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Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Transat Jacques Vabre Race Finally Gets Away

Le Havre, France

It was a fast and furious start to the tenth edition of the Transat Jacques Vabre. After a delay of 74 hours waiting for a strong low pressure system to diminish, the wait was worth it as the 35 duos in three classes, Class 40, IMOCA Open 60’s and Multi 50’s cleared the start line at speed and set off on what promises to be a quick first few days on the passage from Le Havre to Costa Rica.
Photo: Alexis Courcoux
A notable change in the weather set a chill in the air, but the heat is on in the fleet from the start gun which sounded at 1500hrs this Wednesday afternoon, in a gusty sou'easterly wind which hit 28 knots.
With 5323 miles ahead for the Multi 50’s on a course which takes them via St Bart’s and Barbados, and 593 miles less for the IMOCA Open 60’s and Class 40’s, the first sprint of four miles to the General Metzinger buoy carries little significance, but it was both the past multiple winners of the IMOCA Open 60’s and Multi 50’s which delivered the first small tactical blow. Working to the right of the first leg paid for both Crepes Whaou! and Virbac-Paprec 3 which were respectively first in their class to the General Metizinger mark.

In fact the top three Multi 50’s – Crepes Whaou!, Actual and Maitre Jacques were lined up side by side – albeit with a lateral separation of over 1.5 miles between Franck-Yves Escoffier to the east – who has won this course three times – with Antoine Koch, and the other two closer to the mark.

Jean-Pierre Dick, winner in 2003 and 2005, took a perfect course to the mark with co-skipper Jeremie Beyou, double winner of the Figaro Solitare in 2005 and 2011 charging past the buoy at full speed on Virbac-Paprec 3 already looking well settled.

Both Cheminées Poujoulat (Bernard Stamm and Jean-Francois Cuzon) and Banque Populaire (Armel Le Cléac'h and Christopher Pratt) were compromised early one when they had headsail problems.
Image Courtesy of Transat Jacques Vabre Media
Alex Thomson and Guilermo Altadill on Hugo Boss passed the buoy in sixth and Mike Golding and Bruno Dubois on Gamesa in eighth.

And in Class 40 it was ERDF Des Pieds et Des Mains (Damien Seguin and Yoann Richomme) which lead Aquarelle.com (Yannick Bestaven and Eric Drouglazet) with the British duo Ned Collier-Wakefield and Sam Goodchild on Concise 2 in third.

The double-handed, non-stop dash from Le Havre, France to Puerto Limon, Costa Rica, is expected to take approximately 18 days.

Transat Jacques Vabre Media

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