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Du grand large à la plage : L’actualité des sports de glisse depuis 2000


Kingfisher-Foncia round first, Groupama 1hr27m later

Biscuits La Trinitaine becomes 4th to abandon

vendredi 16 novembre 2001Information Transat Jacques Vabre

"Ascension rounded at 0010 GMT the 16th – We’re off !" said Ellen’s brief email sent to the Transat Jacques Vabre Transat Jacques Vabre #TJV2015 Race HQ over night from leading multihull Kingfisher-Foncia. One hour 17 minutes later, at 0127 GMT, the next ‘fax of deliverance’ came through. "Groupama here, we are passing the Easterly point of the Ascension Islands. Franck."

During the early morning radio call third placed Loick Peyron on Fujifilm was rounding the volcanic mass. "Our friends aren’t too far ahead. Now we’re really going to put this machine into top gear !" As these three average 23 knots, the gaps stretch out painfully for those still beating upwind to the Ascensions. Rounding in 4th place was Bonduelle (Le Cam/ Caraes) – but over 250 miles behind the leaders.

For the leaders, the road is clear ahead with steady SE Trade winds for the next 1000 miles to Salvador. The wind will gradually shift to the ENE, obliging the trimarans to put in a gybe, which could be the last strategic point for Groupama and Fujifilm to pass ahead. One more potential obstacle off Brazil with approx. 3 days to go is a weak low pressure system, which may detach itself from the continent and move across the goal posts in the remaining few miles.

* Fourth race abandon : at 0700hrs GMT, the Race HQ was informed that Biscuits La Trinitaine/ Team Ethypharm (Guillemot/Guichard) has abandoned the race. They found a crack in the central hull between the mast foot and the gooseneck, and so have decided to sail directly for Bahia, 1640 miles away, approx. 6 days’ sailing.

Monohull Fleet

"In or out ?" was the question posed to Sill Plein Fruit today, referring of course to the Doldrums. "This morning I wasn’t sure," hesitated Gael Le Cleac’h, "but now, yes. We’re pretty anxious as we definitely got slowed up for longer than the guys behind, and in all have lost about 50 miles of our lead."

The ‘guys behind’, by 74 miles, are Ecover (Golding/Hutchinson) and Casto-Darty-BUT (Moloney/Turner), incredibly both neck and neck in Sill’s wake for the last 24hrs, just half a mile separating them. They have been sailing in sight of each other like two Formula 1 cars taking the bends side by side. "After 3000 miles of hard racing, working for every metre, neither seems able to pull away. One rain cloud slows the first, the next the other, and on it goes," effused Mark Turner. Golding also clings on : "It’s pretty obvious that 4 or 5 boats could take 2nd – but it’s still feasible for us to catch Sill."

So the effects of the Doldrums wore off surprisingly quickly for all those to the West of the rum line, as further back Miranda Merron (UUDS) noted : "There’s been wind all the time, even if it’s a transition zone, and we’re already in a slight SE swell." On the other hand, (Gallay/De Pavant) felt cheated by their Easterly option, which failed to allure the Southeast winds sooner. They slip to 4thplace, threatened now by previously ailing Swiss boat Temenos (Wavre/Paret).

The top two Open 50’s may be up with the bigger boats, but will naturally take longer to negotiate the Doldrums. Between one radio call-in and a second an hour or so later, the duo on leading boat Saving (Le Youdec/Bacave) had in that time furled the gennaker, changed to Solent, unfurled the gennaker again… Just a handful of miles to their Southeast is One Dream One Mission (Bennett/Larsen), their router Lee Bruce banking on the boys to reach the Trades first, even if it is costing them at present.

Radio Chat & Quotes :

Franck Cammas (Groupama) : "We tried to go on the attack last night but I wasn’t happy with our move. It took us a while to actually make it round the mark, but it’s the only time where we have lost out, and 35 miles or so when you have 1500 to do is nothing ! The experience we have together on this boat and her preparation could make all the difference. We’re going to make them sweat !"

Alain Gautier (Kingfisher-Foncia) : "The approach to the Ascension Islands was hard work. The wind left us for a while, we lost some valuable time, but then looking at the rankings we weren’t the only ones ! We’re now trucking downwind under gennaker. Our strategy for the end of the race ? Right now it’s steering a straight road in the Trade winds. But if there is any situation we need to control, it will be on the run up to Bahia."

Marcus Hutchinson (Ecover) : "For the last 24 hours we’ve been stuck to Casto-Darty-BUT, and for the last 12 we’ve been sailing side by side, separated by half a mile. In these variable conditions, it’s quite extraordinary to have a boat so nearby. In the last squall we lost them but I know they’re not far away !"

Emma Richards (Pindar Systems) : "A frustrating day in the Doldrums, but I believe we came out quite quickly and haven’t lost all the miles that we had gained on the boats before us. We will find out in the next day or so how our Easterly option has worked, everything here is changing very quickly. We are still just 5degrees North and the wind is steadier in strength, but not direction yet."

Richard Tolkien (This Time) : "This is the most competitive race I’ve been in, if you’d asked me before the start if I thought we’d be a day’s sailing behind the leader at this stage I would have said no, definitely. It’s frustrating to have missed the trick to pass to the West, and we lost out on UUDS there, but I hope we’ll gain an advantage in the East when we pick up the SE winds, especially if there is more Southing in them."

- Multihull Positions at 1500hrs GMT – DTF (nm)

- Postn Boat Latitude Longitude Speed Hdg DTF DFL

- 1 Foncia 9 20.64’ S 18 33.24’ W 21.7 249 1200.0
- 2 Groupama 9 21.20’ S 18 08.92’ W 24.3 248 1223.5 23.4
- 3 Fujifilm 8 47.88’ S 17 07.28’ W 22.9 246 1289.4 89.4
- 4 Bonduelle 8 01.40’ S 14 20.28’ W 14.6 185 1463.8 263.8
- 5 Belgacom 7 23.96’ S 14 56.36’ W 9.5 129 1515.7 315.7
- 6 Banque Populaire 6 22.12’ S 14 50.36’ W 17.4 165 1565.7 365.7

- Open 60 Monohull Positions at 1445hrs GMT – DTF (nm)

- 1 Sill Plein Fruit 2 39.24’ N 30 43.36’ W 10.3 202 1068.8
- 2 Casto - Darty - But 3 47.88’ N 29 59.56’ W 10.0 202 1143.1 74.3
- 3 Ecover 3 44.92’ N 29 49.36’ W 10.3 199 1143.6 74.8
- 4 Voilà.fr 3 44.72’ N 28 30.96’ W 11.2 206 1175.7 106.9
- 5 Temenos 4 13.96’ N 28 32.80’ W 10.8 210 1201.3 132.5

- Open 50 Monohull Positions at 1430hrs GMT – DTF (nm)

- 1 Saving 6 34.65’ N 25 54.18’ W 9.0 192 1407.3
- 2 One Dream : One Mission 6 28.68’ N 25 14.68’ W 8.4 201 1420.5 13.3

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