Transat Jacques Vabre

Posted: November 14, 2009 in Uncategorized
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prince de bretagne

Prince de Bretagne sailing in Transat Jacques Vabre

After horrible storms rocked the Transat Jacques Vabre fleet over the last couple of days, it is back to the business of racing in the Transat Jacques Vabre, give or take the chance to tidy up, make running repairs and catch some much needed rest. For the crews on the Transat Jacques Vabre they can look back on a very tough, demanding first week en route from Le Havre to Costa Rica, and forward to a whole new set off challenges as the weather picture suggests there will be rewarding spells of fast sailing in the sunshine.

It is the leading IMOCA Open 60’s who will profit most, according to the weather models, but the scenario is still changeable with slightly complex pattern when normally crews might be looking forward to, as double Vendée Globe winner Michel Desjoyeaux put it before the start of this race, ‘putting a heavy rock on the accelerator pedal’.

In fact it is Desjoyeaux-Beyou on Foncia, Boissières-Riou on Akenas Verandas and the group to the south and east who face the more variable weather patterns although their time may come.
The final third of the track, across the Caribbean can be riddled with potholes under certain meteorological influences, as race director Jean Maurel, Mike Golding and W-Hotels’s Pepe Ribes, all united to point out at different times during today’s radio vacation from Paris Race HQ.

Charles Caudrelier and Marc Guillemot on Safran could scarcely conceal their relief after emerging from the bad weather with a decent lead of over 40 miles on Mike Golding and Javier Sanso on Mike Golding Yacht Racing. Guillemot admitted their problems were minor, a repair to their rudder which had been tricky and some work required on their mainsail, but their position at the head of the IMOCA Open 60 fleet looks strong.
Mike Golding conceded that he had been happy to be to the south of Safran on Mike Golding Yacht Racing, but their position had weakened marginally as their French rivals were, he believed, getting a little more wind pressure.

Pepe Ribes of W-Hotels reported that they had crash tacked twice with the keel on the wrong side of the boat and waves crashing over them.

Marc Thiercelin and Christopher Pratt took the hard decision to head back to France today, the third IMOCA Open 60 to retire, after discovering a problem with their keel mechanism on DCNS 1000.

The Sabbath may be a day of rest for some, but forecasters predict speeds to rise among the leaders as the weekend progresses, a return to brochure conditions.

Pepe Ribes (ESP), W-Hotels reports: “We are good, just getting through it and south of the Azores. It was very tough because the forecast was totally right and there was a lot of wind. We had for an hour 50 knots constant and so we went through all the sail combinations and we stuck in the reef four and the storm jib and then we had a problem in that we were not very fast and the waves broke over us. We had two crash tacks with the waves breaking over us and the keel on the wrong side, with water coming in the hatch. It was tough, yes.
At the moment we don’t have too many problems with the boat, we had some electronics problems but today it is all good. We had a spare compass on board and we replaced the compass and the boat is fine and we are ready to go. We are ready to go.
No the truth is we are very, very tired. This morning we were dealing with a very light wind spot, so we have both been on deck for half the night.
So we need to start to work on sleep and eating and take it easy a little bit.
It is so different with two. Here when you have a very little problem it becomes a massive problem in a very short time. With ten people you can fix problems with ten people in heavy winds, with two people it is just dangerous. Crash tacking with two people is just unbelievable. There is not much you can do. One has to hold the helm and the other has to do all the jobs. And the waves are breaking over you, and so a little problem becomes a huge problem.”

Charles Caudrelier Bénac (FRA, Safran: “It’s slamming still but much less than before. It is almost comfortable. I’m quite relieved now. I’m tired after what was a stressful phase. I’ve rarely seen such seas. If I had the choice I’d not do it again. During the night we were a bit cautious to set more sail and made sure to wait. It’s been really different for three hours in fact. But it looks like the Bronx inside the boat, it could be better! Marc started to tidy up a bit when he was off watch, but we need to make a complete check over the boat to see that we don’t have any damage, and we have some repairs to make. What has happened to some of the others is a reminder what we’ve been through and the boat will have suffered too. If this were a Vendée Globe maybe we’d struggle to finish it, but we are unscathed really and that’s not always the way our luck runs. We could have pushed harder but we were careful. For the rest of the track I don’t think it looks really too complicated to the West Indian section. I feel we have a good position compared to the remainder of the fleet. We’ll slow a bit at the high but we have not really looked after the Antilles yet. But it is all going well.”

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