Transat Jacques Vabre - tactics, tactics, tactics

Transat Jacques Vabre - tactics, tactics, tactics

Thursday November 7 2013 Author: Seagypsy Location: United States


TJV multihulls


Above - The two MOD70 trimarans battle it out, match racing into the English Channel during the first day of the 2013 Transat Jacques Vabre (TJV).

Thus far the race has not disappointed tactically, as the first decision to be made by the teams is upon them. The favored route right off the start was to proceed directly west, however a decision of when and where to tack around Cherbourg lay in that direction. Most of the fleet is now making that choice - either to carry on toward land or stand out into the Channel. The big multis and the leaders of the IMOCA have already made that choice and are now heading offshore. For them, the next decision is when to tack back toward shore and perhaps gain around Ushant. Tide is playing a key role in these deliberations and the lead boats are in phase with the tide as it now carries them briskly down channel.

The race is already starting to divide into two or three different dramas to watch. First is the match race between the MOD70's with DeRothschild eking with a slight speed advantage in these light airs and hanging on to her lead from the first mark. But they are trading tacks down the coast and when around the corner into the Bay of Biscay, they will light the afterburners and we will see how that speed advantage holds.

Likewise the IMOCA fleet is already starting to divide into the lead pack followed by the four or five back markers. Macif is now in second having perhaps gone a bit too far inshore earlier while Matre Coq cut the corner for a tiny lead. Safran and Votre Nom are close by, just outside Macif, while surprisingly PRB and Cheminees are further back. Both of these boats showing some speed now and will be hoping to close on the leaders.

Multi50's are showing some good speed in the light air and chop and have all tacked for the channel. Actual and Fenetrea are within two miles of each other while the others are less than 5 miles back - all heading offshore.

Most Class 40's have yet to make their tack offshore and are still bunched up sprinting toward their enforced weather stop. Those that timed the tack well are now making gains and will have the advantage around Cherbourg. Once around Cherbourg, they should have good reaching conditions to Roscoff where they will shelter for 24 hours before rounding Ushant into the Bay of Biscay.

All in all a good start to the race - as expected tide and wind playing a key factor and even nullifying some of the advantages the newer boats might have enjoyed. Decisions made in the next few hours will be critical - particularly in the IMOCA and Multi50 fleet as they will want to be safely away from Ushant and into the Bay before the next big disturbance arrives on Saturday. When to tack back to shore - to bang the corner and weather Ushant, or to tack/reach down the rhum line will be the big decision for these boats in the next few hours.

Track the boats live by clicking here.

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