The opening 72 hours of the Transat Jacques Vabre race has seen one capsize, four retirements and two damaged yachts...

Updated: Wednesday 28th October 1300 GMT

35 of the entry of 42 boats are still heading for Itajaí. This year’s Transat Jacques Vabre is proving to be very challenging for the fleet with the heavy conditions causing capsizing, damage and early retirements. Scroll down for the latest updates.


It’s been an eventful first few days for the Transat Jacques Vabre fleet with two of the new foiling IMOCA 60s out of the race already.

Whilst the teams left Le Havre on Sunday in light airs,  Monday brought gusts of over 40knots with many big squalls and big pyramidal waves from the south in a SW then NW wind.

The IMOCAs to the west of Biscay suffered the worst conditions as Thomas Ruyant, skipper of Le Souffle de Nord (IMOCA) describes: “On average we have 30-35 knots with 3-4 meter waves. I can not wait to be in the south.”

Seven yachts of the 42 strong fleet have encountered significant problems.  In the IMOCA class Edmond de Rothschild and Safran have turned around with damage, Class 40s British flagged Team Concise and Credit Mutuel Elite are both heading and in the south the giant tri Prince de Bretagne capsized 140 miles from La Coruna. Thankfully both crewmembers are safe and well.

Here is a more detailed look and the incidents across the fleet…

Wednesday 28th October- Class 40 Credit Mutuel Elite head for port

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Nicolas Troussel and Corentin Horeau onboard their Class 40 yacht Credit Mutuel Elite

Nicolas Troussel and Corentin Horeau informed Transat Jacques Vabre race direction this morning (Wednesday 28th October) that they are returning to Port-la-Forêt the home base for their Class 40. They have suffered persistent autopilot problems and are fatigued after spending so long hand steering. They have 450 miles to sail home and have become increasingly compromised by their autopilot problem. That doubtless contributed to Horeau falling this morning and sustaining a gash to his lip. The duo – who had spent the build up period training with Jackson Bouttell and Gildas Mahe of Team Concise – were among the top favourites to win the class.

Tuesday October 27th-

Multi 50 French Tech Rennes Saint Malo: Damaged after hitting container

French Tech Rennes Saint Malo (not pictured during the TJV)

In the Multi 50s Gilles Lamire and Yvan Bourgnon are heading for a safe haven after hitting a container and damaging their floats on French Tech Rennes Saint Malo. The situation is under control and the crew is well.

Lamiré “We were sailing at a speed of 15 knots beam reaching towards the south, on autopilot. Everything was going well when the boat stopped dead. I saw a piece of float behind the boat and a container into the sea. ”

Bourgnon reported “ We are missing 5 to 6m on the port float and the starboard float is damaged 1m. The challenge now is to bring the boat back on a single float. Our weather router works out the best way to get into the best possible conditions. We are moving at reduced speed (6 knots) under sail to Brest that we should be there in the next three days. “

Concise 8: Retired after sustaining damage

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Jackson Bouttell (GBR/AUS) and Gildas Mahé (FRA) on the Ker designed Concise 8 informed their Team Concise directors that they have sustained damage and are heading for Cork 120 miles to their NE.

The two co-skippers are in regular contact with Transat Jacques Vabre Race Direction and are not injured in any way and expect to reach the Irish haven by mid morning Tuesday. A full assessment of the extent of the damage will be made on arrival. They anticipate missing the worst of the imminent strong winds. Further details are expected soon.

Monday 26th October-

IMOCA 60 Safran: Damage to hull causes retirement

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After a good start to the Transat Jacques Vabre, Morgan Lagravière and Nicolas Lunven were forced to turn back home last night. The cause was a crack in the hull at the starboard foil that generated a leak. It is impossible to continue the race in this condition. Contacted this morning, the Safran duo are headed for Brest where they are expected as night falls.

On Monday night at 2020hrs (French time), Morgan Lagravière contacted the race director to tell him about the damage on Safran and announce his decision to head to Brest. Joining the official race radio this morning, Lagravière detailed the nature of the damage and the circumstances in which it occurred: “The foil area is damaged on the starboard side,” Lagravière said. “The damage has spread around the area and water is seeping into the boat. We quickly tacked to get the damaged section of the hull out of the water. At the time of the incident, the conditions were intense but not extreme. There were 25-knots of wind and 3-4 metres of swell. The sea was not particularly rough and we didn’t hear a particular sound.”

“The area around the foils is seriously damaged. There is a leak here on the starboard side of the boat. It has spread around the foils area, the compartment bulkhead areas in front and behind are area affected in the front and rear of that area. After the incident we tacked, we are on the tack now to return to France.”

For Safran’s part, it will not be until they are back on land that they can accurately analyse the extent of the damage, find out why it happened and fix it. “For now, we remain focused on our goal of getting the boat to port without any additional damage,” Lagravière concluded.


Prince de Bretagne: Capsize

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The Ultime trimaran of Lionel Lemonchois and Roland Jourdain has capsized while they were 140 miles off La Coruna. The two co-skippers are safe and have taken shelter inside the trimaran. They have not requested assistance and their technical team is making every effort to organise help to rescue them and their vessel. At the time of the incident the boat was upwind in 20 to 25kts of SSW’ly wind.

IMOCA 60 Edmond de Rothschild : Retired

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Leaders of the more westerly group of the IMOCA fleet of the Transat Jacques Vabre, Sébastien Josse and Charles Caudrelier have confirmed they have abandoned the race. They are the second of the 20 IMOCA 60s which started Sunday from Le Havre to retire. The duo made the difficult choice which was dictated by good seamanship and their aim to bring the newest Gitana back to port safely.

The duo are in good health and will return the new IMOCA 60 Edmond de Rothschild to their home base in Lorient where they are expected to arrive late tomorrow afternoon.

At 1900hrs this Monday afternoon the Edmond de Rothschild co-skippers contacted Cyril Dardashti, the manager of the Gitana team, to say they would like to retire from the race which is heading to Itajaí, Brasil.

Sébastien Josse explained the reasons:

“Since the afternoon we had a series of incidents aboard Edmond de Rothschild. Taken individually these problems are quite minor and if we had better weather we could probably put them right. But all added up to one another and given the weather conditions we see these incidents as potentially endangering us and the boat. The weather files show more than 40kts of wind at times and seven metre seas. Charles and I consider it would not be responsible to carry on in these conditions. The boat was only launched two and a half months ago, and despite all the work which was done by the Gitana team to optimises and be ready is so short a time, these are problems associated with a recently launched boat. The decision to abandon was a very hard one but we do not want to jeopardise more than a year of hard work. The boat was designed for the Vendée Globe and that remains the major objective of the team. It is hard to retire but we must not lose sight of that as the goal.

Sunday 25th October- Maître CoQ: Retired following damage to mainstay attachment

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Following the damage that happened at around 2300hrs yesterday evening to a mainstay attachment, which holds the mast up from the front, Jérémie Beyou and Philippe Legros, who were in 4th place, were forced to make their way to Roscoff, which they reached this morning at 0830hrs. The shore team and suppliers analysed the situation and attempted to replace the faulty part.

In spite of their hard work, late today they were unable to guarantee that the replacement part would be solid enough to allow the two sailors to head back out to sea without any worries. The situation was in fact all the more tense with the weather that has been forecast for the coming hours, as Maître CoQ would have likely faced some strong winds (30 – 40 knots) with a wave height of 6-7 metres

It’s very hard for us, for the team and our partners… But today we don’t have the conditions that would ensure the safety of the men and the equipment. We’re going to have to step back and analyse all that with the team. Today, there are two possible scenarios depending on what conclusions we come to: either we deliver the boat to St-Barts to line up for the Transat B2B and see how we do against the competition, or we take her into the yard, so we can sail earlier in 2016.”

Don’t forget you can follow the race using the Transat Jacques Vabre race tracker here.