In a press briefing Wednesday 2 November the Transat Jacques Vabre race director has reported on the different departure scenarios for the boats currently unable to leave Le Havre and Lorient

The start of the Transat Jacques Vabre in Sunday 29 October 2023, only three of the scheduled four fleets got underway, due to a severe forecast in the Atlantic. Now, organisers of famous transatlantic race – also known as the coffee route – are working with teams to find a viable start and restart date for the fleets.

On Sunday Class 40 and Ocean 50 trimarans did leave the start, but the weather meant the two fleets would only race only as far as Lorient before pausing to restart. The reason for the disrupted start schedule is a series of low pressure systems forming in the Atlantic. With a particularly strong depression scheduled to cross the fleet on Wednesday, the decision was made early on start day morning to send the Class 40s and Ocean 50s on a 320 mile passage to Lorient on the French Atlantic coast, where they will be able to pause racing and then restart.

With the the majority of the 40-strong IMOCA 60 fleet featuring large foils, the fleet is far more difficult to accommodate in other ports and so the decision was made to hold them in Le Havre until conditions moderate. Results will be calculated with aggregate race time.

The Ultime trimarans were the sole fleet to set off on non-stop transatlantic.

“The latest weather analysis [shows] no window is possible before Monday for the two classes of boats moored in the port of Lorient, which of course does not mean that a departure will take place on Monday. For the IMOCAs, the possible departure on Sunday remains a hypothesis under study,” explained TJV race director, Francis Le Goff. “The conditions remain challenging with air and sea… It is also not impossible that in the event of departure, a way-point is planned to avoid the very exposed northern [routes]. This remark also applies to the Class40 and Ocean Fifty.”

“We are all frustrated and disappointed and the financial impacts are multiple for the Transat Jacques Vabre Normandie Le Havre. But as for last Sunday, it is the safety of boats and sailors that will remain the priority in organising these new departures.”


The Ultimes at the start of Transat Jacques Vabre in Le Havre, France. Photo: Jean-Marie Liot / Alea

Out in the race course, the only fleet to get their transatlantic race underway were the foiling super-high tech Ultime trimarans. This fleet have now, more-or-less reached the Canaries are are having a fascinating battle, with all five boats vying for the lead.

Currently, Armel Le Cléac’h and Seb Josse on Banque Populaire XI are listed as the fleet leaders, but this is largely due to their position to the west of the rest of the fleet. But the aim of the game is diving south still to pick up good trade wind conditions to make the Atlantic crossing proper.

François Gabart and Tom Leperche on SVR Lazartigue are locked in a tight battle with Charles Caudrelier and Erwan Israel’s Maxi Edmond de Rothschild slightly to the east of Banque Populaire XI. Furthest east, Thomas Coville and Thomas Rouxel’s Sodebo Ultime 3 is also in a close fight with Anthony Marchand and Thierry Chabagny onboard Actual Ultime 3. At this stage in the race it is very much all to play for.

Regular updates are being posted on the official Transat Jacques Vabre website.

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