Yachting Art Magazine

Transat Jacques Vabre - Record number of skippers with seven months to the start

Forty-six competitors have already confirmed their entry for the 2019 Transat Jacques Vabre with seven months to the start in Le Havre. The 14th edition of the “Route du Café” promises to be an intense, full-bodied event worthy of a grand cru.

Transat Jacques Vabre - Record number of skippers with seven months to the start

Entry for the race closes on July 12, 2019, but 46 competitors are already expected on the start line of the Transat Jacques Vabre on Sunday, October 27.

In January, the race organisation estimated that around 55 boats representing the three selected classes (with about 30 Imoca and more than 20 Class40) would be in the Bassin Paul Vatine for the start – so, the race is on! Among those registered are 10 nationalities and skippers with great experience, who will rub shoulders with young sailors as they all focus on one objective: to brave the Atlantic double-handed to Brazil.

The Class40 out in force for another thrilling race

The Class40 is back again with more than 20 boats. In 2017, the competitors had a great race, full of suspense, fighting spirit and twists and turns all the way to the line in Salvador. Aymeric Chappellier, second in 2017, is back this year with the hunger to climb to the top of the podium. In 2019, the field has widened: new skippers will be at the Transat Jacques Vabre, like American Sam Fitzgerald and Anglo-French Luke Berry. Some are old favourites, like Catherine Pourre (fourth participation) and Louis Duc (fifth), who is hoping to find the budget to be on the start line with Aurélien Ducroz.

For Kito de Pavant, on the Class40 Made in Midi, it will be his 10th consecutive participation. “We like the Transat Jacques Vabre, it sets the rhythm for our programme,” he said. “We have our autumn quarters in Le Havre and our winter ones in Salvador de Bahia. There’s a good atmosphere and the event is less extravagant than the Vendée Globe or the Route du Rhum, and much more friendly, which I really appreciate. It's more open in the Class40 - the competition is always formidable. I’ve had the chance to race in the IMOCA, ORMA and Multi50 on the Transat Jacques Vabre over the last 20 years. It will be my first in Class40. I’ve always been up there but never won it - my 10th will be a good one!”

For Halvard Mabire, president of the Class40: “The Transat Jacques Vabre is the flagship event of our 2019 calendar. The Class40 racing programme is very dense, competitive and exciting, but the Transat Jacques Vabre, over the years, has become a “Grand Classic" that has attracted the interest of the media and a wide audience. So, beyond being an original and technical transatlantic racecourse, which takes us across the Equator, it’s also a good opportunity to put a spotlight on the partners who support us throughout the year. Also, in the spirit of the Class40, the double-handed race allows well-prepared and seasoned amateurs to mix and measure themselves against the most recognised professional skippers.”

A field of 30 Imoca – with 6 new ones

In the Imoca, the forces have been set in motion with 30 boats expected in the Bassin Paul Vatine, including six new ones. All eyes will surely be on Charal - Jérémie Beyou and Christopher Pratt – now road-tested since its launch in August 2018 and ready to show its full potential on this Transat. “The Transat Jacques Vabre is a special race for me: it was my first win in a transat race (2011 with Jean-Pierre Dick),” Beyou said. “I’ve also had the chance to sail with exceptional sailors (Vincent Riou, Michel Desjoyeaux, Jean-Pierre Dick, Phil Legros and Christopher Pratt). I’m also happy to be returning to Salvador de Bahia like in 2003. This course is a classic.” There will also be much anticipation about Hugo Boss, Alex Thomson's new monohull.

There are exciting pairings throughout the fleet, like that of Yannick Bestaven and Roland Jourdain, who have both won the Transat Jacques Vabre twice, and Nicolas Troussel and Jean Le Cam, and Samantha Davies and Paul Meilhat, who will be pushing at the front. As Davies said: “This Transat Jacques Vabre represents a triple ambition for me: win -  I have the ideal teammate for that! Progress – I will learn a lot sailing with Paul, he has the experience of the Vendée Globe too, and my preparation for 2020 has begun. Save 30 new children - the Transat will be an opportunity to launch another 1 click = 1 heart campaign for Mécénat Chirurgie Cardiaque.” Vincent Riou will accompany Sébastien Simon in his first participation in the Transat Jacques Vabre, and the same for Clarisse Crémer with Armel Le Cléac'h. And in Alexia Barrier and Joan Mulloy, there is an all-female duo.

Antoine Mermod, president of the Imoca class, confirms: “This year is an important year for the Imoca class, as we will see six new boats in Le Havre and a field of around 30 Imoca, which is exceptional. The Transat Jacques Vabre is an exciting and challenging race both because it offers different weather conditions, and also in human terms because the double-handed format allows skippers to exchange ideas, work together and push the boats a little more than you can solo. And we salute the race organisation's environmental commitment to ‘Ocean, a common good for humanity’ (OceanAsCommon.org), which we also support.”

The competition on the water will be very interesting and tough, whether at the front, middle or back of the rankings. Every skipper in every duo will also have a story to tell, one that will take them from Le Havre to Salvador de Bahia, through varied and complex weather zones, before crossing the finish line in the Bay of All Saints in Brazil.

The Transat Jacques Vabre confirms and reinforces its commitment to solidarity

Since 2007, the Transat Jacques Vabre has been a pioneering event in sustainable development after becoming the ADEME’s (French Environment & Energy Management Agency) reference model for eco-responsible events in 2009. Since then, the race  organisation has continued to set new standards and put in place CSR, community and ecological initiatives, in a targeted way, with over 30 meaningful initiatives in each edition of the Transat Jacques Vabre.

In 2019, the race organisation wants to further develop its commitments and has signed the “Ocean, a common good for humanity” appeal (OceanAsCommon.org): “Few events have the credentials of the Transat Jacques Vabre for promoting a sustainable approach,” Gildas Gautier, the race organiser said. “We want this edition to emphasise our global commitments, support “Ocean As Common” and raise awareness about the preservation of the oceans.”

In parallel, an ambitious CSR programme will be set up in Le Havre and run during the race to reinforce the values of the eco-responsible event that the Transat Jacques Vabre has been establishing for 10 years.

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