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Fine Finishes and Foiling into UFOs

Transat Jacques Vabre IMOCA Podium Decided

As of this writing, much of the fleet of the 14th edition of the Transat Jacques Vabre has reached the finish in Salvador de Bahia, Brazil, though the smallest, slowest fleet in the race — the Class 40s — is still at sea. At the head of the premier IMOCA division was the new-generation foiling IMOCA 60 Apivia, skippered by former Mini Transat winner Charlie Dalin. Co-skipper Yann Eliès will now go down as one of the most successful skippers in the history of the race, with three victories from six participations.

Apivia skippers with flares
Yann Eliès and Charlie Dalin celebrated at their finish.
© 2019 Jean-Marie Liot / Aléa / Transat Jacques Vabre

Sailing near the front of the fleet for much of the race, Apivia made a decisive race-winning move when entering the doldrums. Shifting 50 miles to the east in the wake of the Multi 50 trimarans, which are allowed outside routing assistance, proved to be a winning strategy for Apivia. Long-time race leader Charal endured three painful days in the doldrums and would lose more than 400 miles, falling from first place to sixth place. They would eventually regain positions to finish on the podium in third place.

American skipper Charlie Enright and his French co-skipper Pascal Bidégorry capped off a fantastic first transatlantic race for Ocean Race syndicate 11th Hour Racing, a newcomer to the IMOCA class. Sailing the boat formerly known as Hugo Boss, which finished second in the last Vendée Globe, the duo showed very competitive pace for much of the race, ultimately finishing in a hard-fought fifth place. With a record-setting fleet of close to 30 boats where nearly half the fleet was in contention for the podium, this is a solid result. The established yacht racing syndicate plans to build an all-new boat before the next Ocean Race begins in less than two years’ time.

A Boat-Breaker

For British skipper Alex Thomson, the Transat Jacques Vabre again lived up to its reputation as a boat-breaker, though one that will allow him and his Hugo Boss team to come back stronger for the main objective, the next Vendée Globe. After hitting an unidentified floating object and breaking the canting-keel mechanism on the boat, Thomson and McDonald jettisoned the entire keel and sailed their IMOCA 60 to the Cape Verde Islands. With their brand-new IMOCA fully water-ballasted and with foils deployed, the two sailors exhibited the utmost in professionalism to get into port so that they could return the boat to England and get it repaired and back on the water as quickly as possible.

Maxi-Trimarans in the Brest Atlantiques

The inaugural Brest Atlantiques race has gotten off to a fast start. The leaders are already well past the equator and sailing down the coast of Brazil after just six days at sea. Charles Caudrelier and Franck Cammas onboard maxi Edmond de Rothschild are leading. But, they’ll be pulling into Salvador early tomorrow morning. They collided with an unidentified floating object and sustained damage to a daggerboard. The team’s general manager, Cyril Dardahsti, will supervise from Lorient, France.

Edmond de Rothschild foiling
The maxi-trimaran Edmond de Rothschild, also known as Gitana 17, shown foiling during the early days of the inaugural Brest Atlantiques race.
© 2019 Yann Riou

François Gabart’s trimaran MACIF — the perennial favorite in this class — trails in second place. MACIF hit an unidentified floating object, breaking a rudder, and will make a pit stop in Rio de Janeiro. “We were sailing relatively fast, at around 35-40 knots, when we hit something pretty hard,” explains Gabart. “There was a sudden loud crash, as we violently hit an unidentified floating object, causing the central hull rudder to break. Located at the back of the central hull, this rudder is used to steer the boat. Luckily, we have three on our Ultim trimarans. Going straight, we continue to sail fast, but there are times when the boat becomes difficult to maneuver, and we come close to veering off track, a little like what I experienced last year in the Route du Rhum after we lost a float rudder.”

A Mini Glance at the Mini Transat

Francois Jambou
François Jambou has pulled out to a commanding lead in the singlehanded Mini-Transat race, and is beginning to close in on the finish in Martinique.
© 2019 Christophe Breschi

Earlier this morning, Russian sailor Irina Gracheva and Frenchman Julien Berthélémé both announced that their boats had dismasted. Otherwise, all is well aboard for both skippers. These two dismastings are the first to occur since the start of this edition of the Mini-Transat La Boulangère. See for updates.

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