TRANSAT JACQUES VABRE
19 MONOHULLS ON THE START LINE THIS SATURDAY
samedi 3 novembre 2001 –
With no shortage of proven boats on the track, there is a good mixture of talented skippers, all with strong ambition. One man who will be out to score his first big win is Swiss skipper Bernard Stamm, who is the current holder of the monohull transatlantic record Record #sailingrecord in ‘Bobst Group – Armor Lux’. Stamm’s innovative boat, built with his own hands, carries a new set of sails, and most of the top skippers openly admit that he is one of their main threats.
And the other boat certainly creating more than a ripple of interest is Dominic Wavre’s Open 60 ‘Temenos’, co-skippered by his partner Michele Paret. Wavre had a heavy mast during the Vendée, but still managed to smash the 24 hr solo record Record #sailingrecord with incredible downwind performances. Now he has replaced it with a lighter, and notably higher mast, thus allowing him to carry more sail area – even he has been amazed at the downwind capability with this new configuration.
Still, there are some who say that Wavre’s advantage will end as soon as he needs to take in a reef, having more weight higher up. One team not swayed by the potential of their neighbouring boat in the docks is Nick Moloney & Mark Turner, who are racing ‘Casto-Darty-But’, none other than the ‘Kingfisher’ of Ellen MacArthur, which came 2nd in the Vendée Globe. Nick recently skippered ‘Kingfisher’ to victory in the fully crewed EDS Atlantic Challenge, and his only worry in this double-handed race is that as a unit they won’t always be able to sail the boat to full potential. But there is double the trouble in terms of competition compared to the EDS race, and Nick & Mark both reckon there are easily 7 boats who could win. "We’re hoping for a blow in the Bay of Biscay as it has to be said that this tends to shake out the fleet, and the best prepared boats come out of Cape Finisterre ahead," Nick remarked. Although the hull has been out of the water for longer than expected, due to long term wear & tear after completing the Vendée plus a full sailing season on top, Nick is happily optimistic. "In fact this time out has allowed us to make significant gains and take a larger step in reducing weight. We’ll be up there with the best of them."
One boat sure to be posing as the friendliest threat on the water is another Vendée veteran ‘Sill Plein Fruit’, on which Breton skipper Roland Jourdain holds the current 24hr solo record. Cheated at the last minute from finishing third in the 1999 Transat Jacques Vabre Transat Jacques Vabre #TJV2015 , this boat nevertheless went on to complete the Vendée Globe podium and has been on winning form throughout this season, until an unfortunate dismasting whilst leading the EDS Atlantic Challenge. However, the boat’s new mast was stepped just a few weeks ago & co-ckipper Gael Le Cleac’h intimates that a number of important modifications, such as a change in furling gear, have been effected for this double-handed race.
And what of the other giant spreader designed monohulls ? Configured for greater downwind performance, they should be the ones to excel in the Trade winds below the Equator. Three formidable giants to watch out for come in the shape of Mike Golding’s ‘Ecover’, 3rd in the 1999 Transat Jacques Vabre Transat Jacques Vabre #TJV2015 , Giovanni Soldini’s Around Alone winner, ‘Fila’, and the ex-‘Activewhere’ of Marc Thiercelin, now ‘Sollac Atlantic’, and skippered by Figaro experts Joé Seeten & Eric Drouglazet. If the forecast brings a fair following wind in the Channel after the start, these ocean greyhounds will be well and truly away.
We must not forget the others in the pack. Notably, one outsider in her first Open 60 race is the charming Miranda Merron, who takes the helm of an "older lady", ‘Un Univers de Services’, but also takes the view that "despite the development in the class, in a blow we are all equal." Watch out also for the pairing of Eric Dumont & Spaniard Javier Sanso on the green speed machine, the ex-‘Gartmore’ of Josh Hall, and Bernard Gallay/Kito de Pavant on ‘Voila.fr ‘. These are two boats who will certainly go the distance, and could out wit their bigger rivals. The ‘Corinthian’ element is not dead, as two ‘gentlemen’ racers, Richard Tolkien & Robert Wingate, are joining forces again on board ‘This Time’ (ex-Fujicolour III).
The Open 50 class has some serious and promising talent in it as well. The battle at the front should be played out between four boats. Two have proven track records : the ‘yellow boat’, previous Route du Rhum Route du Rhum #RouteDuRhum and Transat Jacques Vabre winner, and top Open 50 in the Vendée Globe, which is now under the helm of the young but experienced Alex Bennett as ‘One Dream – One Mission’, and secondly, the Around Alone winner, ‘SetraBio’ (Eric Denamiel/J-P Amblard). Two potentially fast ‘mini Open 60’s’ are ‘Saving’ (Renaud Le Youdec/J-F Pellet) and Tredici (Simon Accati-Alessio Stefani). Neighbours in Plymouth and fellow solo sailors Mark Taylor & Asia Pajkowska have teamed up on board ‘Olympian Challenger’, and are simply looking forward to having a fantastic experience at sea. Asia intends to stay on board this time, as she was recently rescued by her fellow female team mates after falling overboard mid-Atlantic during the EDS Atlantic Challenge.
The last word goes to Vendée Globe winner, Michel Desjoyeaux, who has stepped onto a multihull for this race, but is certainly the best judge of form in the monohull fleet : "The line up is really interesting. Their race is less complicated than ours, and I think that the race will be largely fought off Cape Verde. They shouldn’t suffer the effects of the Doldrums as greatly as the multi’s will, because we have to descend further South. The podium ? Hard to say, for me there are 6 boats who could win this race !" The bets are still wide enough even for him not to take a punt.
MONO : 60 Open
1 Bobst Group Armor Lux Bernard Stamm & Vincent Riou Suisse
2 Ecover Mike Golding & Marcus Hutchinson GB & Irlande
3 Fila Bruno Laurent & Massimo Rufini Italie
4 N.C Javier Sanso Windmann & Eric Dumont Espagne & FR
5 Casto-Darty-But Nick Moloney & Mark Turner Australie & GB
6 La rage de Vivre Loïc Pochet & Patrick Tabarly France
7 Sill Plein Fruit Roland Jourdain & Gaël Le Cleac’h France
8 Temenos Dominique Wavre & Michèle Paret Suisse
9 This Time Richard Tolkien & Robert Wingate GB
10 Un Univers de Services Miranda Merron & Frédérique Brulé GB & FR
11 Voilà.fr Bernard Gallay & Kito de Pavant Suisse & France
12 Sollac Atlantique Joe Seeten & Eric Drouglazet France
MONO : 50 Open
1 Adecco - Etoile Horizon Bob Escoffier & Christian Mace France
2 SetraBio Eric Denamiel & Jean-Pierre Amblard France
3 Branec III Roger Langevin et Henriette Lemay France
4 One Dream - One Mission Alex Bennett & Paul Larsen GB & Australie
5 Olympian Challenger Marc Taylor & Asia Pajkowska GB & Pologne
6 Tredici Simon Accati & Alessio Stefani Italie
7 Saving Renaud Le Youdec & Jean Bacave France
Dans la même rubrique
Transat Jacques Vabre : Team SOLLAC Atlantique - Joé Seeten & Éric Drouglazet (mono)