Just seven days ago, international basketball player Boris Diaw unleashed 79 wildcats to conquer the Transat Jacques Vabre 2021.
45 of these ocean racers belong to Class40, and if the wind conditions in the first part of the race proved to be the most tortuous, the absence of a big blow has also allowed the 12.19-meter monohull class to still have all of its plethora of boats in the race.
Apart from the very heavy weather, the 90 men and women of the Class40 have experienced just about everything, to the point of generating a number of analogies with the Tour de Bretagne, the Solitaire du Figaro and even Doldrums in the Iroise Sea.
The majority of the favourites in the race were able to get away with it, avoiding tricky passages to quickly enter the Portuguese trade winds, which very quickly put them back into the hectic rhythm of the transatlantic race.
The emulation between competitors often sailing on sight did the rest, and the astonishing performances of the latest generation boats have since burst into the open. With 320 miles sailed in the last 24 hours, the new leader of the Class, Banque du Léman (Koster – Gautier), can stand comparison with some Imocas without blushing.
Seven Class40 among the most recent, the most optimized too, make up, after 1400 miles of race swallowed since Le Havre, the leading group of the fleet. However, we deplore the absence of some so-called luxury outsiders, which we surprisingly find in the depths of the ranking. Serenis Consulting, with the duo Galfione-Péron, is in 39th place, 542 miles from the leader!
Sébastien Audigane, associated with the 2019 Mini Transat winner François Jambou (Entrepreneurs pour la planète) is a disappointing 32nd. 640 miles already separate the leaders from the last of the ranking, E.Leclerc Ville-la Grand of the Magré family. But all of them are now back to interesting closing speeds, mostly downwind, and following varied trajectories, with important (nearly 300 miles) East-West longitude gaps, which translate if needed the absence of routing for the class (unlike the multihulls, all assisted from land by a router).
Off Gibraltar, and while the Canary archipelago focuses a center of high pressure, they are a number, from Groupe G2C La Martinique (Criquioche-Baray) to Everial (Thuret-Crépel) and up to Inter Invest (Perrault – Moreaux) to reposition themselves in interesting ways, well offset in the Northeast of the 18 protagonists of the lead, while sliding in a strong Northeast wind.
The crossing of the Canaries from this evening should offer us the unexpected and singular spectacle of a good number of Class40s investing the numerous options of passage offered by the islands of Fuerteventura, Gran Canaria, Tenerife, La Gomera, La Palma, or El Hierro. Deviations, traffic, site effects, air holes, will perhaps favor an even larger grouping of a good half of the fleet. An unexpected scenario which, with 3200 miles to go, adds spice to a race that is definitely out of the ordinary.
Class40 at the Transat Jacques Vabre 2021 – photo © Polka Dot
Performance of the day:
With Banque du Léman (Gautier – Koster) and its gain of four places in the last few hours, with 269 miles (310on true course) covered in 24 hours, we praise the performance of Project Rescue Ocean (Tréhin-Denis) climbed back to twelfth place with 304 miles covered on true course.
Quotes of the day:
UPSAILING United for the planet: Morgane Ursault-poupon – Julia Virat: “The boat is now sailing at her favorite speed: downwind (the much coveted tailwind), at about ten knots. The conditions are ideal for daydreaming… We are still sailing from the west, but it’s becoming more and more southerly and the temperatures are rising: it really feels like we are making progress. We settled in a rhythm with two which works well (with quite a lot of tiredness all the same because the naps allow less to recover than the real nights…) ”
Milai – Masa Suzuki-Anne Beaugé: “We are like on a flying carpet! After the heavy seas of the last 2-3 days, sailing on an almost flat sea, just with a little swell, is like a flying carpet. As expected, the wind has died down to about 12 knots (with a few clouds but not very active) and most of the fleet is pointing south. It’s a flying carpet race. Aladin has cramps in his back from steering with his head at 90 degrees to the body. To preserve himself, this tack will last 1078 miles…. ! ”
Redman – Antoine Carpentier – Pablo Santurde: “Today the sea has calmed down, as has the wind. We have just passed the Madeira archipelago, and the wind has gone from 20 knots to a mere 10 knots! The sea has flattened out, it’s almost like being on a lake! Maybe that’s why our Swiss friends are coming back on us at high speed! These last 24 hours have been rich in maneuvers and emotions, we have finally taken the lead of the fleet. The road is still long, very long. The day should be relatively simple, heading south, no change of tack, no change of sail, a wind that should stabilize around 10 knots with a direction that should not move too much. Landscape level; we saw the first flying fish, the heat in the boat is pleasant, outside we still have to put on our little wool, but I think that in one or two days, we will be able to put away our fleeces for good.”
La Boulangère Bio – Amélie Grassi – Amélie Riou: “Another great day of work today, slips and good atmosphere on board the Boulangeèe Bio. We are making knots in the brain on the road to follow, we decided to place ourselves a little bit more to the west than our colleagues these last hours and we are anxious to see what it is going to give (in the meantime we tie up to We can’t wait to see what will happen (in the meantime, we’re holding the whip to move the boat forward, which is not necessarily easy under spinnaker when there is still a little bit of sea as it was last night but the wind is weakening).
Samsic E. Leclerc: Simon and Yannick Kervarrec: “Everything is going well on board Samsic-E.Leclerc, the boat is progressing well, even if we have the unpleasant impression of being caught up by those behind without being able to do anything! Fortunately, to comfort ourselves (and like the 160 and the 115) we have lobster shells from the 2 stars chef Ronan Kervarrec. Yes yes, Kervarrec! Again a family history! Otherwise, we arrive finally in the warm, and that it is pleasant. It is also the occasion to wash itself! That makes good after six days… ”
Vogue avec un Crohn – Pierre-Louis Attwell – Maxime Bensa: “Life is getting milder on board Vogue with a Crohn’s, it’s getting warmer (or rather less cold). We are still under spinnaker since the end of the Bay of Biscay and that’s great! We have been fighting against Fullsafe for a few days and despite our efforts, we are struggling to create significant gaps with them. They are tenacious these guys! Anyway, it’s nice to have direct competition, it keeps the pressure on! If not we did our first day “cool” with Maxime, a lot of autopilot, a lot of naps and nice surfs more or less mastered.”
Freedom: Thibaut Lefevere – Thomas Bulcke: “What a pleasure to find the wind, to slide on the waves downwind with all sails out, to link gybes to stay in our wind corridor off Portugal. We even take pleasure in matosser (swinging 400 kg of material from one side to the other of the boat) as long as it is not to get out of an air hole and other windless areas. The nights are milder because we have been cold and the stars are more present which makes the night watches more pleasant. You will have understood that the morale is good on board! We had 3 days of Murphy’s law (sequence of problems, the more the merrier). Not the perfect start of the race from a sport point of view but we are super motivated to catch up with our friends. Fortunately this TJV offers us already so many intense moments, surpassing ourselves, landscapes and magical moments that we can only realize how lucky we are to be where we are (even if two days ago while looking for the oars we wondered if we would arrive in Martinique in 2021). ”
Croatia full of life: Ivica Kostelic – Calliste Antoine: “We sailed all night with the small spinnaker. We waited for the wind to drop before sending the big spinnaker. It’s the only one we have left and we have to take it easy. The “dead” spinnaker is in the morgue and Calliste is going to try a Frankenstein operation to bring it back to life. We have a small problem of gas oil supply on the engine. We’re going to avoid using it and we’ll rely on our solar panels and the hydro-generator.
by Denis van den Brink