In the world of short-crew races, the Transat Jacques Vabre is big business. This doubles race includes four classes of boats (Class 40, IMOCA, Multi 50 and Ultime) to face the North Atlantic, starting November 7 from Lorient, France.
The course undergoes often brutal winter conditions, with a delay this year for the finish, passing from South America to Martinique in the Caribbean, in addition to various mid-Atlantic turns for the four classes, peaking at 7,500 nm for the fastest Ultimate trimarans. .
The Transat Jacques Vabre is almost 30 years old, having raced for the first time in 1993 and every two years since, the 15th edition in 2021 attracted 79 boats, a record, the 60-foot IMOCA class counting 23 entered for a course of 5800 nm.
This class includes two crews from the US sponsored 11th Hour Racing Team who will provide their program with a worthy test to prepare for The Ocean Race, a full crew round the world race to be held in ‘next year.
Launched in August this year, the 11th Hour Racing Team’s “Mālama” is the newest boat in the IMOCA 60 class and the first specially built to be piloted by a crew of up to five sailors. American sailor Charlie Enright, who will co-skip the boat with Pascal Bidégorry (FRA), is eager to see what the boat can do.
“The boat being so new, we had very little time to practice and familiarize ourselves with the characteristics of ‘Mālama’ – less than two weeks on the water,” he said. “The foils, the shape of the hull, the cockpit, it’s definitely a unique piece. For this race, our main goal will be to get it to Martinique in one piece – if we get there, there is a chance for more!
The Enright / Bidégorry duo participated in the last edition of this biennial race in 2019, finishing fourth in the IMOCA Class. But for the other 11th Hour Racing Team skippers, Justine Mettraux (SUI) and Simon Fisher (GBR), who will sail together on the 2015 generation boat “Alaka’i”, this will be a first performance in the Transat Jacques Vabre.
One of the most accomplished sailors of her generation, Mettraux can’t wait to get started.
“Simon and I started to sail doubles together this summer and so far it’s been great,” she said. “We complement each other really well and are proud of what we have accomplished as a team – a third place finish in the Rolex Fastnet Race and a second place in the 48 hour Défi Azimut race last month. Sailing a transatlantic race lasting up to 16 days definitely takes things a step further and Simon and I are confident to take on this challenge.
One of five mixed gender teams in the 23-boat class, Mettraux and Fisher currently lead the standings of the IMOCA Globe Series, the class championship that takes place at the end of a round-the-world race in the Vendée. Globe at the end of the next one. After a good start to the season, they are among the favorites to win the Transat Jacques Vabre, despite the short time they have sailed together.
“We are trying not to put too much pressure on ourselves for this race but we are hungry for more success after our recent performances. However, with the assembled fleet level, we know this event is going to be a lot more difficult than anything we’ve seen before and we will have to sail incredibly well to get on the podium, ”said Fisher.
“This is a huge opportunity for us to compete against the best in the world and I look forward to some healthy competition especially with our 11th Hour Racing teammates Charlie and Pascal.”
After the start, the two crews of the 11th Hour Racing Team will cross the Bay of Biscay and once the point is crossed, Spain will turn south to bypass Fernando de Noronha, a volcanic archipelago 190 miles from the northeast coast of Brazil. The fleet will then branch off to the north-west and head towards Martinique, part of the Lesser Antilles, and end at Fort-de-France.
Race details: https://www.transatjacquesvabre.org/fr/
Editor’s Note: The above link was not working at the time of publication. Hopefully his issues will be resolved soon.