That international camaraderie of the fleet was extended by Davies, who wished good luck to the many offshore racers and record breakers in the Atlantic this weekend, which includes a larger number of former Transat Jacques Vabre competitors.


    “First to all the fleet in the Transat Jacques Vabre good luck and I hope to see you all in Salvador,” Davies said. “But we’re not the only ones out in the Atlantic: to the Dongfeng race team on the Volvo Ocean race you too are about to set off on a massive leg to Cape Town, thanks for your encouragement, and the same back to you, to Charles (Caudrelier), a winner of the of the Transat Jacques Vabre in 2009), Carolijn (Brouwer) and yes Carolijn, Foxy is going to be onboard Initiatives-Cœur don’t worry! Good luck to the whole fleet and especially all the girls from Team SCA.


    “A massive good luck and bon vent to Yves Le Blevec (a winner of the Transat Jacques Vabre in 2011) on Actual Ultim, a boat that I know well, from having done the Bridge with you this year. And François Gabart (a winner of the Transat Jacques Vabre in 2015), who is also setting off on Macif on a record this weekend - sail safe and sail fast. And we mustn’t forget the mini-Transat because you guys have been out there for one week already. What a great weekend for sailing.”










    First across the start line
    Ultime: Sodebo Ultim’
    Multi 50: FenêtréA - Mix Buffet
    Imoca: St Michel – Virbac
    Class40: Imerys Clean Energy


    They said:

    Seb Josse, skipper, Maxi Edmond de Rothschild (Ultime)
    “It promises to be a fast crossing, but ETAs are not our priority. We’ll encounter conditions we’ve never had with this boat. Our goal is to get to Bahia, as best we can, and especially lay low for the first two days. You feel the stress of the start as soon as you are passing through the lock; there’s only one metre on each side of the boat, you have to be really focused and you have a knot in your stomach. So, the whole team will do everything to try to avoid all the hazards.”


    Alex Pella, skipper, co-skiper, Arkema (Multi 50)
    “We’ve had a fantastic week in Le Havre, sunny days and the now we have dark skies, perfect for the start. We’re looking at 12 days (to finish) maybe, it looks like being a fast race. We had 14 days of food and we’re leaving 2 days of it on the dock. The first two days could be intense. First thing, there’s the emotions, the stress, we’re sailing close to the other boats, lot of traffic on the Channel, we have a lot of current against us in the beginning, it’s windy, everything, no? Then we need to cross an area with no wind after the point of Brittany and after that the front. But that’s what we came for (laughing).”

    Erwan Le Roux, skipper of FenêtréA - Mix Buffet (Multi50)
    “Three victories in the Transat Jacques Vabre changes nothing, we always have this little knot in our stomachs that grows when we leave the pontoon and disappears little by little when we sail, because that's what we know how to do. Everything is good, but a grain of sand can stall a machine. You have to stay focused and then think about sleeping, and resting before the front. This is the key to thinking clearly and staying alert.”

    Phil Sharp, skipper, Imerys Clean Energy (Class40)
    “The second night is going to be very windy, the front is going to be brutal and so are the waves. We’re going to be going straight into some really nasty swell and then after we tack we’ve just got a monumental amount of wind that is going to come down from the north. We really need to anticipate when we get that change and be ready for it.”

    https://www.transatjacquesvabre.org/...-jacques-vabre
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    Transat Leaders Near The Azores


    TRACKER

    07 November 2017 - 12h27


    After a day of climbing to the west, the leaders of the Transat Jacques Vabre tacked last night. In powerful conditions, the Ultime, Multi 50 and Imoca are back a direct route at sustained speeds in stable north-westerlies. Behind them, the Class40 have left the tip of Brittany and crossed the front this morning. Some boats are nursing damage, some are laying low - two have made stopovers at Camaret-sur-Mer. But overall, the fleet is preserved.





    Ultime
    Maxi Edmond de Rothschild powered through the front and pointed its bows towards Salvador de Bahia at around 20:00 UTC last night. “We crossed the front in two hours, that's the advantage of the multihull,” Sébastien Josse told the race radio this morning. He and his team-mate, Thomas Rouxel, still have a grip on the race. Averaging more than 30 knots on more smoothly rolling sea, they have increased their lead to 50 miles over Sodebo Ultim’. Maxi80 Prince de Bretagne was making half the speed, which was explained when the duo Lionel Lemonchois and Bernard Stamm informed their technical team this morning that had broken their mainsail halyard while crossing the front, last night. They are already over 250 miles behind. One of the pair will have to climb the mast to make the repair and for that they will have to wait until the sea-state is calmer.




    Multi 50
    Arkema continues to set the pace even if Lalou Roucayrol admitted to having been "forced to slow down just before crossing the front where we actually flew several times.” The question of the day is whether or not Réauté Chocolat, who dodged the worst of the cold front by diving to the South at the cost of multiple manoeuvres, will be able to minimize its losses? Skippers Armel Tripon and Vincent Barnaud have slipped from second to fourth, and were sailing at a speed two times lower than Arkema. We will know by the afternoon. Ciela Village (Thierry Bouchard and Oliver Krauss) and FenêtreA-Mix Buffet (Erwan Le Roux and Vincent Riou) are less than 30 miles from the leader on the same angle.


    Imoca
    Positioned furthest north of the Imocas, Jean Pierre Dick and Yann Eliès on St-Michel Virbac caught the wind rotation to the northwest first. In strong, reaching conditions, the favourites have extended their lead to over 20 miles over the continually impressive foil-less SMA (Meilhat-Gahinet), who seem to be holding off the more modern foiling boats behind them. The battle of the Azores is just beginning and St-Michel Virbac, making 18.5 knots is neck-and-neck with the leading Multi 50, Arkema, with the two fleets intertwined.


    Class40
    Anglo-Spanish duo, Phil Sharp and Pablo Santurde (Imerys Clean Energy) have moved into third behind the newly-launched leading boats Carac (Louis Duc, Alexis Loison) and Aïna Enfance et Avenir (Aymeric Chappellier, Arthur Le Vaillant). The winds were not quite as strong as expected in the cold front – around 30 rather than 40 knots. But before the front the 40ft monohulls, the smallest boats in the race spent their time shaving the rocks, even passing through the Passage du Four and the rocks of Molène island last night to get out of the Channel. In the wake of the leaders, Eärendil stopped in Camaret to repair their staysail, and the Brazilian team, Mussulo 40 Team Angola Cables, are heading to the same port to solve their electronic problems. Esprit Scout and Gustave Roussy seemed to be following the same path but were perhaps trying to negotiate the front from a different angle.



    In this dawn, the Brazilian Leonardo Chicourel and the angolan José Guilherme Caldas were forced to stop the boat boat 40 team Angola in camaret, Northwest of France, to solve electronic problems in the class40




    Damage to France (Association Association)
    Hallvard Mabire joined shortly after 15 hours today Sylvie Viant, running director of the transat Jacques Vabre. He informed her of a serious damage that occurred shortly after 13 hours, French time, on the French campaign.
    Hallvard Mabire and Miranda meron sailing team should in the next few hours decide on their destination.
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    Sharp Extends Lead as Merron Heads Home




    Anticyclone 1039 hPa at 45 north and 27 west, slowly shifting east.
    Stormy depression 1012 hPa at the Canary Islands, stationary. ITCZ at the 6 north.
    Forecasts for the day of Wednesday, November 8, 2017:

    Ultime Class: Heading southwest to south
    Good descent south, the sea is settling down a bit, the north-westerly swell is diminishing.
    Northerly wind blowing at 20/25 knots will accompany them all day.

    Multi 50, IMOCA: the gybing game.
    During the descent south, it will be necessary to refine their trajectory.
    The goal is to keep the pressure without going to look too much for it around the Canaries, where a stormy depression is active.
    The sea is complicated: crossed, and the road is strewn with stormy squalls.

    Class 40
    Downwind with a north to northeast diet, a difficult cross sea around Cape Finisterre.
    Trend for the day of Thursday, November 9, 2017
    The trade winds are softening for the race leader, behind that, north-west of the Canaries there are strong winds from the north-east, gusting up to 40 knots. Caution will be required in this unstable area.





    British sailor, Miranda Merron and her French co-skipper - in sailing as in life - Halvard Mabire were heading for land this evening (Tuesday) to assess a damaged port rudder after their Class40 boat, Campagne de France, broached in heavy conditions in the Bay of Biscay.

    Both sailors are apparently uninjured and will draw on all of their enormous experience to return to this 13th edition of the Transat Jacques Vabre. Shortly after 12:00 UTC, Campagne de France, maintaining a strong challenge in 5th place in class, suffered a brutal broach, causing the bracket holding the port rudder, to break.




    Sharp extends lead as Merron heads home
    The Anglo-Spanish duo, Phil Sharp and Pablo Santurde (Imerys Clean Energy) extended their lead at the front of the 40ft monohull fleet, as Halvard Mabire and Miranda Merron (Campagne de France) were limping back to Cherbourg, their home port, nursing a broken port rudder. They are expected back at midday tomorrow (Thursday).



    Such has been the pace, complication and fatigue after 72 hours at sea since the start from Le Havre on Sunday, that Sharp admitted that he fell asleep at the helm today (Wednesday) -"that's when I realised it might be a good idea to change with Pablo," Sharp said. "I think we're getting 3-4 hours in 24 hours."

    "It's been difficult because it's been really unstable, so it's hard to keep the boat flat the whole time. I woke up a couple of times in the night with the boat over and my bunk nearly vertical. It's quite alarming. The second time I came back to find the sleeping bag had unfortunately gone in a big pool of water in the boat - that was not good.

    Sharp took back the lead last night then stretched 20 miles ahead of his nearest French rival - Aïna Enfance & Avenir - with five French boats all within 40 miles behind. Despite the fatigue and hot-bunking one wet sleeping bag between them, he and Santurde were able appreciate the result of their efforts.








    "The conditions we had yesterday were insane, pushing the boat like that pretty much the whole day at speeds on the limit was quite an experience. We've been pushing really hard and when we realised we'd taken a big advantage it was hugely positive for us and we've been really spurred on to try keep extending."

    The bad news is that the antenna on their main satellite system failed this morning so they have not been able to download weather files. With no outside assistance allowed, that will be complicated as both the Class40 and the back of the larger Imoca 60ft monohull fleet will have to cope with squalls, gusting up to 30 knots and big seas in the open seas off Portugal as they head to the Azores.

    For the two Ultime-class trimarans at the front, it looks like being a much easier giant slalom on port tack all the way to the Doldrums. The Multi 50 and the leading Imocas have a few more bumps in the road, with a cross sea and they need to be accurate with the route and avoid the effects of the active depression around the Canaries.

    Whilst you are sleeping, spare a thought for Lionel Lemonchois and Bernard Stamm, Prince de Bretagne, the smaller Ultime, who will make their pit-stop to fix the broken mainsail halyard tonight in the shelter of the island of Santa Maria in the Canaries. "We should get there between midnight and one o'clock in the morning (French time)," Swiss co-skipper Stamm said. "We have to get up the mast and put everything right in less than two hours. We will see if we can get everything down or not."

    Speaking about the damage sustained crossing the cold front that battered the fleet yesterday and that has knocked them out of the running and maybe out of the race, Merron said both she and Mabire are uninjured but feeling low.

    "Other than being absolutely gutted, we're fine," Britain's Merron said. "We'd positioned ourselves in relation to the rest of the fleet where we wanted to be (and were lying in fifth place), we had good downwind conditions, we had the fractional spinnaker and two reefs in the main and the boat was flying. Then the boat wiped out, it took us a while to get it upright, whereas normally its straight away, then we realised the port rudder (bracket) had broken and then the boat obviously wiped out again pretty much immediately.

    "We don't know whether we wiped out because of the rudder or if the wipeout caused the boat to break. Then, we couldn't get the boat upright because the rudder was swinging around wildly. Then the spinnaker blew up. So, it took a while to sort that out, because it was in several pieces and didn't want to come down. We got that down eventually and managed to detach the rudder before it made a mess of the back of the boat.

    The damage has forced Merron and Mabire, partners on land as well at sea, back to France rather than heading to Spain, which would have required a starboard tack.

    "We can only sail on port tack, as we've only got the starboard rudder at the moment," Merron said. "We looked at our options and decided to go Cherbourg because the conditions were favourable for getting there on port tack and at least we'll be in a home port and we can have a look to see whether we can repair it quickly and leave again."



    They said:

    Samantha Davies, co-skipper, Initiatives-Cœur (Imoca)

    "It's Rock'n'roll here, downwind in an unstable wind, with friends not far away (Multi 50 and IMOCA). At the moment, we've making almost 30 knots and we have all the canvas out, so we're being vigilant and changing watch often so as not to be tired outside. But we're slamming less so we can sleep a little better and the trackball is staying in the same place. We're still in dry suits, but it's a little less humid. Well, we just switched over, Tanguy is outside, I'm going to sleep a little ... good night!

    Sam

    P.S. our thoughts are with Miranda and Halvard; I hope they manage to find shelter without too much difficulty."

    Bernard Stamm, co-skipper, Maxi 80 Prince de Bretagne (Ultime)

    "A little message, to say that we're advancing as well as we can with our two reefs in the mainsail and the solent. The gennaker is staying in his bag because the halyard is occupied by the mainsail. And hey, we should not be with them, but we we've in sight of Saint-Michel Virbac. It was nice to see them anyway and Jean-Pierre (Dick) called us for a little bit of chat."






    https://www.transatjacquesvabre.org/en/map-and-ranking

    Date : 08/11/17 - 16h06

    Class40
    1 - Imerys Clean Energy
    2 - Aïna Enfance & Avenir
    3 - TeamWork40

    Multi50
    1 - FenêtréA - Mix Buffet
    2 - Arkema
    3 - Réauté Chocolat

    Imoca
    1 - St Michel - Virbac
    2 - "DES VOILES ET VOUS!"
    3 - SMA

    Ultim
    1 - Maxi Edmond de Rothschild
    2 - Sodebo Ultim'
    3 - Prince de Bretagne
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  4. #4
    Nice coverage of this event pb!

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    Capsized Multi 50 Dreken Group Rescued



    After capsizing in their 50ft trimaran, Drekan Groupe, in the North Atlantic just before 21:00 UTC last night (Wednesday), whilst competing in the Transat Jacques Vabre 2017 race, French sailors, Eric Defert and Christopher Pratt were rescued this morning by crew from the Dutch cargo ship, Beautriton. Both sailors are safe and sound.

    Drekan Groupe was racing downwind east of the Azores in 25 knot north-easterlies - with violent squalls of 35 knots - and a cross sea. The boat was not under autopilot. Defert and Pratt just had time to get into the cockpit before the boat turned over completely. They donned their survival suit and triggered their Cospas Sarsat emergency beacon.

    The MRCC Punta Delgada received the distress call at 08:58 UTC and warned the race management. Pratt was able to call Sylvie Viant (race director) on the Iridium emergency phone to let her know that neither he nor Defert were injured.

    The boat being 380 miles from the island of Terceira (Azores), meant that no helicopter had sufficient range for a resuce. Therefore the MRCC decided to divert the nearest cargo ship, the MRV Beautriton, flying the Dutch flag, which was 30 miles away from the overturned trimaran. A Portuguese Navy patrol boat was also requested to assist in the search operation.

    At 01:34, the Bautriton announced to the MRCC that it located Drekan Groupe and was able to talk on the VHF with the crew. Given the weather conditions, they mutually agreed to wait until daybreak to proceed with the rescue and to remain in standby near the capsized boat. Finally, at 09:38 this morning (Thursday) the Beautriton put a lifeboat in the water and recovered the two sailors safe and sound. The cargo ship is heading to Georgetown in the United States.

    At the request of the MRCC and in accordance with the International Maritime Regulations, Defert turned off the Sarsat beacon before leaving the boat (its function is for solely locating and rescuing sailors). So, now there is no longer any location information of the Drekan Group wreck. It is not yet known if a means of recovery will be put in place by estimating its drift.

    This is obviously a hard blow for the skipper, Defert, who had a hard time making ends meet the project, calling on local help before leaving Le Havre.



    *************************
    Rescue in progress for Drekan Groupe
    MRCC Punta Delgada (Azores) and MRCC Lisbon have been coordinating the rescue operations since Drekan Groupe capsized 300 miles east of the island of San Miguel in the Azores archipelago last night.

    At midnight, a Dutch cargo ship, BEAUTRITON was diverted to the position the 50ft trimaran had given. As soon as they arrived on the scene, the captain of the cargo ship made contact with the two skippers, and agreed to wait until daybreak before attempting an evacuation, given the heavy weather conditions (4m waves and 25 knots of north- easterly wind).







    At 06:56 UTC, Eric Defert Voile, skipper of Drekan Groupe, contacted the race office to say that the cargo ship would try to put a life raft in the water to pick he and Christopher Pratt up, at daybreak. The two skippers had put on their survival suits and declared themselves fit and well.

    The MRCC also told the race office that a Portuguese Navy patrol boat had left the Azores in order to arrive at area this afternoon

    Last edited by Photoboy; 11-09-2017 at 10:05 AM.
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  6. #6
    That can't be fast.

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    Violent Squalls And Hectic Seas





    Sailors safe and sound after rescue from capsize in the Atlantic
    "The boat pitchpoled...There was a huge feeling of shock...the rescue was epic."


    The 13th edition of the Transat Jacques Vabre now has 35 crews left racing following the abandonment today (Thursday) of Halvard Mabire and Britain's Miranda Merron on their Class40 Campagne de France and the capsizing last night of the Multi50 Drekan Groupe.

    Eric Defert and Christopher Pratt, the two French sailors trapped on the overturned Drekan Groupe overnight, are safe and sound after being rescued by the crew of the Dutch cargo ship, Beautriton, this morning. They are now heading for Georgetown, USA, instead of the finish line in Salvador de Bahia, Brazil.




    Titre non renseigné

    It was a sobering fifth day of this bi-annual double-handed Route du café, tracing the historic coffee trade route from Le Havre. The hectic pace set by the leaders, the chaotic sea and the violent squalls are making enormous demands on the boats and the sailors.

    In happier circumstances, the headline surprise of the morning would have been Sodebo Ultim' taking the lead from Maxi Edmond de Rothschild in the Ultime class at the front of the fleet. Thomas Coville and Jean-Luc Nélias's decision to position themselves further west paid in stunning fashion as they turned a 70-mile deficit into a 60 mile lead. Sébastien Josse and Thomas Rouxel were forced to gybe last night and are sailing in Sodebo Ultim's wake. Ominously, the newly-launched Maxi Edmond de Rothschild had already eaten back 10 miles of that advantage yesterday afternoon, averaging 28 knots to their rivals 20.













    In the Imoca, the favourite, St Michel-Virbac, was maintaining its lead, but even more impressive was the incredible SMA, who are still somehow in second just 30 miles behind in an old boat without foils. In the Multi 50 the fight is getting ever fiercer between Arkema and FenêtréA-Mix Buffet, who have opened up a gap of 150 miles on the rest.

    In the Class40, the Anglo-Spanish duo of Phil Sharp and Pablo Santurde (Imerys Clean Energy) has been setting a speed that has been punishing his French rivals in newer boats and matching the older boats at the back of the Imoca 60 fleet. Only V and B have matched them and are 30 miles behind, making a spectacular comeback after having to slow and laminate a cracked forward bulkhead yesterday.

    Capsize and rescue

    Eric Defert, skipper of Drekan Groupe, contacted by phone on the Beautriton cargo ship:

    "We were sailing downwind under one reef with the little gennaker. We were going to roll up the little gennaker. I was below and Chris (Christopher Pratt) was on deck. I was preparing to go out, to take in another reef. The boat pitchpoled, (plunging forward and flipping over). It was blowing hard, we were under a squall in a pitch-black night, but we were being very cautious. Chris just got inside. I was below, so that's ok, but when you're on deck it's less easy. There was a huge feeling of shock. You blame yourself; there are no words. Our rescuers arrived in the area at half past midnight. They circled around us all night; they did a great job. The rescue was epic because there was a lot of sea and wind. Their boat only had a small 15hp engine. They came to save us, and we found out that one of them was having a birthday. So, maybe his gift was saving two lives."




    Merron Abandons

    Mabire and Merron on Campagne de France (Class40) arrived in their home port of Cherbourg at 11:30 UTC and officially declared their abandonment to the race office, following serious damage to their port rudder on Tuesday.

    Forced stopover

    Enel Green Power, skippered by Italians, Andrea Fantini and Alberto Bona are heading to Lisbon to try and fix their starboard rudder (bracket or bearing). They recovered the rudder, but there is a big hole in the stern at the level of the rudder attachment.

    Back to business

    The Ultime, Prince de Bretagne, left the island of Santa Maria in the south of the archipelago of the Azores at around noon. After a mast climb, Bernard Stamm and Lionel Lemonchois were able to solve their mainsail halyard problem.

    Slamming on the brakes

    A mini-Doldrums tomorrow before the real thing looks like causing a headache for the two giant trimarans at the front as they pass the half-way mark and approach the latitude of the Cape Verde islands. As forecast, the stationary depression in the southern part of the Canaries is disrupting the trade winds.

    Mind the squalls

    For the Multi50, Imoca and Class40 the wet, wild gusts and battering seas are not over yet. "We're all on fire," Alexis Loison, co-skipper of Class40 Carac, said. "At the moment, we are under a spinnaker with 2 reefs in the mainsail and we're doing 18 knots." Erwan Le Roux on his Multi50, FenêtréA - Mix Buffet, said that the atmosphere was like a dizzying black run descent. Tomorrow the conditions should begin to improve. DIY and napping will be on the schedule.

    She said:

    Samantha Davies, co-skipper Iniatives-Cœeur (Imoca)

    "My thoughts are with the Multi 50 guys and hats off to all of them because these conditions are really hard and it's hard enough for us (in an Imoca 60 monohull) and we've got a keel underneath our boat that keeps us the right way up. But there's been a couple of times with Tanguy and I when we've put our boat on its side with various manoeuvres or just trying to push it too hard. But our boat comes back upright when tips over on its side, it's not the same for a Multi 50.

    It's loud because we're doing 29 knots. The speed were doing is absolutely ridiculous, so the gaps in terms of time are only a matter of an hour or two. So, it's really still pretty close."



    Tracker



    Class40
    1 - Imerys Clean Energy
    2 - V and B
    3 - Aïna Enfance & Avenir

    Multi50
    1 - Arkema
    2 - FenêtréA - Mix Buffet
    3 - Réauté Chocolat

    Imoca
    1 - St Michel - Virbac
    2 - SMA
    3 - "DES VOILES ET VOUS!"

    Ultim
    1 - Sodebo Ultim'
    2 - Maxi Edmond de Rothschild
    3 - Prince de Bretagne
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    TRACKER


    TOUCHING RECORDS, DREAM GLIDING AND CONCERTINAS – THE RACE IS ON IN ALL FOUR CLASSES
    10 November 2017 - 10h39


    No change this morning in rankings in the four classes, but that doesn’t mean the sailors have been resting. The stormy depression south of the Canaries that is disturbing trade winds has slowed down the Ultime off the coast of Cape Verde, and concertina’d the gap. The Imoca and Multi 50s will be affected by this as well, but they are still gliding south at 20 knots this morning. There is not respite either in the Class40, who will pass west of Madeira around midday, still averaging more than 15 knots. At the head of the fleet, the calmer sea and rising temperatures are making life a little easier. They will use the time to repair little problems, communicate, spend time in the weather files and catch up on a little of the sleep lost in a furious first five days.







    Ultime: The hunter and the hunted
    Sodebo Ultim’s nice move, which allowed them to flip a deficit of 70 miles into a lead of more than 60 over Maxi Edmond de Rothschild yesterday, is a distant memory. In softening conditions, the lead has melted – under 20 miles this morning at 09:00 UTC. “In these conditions, you quickly go from being the hunter to the hunted,” Thomas Coville, the skipper of Sodebo Ultim’ said, not particularly to see his competitor flying in his wind...exactly as he had done two days ago. Colville knows that the race is really on in the next 36 hours, which separate the two trimarans from the entry of the Doldrums.









    Multi 50: Dream gliding
    This is probably the first day since the start where the Multi50 will be able to glide like their skippers dream of. The sea is well-ordered, the squalls dispered, the nasty “black run” that Erwan Leroux described is now a beautiful descent. But the opposite problem awaits the bows of Arkema and FenêtréA-Mix Buffet; the wind will drop and they will have to push with their ski poles. They will have to make a lot of manoeuvres and sail changes, probably under the influence of the stormy Canarian depression. Will FenêtréA-Mix Buffet’s decision to be 50 miles west pay out?


    Imoca: A test for the faultless leader
    Same weather pattern for the head of the Imoca fleet. “The evening was still tense yesterday, but overnight night was much quieter with less squalls,” said Gwénolé Gahinet from SMA. He and his teammate, Paul Meilhat, are waiting impatiently for the more complicated conditions in the disrupted tradewinds and the Doldrums, which are still four days away. Because in pure speed in the stronger wind, St-Michel Virbac, 40 miles ahead, seems untouchable. It is sailing faster (0.5 knots) and lower than the entire fleet, with complete control of the trajectory south.








    Class 40: Record speeds
    Still being shaken by a choppy sea and stressed by squalls, the leading boats are eager for tonight where conditions should finally allow some relaxation.
    Phil Sharp and Pablo Santurde (Imerys Clean Energy) are still leading the fleet and setting a great pace. The sensation of the last 24 hours has been V and B. Second this morning, Maxime Sorel and Antoine Carpentier are the fastest and within touching distance of breaking the Class40 speed record, after covering 372 miles in the last 24 hours (15.5-knot average). It is all the more remarkable given that they are making a comeback from having to slow and laminate a crack in their forward bulkhead.
    The weather forecast for the day should allow them to glide comfortably west of Madeira. The Italians, Andrea Fantini and Alberto Bona on Enel Green Power are still on the way to Lisbon for a starboard rudder repair.
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    despondent correspondent Photoboy's Avatar
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    Having left the French port of Le Havre 5 days ago, the mixed sailing duo of Tanguy de Lamotte (FRA) and Sam Davies (GBR), are racing at full speed towards Brazil as part of the Transat Jacques Vabre.

    This double-handed transatlantic race was always going to be fast, and the boats are now reaching record speeds with consistently strong sea conditions. Initiatives-Coeur, who are currently in 8th place in the IMOCA fleet, will have to face a double barrier on their way: a low pressure system and then the famous Doldrums.

    While figuring out how the pair will tackle this new obstacle, Sam Davies shows us behind the scenes life onboard Initiatives-Coeur, finishing her shift and waking up her team-mate Tanguy de Lamotte…Such is life at sea when sailing as a duo.




    24-hour speed record broken stoking Anglo-Spanish and French rivalry
    The ferocious pressure in the air, on the water and in the boats in this 13th edition of the Transat Jacques Vabre saw the Class40, V and B, break the 24-hour speed record today (Friday).

    French skippers Maxime Sorel and Antoine Carpentier, in second place on V and B traveled 377.7 nautical miles between Thursday, November 9, 07:30 (UTC) and Friday, November 10 (07:30) at an average speed of 15.7 knots.

    As if the Anglo-Spanish and French rivalry at the front of the Class40 fleet needed any more stoking. British skipper Phil Sharp and his Catalan co-skipper Pablo Santurde, the leaders on Imerys Clean Energy will be doubly conscious of V and B's speed as the previous record was held by Thalès II, skippered by Gonzalo Botin and Santurde. They travelled 373.3 miles at 15.56 knots average on July 16, 2016 during the Transat Quebec-Saint-Malo.





    60-50-30

    Five days after leaving Le Havre in Normandy, the Class40 have completed almost a third of the race, the Imoca and Multi 50 almost half, and the Ultime 60 per cent.

    A duel in the sun

    The hunter is now the hunted but Sodebo Ultim' is more than holding its own against the newly-launched Maxi Edmond de Rothschild as they rapidly approach the potentially decisive phase: the Doldrums, which are loitering at 7 degrees North of the Equator. But it looks likely that they will be battling all the way to the line with arrivals predicted on Monday, November 13. "In these conditions, you quickly go from being the hunter to the hunted," Thomas Coville, the skipper of Sodebo Ultim' said in the morning when the lead they had stunningly taken on Thursday had been cut to under 20 miles. But Maxi Edmond de Rothschild lost 10 miles during the day directly the wake of the Sodebo Ultim'.

    It is hard to know why. They are both averaging around 26 knots in near-perfect downwind drag race conditions. Perhaps the most obvious reason is that these 15-knot north-westerlies are not strong enough to unleash Maxi Edmond de Rothschild's potential. Thomas Rouxel, the co-skipper said before the start that in the two months of testing they felt that if they were travelling "under 30 knots, we feel very slow and like we're stuck in glue." It could be their slower transitions and lack of familiarity with their new great beast as Rouxel suggested today.

    But these teams play things close to their chests and it may be that they are being more conservative because of accumulated fatigue or they are testing things – as skipper Sébastien Josse said on the start line? Or could there is a small technical glitch – they would not be the only ones.

    Multi50: The west pays out for Le Roux and Riou

    Ten miles behind in second early this morning, 12 hours later Fenêtre A- Mix Buffet (Erwan Le Roux / Vincent Riou), who had positioned themselves 50 miles west are 33 miles ahead of Arkema.




    Imoca: The dominant favourite

    Commanding leaders of the Imoca, St Michel-Virbac, continues to slowly stretch away from the fleet. The leader sailed a knot faster over 24 hours than the other foilers. SMA, in second, continues to be the most impressive pursuer, particularly as it is an older boat without foils. They hope that the softening conditions in the next 24 hours will favour them. Des Voiles et Vous! In third is beginning to pay for staying east as that high-pressure system in their path is forcing them west and has cost them 80 miles.




    Class 40: The heat is on

    Nowhere is the fleet racing keener than in Class40s. Imerys Clean Energy continues to hold the lead and are not far off a record 24-hour speed themselves, despite battling with antenna failure and a lack of weather files. Three French boats are in hot pursuit off Madeira: V and B ((second in the race in the last edition in 2015), Aïna Enfance et Avenir et TeamWork40. The GPS recorded an almost unbelievable 28 knots on GPS today.

    Damage report

    On Ciela Village, Thierry Bouchard and Oliver Krauss have been sailing without an autopilot since the second day of the race. Also without a computer, they are take turns at the helm, one and a half hours each.

    Pit stops

    Early leader and one of the Class40 French favourites, the newly-launched Carac, has slowly been dropping off the pace in the last few days and it is becoming clearer why as it heads for Funchal in Madeira. Louis Duc, third in the race two years ago, needs medical attention following a violent blow to his knee. On anti-inflammatories for three days, Duc 's condition has worsened by further blows and he is unable to move around the boat. They should arrive during the night.

    Enel Green Power: Italian duo, Andrea Fontini and Alberto Bona, should arrive in Lisbon at 04:00, where they will try and fix their broken starboard rudder. The damage occurred yesterday morning when the boat hit a UFO.

    Rescued

    After their capsize and dramatic rescue yesterday morning, Eric Defert and Christopher Pratt, skippers of Drekan Groupe, transferred from Beautriton, the Dutch freighter that came to their aid, on to a Portuguese Navy patrol boat and landed at Punta Delgada (Azores) this afternoon.

    LES MOTS DES PARTENAIRES

    Andrea Fantini, skipper, Enel Green Energy (Class40)

    "We hit a UFO yesterday morning and we broke the starboard rudder. We are heading to Lisbon to see if we can make a repair or not. I think we'll arrive in Lisbon at 04:00 tonight. Alberto and I are safe, we had a lot of water on the boat, it was a big mess but everything now is under control and we are under three reefs and a storm jib. We have 30 knots (of wind) from the north-east and we are going really slowly. (The accident) We had a fractional spinnaker up and two reefs, I was changing the watch with Alberto and we hit something in the water. We heard a huge bang, and we weren't sure what had happened. Then we saw the starboard rudder, we hurried to save it, so we have it with us. But it's not in the right place, we can't use it and there's delamination there too."

    Louis Duc, skipper, Carac (Class40)

    "I cannot move, the slightest movement is really painful. In the very unstable conditions we've had from the start we had to be really responsive, and I couldn't be. There was a lot of blows to the bad knee...we exploded the little spinnaker yesterday at the beginning of a broach. Alexis (Loison, co-skipper) is starting to get very tired. I'm really sorry for him, I'm helping him as much as I can." "I told Jean-Yves Chauve (the race doctor) and Alexis's father, who is a doctor, a knee specialist. It is probably necessary to intervene, so we are routed to Funchal in Madeira, and then we will head on to Brazil."

    Thomas Rouxel, co-skipper of Maxi Edmond de Rothschild (Ultime)

    "In terms of manoeuvres, we're pretty much level with Sodebo Ultim'. Where we are disadvantaged is that we know less about the boat, so in the transitions, we're finding it more difficult to speed up. We're starting to feel the fatigue. Wake-ups are difficult but the boat remains comfortable enough. The battle with Sodebo Ultim' is intense and it's great for us because it forces us to constantly look for the right options. It's a great race, we're having fun."
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    Ignoring the forecasts, the Ultime have already entered the Doldrums without stopping, the two leaders jumped from one squall to the next and are already feeling the south-easterly breeze that will mark their exit from this usually dreaded stretch. Behind them, Multi50 and Imoca are trying to get round the area of ​​weak winds between the Canaries and Cape Verde. It is an unusually quiet time on the Route du Café this morning. Finally, the fastest in the fleet this morning were the Class40s – and the gliding downwind conditions will become ever smoother for them throughout the day too.


    Ultime: Furl, unfurl

    Since the beginning of the night Sodebo Ultim’ and Maxi Edmond de Rothschild have been in sail change mode. High mainsail, large gennaker at the bow ready to deploy, J2 in reserve, the crews juggling between the sails so that they do not park up. “You have to make tracks quickly from each squall,” Thomas Coville, the Sodebo Ultim’’ skipper said. “We’ve got a lot of sail up when it's soft, so you have to be very careful. For the moment, we’ve haven’t parked up. We’re beginning to feel a little lapping breeze from South, there’s no big storm, it feels like the exit (from the Doldrums).” According to Coville, by noon they should have started sailing in the new south-east wind. There is nothing between the boats now as the Sébastien Josse-Thomas Rouxel duo have been averaging a knot more over the last 36 hours. There are 1,300 miles of reaching to decide the winner. But whoever it is it will easily be a new race record.








    Imoca: St-Michel Virbac masterful

    Jean-Perre Dick’s steady voice on the phone this morning could not hide the truth. “The conditions are a bit frightening for racing, but physically it’s getting nicer,” he said. “We’ve taken off the oilies and fleece layers and the sea is calm.” In the wake of the leader, the gap with SMA and Des Voiles et Vous! has stabilised. The Imocas will not be back in a normal trade wind until tonight, but then their averages should be back to 20 knots. If those further behind – like Britain’s Sam Davies, in sixth, 145 miles behind, are going to make any moves it will need to be soon because there may not be so many opportunities from here to Salvador de Bahia to turn the ranking upside down. But the Doldrums, the real ones, are 2-3 days ahead of the bows and could yet become more active and play their part.

    On this score, note the more easterly route, being tried by Bastide Otio (Kito Pavant- Yannick Bestaven) a little behind, unlike Des Voiles et Vous! Which is in the process of realigning behind the two leaders.







    TRACKER


    Multi50: FenêtréA-Mix Buffet escapes from the west

    Erwan Le Roux and Vincent Riou are clearly benefitting from their westerly route and this morning lie 60 miles ahead of Lalou Roucayrol and Alex Pella on Arkema. “We committed from the beginning in this position,” Riou said. “We knew that there would be a wind hole to cross between the Canaries and Cape Verde. We’re happy with our positioning.” This transition looks like a truce for the Multi50s, who have been sailing almost underwater since Le Havre and can finally glide in tune with the elements. This is also the first time since yesterday that they have found a real speed advantage over the Imocas (although remember, there is no overall ranking in this race). Behind, La French Tech Rennes Saint-Malo has overtaken Ciela Village, who handicapped by many technical problems (autopilots, smashed computer screen and ripped off helm seat), have diverted to make a stop at Mindelo in the Cape Verde archipelago.












    Class40: 6 days to the Canary Islands

    The Class40 are relentless. A fact confirmed this morning by Maxime Sorel on V and B, the new 24-hour record holder: “the road from Le Havre has not really been a pleasure cruise,” he said. “It’s taken its toll on the boats and the skippers.” And though more pleasant conditions are forecast, that will just mean everyone will recover strength – so, the pace is not going to relax anytime soon. The front of the fleet is still in 20 knots of north-easterly wind with the lead of Phil Sharp and Pablo Santurde (Imerys Clean Energy) now cut to under 10 miles by V and B.

    Note: the arrival of Carac in Funchal, where Louis Duc will have his injured knee treated. And Enel Green Power in Cascais (Lisbon) to fix a starboard rudder. It looks like they will need to take the boat out of the water. At the back, Gustave Roussy has taken up a westerly route.
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