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Sodebo Ultim’ – Transat Jacques Vabre © TJV
Sodebo Ultim’ – Transat Jacques Vabre © TJV

Transat Jacques Vabre

Having match raced each other down the Atlantic after leaving Le Havre last Sunday, Thomas Colville and Jean-Luc Nélias struck a blow for experience by holding off Sébastien Josse and Thomas Rouxel on their newly-launched Maxi Edmond de Rothschild to win the 13th edition of the Transat Jacques Vabre.

Sodebo Ultim’ crossed the finish line in the Bay of All Saints in Salvador de Bahia on Monday, November 13, 2017 at 10:42:27 (UTC), 7 days 22 hours seven minutes and 27 seconds after leaving Le Havre, Normandy, France. Sodebo Ultim’ sailed 4,742 nautical miles at an average speed of 24.94 knots. Their time smashed the previous record of 10 days 0 hours 38 mins 43 seconds set by Franck Cammas and Steve Ravussin on Groupama 2 in the 60ft multihull class in 2007 (the last time the race finished in Salvador) by two days two hours and 31 mins and 16 seconds.

“It’s a great win; we’ve built a great story with Jean-Luc and Sodebo, we can both break records and win races,” Colville said. ‘It was a huge contest from the first night.”

Colville and Nélias lost a hard-fought 2015 Transat Jacques Vabre to François Gabart and Pascal Bidegory by under eight hours. Gabart sent a message from deep in the South Atlantic, where he is nine days into his attempt to break Coville’s solo round-the-world record. Josse will only get faster as he gets to know Maxi Edmond de Rothschild but Coville has shown he is far from yesterday’s man against these new kids on the block.

Sodebo Ultim’ had looked like playing the role of plucky underdog, hanging in there, but they have held the lead since taking it in the early hours of Thursday morning as Maxi Edmond de Rothschild were forced to gybe west into their wake.

Maxi Edmond de Rothschild had started favourite as the bigger, newer beast on the block and Josse beat his own prediction of an eight-day finish, but it was not enough. They sailed further and faster – 4,838 nautical miles at an average speed of 25.21 knots – but finished just 1 hour 47 minutes and 57 seconds behind Sodebo Ultim’, but could not get close enough in the last 24 hours to suggest they would overtake. Josse and Rouxel arrived at 12:30:24 (UTC), a race time of seven days, 23 hours 55 minutes and 24 seconds.

The smaller Ultime, Prince de Bretagne (Lionel Lemonchois / Bernard Stamm) is a distant third, 1,100 miles from the finish.

Multi50: Revenge of the Doldrums

The two 90+ft Ultime finishers breezed through the Doldrums in a matter of hours two days ago, but they have come alive since then and have played the traditional roulette role for the 50ft trimarans. One hundred miles behind yesterday evening, Arkema is now almost breathing down the neck of FenêtréA-Mix Buffet, with a gap of just 1.6 miles – and Arkema is still somehow finding more boat speed. “It’s always a lucky dip in the Doldrums,’ Vincent Riou, FenêtréA-Mix Buffet’s co-skipper said. A solid third, Réauté Chocolat will enter the Doldrums in the afternoon.

Imoca: How far west is best?

Gitana – Transat Jacques Vabre © TJV

Gitana – Transat Jacques Vabre © TJV

At 16:30 UTC yesterday, Des Voiles et Vous! was the first to gybe and invest in the west. Less than two hours later, SMA and St Michel-Virbac did the same. Nobody wants to miss a shift west, which will be profitable tomorrow with the approach to the Doldrums, but how far is too far? Jean Pierre Dick and Yann Eliès have controlled the race from the start, and St Michel-Virbac is holding its 50-mile advantage over SMA, but is now further east than its pursuers.

Des Voiles et Vous! with a noticeably more pronounced gybe angle (does their big spinnaker have a hold in it) trail the leader by 100 miles still. They are advancing on the Doldrums, which is about 150 miles away, at 13 knots.

Class40: A new leader

After almost a week in the lead, the Anglo-Spanish duo of Phil Sharp and Pablo Santurde (Imerys Clean Energy) were passed by the French duo Maxime Sorel and Antoine Carpentier on V and B in the morning, but the gaps is just 3.5 miles and Aïna Enfance et Avenir has closed too, so that there is just 8 miles between all three. It is another Atlantic match race with Imerys Clean Energy, now the most western and V and B, the most eastern separated laterally by less than 14 miles. In fourth place, TeamWork40 has been struggling to keep pace for the last two days. They will pass Cape Verde this evening.


The Italian duo, Andrea Fantini and Alberto Bona informed the race office this morning that they had abandoned the race with damage to their starboard rudder damage probably related to a collision with a UFO. The skippers had diverted to Cascais three days ago to assess and try and fix the damage

Thierry Bouchard and Oliver Krauss (Ciela Village, Multi50), who had stopped in Mindelo (Cape Verde) two days ago to try and fix autopilot and other problems, have been forced to abandon. They noticed a slight leak in the central hull of their trimaran, caused by a crack under the hull, in front of centerboard well, level with where the two support hulls connect.

Pit stop:

Esprit Scout (Class 40) is still on a technical stop in Tenerife (Canary Islands) with delamination of their hull on the port bow.

by TJV

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