Ecover first on the starting line of the 8th Transat Jacques Vabre


04/11/2007 –

47 monohull bows are now heading to Bahia (Brazil)

At 2 p.m., the starting gun was fired at by the Transat Jacques Vabre race committee, sending the 47 monohulls reeling into the English Channel. Some of the boats were early on the line (see list of individual recalls below) but all them gave repair and are now well into the race.

At 4 p.m, only 2 hours after setting sail, the ranking has changed. Groupe Bel (de Pavant / Col) have taken the lead in front of Gitana Eighty (Peyron, Levaillant) and Safran (Guillemot / Caudrelier). Foncia (Desjoyeaux / Le Borgne) is third just in front of Ecover 2 (Golding / Dubois). The first seven Imoca boats (including Generali and Cheminées Poujoulat) are within 2 miles of each other. Pakea Bizkaia 2009 (Basurko / Gandarias) close the Imoca fleet 7 miles away from the leader.

Telecom Italia (Soldini / d’Ali) has ledIn the Class 40 fleet since the start, closely followed by Clarke Offshore Racing ( Clarke / Lindsay), Vecteur Plus – Groupe Moniteur (Joudren / Pichelin) and Atao Audio System (Vittet / Chabagny). The 2 youngest skippers in the fleet on Concise (Gohl / Gall) showed a strong start, ranking in 7th position, Novedia – Set Environnement (de Lamotte / Bubb) in 9th less that 1 mile behind the leader.

The northeasterly wind of 10-15 knots, forecasted to strengthen in the evening, appears ideal for the newest boats as they have not yet been fully tested. It is well-known by the teams that the usual North Atlantic low pressure associated with rough conditions could have benefited boats with more miles under the hull.

Tactics on the stretch from Le Havre to Cape Finistere, Spain, (the current weather conditions should enable them to reach Cape Finistere around Sunday night), are seen as crucial by the competitors. They aim to stick with the pack. Losing too much ground against their rivals at this stage would mean the unlikely possibility of catching up (unless weather intercedes) for the rest of the race. The picture on the boats for the next few days is likely to be skippers up on deck for manoeuvres. The sleeping shifts will be organized later on, enabling each to rest in short slots of 1 to 2 hours.

Before setting sail, the skippers scrutinized the weather information for the next few days, and it will certainly be on their minds all along the route from Salvador de Bahia. On their descent to Spain, the skippers will also prepare their route between the Canaries and Cape Verde Islands, where a massive low-pressure system awaits them.

De Pavant (S. Col – Groupe Bel) – before the start : We feel that the boat has “horse power under the bonnet”. She will move fast, we know that, even if these machines are very complex and delivered without a user guide. We are going to learn a lot, about ourselves and about our competitors, who we will meet again in a year for the Vendée Globe. We are racers and if the weather is with us, we won’t hesitate.


The two classes of multihulls (ORMA and Class 50) will leave the Paul Vatine Basin for a start planned at 1:02 p.m. The skippers are pretty happy with weather conditions that will give them a not-so-harsh entry into the race and offer a nice ride south.

Overview of the multihull fleets

Two categories of multihulls will set sails for Bahia on Sunday Nov. 3: Orma (60 foot trimarans) and Class 50 multihulls.

The ORMA fleet melted like ice in the sun. Only 5 boats will line up in Le Havre. However, with entries like Gitana 11 (Lemonchois – winner on Banque Populaire in 2005 with skipper P. Bidegorry / Guichard), Banque Populaire (P. Bidegorry / Y. Ravussin), Groupama 2 (F. Cammas – two time winner / S. Ravussin.) and Brossard (Y. Bourgnon / J. Vincent) we can expect a harsh battle on the water and the improvement of the time of reference set in 2001 on the same course 11d 23 h10 “ 41” ( in 2005 the Orma fleet had to round the Ascension Island).

Eight 50-foot multihulls crews will align their boats on the starting line on Sunday, 3 of them lauched since 2006 (NIM, Avocet, Délirium). Even thought their performances cannot reach Crêpes Whaou ! (F.Y Escoffier / K. Fauconnier) ‘ the Class 50 is definitely showing its dynamism and it attractivity with sailors like Lalou Roucayrol (NIM Interim Management / P. Van Den Broeck) entering the fleet and developing specific designs for a class that yet has to gain in homogeneity.

IMOCA – First 5 boats to cross the starting line

  1. ECOVER (Golding / Dubois)
  2. Gitana Eighty (Peyron / Levaillant
  3. Groupe Bel (de Pavant / Col)
  4. Generali (Eliès / Audigane)
  5. Foncia (Desjoyeaux / Le Borgne)

Photo Credit: © MOCHET Marcel / AFP

– PR –

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