Rodolphe Jacq (left) and former Vendee Globe Herve Laurent
Vendee Globe skipper Herve Laurent and his co-skipper Rodolphe Jacq look set to take the first leg of the Transat AG2R today.
This bi-annual two-handed transatlantic race is the second most prestigeous event in the Figaro class' calendar, behind the annual singlehanded Solitaire du Figaro. Previous British entrants have included Emma Richards and Miranda Merron and before them Mark Turner. The race started from Lorient on 14 April and stops in Madeira, before continuing 72 hours after the first arrival to the French Caribbean island of St Barts where the boats are expected on 14 May.
Yesterday lunchtime's positions showed Laurent and Jacq on board their one design 30footer Colbert Orco holding an 81 mile lead over the highly rated Ronan Guerin and Ronan Cointo on Escal' Atlantic Saint Nazaire.
Laurent has always been highly rated as a singlehanded skipper and proved his worth when he finished third in the 1996/7 Vendee Globe in what was a distinctly off the pace boat. Unfortunately he was never able to transform this into sponsorship for a new Open 60 or trimaran. If he can keep this performance up in the AG2R maybe this will change (it worked two years ago for Karine Fauconnier who got sponsorship for a 60ft tri as a result of her Transat AG2R win with Lionel Lemonchois).
The Figaros are supposed to be budget class and are not allowed any form of routing from the shore. Laurent and Jacq have pulled out this lead by clever on board routing and hitting the left hand side of the course hard. Their track shows them hugging the coast of Portugal and this seems to have provided them with more favourable conditions than the bulk of the fleet which headed offshore after passing Cape Finistere.
See page two for the latest positions...