Transat Jacques Vabre - Macif's Charge

Transat Jacques Vabre - Macif's Charge

Friday November 15 2013 Author: Seagypsy Location: United States


Macif - Gabart


With the Mini fleet away and the TJV fleet in full race mode stretched over 3000 miles, there is too much action and drama offshore to contain in one small blog post! So, today we will concentrate on Macif and her charge from 50 miles behind in fifth place three days ago to a lead of thirty miles today.

After her pit stop in Portugal to repair a damaged rudder, Macif departed Portugal on a long board west. She was sailing slightly higher and much, much faster than her competitors, but this move was not to try to regain the lead directly. Desjoyeaux and Gabart were positioning the boat to regain contact with the leaders and get back to the rhumb line after their forced jog East.

Once they regained contact with the lead four, they trailed by about 45 miles and started to actively track down the lead group. They jibed south with the lead four and then back west, always just behind - perhaps a little faster, but not able to gobble up any huge distances on them. All five boats were arcing spectacularly across the trades. Safran was in the lead, furthest South and East and all five boats were on starboard jibe heading west. PRB and Cheminees jibed south first, trying to get some separation from Safran and gain while the big grey boat carried on west. Macif jibed with them to get the same leverage - and gained on the leader. Safran finally jibed south, but had given away the lead to PRB. Now Desjoyeaux and Gabart had PRB in their sights, but still 35 miles behind.

The boats took a dive south with the westernmost boats losing ground in lighter breeze. Safran and Maitre gambled that the breeze would fill in from the west and they would gain, but this was not to be. PRB was positioned farthest east and south but still west of the rhumb line and made fast tracks down the course - Macif not far behind. Then, Macif jibed. I can just imagine Mich and Francois throwing their cigarettes overboard just before they execute the jibe away from PRB. Merde......

This hitch west put Macif between the two groups but now 45 miles behind. Every mile she made west, was a mile she lost on the group of 4 as they went South. But it was a necessary jibe to put the boat in position to stay in contact with whichever group - Safran and Maitre to the West - or PRB and Cheminees to the East - started to show an advantage.

Soon, the western group started to fall back in the lightening breeze and PRB stretched away. Macif, was now totally focused on catching PRB and was only 25 miles behind. On the long dive south Macif was able to sail a hotter angle than PRB and relentlessly closed the gap. They followed PRB into the Cape Verde's to make sure Riou and LeCam actually stopped there - or so said Desjoyeaux (perhaps a bit of Psych from Mich) - and popped out the other side of the archipelago with a nice 30 mile lead over PRB and 80 over Safran.

Macif is now positioned South and East of the pack and will no doubt have to jibe to the west to cross the doldrums (Pot Noir) which will cause the fleet to bunch again. I am not sure Desjoyeauz and Gabart will play that card however. Once in the lead they will not want to give it away and if they see a path on the East through the Pot Noir, they will have leverage over the fleet in the SouthEast trades on the other side. The game continues!

Regardless of what happens next, Macif's move from 5th to 1st in three days is a classic of ocean racing. Macif gave away distance to gain position and then relentlessly closed on whomever was in the lead. It must be demoralizing as hell to be tracked down by this pair, with their red laser dot on your chest. Good times.


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