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Transat Jacques Vabre: Leyton finishes third into Martinique

by Leyton Sailing Team 23 Nov 09:51 GMT 23 November 2021
Transat Jacques Vabre - Leyton © Jean-Marie Liot / Alea

Sam Goodchild and Aymeric Chapellier on Leyton finished the Transat Jacques Vabre into Fort de France, Martinique at 05:42:43hrs UTC this morning to take third place in the Ocean Fifty class. They crossed just 1 hour and 22 minutes behind second placed Koesio (Erwan Le Roux/Xavier Macaire) and 3hrs and 47 minutes after the class winners Primonial (Sebastien Rogues/Matthieu Souben) 15 days 17 hours and 43 minutes after the race start in Le Havre on Sunday 7th November.

The Anglo-French duo staged a significant comeback after being 283 miles behind the leaders at the Cape Verde islands racing a new course for this 15thedition of the Transat Jacques Vabre. Finishing in Martinique in the French West Indies rather than the normal 'coffee route' to Brasil, the route took the Ocean Fifty class across the Doldrums twice, both times Leyton making good gains on the boats in front. But a relatively modest start out of the Channel and across the Bay of Biscay made it hard to catch the race leaders on a course which ultimately profited the pacemakers.

Although they were rivals in Class 40 monohulls on the last Transat Jacques Vabre in 2019, finishing second and third, this was the longest ocean race yet on the demanding, fast Ocean Fifty multihulls for Goodchild and Chapellier on Leyton, ultimately closing in during the last hours to finish close behind Erwan Le Roux who three times Ocean Fifty class winner and 2014 Route du Rhum winner in the Ocean Fifty class.

On the dock in Fort de France, Goodchild who celebrated his 32nd birthday during the race smiled, " Actually we are less tired than a few days ago. After rounding Fernando de Noronha we were gybing constantly for two days along the Brazilian coast to try to catch up with the others. We found a good mouse hole to get through the Doldrums, which gave us a better angle to the others and got us back into the game. This was our first transatlantic in this class and it is very different to the monohull class. These Ocean Fifties are amazing boats that can go very fast, so you have to be careful. We have learned a lot. There was the adrenalin rush two or three hours from the finish. We got used to taking naps fairly often. We were boosted by the adrenalin and our motivation and wanting to go all the way. That has dropped off now and we're tired, but pleased to have finished."

Asked about their finishing position Goodchild said, "We're pleased to have finished. It could have been worse. It did us good to get back with the leading group in the Doldrums. It was a bit frustrating at the start, but we are pleased with the rest.of the race."

On the dock interview:

How did you work as a pair for the two weeks?

SG: The way we worked changed a lot, as the race changed a lot. We learnt a lot about working together and how the boat works and working with Marcel (ed note Van Triest weather router) on the weather from ashore. Usually when we set off, we take the decisions ourselves, but this time we had a third person ashore sending us messages. He has a lot of experience and that changed things for us. We did some GP events with the boat where we needed to be fast out on deck, but for two weeks, it is not the same thing at all. So, the way we did things changed a lot with a lot of discussion. We talked about how to do things better. Today, we're not sailing the same way we did a fortnight ago. We have progressed and are stronger than ever.

What was the boat like during the Transat?

Great. Apart from the gooseneck fitting, which is going to be the topic over the next over few weeks as we try to see why that broke. But overall, we didn't have any problems. But we didn't get the toolbox out much. The shore team really prepared the boat well ashore. There are a few details that can be improved. The boat is reliable and we can go on the attack with her. We found out a lot about the boat and know her better than a fortnight ago. We will try to make her that bit faster and 100% reliable for the Route du Rhum on 4th November next year.

How do you explain this success?

We never gave an inch away. We got off to a poor start and had a lot of catching up to do. But that didn't really change our way of sailing. We were sixth or seventh back just after the start and finished third. We were always keen to push ahead and overtake the others. So that pushes you to find ways of being faster.

What was the most difficult moment in the Transat?

Seeing the others get away in the Bay of Biscay. There were moments of doubting in the Bay of Biscay and off Madeira, where we had less wind than hoped for. We wondered whether we had chosen the wrong option. There are times when you gain a lot of miles and move up a bit and then you can feel more at ease. Emotionally and psychologically, it was a great race.

Your favourite moment?

The final gybe. Or the exit from the Doldrums. The start itself was magnificent, even if just after that, it was tougher.

A word about your opponents...

No one predicted Primonial would get a place on the podium. They sailed extremely well right from the start, so well done to them. They didn't leave anyone a chance of getting back up there. As for Koesio, they are faster and faster and know their boat better. Erwan has done the Transat twice aboard a Multi50 and won the Jacques Vabre three times. We knew he was going to be a strong competitor.

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