The 15th edition of the doublehanded Transat Jacques Vabre is drawing to a close with all four divisions having been decided and only the fleet’s back markers still on the race course. With three different course lengths in play for the different divisions, the first boats to sail into Martinique were the Ocean Fifty trimarans followed by the Ultime trimarans, then the IMOCA monohulls, and finally the Class 40 monohulls.
Ocean Fifty Class
First in the Ocean Fifty class and first pair to finish was Sébastien Rogues and Matthieu Souben on Primonial, who completed the course in 15 days, 13 hours, 27 minutes. Behind Primonial was Koesio and Leyton, skippered by Englishman Sam Goodchild and Aymeric Chappellier. With the introduction of the ‘Pro Sailing Tour’ and the rebranding of the class from Multi 50s to Ocean Fiftys, the class has seen a revitalization. The TJV is a good example of why. The boats are fast, fun and seaworthy. There is great parity among the fleet, with the older boats leading the new builds into Martinique.
The fourth team into Martinique and the first non-Ocean Fifty was Franck Cammas and Charles Caudrelier on Maxi Edmond de Rothschild, also known as Gitana 17. Arguably the most anticipated division in this TJV, the race saw the major debut for both Armel le Cléac’h’s new Banque Populaire XI and François Gabart’s new SVR Lazartigue trimarans. While the new boats are being sorted out and brought up to speed, Maxi Edmond de Rothschild left no doubt as to who is still fastest in the Ultime division by putting together an impressive wire-to-wire victory. They were never truly challenged. The most exciting battle in the class was between SVR Lazartigue and Banque Populaire XI, with SVR Lazartigue making a brilliant comeback in the latter stages of the race to finish in second place.
IMOCA 60 Fleet
The 22-boat IMOCA fleet again provided some fantastic racing, with Thomas Ruyant and Morgan Lagravière on LinkedOut ending Apivia’s recent dominance over the class by completing an impressive performance to pull away to victory. Apivia and Charal battled all the way into Martinique to finish second and third respectively. Sébastien Simon and Yann Eliès onboard Arkea Paprec managed an impressive fourth-place finish in a boat that has been plagued by reliability issues but has shown flashes of brilliance. The only American in the IMOCA fleet, Charlie Enright on 11th Hour Racing’s ‘A’ boat Malama, sustained non-structural keel damage. Charlie and co-skipper Pascal Bidegorry had to ‘cruise’ into Martinique, dropping from the top five or six down to 13th place.
Class 40 Division
By far the largest division in the TJV, the Class 40s had a long and difficult passage that was plagued by light air along the European and African coasts before enjoying a nice trade-wind romp to Martinique. Antoine Carpentier and Pablo Santurde del Arco on Redman completed a nice come-from-behind victory. They shook off a slow start before controlling the fleet to win by about an hour after more than 21 days at sea. Valentin Gautier and German co-skipper Simon Koster on Banque du Léman finished in second place, with the rest of the fleet following in close succession. The fleet’s lone American, the Bay Area’s Alex Mehran and co-skipper Merfyn Owen on Polka Dot remain in 33rd place after an ill-advised flyer early in the race. The duo is showing good speed and has about 700 miles left to sail.