Monday, 9 November 2009
Artemis just after the start of the 2009 Transat Jacques Vabre. Image copyright Mark Lloyd/Lloyd Images.
by Artemis Ocean Racing media
At 14.30 CET Sunday Sam Davies and Sidney Gavignet, started the dash across the Atlantic from Le Harve, France to Costa Rica in the double-handed Transat Jacques Vabre (TJV). Artemis got away cleanly, crossing the line in 7th or 8th place, and were soon in good company sailing alongside race favourite Foncia and Veolia Environnment. BT, Foncia, Mike Golding Yacht Racing and Veolia hoisted their spinnakers whilst the remainder of the fleet, including Artemis, stuck to headsails.
A southerly breeze of 8 knots got the fleet off the start line but this quickly swung right round to the east and increased to 10-12 knots. The next three days will deliver some tricky conditions, bringing strong upwind conditions and a series of light-wind transitions as the low pressure systems assault the IMOCA 60 competitors as they exit the English Channel out into the Atlantic.
IMOCA 60 class start. Image copyright Mark Lloyd/Lloyd Images.
Following her success in last year’s Vendée Globe as Britain’s best finisher in the race (4th overall) and first girl to finish, Sam teamed up with Sidney in July as co-skippers of the IMOCA 60 Artemis to take part in a number of races over the summer culminating in the TJV.
Sam Davies on board Artemis. Image copyright Mark Lloyd/Lloyd Images.
Between them the duo have close to 40 transatlantic crossings and their experience and knowledge makes them a competitive duo, although Artemis Ocean Racing underwent a weight-saving refit this summer, she is a heavier if not powerful racing machine compared to her rivals: “We may struggle to stay with the leaders, we are heavier than the other boats so we have to go as light as possible.” However, the duo have revealed a new giant spinnaker that can nearly cover two tennis courts! 485msq in total, 100msq larger than the average kite, Artemis Ocean Racing has the largest spinnaker in the IMOCA fleet to help gain an edge in speed on the downwind sections of the 4,730-mile race to Costa Rica: “We need this surface area to pull Artemis along downwind. In training Sidney and I managed to deal with the hundreds of square metres of cloth, even when it is pretty windy! So we’re looking forward to putting it up in the race!”
For her sailing achievements this year Sam has also been nominated, with three others, for the ISAF World sailor of the year award that will be announced this coming Tuesday. Whilst many guests will gather for the ceremony in Korea, Sam will be ‘enjoying’ freeze dried food and the potential of extreme weather in the opening stages of the race.
Sam Davies and Sidney Gavignet prior to the 2009 TJV. Image copyright Mark Lloyd/Lloyd Images.
Sam commented from the dockside before leaving: “This race is full on and non-stop for both Sidney and I, and it can be mentally and physically exhausting but after months of training, we can’t wait to get back on the race track and give it our best shot. Most of the week we have been in Le Harve we have had dark skies and at times torrential rain, but the team has been fantastic in getting the boat ready for the off and Sidney and I feel really well prepared.
“Although Artemis is not designed for a long downwind race which usually characterises this race, we hope that we can stay near the leaders and that some upwind conditions give us the boost we need. I really just want to finish feeling proud of ourselves and the course we have taken, and the way we have sailed. The first couple of days are going to be crucial… We could see lots of variable wind strengths and directions so we will have to do lots of manoeuvres - it will be a very tiring start to the race and we will have to manage ourselves well. So much will be down to the weather on this race and who does what, but I want to feel we have sailed as close to 100% as we can. So lets hope we can celebrate a good result in Costa Rica in a couple of week’s time.”
Sidney said: “The first 48 hours we will go due west out of the English Channel and pass south of the Scilly Isles after the first night, and we could see 25-30 knots on the first night. It’s not so bad for us because Artemis likes upwind! So we could be in a good position in a couple of days. For now all the different weather models we have looked at agree that this is the best option for the next two days. Normally at the Azores you have High Pressure and from there you can hook into the Trade Winds, and one option is to go south-east then south into the Trade Winds but for now that door is shut! So our only option, right now, is to go north of the Azores, although maybe in a couple of days things will change. We will see!”
The 4,730-mile Transat Jacques Vabre from Le Havre (France) to Puerto Limon (Costa Rica) across the Atlantic is the major race of the 2009 IMOCA season and will see the greatest names in IMOCA offshore racing taking part.
The Transat Jacques Vabre fleet in Le Havre prior to the start of the race. Image copyright Mark Lloyd/Lloyd Images.
Mark Tyndall, CEO, Artemis Investment Management: “Artemis Ocean Racing has gone through a lot of changes in the last six months and Sam and Sidney have already achieved a great result in the Rolex Fastnet Race. They have worked hard and focused a great deal on the speed and performance of the boat and we are looking forward to watching them race across the Atlantic. From everyone at Artemis we would like to wish them all the best and safe sailing to Cost Rica – we will all follow their progress closely.”
Artemis Ocean Racing
Transat Jacques Vabre