HomeSAILINGTransat Jacques Babre - ULTIM race to Martinique

Transat Jacques Babre – ULTIM race to Martinique

ULTIM race to Martinique has seen a change in supremacy?

Increaingly it seems as if the long time ULTIM winning streak of the Maxi Edmond de Rothschild might be coming to an end. Charles Caudrélier and Erwan Israel are over 200 miles behind Le Cléac’h and Laperche. Correspondingly it seems Armel Le Cléac’h’s run of bad luck on Transat races may be coming to an end. Recall that exactly one year ago his solo Route du Rhum was marred by damage which required him to make an extended pitstop into Lorient and two years ago Maxi Edmond de Rothschild – sailed by Caudrélier and Franck Cammas – had a four hundred miles lead. 

On second placed SVR Lazartigue this morning, Laperche reported, “Everything is going well. I shared the work with François during the night, so I got some sleep. The sea is flat calm and the sun is coming up.. There isn’t much wind, but it’s nice enough. We should stay with 15-20 knots of wind. The Doldrums are ahead of us. Along the Equator, there is a narrow band of wind between the Equator and the exclusion zone. We’re going to try to get through there, but it is going to take a lot of manoeuvres. If there was a miracle recipe for catching Banque Populaire, we’d be doing it. They are going well, but we remain motivated and are working hard. We’re going to do all we can to get back up with them.  The heat isn’t a problem, as these boats are fast and generate an apparent wind.  If we open the window, it is well ventilated and we’re spending a lot of time outside in any case. Today, there will be a lot of manoeuvres. As for our ETA, let’s just say some time between Sunday and Monday.”

IMOCA, team Beyou on fire? 
Jéremie Beyou and Franck Cammas (Charal) explained this morning that they felt they were starting to emerge from the band of high pressure and light winds which slowed the leading group of IMOCAs through yesterday and last night. Their spirits are high, not least because stable-mates Justine Mettraux and Julien Villion – who race the former Charal under the Beyou Racing project management colours – are up to second, though partly because they are furthest to the west and closer to the rhumb line.

Cammas said, “We just picked up some wind this morning. We were on the edge of an area of calms. The goal is to find the trade winds, but the weather pattern to the south is complicated and we’ll be dealing with that tonight. We’ve been looking at the situation for 3 days. There are routes through to the West, but the problem is they are very complicated with fronts and transition zones to deal with and for what gain? It looks like the fleet will head further south, so we’re looking at that.” 

Britain’s Sam Goodchild and his French co-skipper Antoine Koch are up to fourth on For the Planet, not far ahead of Sam Davies and Jack Bouttell (Initiatives Coeur)

On Villion noted “It is not as easy as for Charal to make the most of this westerly option as they can sail at a closer angle and make gains.”

Passing Cape Saint Vincent, a lot of thought is being given to a westerly option. Race meteo supplier Christian Dumard’s routing suggests that this could save them 24 hours, but looking beyond the overall strategy, there is the question of tactics and positioning, and Charal is unlikely to want to be the first to try something different.

“We’ve been looking at the situation for 3 days. There are routes through to the West, but the problem is they are very complicated with fronts and transition zones to deal with and for what gain? “ said Franck Cammas. “We just need 12-13 knots of wind when reaching to keep going and be up on our foils. We can get up to 17 knots, which is 5 less than downwind. In the past, it was twice as fast. So that changes strategy.” So it maybe the older boats that cannot fly that will be the first to attempt that option. Louis Duc and Rémy Aubrun (Fives Group-Lantana environnement) were the first to change tack this morning, taking with them a group of five IMOCAs.

Pip Hare and Nick Bubb, who took their penalty and fashioned a mainsail repair at the same time yesterday, are also headed west in 20th place.

“We are heading west to cross a mini front this morning and hopefully then we can go south again. It is warmer now but no drier. It was a massive job to repair the mainsail, really massive, so it took us four hours and then we had to get back to the gate. We cannot use the main at full hoist upwind and need to have two reefs upwind which means we were slow in the lighter winds. But now we are footing into this front and we can go faster again and that is the way it will be for this race. We are giving it a go with this repair. Effectively the leech split and so we have attached carbon plates to the top and bottom of the split and stitched it together using dyneema cord around the plates, it is a super big job and looks like Frankenstein’s monster right now.” Said Pip Hare this morning.

Vendée Globe champion Yannick Bestaven and co-skipper Julien Pulvé have confirmed they will not restart the race on Maître CoQ They stopped with mainsail damage but discovered more structural serious structural problems, “One of the structural bulkheads broke after the slamming we suffered  passing Ushant, where we recorded speeds of 25 knots at 70 degrees from the wind in 3-4m high waves. The boat really suffered. We have taken the difficult decision to retire from the Transat Jacques Vabre Normandie Le Havre. It’s very sad for us, but even with the best will in the world, repairing a bulkhead would take a lot of time and would only be a temporary repair. If we set off again, we would not be able to get the most out of Maître CoQ V. On top of that, looking at the charts, weather conditions on a northern route would be worse than those at the start, and via the South, the trade winds are not there. We will bring the boat safely back to La Rochelle when conditions allow us to do that and Maître CoQ V will then go into the yard. Our goal now is the Vendée Globe, so we need to look ahead to 2024.”

ETA for the first IMOCAs: 18th November

Class 40, new leader
Less than 200 miles to the Porto Santo, Madeira mark the leaders of Class40 are now ex Figaro aces Achille Nebout and Gildas Mahé on Amarris, the Lombard Lift V2 which won the Route du Rhum last year in the hands of Yoann Richomme.

The fleet is spread out over more than 400 miles but  battle at the front is intense.  Forced to round Porto Santo, there is a positioning war going on at the front of the fleet, which has seen the advantage go to those out to the West. Achille Nebout “I wanted this start to the race, windward of the fleet and a bit ahead.” 

Leader in the rankings by 20 miles over Café Joyeux, Amarris is in a favourable position. Those further East are finding it harder in the light airs. “It was odd yesterday evening. The wind turned and strengthened from the West to 20 knots and we had good speeds under gennaker throughout the night,” confirmed Nebout, “We were a good knot faster than the rest of the fleet.”

The wind should come around for the leading boats and spinnakers will be hoisted with a gybe required to reach Madeira. “It’s not easy with the swell, but these are decent sailing conditions,” said Nebout.

Legallais (Delahaye-Douguet) has set sail again from Cascaïs 230 miles behind, but they remain optimistic, as there are still 3000 miles to sail.
ETA for the Class40 monohulls: 22nd November

Ocean Fifty: First one out has the advantage
Thibault Vauchel-Camus and Quentin Vlamynck certainly know what they are doing, extending their lead over the two chasing boats. First out of the ridge of high pressure, Solidaires en Peloton is ahead of Viabilis and Réalités, who are now a good hundred miles behind. The dive down to Cape Verde should be fast. Thibault Vauchel Camus: “We’re trying to stay on the tack that will take us to the Cape Verde waypoint. We’re a long way from the Canaries, so shouldn’t be in the wind shadow. The trade winds are light to moderate. 17-18 knots for the moment. We’re under full mainsail, big gennaker, J2.”  120 miles behind, Réalités had a good 24 hours. Moving off to the East at the latitude of Gibraltar, Fabrice Cahierc and Aymeric Chappellier found more wind and it was more northerly. They have overtaken Viabilis (Pierre Quiroga and Ronan Treussart). A gybing duel to Cape Verde is likely. The fleet should get there by tomorrow evening, before turning their bows towards Martinique in a light trade wind.

ETA for the Ocean Fifty boats: 17th November

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