Tuesday, 10 November 2009
After a brisk start there was a short respite today as the Transat Jacques Vabre fleet negotiated a high pressure ridge, a chance to prepare for the first big breezes
Fonica. Image copyright Yvan Zedda Team Foncia.
by Régis Lerat
The first full day of racing in this ninth edition of the Transat Jacques Vabre, sees the fleet into the Atlantic with a pause for reflection, a chance to regroup before the first big weather systems descend on the fleet and, in time, the first telling strategic moves need to be made.
While Michel Desjoyeaux and Jérémie Beyou have lost little time in falling in line with their billing as pre-race favourites, leading out of the inky black of the first night at sea, quickly into a rhythm which can be established more readily thanks to the miles that both have sailed on the Farr design, which won this race in 2007, and more recently triumphed in the Istanbul Europa Race with Beyou on board.
Foncia was leading the pack out of a ridge of high pressure early this afternoon, in close company with Groupe Bel – which has remained resolutely south since the start yesterday – Akena Vérandas, which on board has Arnaud Boissières partnered by past Vendée Globe winner Vincent Riou, and record breaking British double-circumnavigator Dee Caffari with Brian Thompson well placed on Aviva.
Ahead for them is the first nasty weather system of a sequence of depressions which are forecast to bring them 40-45 knots and big seas on Wednesday.
Such weather is standard fare for this time of the year in the Atlantic, but by Friday – the 13th – they should be through the worst of it and negotiating the Azores archipelago.
Foncia’s lead was 3.1 miles over Kito de Pavant and Francois Gabart on Groupe Bel on the 1700hrs (1600hrs GMT) standings, making just over 12 knots.
Whether it proves more of a brave, long term strategy or a simple matter of getting free of the ridge quicker will remain to be seen but the group to the north is emerging faster, not least Alex Thompson and Ross Daniel, whose routing on Hugo Boss took them north of the Sicily Isles but the British duo were quickest late this afternoon, along with Seb Josse and Jeff Curzon on BT who had also strayed a little further north than they planned.
The British duo on Aviva, Caffari and Thompson, continue their strong start. Third on the early morning ranking, they were 5.4 miles off the double Vendée Globe winner’s pace lying fifth in the 14 boat IMOCA Open 60 fleet.
Caffari will take quiet confidence in her remarkable ascendancy, considering her first ever IMOCA Open 60 race was this event two years ago.
Crêpes Whaou! Image copyright L. Critot.
While Crepes Whaou leads away in the Multi 50 class, earning a cushion of 86 miles after just over 24 hours of racing, Yves Le Blevec and Jean Le Cam were back on dry land in Cherbourg this afternoon, recovering from the capsize of their Actual last night.
Le Blevec told a live radio session with the PC Course in Paris today that the capsize was ‘brutal and sudden’. There was nothing they could do when the bow stopped in a wave.
He refused to speculate if they had hit something more solid that water, but the damage to the bow of the new boat, which was only officially launched in Le Havre at the end of last week, is quite considerable.
Positive support from Samual Tual, managing director of the Actual Group, in Cherbourg indicated that the plans for the tri Actual will be unaffected and the boat will be made ready for next year’s Route du Rhum as soon as possible.
After cracks were discovered this morning in their crossbeam Alain Maignan confirmed that they will pit-stop with FenetreA-Cardinal in Port La Foret for further investigations.
Michel Desjoyeaux (FRA)- Foncia – Leading on the IMOCA Open 60 standings at 1600hrs GMT:
“We have been finding speeds again back into two digits and so that is not bad at all. I thought we would suffer a little more here but we already have wind again as it returns. We’ve seen Akena Vérandas and Groupe Bel, and believe Aviva are in the vicinity too. There is a world around us.”
Jean Luc Nélias (FRA)– Veolia Environnment – 11th on the IMOCA Open 60 standings at 1600hrs:
“We’ve got 12 knots of wind now and we start to extricate ourselves from the high pressure ridge. We are trying to get some rest and eat whilst still making the boat go quickly. The first drops of rain are arriving. Unfortunately it’s pretty disgusting to see these weather files and there is no escape from them.”
Sam Davies (GBR) -co-skipper of Artemis – 10th on the IMOCA Open 60 standings at 1600hrs:
“We are going through a little front, fairly clement for the next 24 hours and then a big front coming in about 48 hours. So we will be sailing upwind, through a little front tonight, and then we will be reaching”
“We are happy, if anything a little bit frustrated because we are a little bit behind the leaders, but we are going as well as we can, but it is quite nice to have boats right beside us and someone to line up with.
Mike Golding (GBR), co-skipper of Mike Golding Yacht Racing, 12th on the IMOCA Open 60 standings at 1600hrs:
“ It was a good-ish night but a little bit difficult for us,. We are new to each other. We had some pilot gremlins to begin with. Our pilot not steering to true wind which we really needing that last night and that made us tired and perhaps made us make a couple of easy options sail changes rather than what we needed to do. But we are in the swing of it now and we have not lost too much ground, so I am pretty happy with where we are and how how the plan is developing for us.”
“We have just gone through this little ridge, heading towards the next system. We are steadily getting headed and are really moving along quite nicely right now.
We have a few boats around to judge our speed against.”
Transat Jacques Vabre