Transat Jacques Vabre 2015 – Taking another step closer to their ultimate solo round the world dream, this weekend Artemis Offshore Academy Alumni Jack Bouttell and Sam Goodchild set sail from France to Brazil.
Teaming up with French Figaro competitor Gildas Mahé aboard British Class 40 ‘Team Concise’, Bouttell views the 5,500nm transatlantic race from Le Havre to Itajai in Brazil as the next logical step forward after three successful seasons on the Classe Figaro Bénéteau circuit – this year finishing 10th in the prestigious Solitaire du Figaro race.
Now a day into the Transat Jacques Vabre, Bouttell is sixth on the Class 40 leaderboard as the fleet approach to Ushant, the exit to the English Channel.
“The Class 40 is a bigger boat than the Figaro Bénéteau II with a different set up,” Bouttell explained pre-race. “It’s more similar in its design to an IMOCA 60, the boat I’m progressing towards. It’s my ultimate goal to race solo around the world in the Vendée Globe and for me the Transat Jacques Vabre is the next rung on the ladder.
I’ve learned so much from my three-year’s racing on the Figaro circuit and my experience during the Volvo Ocean Race was invaluable. The Transat Jacques Vabre will give me the opportunity to combine my experience from both while learning new lessons as I continue on my quest towards the Vendée.”
Setting sail from Le Havre, on Sunday 25th October, Bouttell and Mahé are one of 14 double-handed duos battling it out in the Class 40 division.
Although both are experienced solo competitors, this is the first Transat Jacques Vabre entry for either of them. Expected to take over 20 days to complete, this classic marks Bouttell’s longest short-handed race to date.
Training at Pôle Finistere Course au Large at Port-la-Foret in Brittany prior to the start, the co-skippers worked hard on getting to know the boat and each other. Bouttell is under no illusions about the challenges that lie ahead: “We’ve sailed the boat a lot in the time we’ve had it, but compared with the rest of the Class 40 fleet we don’t have much experience at all. Several teams have done this race before and the rest have been sailing their boats for two or so years. My main objective is to get Concise around the course, if we can do that the race will have been a success.”
The Transat Jacques Vabre started in light airs, with the wind expected to pick up to 20/30 knots as the fleet round Ushant. Once round that iconic landmark, the fleet will race mostly downwind towards the finish line in Brazil, negotiating the Atlantic tradewinds and the fickle doldrums before they cross the equator, heading south in the south east tradewinds.
It will be the first equator crossing for both skippers and Bouttell is ready with a bottle of rum to honour the sea god Neptune, while Frenchman Mahé wondered how they would properly celebrate due to the English “only eating freeze-dried food”.
Fellow Academy Alumni Sam Goodchild is taking part in the race aboard the IMOCA 60 ‘Comme Un Seul Homme – Stand As One’ with Eric Bellion. Taking a break from the Figaro in 2015, Goodchild has had an exciting year training with Volvo Ocean Race team Mapfre and racing with MOD70 team Phaedo 3. Goodchild races one of 20 IMOCA 60s taking part, on a class entry list that reads like a who’s who of offshore racing as Goodchild continues to work towards his Vendée Globe ambition too.