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Transat Jacques Vabre - Day 6

by Soazig Guého 10 Nov 2017 19:27 GMT 10 November 2017

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 travelled 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.


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.


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.

Rankings at 16h06: (top three)

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

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

1 - St Michel - Virbac
2 - SMA

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


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."

Sam Davies shows us life onboard Initiatives-Coeur during the Transat Jacques Vabre (from Initiatives-Coeur)

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.

V and B: New Record for the distance sailed in 24 hours in Class40! (from V and B)

Maxime Sorel and Antoine Carpentier are really impressive on the Transat Jacques Vabre ! Following the repair of a 1 meter crack on a watertight bulkhead, the V and B duet decided to fight to come-back at the head of the fleet. And they are successful ! They are now second, 26nm behind the leader Imerys (Phil Sharp et Pablo Santurde) and they also broke the record of the distance sailed in 24 hours in Class40 !

They indeed covered the distance of 377,7 nm between Tuesday November 9th at 8h30 (french time) and Friday November 10th (8h30) at the average speed of 15,7 knots.

The previous record had been held by Tales 2, skipped par Gonzalo Botin (and Pablo Santurde !) since July 2016 the 16th. They covered 373.3 nm at the average speed of 15.56 knots during the Quebec Saint Malo Race.

This Mach40.3 launched in 2015 proves, with this new record, that the new generation Class40s are very close to the old generation Imocas (2007) regarding the perfomances!

Pushed to the limit (from PS Racing)

Far from being an easy ride, the Transat Jacques Vabre has not spared our two skippers Phil Sharp and Pablo Santurde from its grueling existence. First challenged by the newer and faster boats Carac, Aïna, and V&B, Phil & Pablo restored their advantage on Tuesday evening just as the weather turned hostile and the race became highly technical and tactical.

Phil comments: "Since the adrenaline packed race start on Sunday the days have flown by. We have been through some very difficult conditions, so unstable and with multiple squalls that one moment you are sailing along in 20 knots, and the next second you have 30 knots. The conditions have been so fast, so full-on, that we've been forced into a relentless routine. It's like nothing else – a complete contrast to normal life. We eat, sleep, navigate, make repairs, and then get a power hosing. Added to this, to make things aboard a little more challenging we've had serious technical failure aboard with the communications systems."

After considerable time developing and testing the on board electronic systems in the months building up to Sunday's race start, losing access to weather data can only be deemed as bad luck for the duo who are currently racing through violent winds and high seas.

"On the second night of the race our recently fitted wind vane decided to stop working. We replaced it with the emergency spare, and all was OK, at least we thought. As of Wednesday morning the brand-new antenna failed, which means that we have since been unable to download any fresh weather files. With no outside assistance allowed, this has made things complicated! As the main satellite communications system is down, we are trying to configure our slower backup satellite phone to find a solution. Having spent a lot of time trying to resolve these issues we have sacrificed a lot of sleep, which we are trying to manage amongst this serious weather we are facing." Phil commented.

After the boat was knocked flat in Wednesday's unfortunate incident, throwing their winter sleeping bag into sea water, could things get worse?

Phil continued: "Our sleeping bag is still soaked, but that's the least of our problems - our new Jetboil has broken! This means cold porridge, cold and crunchy freeze dried meals, and worse, no Earl Grey tea".

Despite the hostilities of no tea, cold food, and of course relying off old forecasts, spirits aboard are seemingly high as they head south into bluer and warmer seas. Currently sailing through "wild conditions", the duo are working hard to maintain top speeds whilst keeping control of the boat as they look ahead to 3,000nm of ocean before reaching the finish.

Moral of the story: you can never prepare for an ocean race.