Monday, 9 November 2009
Seb Josse and Jeff Cuzon on the BT boat. Image copyright Th. Martinez/Sea&Co/BT Team Ellen.
by Julie Royer
The weather had cleared up in Le Havre Sunday morning, bringing a nicely relaxed feel to the Paul Vatine Basin before the boats set off to head for the start line. "The conditions will be good to start off with", said a smiling Seb Josse, "I have my good friend Jeff with me, the boat's on top of her form, so it's all perfect!" The first 36 hours should prove tactically tricky due to a succession of transition zones, and the BT boys were eager to put brains and muscle at work in order to earn their place in the leading pack right from the begnning. Having taken a nice clean start under gennaker in a weak breeze of around 10 knots, Seb and Jeff were definitely among the frontrunners just minutes after the gun, making the most of their monohull's speed potential downwind in medium conditions.
Having set off around the world four times already, skipper Sébastien Josse left Le Havre very relaxed. "It's not exactly a walk in the park, but there's definitely not the same level of stress than when I know I'm going for 3 months at sea, especially singlehanded. For this Transat, I'm with my old friend Jeff, we're going to have a blast and as they say, 'times flies when you're having fun'. Seriously, I probably wouldn't be as serene if the boat wasn't ready, but I feel no tension whatsoever, I'm going out there with the desire to do the best I can and give a great result to the team, they all deserve to see their work rewarded, they've been great."
For Jeff Cuzon, the challenge could seem a bit more daunting, as his offshore experience is not as extensive, but this former world champion (in the 470 and Fireball classes) knows what focus and determination mean. "Seb and I have trained hard, spent long and tough nights at sea, I know my way around the boat and this race is going to be a sprint, we won't have time to get bored I'm sure!" Both men insist on the fact that their complicity is one of their most important strong points, and that it will shape their "watch system": "We don't want to set a fixed schedule, we'll play it by ear", explains Seb. "If I feel perfectly fine at the helm and Jeff is asleep, I'll let him rest and I know he'll do the same for me. It's important to look after each other, to ease the burden whenever possible."
A tough night ahead?
The wind is expected to increase significantly this evening, and the already rough sea state - it's been blowing hard on the Channel for a week - should be a bit unpleasant for the first night of the race.
"We're going to be reaching so it should not be that bad, but I know there's still 6 to 7 metres of swell height out there", said Seb. "Things will be shaky there's no doubt about it, but at least we'll be out of the Channel pretty fast, and Monday will bring a short-lived respite with a high pressure ridge. Just enough time to brace ourselves for the next one, because it looks like we're bound to be hit by a series of lows." By Tuesday the various options should be visible, and the fleet will probably start to split between the direct and the southern routes. "We will have to cope with a lot of transition zones for the first three days at sea", warned Jeff Cuzon, checking his weather files one last time before going to bed on Saturday night. "Definitely a situation that will put the tacticians' brain cells in overdrive!"
BT Team Ellen
Transat Jacques Vabre