Please select your home edition
Edition
Cyclops 2020 - SmartlinkNano - LEADERBOARD

Transat Jacques Vabre: Weather and course with 48 hours until the start

by Gitana Team 5 Nov 18:13 GMT 7 November 2021
Gitana Team - Transat Jacques Vabre © B.Stichelbaut / Gitana S.A

In less than 48 hours' time, the 15th Transat Jacques Vabre will set sail off Le Havre, below the high cliffs of Cap de la Hève. In the Bassin de l'Eure, where the Maxi Edmond de Rothschild has been moored for the past week amidst her four rivals in the Ultime category, the atmosphere is calm and studious.

Well-versed in these pre-race phases, the members of Gitana Team are putting the finishing touches to the last few details, but the 32-metre giant is now ready to go. A few metres away, in the five-arrow racing stable's motorhome, a veritable mobile base camp for the team at events, the weather cell is sharing its initial analysis of the situation out on the racetrack in the company of the two skippers, Franck Cammas and Charles Caudrelier.

A highly international trio in charge of the weather aspect

To accompany them in this Transat Jacques Vabre and support them with every aspect of the weather and strategy, Franck Cammas and Charles Caudrelier have formed a top-flight and highly complementary weather cell. Throughout the race, Erwan Israël and Stanley Honey will take it turns to provide 24/7 monitoring from Lorient and Gitana Team's Breton base, whilst Chris Bedford works remotely from the other side of the big pond.

Stan Honey, as he's more often known by the skippers of the Maxi Edmond de Rothschild, is American. He boasts a very extensive career as an on-board navigator with a great slew of transatlantic and transpacific records to his credit, notably with the Maxi Comanche as well as, and above all, a victory in the Volvo Ocean Race and a successful Jules Verne Trophy alongside Franck Cammas and Groupama back in 2010. "It's the first time Stan has done the routing like this from shore, however he's an excellent navigator. Usually, he's aboard the boat. He's someone who is very perceptive, very fair and he'll always have some highly pertinent reflections to make. Charles and I don't need someone who tells us which heading to follow, what we're after is much more about an approach to the general strategy or details regarding satellite observations, which is something he has a complete mastery of", explained Franck Cammas.

Crew in the Jules Verne Trophy, an inshore racer, an on-board navigator and a fine strategist, Erwan Israël has already taken up the router role before, but this will also be his first time for Franck and Charles. "We were keen to have a sailor who has a very good understanding of the weather so that he has experience from sailing aboard the boat, which makes his weather analysis realistic with regards what we're capable of doing on the boat double-handed. Erwan ticked all the boxes! He is very familiar with the Maxi Edmond de Rothschild, he's able to give his opinion as if he were on-board and can feel things, which is interesting. In addition to being a very good navigator, he has a really great feel for the boat and can sense when the boat's going well, not so well, or when there are difficulties in relation to the sea state. We speak the same language", assures Charles Caudrelier.

Chris Bedford, a fellow American and a meteorologist by profession, will complete the trio. An old hand from the America's Cup scene, Chris already knows the Maxi Edmond de Rothschild and her skippers since he's previously worked with Marcel van Triest, especially so during the team's last Jules Verne Trophy attempts. Franck Cammas explained to us his very specific role within this device: "Chris will perform the same role as he did with Marcel, namely sharing his purely meteorological opinion. His particular focus will be the analysis of the forecast and the weather models, and he'll give his view on whether or not they're accurate. His work mainly relates to long-term forecasts, but he'll also play a very active role in passages like the doldrums. He has expertise in these areas, which we don't have."

The weather pattern for the start

With two days to go till the start, the weather conditions are becoming clearer, even though the models are still struggling to come to an agreement. Despite all that, the routers are venturing their initial estimates: "We're going to have some very good conditions at the start in terms of the images and the show. There will be between 15 and 25 knots. This morning, some of the grib files were giving a slightly stronger NW'ly wind. This wind sector means that the first few hours will be played out in close-hauled conditions with sheets slightly eased, which is quite a quick point of sail for our boats. The fleet won't head straight out to sea as, first of all, there's a coastal course towards the cliffs of Etretat of around 14 miles. The English Channel will involve a long beat on starboard tack, but it will still be quite quick. At around 20:00, 21:00 UTC, the first Ultimes should be at Ushant. The next stage comprises more uncertainty, as there's a ridge of high pressure, which will push down onto the land and the big question at the moment relates to whether we can slip between the coast and the high pressure. This move works on some of the weather files, whilst with others it's simply no go, which would force us to go right around it via the west. The files haven't yet come to an agreement in that regard", smiled Erwan Israël, who's already well aware that this 2021 vintage of the Transat Jacques Vabre promises to be tough-going 'meteorologically'

Related Articles

Maxi Edmond de Rothschild wins TJV
Cammas & Caudrelier cross the finish line between the Trois Ilets and Fort-de-France marina They waited for the sun to shine over Martinique before lining the Maxi Edmond de Rothschild up with Diamond Rock and taking full advantage of their crushing victory in the Transat Jacques Vabre. Posted on 23 Nov
Transat Jacques Vabre - A 2nd doldrums to finish
Franck Cammas and Charles Caudrelier are still dominating play in the Ultime category Franck Cammas and Charles Caudrelier are still dominating play in the Ultime category, leading the fleet for the 12th consecutive day out of the fourteen that so far make up this 2021 edition of the Transat Jacques Vabre. Posted on 21 Nov
Maxi Edmond de Rothschild on the home straight
The five-arrow giant has set a course for Martinique This Friday morning, shortly before 07:00 UTC, Franck Cammas and Charles Caudrelier rounded the final compulsory course mark on the 7,500-mile Ultime course. Posted on 19 Nov
DIY and doldrums for the Maxi Edmond de Rothschild
Last night was far from relaxing for the duo aboard the Ultim trimaran Charles Caudrelier and Franck Cammas have managed to increase their lead at the head of the race before they start tackling one of the dreaded passages in this Transat Jacques Vabre tomorrow; the doldrums! Posted on 13 Nov
The Maxi Edmond de Rothschild first to Madeira
There are no days off in the open ocean during the Transat Jacques Vabre There are no days off in the open ocean! For Franck Cammas and Charles Caudrelier, leaders of the Transat Jacques Vabre in the Ultime category, there is certainly no time to relax. Posted on 12 Nov
Cape Finisterre finally in their line of sight!
Maxi Edmond de Rothschild have had to be patient in their passage across the Bay of Biscay After setting sail at high speed from Le Havre at midday on Sunday at the head of the fleet, the skippers of the Maxi Edmond de Rothschild have had to be patient in their passage across the Bay of Biscay. Posted on 9 Nov
Gitana Team set for Transat Jacques Vabre
It is nearly time for festivities to commence in this 15th edition The Maxi Edmond de Rothschild will take the start of her second Transat Jacques Vabre. A double-handed transatlantic, her skippers Franck Cammas and Charles Caudrelier are well versed in the race having already amassed five victories between them. Posted on 22 Oct
Speed, flight and adrenalin
Maxi Edmond de Rothschild celebrates four year anniversary Four years ago to the day, the Maxi Edmond de Rothschild, the pioneer of a new generation of oceanic maxi-trimarans, was first unveiled and launched into the salty water of the Gulf of Morbihan. Posted on 18 Jul
Rolex Fastnet Race, TJV…and the Jules Verne Trophy
Maxi Edmond de Rothschild unveis its sports programme for 2021 With 10 days to go till the Maxi Edmond de Rothschild is relaunched, the five-arrow racing stable is unveiling its sports programme for 2021. Posted on 29 May
Spring refit for the Maxi Edmond de Rothschild
The week is kicking off with the platform being hauled out Having returned to Lorient a fortnight ago, after her Jules Verne Trophy attempt was cut short due to the breakage of a float rudder, it's now time for the Maxi Edmond de Rothschild to go into refit. Posted on 23 Feb