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Displaying items by tag: Transat Jacques Vabre

Franck Cammas and Charles Caudrelier have won the Ultime class title of the 15th edition of the Transat Jacques Vabre aboard Maxi Edmond de Rothschild. Going into the race as favourites, they regained their lead on 9th November and never let it go - they led for 98% of the race.

The French pair took 16 days 1 hour 49 minutes and 16 seconds to cover the 7,500 theoretical miles from Le Havre at an average speed of 20.51 knots. In reality, they covered 9,262.13 miles at 24.01 knots.

The hugely experienced Cammas and Caudrelier crossed the line in Martinique today just after 10.16 am (15:16 and 16 seconds CET) on a boat they have raced and tested many times.

Franck Cammas said, "We didn't make many mistakes, the boat behaved well. We've been racing hard for 17 days and we've arrived with a boat that's 100% up to scratch. In relation to the competition, we didn't know what it would be like and our confidence has grown day by day. Yesterday we had a bit of stress, with a complicated weather situation for us. We fell into a windless zone and behind the boats behind us were able to gain 200 miles in 12 hours so we started to get scared. In the end, they had the same problem as us much later."

The main thing for me is to still have one more win than Charles! [Laughs; Franck now has four wins, Charles three, in the Transat Jacques Vabre, editor's note] It's true, this race that suits us well."

Published in Offshore

The hoped-for grandstand finish in Martinique is beginning to look likely as Ultimes and Ocean Fifties begin their approaches to the line in the Transat Jacques Vabre. The IMOCA leaders continue their high-speed cat-and-mouse chase while for the Class 40s it’s decision time.

Class 40 – decisions, decisions

Most of the Class 40 fleet are at the Cape Verde islands but none have yet committed to the right turn to the west to Martinique. The leaders are travelling further south to find the ideal route.

“We are playing with the small variations in the wind,” said Axel Trehin, co-skipper of seventh-placed Project Rescue Ocean. “Yesterday was a busy day with Cape Verde to get around with plenty of complicated breezes. We finally managed to get out and find a more established wind last night. It was annoying to have to head south.”

The trade winds seem to be more established to the south, so there are two choices: west with less win but a shorter route, or south with more wind but a longer route.

IMOCA – a sprint to the finish

Led by LinkedOut, who passed the waypoint at Fernando de Noronha first, the leading three boats are skirting the northeast of Brazil. Just 3.5 hours separates the leader from third placed Charal. Charlie Dalin and Paul Meilhat are the boat in between.

It’s a 250-mile separation back to Arkéa-Paprec and Britain’s Sam Davies on Initiatives-Cœur who are involved in a fascinating battle for fourth place.

Davies, who was expected to reach Fernando de Noronha this evening (Saturday 20 November), is enjoying the tussle: “We are happy to be in the trade winds to the south, we are going fast! The current and the weather have been complicated. We had to do a lot of gybing so it was quite sporty, but we’re used to that after the Canaries and Cape Verde.

“We’re looking forward to seeing the Martinique coast, but for now we’re living in the moment.”

Ocean Fifty – gybe fest

With 1,000 nautical miles to the finish line in Martinique, the leading Ocean Fifty multis are closing in on the Ultimes, who are completing a longer course. The leaders of the two classes are just 400 miles apart so in about 36 hours we should see a grandstand sprint to the line between the fastest boats in the race.

Meanwhile, the Ocean Fifty crews are facing a tough gybing routine in the strong 20-25-knot trade winds, a race mode that allows for very little sleep.

Sam Goodchild (GBR) and Aymeric Chappellier have been working hard to keep their high speeds consistent: “We have been a bit busy gybing, like with an hour between each gybe we were trying to catch up on rest as much as we can so we only have been getting 45 minutes each maximum rest. We have been struggling a little bit for speed compared to Koesio which is kind of forcing us to keep trying new things and we are discovering new things, little by little.”

Ultimes – freeway sailing

Still led by Franck Cammas and Charles Caudrelier on Maxi Edmond de Rothschild, the Ultimes will experience a similar sailing mode to the Ocean Fifty trimarans. The gybes will follow one another for half a day until the easterly changeover, where they will be able to reduce the manoeuvres and finish in a straight sprint towards the finish.

Banque Populaire XI in second is keeping a close eye on fourth placed SVR-Lazartigue who are only 50 miles further back. Armel Le Cléac’h and Kevin Escoffier confirm the wind is expected to strengthen from behind: “We’re watching François and Tom more, so that they don't take miles away from us.”

The finish is getting closer, with an ETA scheduled for this Tuesday evening 23 November (UTC).



  1. Redman - Distance to destination 2041,75
  2. Guidi - Distance to destination 2066,32
  3. Croatia Full of Life - Distance to destination 2090,74


  1. Primonial - Distance to destination 1085,41
  2. Koesio - Distance to destination 1119,41
  3. Leyton - Distance to destination 1147,16


  1. LinkedOut - Distance to destination 1863,47
  2. Apivia - Distance to destination 1890,34
  3. Charal - Distance to destination 1927,45


  1. Maxi Edmond de Rothschild - Distance to destination 1431,19
  2. Banque Populaire XI - Distance to destination 1798,71
  3. SVR - Lazartigue - Distance to destination 1857,33

Current ETA in Martinique:

  • Ultime : Maxi Edmond de Rothschild 23 November at 11:00pm UTC
  • Ocean Fifty : Primonial 24th November at 02:00am UTC
  • IMOCA : LinkedOut 25th November at 05:00pm UTC
  • Class40 : Redman 30th November at 08:00pm UTC
Published in Offshore
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Sodebo Ultim 3 is being assessed following last night's collision with an unidentified floating object in the Transat Jacques Vabre. 11th Hour Racing Team - Alaka'i has officially abandoned the race after yesterday's dismasting. The rest of the fleet has now split up as the four different classes head south at decent speed.

Ultims Sodebo Ultim 3 damaged: The fleet passes the island of Madeira

Last night at 01h00 (French time), Sodebo Ultim 3 hit a UFO, damaging the starboard foil. Thomas Coville and Thomas Rouxel are fine and are safe in the boat. They are currently continuing their race but at a slower pace.

Their rivals in front are deciding on different options as they approach Madeira. SVR - Lazartigue and Actual Ultim 3 have chosen to pass to the east of the island, while Maxi Edmond de Rothschild and Banque Populaire XI will pass to the west.

Armel Le Cléac'h and Kevin Escoffier have managed to catch up with the group, "We've made some great manoeuvres and we're happy to be back in the game. Once again, a lot of things are going to happen" Escoffier said.

The next few hours should be calmer, before picking up speed again as they approach the Canaries, which they should reach by midnight. Escoffier explains, "The trade winds are not established so the descent of the Atlantic will leave room for some play. We're staying on top of it because the wind is unstable, so there's quite a bit of trimming to do."

The weather is getting warmer for the giant multihulls, which is a good sign of progress.

Ocean Fifty: A waltz of gybes

The gap is widening between the two multihull classes, but the 50-footers are fighting back well. They continue to make progress southwards and are now at the latitude of Cape St Vincent. In these conditions of 10-15 knots of wind, downwind, the Ocean Fiftys are fast.

Since rounding Cape Finisterre, the boats have been battling it out by gybing get an advantage on their rivals. "There's a great fight going on and we're in the game. We compare our performance every hour. There are a lot of options to take, it's great", Benoît Marie (Les P'tits Doudous) explained on the radio this morning.

Imoca: arm wrestling along Portugal

The fleet of 21 is seeing plenty of one-on-one duels but he biggest is at the front. Apivia and LinkedOut have been battling it out from the start. Charlie Dalin and Paul Meilhat are still in first place, but the gap is narrowing. 30 miles to their north, Initiatives-Coeur and Charal are fighting for third place, and 11th Hour Racing Team - Mālama and Arkea Paprec for fifth.

The pace is changing as they slip south, Morgan Lagravière (LinkedOut) explains, "We are changing our rhythm a little bit as the miles go by. We're spending less time at the chart table now, which is rather nice because we're in the game. It's very positive for the future. There'll be some good battles over the next few hours."

Meamwhile 11th Hour Racing Team - Alaka'i reached La Coruña last night following the breaking of their mast. Simon Fisher wrote, "Sadly we will be officially retiring from the race. Hopefully we’ll be back for the next edition!"

Class40: will pass, will not pass

The 40-foot fleet now stretches over 200 miles. The gaps have been widening since they escaped the windless high pressure zone. The frontrunners have been able to start their descent towards Cape Finisterre, leaving the rest of the pack behind. However the wind remains unstable.

Contacted this morning at the radio session, the crew of Lamotte - Module Création recounted their misadventure of the morning, "We're in a bit of a mess. The spinnaker went in the water, fortunately we managed to recover it! Everything is fine though. We're working hard and trying to get the boat moving fast."

Once back at a decent speed the Class 40s will have to make as much distance as possible because another obstacle is heading their way. The high pressure cell is moving to the south-east and, if they're not careful, they could once again get stuck in a light wind zone allowing everyone to bunch up once again.



1. La Manche #EvidenceNautique - Distance to destination 3972,54

2. Lamotte Module Création - Distance to destination 3980,89

3. Edenred - Distance to destination 3984,58


1. Koesio - Distance to destination 4608,71

2. Primonial - Distance to destination 4648,99

3. Solidaires En Peloton - Distance to destination 4663,97


1. Apivia- Distance to destination 4807,19

2. LinkedOut - Distance to destination 4841,78

3. Charal - Distance to destination 4872,29


1. Maxi Edmond de Rothschild - Distance to destination 6552,92

2. SVR - Lazartigue - Distance to destination 6588,09

3. Actual Ultim 3 - Distance to destination 6600,55

Published in Offshore
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A dismasting, spring tides and light winds have made the first 36 hours of the Transat Jacques Vabre offshore race very tricky for the fleet of 79 boats.

Louis Burton and co-skipper Davy Beaudart have reached the port of St Malo with their damaged boat Bureau Vallee. They are the first boat forced to abandon this 15th edition of the Transat Jacques Vabre race following a dramatic dismasting just 10 hours from the start.

"Our speed was 18-19 knots when it broke. I was in the cockpit trimming, Davy was sailing. The first sound was like an explosion, the mast didn't fall down, it imploded. Then there was a cracking sound and we heard a crash on the deck. Then we realised that the mast had fallen down."

"The first sound was like an explosion, the mast didn't fall down, it imploded"

There were problems also for Equipe Voile Parkinson in the Class 40 fleet. An issue with the bowsprit forced the French pair of Florian Gueguen and Raphael Auffret to stop in Cherbourg for repairs. Tonight, they have almost caught up and are just 20 nautical miles from the rear of the fleet.

After a lively start on Saturday afternoon, conditions in the English channel have since proved very tricky, with light winds and strong spring tides. However, the Ultimes have now started the run south across the Bay of Biscay with little to separate them. Banque Populaire is nudging ahead but Sodebo and Actual are side by side and only a whisker's length behind.

The Ocean Fifty multihulls are right on the stern of the Ultimes with Koesio and Primonial seemingly inseparable, for now.

Charlie Dalin and Paul Meilhat on Apivia, winner of the last edition, are already well ahead of the other IMOCAs. The French pair entered the Bay of Biscay in the early evening almost 40 miles ahead of second placed Fortinet-Best Western sailed by Romain Attanasio and Sebastien Marsset.

Meanwhile still battling currents and light winds in the English channel are the Class 40. Winner in 2019, Ian Lipinski on Credit Mutuel is chasing down the leader Project Rescue Ocean which only has a 4 mile lead.

RANKINGS NOVEMBER 08 at 08:00 pm


1. Project Rescue Ocean - Distance to destination 4352,67

2. Crédit Mutuel - Distance to destination 4356,21

3. La Manche #EvidenceNautique - Distance to destination 4356,28


1. Koesio - Distance to destination 5410,71

2. Primonial - Distance to destination 5413,4

3. Arkema 4 - Distance to destination 5416,97


1. Apivia - Distance to destination 5451,68

2. Fortinet - Best Western - Distance to destination 5487,17

3. 11th Hour Racing Team - Malama - Distance to destination 5492,12


1. Banque Populaire XI - Distance to destination 7556,92

2. Sodebo Ultim 3 - Distance to destination 7565,35

3. Actual Ultim 3 - Distance to destination 7566,01

Published in Offshore
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The sun shone, the wind blew and 79 boats of the Transat Jacques Vabre fleet got off the start line at Le Havre bound for Martinique today.

The four classes headed, first of all, to a turning mark before heading through the English channel.

There was an emotional send-off for the crews as they left the Le Havre docks, with family and fans shouting them on. The weather conditions were ideal. The boats were able to hit a north-westerly wind between 15 and 20 knots on a choppy sea lit by beautiful sunshine - a perfect backdrop for TV viewers across France and around the world.

Transat Jacques Vabre spectators gather on the cliff tops for the big startTransat Jacques Vabre spectators gather on the cliff tops for the big start

The 5 Ultimes, 7 Ocean Fifty, 22 Imoca and 45 Class40s pointed their bows towards Etretat to round the first course mark before setting course towards the Atlantic. A long journey lies ahead; 7,500 miles for the largest and fastest class, the Ultimes. The IMOCA and Ocean Fiftys will sail around 6,000 miles with the smallest and slowest Class 40s completing around 4,500 miles.

The fleet set-off on port tack heading to a turning mark off the village of Etrat, where hundreds of fans lined the white cliffs for a perfect view of the boats screaming in towards them. Then they turned to head west along the busy English channel where they face a tricky night of strong currents and lightening breeze. Decision taken in these ealry hours of the race amy prove crucial to the outcome.

Re-watch the live TV coverage below

What they said...

Paul Meilhat and Charlie Dalin winner in 2019. IMOCA (Apivia)
"We know that we will have a lot of work to do on the weather after we leave the dock because the situation is not easy. These are conditions where the weather choices will be more important than the boat performance. It will be interesting, even if it will be very tricky. It's more like a Figaro than an Imoca at the start of the race."

Ian Lipinski, race winner in 2019 on board Class 40 (Crédit Mutuel)
"We are in a great state of mind. We are happy to get going. The atmosphere during the ten days in the village in Le Havre was great but we are also looking forward to leaving.
We are going to be careful on the water as there will be a lot of boats at the start. Once we get past Etretat we'll breathe easier! It's going to be interesting from a strategic point of view, we're going to have to stay focused and lucid."

Erwan Le Roux. Ocean Fifty (Koesio)
"We are focused. It's important to enjoy the last moments with your family, partners and team! It's the moment when the team leaves us the boat after having had it for weeks and weeks. Now it's our turn. It's an emotional exchange."

Armel Le Cléac'h on ULTIME (Banque Populaire XI)

"The start will be a bit stressful, but we'll get into the race quickly. We're not going to try to do things differently on board. We have to keep our usual focus. The number one goal is to get to Martinique and then enjoy ourselves. We'll take it one step at a time. "

Published in Offshore
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The IMOCA Class has enjoyed a vintage and innovative year in 2021 and now it is time for the finale - one of the classics in the repertoire - the 15th edition of the two-handed Transat Jacques Vabre.

Over the past few weeks, the IMOCA bases in Brittany have been a hive of intense activity as crews have prepared for the longest two-handed race in the sport in what in many cases are now finely-optimised boats, with or without foils.

No less than 23 IMOCAs will take the start from Le Havre on November 7th, for this classic test when co-skippers will look to push hard 24 hours-a-day for up to 17 days on a 5,800-nautical mile course, finishing at Fort-de-France on Martinique in the Caribbean.

In addition to foiling front-runners like Charlie Dalin and Paul Meilhat on APIVIA, Thomas Ruyant and Morgan Lagravière on LinkedOut and Jeremie Beyou and Christopher Pratt on Charal, the fleet includes five mixed male-female crews. Among them are Simon Fisher and Justine Mettraux on 11th Hour Racing Team-Alaka'I, Isabelle Joschke and Fabien Delahaye on MACSF and Louis Duc and Marie Tabarly - making her debut in the IMOCA Class - on Kostum-Lantana Paysage.

This race also sees the return to competition of Vendee Globe winner Yannick Bestaven sailing with Jean-Marie Dauris on Maître CoQ IV which was forced to retire from the Rolex Fastnet Race after a collision at the start. Another closely-watched performer will be the new 11th Hour Racing Team IMOCA, Malama, co-skippered by Charlie Enright and Pascal Bidegorry, which had to retire from the Defi Azimut 48-Hours with steering failure.

Published in Vendee Globe

Bangor, Northern Ireland sailor Mikey Ferguson and Finnish airline pilot Ari Hussela finished the famous 4350-mile coffee route ocean race, the Transat Jacques Vabre offshore race, from Le Havre to Salvador da Bahia in Brazil, on 15th November. But not without incident writes Betty Armstrong.

As Afloat reported previously, the race was a first for the Ferguson and Hussela partnership and as reported in Afloat previously, the airline Captain is the first-ever Scandinavian skipper in the Transat Jaques Vabre. They were competing in the IMOCA class in Ariel 2, formerly known as Dee Caffari’s AVIVA, owned by Hussela.

After a good start on 27th October, and not far into the race when they were off Guernsey, a small hole appeared in the mainsail when they were taking in a reef. Under canvassed they got out of the channel safely and entered the Bay of Biscay. With the wind going forward they sail delaminated and fell to pieces and they had no means of fixing it.

”To think that after 48 hours into the race one half of my head was thinking which Port has the closest airport or should we just retire and sail under jib back to France. The other half was thinking let’s see where this journey could take us, Cascais? Madeira? Or the Canary Islands?”, says Mikey Ferguson.

They chose to keep going and Mikey felt that it would be good to get Ari out of his comfort zone and push the boat harder. They had to start with the spare main and knew there was a risk but the priority for Ari was to secure a position in the Vendee Globe ranking by stacking up the miles. “I could not be happier that we did the impossible”, says Huusela.

They finished on 15th November and it felt like a win to Hussela. Their time was 18 days 23 hours 7 mins 14 seconds, coming in at 26th in the IMOCA class.

Airbus A350 Captain Ari became the first Finnish and first Scandinavian ever to complete this legendary race. He started sailing when he was 24 and has a dream of taking part in the Vendee Globe. Ferguson (36) has been involved in this project for a year and a half. He has been a competitive dinghy and keelboat sailor from a young age and has worked in the sailing industry for nearly 20 years.

And Royal Ulster members can look forward to hearing of Mikey’s adventures at the Club night on 5th February next year.

Published in Offshore

After 14 days at sea and with the IMOCA podium decided, PRB and Charal are fighting for 2nd and 3rd place in the Imoca category of the Transat Jacques Vabre 2019. It's a race with continuing Irish interest as two solo sailors battle it out both approximately 900 miles behind the leader. Joan Mulloy from County Mayo as Afloat reported here and Mikey Ferguson in County Down here are neck and neck in 25th and 26th place according to rankings here.

After Apivia coasted to a moonlit victory in the IMOCA class 15 hours earlier, the Bay of All Saints witnessed one of the closest podium finishes in the history of the Transat Jacques Vabre Normandie Le Havre in glorious sunshine on Sunday. PRB held off Charal to take second place by just six minutes and 18 seconds, little over a mile after both had covered over 5,000 from Le Havre since the start a fortnight ago.

Kévin Escoffier and Nicolas Lunven on their 60ft monohull, PRB, built in 2009, but upgraded with foils in 2018, had the latest-generation foiler and red-hot favourite at the start, Charal, breathing down their necks all the way long the coast of north-east Brazil. The gap closed to just over a mile, but as it went soft – an unstable 6-8 knot westerly, in the approach to the Bay of All Saints, Charal’s advantage evaporated and they could not find a way past.

The 39-year-old Escoffier, from one of the most famous sailing families in France, must have drawn on all of his experience, as a winner of the Volvo Ocean Race last year, the Jules Verne Trophy in 2012 and of the 2005 Transat Jacques Vabre in the Multi50 to hold on.

Not for nothing is this biennial double-handed race heralded as the longest and toughest transatlantic race in the calendar.

For Jérémie Beyou, the winner of this race in 2013, and Christopher Pratt the last three days have marked a great comeback from sixth place and evidence of the speed of their boat, but it was not the podium place they were hoping for.

As close as this chase was, the race will be remembered for their spectacular stall in the Doldrums – one of the most extraordinary in the history of offshore racing.

Charal was 120 miles ahead of Apivia when they entered the Doldrums at around 07:30 on November 5. At times they completely stopped as Apivia redirected 50 miles east and flew by, almost without pause. Every time they had looked like finally escaping the clutches of the Inter Tropical Convergence Zone, they were sucked back in.

Apivia’s early acceleration in the trade winds meant that even when Charal was out of the Doldrums on November 8, they continued to lose miles, peaking at being 302 miles behind at the 19:00 (UTC) ranking on November 8 – a total loss of 422 miles.

America’s Charlie Enright with French co-skipper, Pascal Bidégorry, finished fifth on 11th Hour Racing as the boats stacked up in the Bay of All Saints in quick succession. Britain’s Samantha Davies is not far behind in seventh and has closed to within 10 miles of Banque Populaire, but with only 34 miles to the finish.


Kévin Escoffier and Nicolas Lunven, on PRB, have finished second in the IMOCA class of the 14th edition of the Transat Jacques Vabre Normandie Le Havre after crossing the finish line in the Bay of All Saints in Salvador de Bahia, Brazil on Sunday, November 10, 2019 at 16:04:42 (UTC), 14 days, 03 hours 49 minutes and 42 seconds after leaving Le Havre, Normandy, France on Sunday, October 27 at 12:15 (UTC).

PRB covered the theoretical course of 4,350 nautical miles at an average speed of 12.84 knots but actually sailed 5,035 nautical miles at an average speed of 14.82 knots. It finished 15 hours 41 minutes and 42 seconds behind the winner, Apivia.

Jérémie Beyou and Christopher Pratt, on Charal, have finished third in the IMOCA class of the 14th edition of the Transat Jacques Vabre Normandie Le Havre after crossing the finish line in the Bay of All Saints in Salvador de Bahia, Brazil on Sunday, November 10, 2019 at 16:11:00 (UTC), 14 days, 3 hours 56 minutes and 0 seconds after leaving Le Havre, Normandy, France on Sunday, October 27 at 12:15 (UTC).

Charal covered the theoretical course of 4,350 nautical miles at an average speed of 12.83 knots but actually sailed 5,116.17 nautical miles at an average speed of 15.05 knots. It finished 15 hours 48 minutes and 0 seconds behind the winner, Apivia.

Class40: The leading trio escapes

In contrast to Charal’s fate in the Doldrums in the IMOCA, Crédit Mutuel has held its healthy lead of 54 miles over Britain’s Sam Goodchild on Leyton. Now in the south-east trade winds, Leyton has carved out a 70-mile lead over Aïna Enfance & Avenir. The rest of the Class40s are still stuck in the Doldrums.

“We’re beginning to have the unpleasant feeling of being the butt of a joke that has lasted for three days now, Valentin Gautier said from Banque du Léman, adding that they seen the maxi trimaran, Gitana on the AIS…doing 18 knots in the Doldrums! “Mostly, we’ve been calming our nerves by saying that it's the same for everyone, except that now, that's not the case! Our friends in the west, who we’ve been hunting, seem to have passed through without much trouble, and us hunters have become the hunted without even realising it.” told this morning in a message from the sea Valentin Gautier aboard Bank of Leman, which also adds to having seen the AIS maxi trimaran Gitana ... 18 knots in the Doldrums!

Only 7 Class40s were still sailing in the north-east trade winds today – they still have the Doldrums awaiting them. The fleet stretches for 1,000 miles from Crédit Mutuel to Terre Exotique to the south of the Cape Verde islands.

Damage: Arkea Paprec completely foiled!

Without their port foil after damaging it in the delivery to Le Havre, Arkea Paprec, in 5th position at the exit of the Doldrums has now suffered the breakage of its starboard foil. They are in ninth and dropping. “We got out of the Doldrums reaching on a port tack, with 16-20 knots of wind, flat sea, so we said ‘these are our conditions, let’s go, it’s time to put our foot to the floor’,” Sébastien Simon said. “We were starting to think the podium was possible but two hours later the foil broke, without warning. So, we’re in a sailing without foils. There’s not much left of her.”

Published in Offshore

The now keelless IMOCA 60 Hugo Boss that has retired from the Transat Jacques Vabre Offshore Race after striking an underwater object is heading for the Cape Verde Islands.

Ross Daniel, the Technical Director of Alex Thomson Racing said: “Alex and Neal are safe and making good progress onboard Hugo Boss. They are now around 300 miles away from the Cape Verde Islands, sailing with caution at around 10 knots. They have both managed to get some sleep and are focused on getting safely to land.

“Members of the Alex Thomson Racing technical team have arrived in Cape Verde and are preparing for the boat’s arrival. Further members of the team will make the journey in the coming days in order to meet Alex and Neal, and to facilitate the boat’s safe arrival.

“Our current routing has the boat arriving by Friday morning. We are in regular communication with our skippers and are monitoring the boat’s progress around the clock, as we will continue to do until Hugo Boss is safely into port”.

Published in Offshore

At lunchtime Transat Jacques Vabre Normandie Le Havre starting horn was sounded and the 118 skippers in their 59 multi-coloured offshore boats weaved across the start line in front of Cape de la Hève, beating into 12-14 knots of north-easterly wind. Among them are two Irish skippers Joan Mulloy from County Mayo as Afloat reported here and Mikey Ferguson in County Down here. The Irish co-skippers are neck and neck in 26th and 27th place according to rankings here.

The biennial double-handed 4,350-mile race, the longest and toughest transat in the sailing calendar, will take them to Salvador de Bahia in Brazil.

Already the race is dishing up a fair amount of drama with the news at 06:50 (UTC) this morning, while leading the Class40 fleet, British skipper, Luke Berry and his French co-skipper, Tanguy Le Turquais, informed the race management their Class40, Lamotte - Module Creation, had dismasted. The two skippers are doing well and are safe on board the boat.

At yesterday's start, Both IMOCA and Class40 fleets were tightly bunched, but line honours appeared to go to Bureau Vallée II (IMOCA) and Aïna Enfance and Avenir, the Class40 favourite.

The Route de Café is a marathon not a sprint, but the start along the coast is never simple, especially when the blood is up and adrenaline flowing in front the crowds lining the pontoons, channel, beaches and coast. Not to mention the live TV audience. And, of course, the choppy shallow sea with plenty of current against them as they race the 16 miles of coast to round the Region Normandie buoy off Étretat. The fastest among them should take a little under three hours before they turn to head west towards Cotentin under spinnaker.

There should be an intense downwind race in the Channel overnight when the wind will continue to strengthen. Through that time and the morning, as they all exit the Channel, it will be decision time as to whether to go east, west or further west. That could provide an early test of the different trajectories the latest generation foiling IMOCA may take, although Alex Thomson on Hugo Boss has said his priority is finishing not winning, especially after being helicoptered to safety when his boat capsized four years ago. Britain’s Samantha Davies, in an older boat but with hugely upgraded foils on Initiatives-Cœur, is keeping an open mind.

“Once we’re west of Ushant then we’ve got to make a decision,” she said. “I don’t want to make a decision yet because it’s not clear enough and sometimes if you decide in your head you influence yourself when you’re making further decisions.

“We’re pretty open at the moment, (laughs) we’re going to have all the sails out on the deck to work out which one we’re going to use. We are at one with Initiatives-Cœur and super happy to be finally at sea and heading for Brazil.”

The small Class40 have the same dilemma.

“Do we go west fully, for me there is still an option, but it’s a bit of a tricky one,” Luke Berry (Lamotte – Module Creation) said. “We’re still waiting for the info from our weather routers - you’re allowed a weather router before you start - so, we’ll make our decision sometime tonight. It’s not a (Class40) group decision, there are some that are going to go their own way and we’re not here to follow the others, but we’re not going to do lone cowboy either. It’s going to be more of downwind race out of the Channel, but it’s do we go up into the Celtic sea or not?

Britain’s Sam Goodchild, one of Berry’s main rivals, on Leyton, says that the risks and rewards are not clear.

“We don’t think we have to make our decision until tomorrow morning,” he said. “We’ve got all the ideas in our head, we don’t know what the risks and the gains are yet, it’s not as straightforward as if you go west, you break or you win, and if you go south you’re safe.”

There were emotional scenes on the pontoon before departure as the said goodbye to their friends, family and partners, except perhaps for Miranda Merron and Halvard Mabire, who are partners on both land and sea.

Top ten at midnight France time

Class 40

  1. Leyton, Sam Goodchild / Fabien Delahaye
    2. Lamotte - Module Creation, Luke Berry / Tanguy Le Turquais
    3. Aïna Enfance & Avenir, Aymeric Chappellier / Pierre Leboucher
    4. Credit Mutuel, Ian Lipinski / Adrien Hardy
    5. Crosscall Chamonix Mont-Blanc, Louis Duc / Aurelien Ducroz
    6. Beijaflore, William Mathelin-Moreaux / Marc Guillemot
    7. Entraide Marine-Adosm, Charles-Louis Mourruau / Estelle Greck
    8. Banque Du Leman, Simon Koster / Valentin Gautier
    9. Linkt, Jorg Riechers / Cedric Chateau
    10. Made In Midi, Kito De Pavant / Achille Nebout

Multi 50

  1. Solidaires En Peloton - Arsep, Thibaut Vauchel-Camus / Fred Duthil
    2. Primonial, Sebastien Rogues / Matthieu Souben
    3. Groupe Gca - Mille Et Un Sourires, Gilles Lamire / Antoine Carpentier


  1. Banque Populaire X, Clarisse Cremer / Armel Le Cleac'h
    2. Groupe Apicil, Damien Seguin / Yoann Richomme
    3. Arkea - Paprec, Sebastien Simon / Vincent Riou
    4. Corum L'epargne, Nicolas Troussel / Jean Le Cam
    5. PRB, Kevin Escoffier / Nicolas Lunven
    6. Malizia Ii - Yacht Club De Monaco, Boris Herrmann / Will Harris
    7. Initiatives-Cœur, Samantha Davies / Paul Meilhat
    8. Bureau Vallee 2, Louis Burton / Davy Beaudart
    9. Prysmian Group, Giancarlo Pedote / Anthony Marchand
    10. Hugo Boss, Alex Thomson / Neal McDonald

Full rankings

Published in Offshore
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