(November 8, 2021: Day 2) – Spring tides and light winds have made the beginning of the Transat Jacques Vabre very tricky for the fleet of 79 boats. Despite the mild weather, Louis Burton and co-skipper Davy Beaudart became the first boat forced to abandon this 15th edition following a dramatic dismasting of their IMOCA Bureau Vallée just 10 hours from the start.
After a good start yesterday which had them in the lead pack, they have now reached the port of St Malo tonight to lick their wounds.
“We had just passed the Raz Blanchard, we were arriving north of the island of Guernsey,” explained Burton. “What was surprising was that despite the spring tides, the sea wasn’t too bad. There were 15 knots of wind.
“We heard a big noise half an hour before we dismasted. We wondered if we had hit something. We checked everything including the stacks but nothing had moved. We were under full mainsail with a headsail.
“Our speed was 18-19 knots when it broke. I was in the cockpit trimming, Davy was sailing. The first sound was like an explosion, the mast didn’t fall down; it imploded. Then there was a cracking sound and we heard a crash on the deck. Then we realized that the mast had fallen down.”
The pair have posted a video on the Transat Jacques Vabre YouTube channel:
There were problems also for Equipe Voile Parkinson in the Class 40 fleet. An issue with the bowsprit forced the French pair of Florian Gueguen and Raphael Auffret to stop in Cherbourg for repairs. Tonight, they have almost caught up and are just 20 nautical miles from the rear of the fleet.
After a lively start, conditions in the English channel have since proved very tricky, with light winds and strong spring tides. However, the Ultimes have now started the run south across the Bay of Biscay with little to separate them. Banque Populaire is nudging ahead but Sodebo and Actual are side by side and only a whisker’s length behind.
The Ocean Fifty multihulls are right on the stern of the Ultimes with Koesio and Primonial seemingly inseparable, for now.
Charlie Dalin and Paul Meilhat on Apivia, winner of the last edition, are already well ahead of the other IMOCAs. The French pair entered the Bay of Biscay in the early evening almost 40 miles ahead of second placed Fortinet-Best Western sailed by Romain Attanasio and Sébastien Marsset.
Meanwhile still battling currents and light winds in the English Channel are the Class 40. Winner in 2019, Ian Lipinski on Crédit Mutuel is chasing down the leader Project Rescue Ocean which only has a 4 mile lead.
The Transat Jacques Vabre is a double-handed race featuring four classes of boats starting November 7 from Lorient, France. At nearly 30 years old, having first run in 1993 and every two years since, the 15th edition in 2021 attracted a record-breaking 79 boats: 5 Ultimes, 7 Ocean Fifty, 22 Imoca and 45 Class40s.
The course endures often brutal winter conditions, with a shift this year for the finish, moving from South America to Martinique in the Caribbean, in addition to various mid-Atlantic turning marks for the four classes.
Source: Transat Jacques Vabre, 11th Hour Racing Team
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