Photo: Alexis Courcoux

Jenner and Rowse take third

Anglo-British Class40 podium in the Transat Jacques Vabre

Saturday November 26th 2011, Author: Andi Robertson, Location: Costa Rica

Hannah Jenner and her American co-skipper Jesse Naimark-Rowse on Peter Harding's 40 Degrees crossed the finish line of the Transat Jacques Vabre race from Le Havre to Puerto Limon, Costa Rica today at 17:08:26 UTC.

After taking a clever routing to the north of the Azores high pressure system the duo have come off best in a long duel with their Norwegian counterparts on Solo, Rune Aasberg and Simen Lovgren who took the same, northerly route.

The elapsed time for the course course was 22d 3h 8m 26s and they sailed 5445 miles at an average speed of 10.25 knots.

It is an excellent result for the Anglo-American partnership, which was really only finally confirmed the night before they did the delivery sail to Le Havre. Naimark-Rowse, an experienced Class 40 and Open 50 sailor in his own right, had been helping tune and prepare 40 Degrees and stepped in as co-skipper at short notice.

Jenner was the first female skipper to complete the Clipper Round the World Race, finishing third in July 2008. She had planned to compete in the Class 40 Global Ocean Race, but she and her German co-skipper did not ultimately secure the required funding and Jenner took on the Transat Jacques Vabre with Naimark Rowse as an alternative, racing Peter Harding’s Owen Clarke-designed Jaz Mk II Class 40.

The duo made a steady start to the race, which started back on 2 November after a three days delay due to exceptionally stormy conditions which they would have hit in the Western Approached. Off the Bay of Biscay they were in sixth in the 16 strong fleet, passing north of the Azores in fifth. On 8 November they struck further north, delivering the strategy they had agreed on before leaving Le Havre, playing to their strengths and those of their boat. They were rewarded as they progressed from fourth to third along with the Norwegian duo who pressed them constantly mid-race. Rune Aasberg and Simen Lovgren on Solo were a consistent 9 miles behind from 12th to 14th November before they opened out when the faster, trade winds conditions really prevailed. At the finish they were around 70 miles ahead of their next rivals.

Q&A with Hannah Jenner: 

First reaction:  “We are completely stoked. At the start of the race we had joked around about where we might come and the top half of the fleet was our best hope and we briefly mentioned the podium but just thought that was too much of an ask, so it is quite surreal but we are so happy.”

How did you so well?  “I think we just kept pushing. We had a strategy and we did not bale out when it got tough into the depressions, when the wind filled in we kept pushing, pushing, pushing and never gave up until the end. Even last night and much of today has been really hard work and we just kept going. I think it helped that there were no expectation, we were the mystery team and we might not even have started this race, and so we had nothing to lose, and it has worked.”

Tell us about your decision to go north? “The week before we were really looking at the weather and we decided then to play to our strengths, the boat is optimised for upwind and reaching. We knew that we would have to sail her hard, she is an aggressive design and she needs to be sailed hard. We did not think that the sunshine, southerly route really existed. Even if it did it did not play to our strengths. It was pretty hairy at times. We got through it and the boat has done really well.”

The really difficult times? “One of our lowest moments was when we bashed into the third depression and the GRIBs had said 36kts and we got 50-55 with gusts to 60 kts and the boat really was slamming very hard, we got used to that. We were passing the Azores to port and we went passed a depth contour and we had waves for about 45 minutes which could have rolled the boat, we got taken out sideways a few times. Then, we probably thought – oh god have we pushed this too far.”

So a good pick-me-up after the disappointment of no Global Ocean Race? “It is brilliant. It has been a very tough year to see a project that you put so much love and effort into fall apart but to be able to come back and turn it around with a good Transat Jacques Vabre, especially given all the complications before the start, the race was on for us and then it was off and on again, not knowing who was exactly going to be on board, to turn that around and make this story is the best possible result we could have.”

A good result to build on? “It is huge, I think this sets us both up well for future projects that we are both perfectly capable of keeping up with the guys who have been at this for ages with a lot of experience with these boats. They are not easy to sail and to sail them really well, and I think we have proven we can do that. I hope it works well for both of us.”

Q&A with Jesse Naimark-Rowse:

Reaction? “ We are tired and wet, but so happy. I hoped for a podium finish but would never say it out loud. We both had thoughts we could do very, very well in the race, but given the short notice and the preparation we had, then I think this is good.”

When did you know you were sailing? “For sure, the evening we left to sail for Le Havre was when I really was told the race was on for me. It had been back and forth a few times, and so it was only a week before that I knew.”On setting goals?
“I knew we had a good boat, we are both good sailors but there were a lot of unknowns and so we did not want to set goals which were too high for ourselves. To arrive here in third is just amazing.

What do you think of the level of retirements, 7/16 abandoned in the Class40? “It was a bit of a surprise the number of boats which had to retire, not so much the number given the weather, but there are a few boats you would have expected to be getting through and carrying on which ended up out of the race. But the weather was really quite bad and in a race like this with multiple depressions you will get a large percentage of abandons.”

How did you make sure you got to the finish? “Going into the first depression we were caught out a little with too much sail up. There and then we looked at each other and said ‘look if we are going on this route and trying to punch through two more depressions, then we have to be really careful and so we really made sure we changed down early, you can see the fronts coming. But just to keep the boat going, you keep it moving towards the finish, you don’t have to keep driving hard, and I think we have the experience to do that, managing ourselves and the boat. Always continue going.”

Standings at 2000 UTC 

Class40
1 - Aquarelle.com (Yannick Bestaven - Eric Drouglazet) : arrived on Saturday november, 24th at 08h 59min 08sec
2 - ERDF Des Pieds et des Mains (Damien Seguin - Yoann Richomme) : arrived on Saturday november, 24th at 18h 08 min 26 sec
3 - 40 Degrees (Hannah Jenner - Jesse Naimark) : arrived on Saturday november, 25th at 19h 22min 14sec
4 - Solo ( Aasberg Rune - Simen Logvren) : 47,1 milles to finish
5 - Groupe Picoty (Jacques Fournier - Jean-Christophe Caso) : 264,3 milles to leader
6 - 11th Hour (Nick Halmos - Hugh Piggin) : 330,3 milles to leader
7 - Phoenix Europe Express (Stéphanie Alran - Jean-Edouard Criquioche) : 373,3 milles to leader
8 - Hip Eco Blue (Andrea Fantini - Tommaso Stella) : 1088,1 milles to leader
9 - Partouche (Christophe Coatnoan-Etienne Laforgue) : 1140,9 milles to leader

IMOCA
1 - Virbac-Paprec 3 (Jean-Pierre Dick - Jérémie Beyou) : arrived on Friday november,18th at 9h 15min et 34sec.
2 - Hugo Boss (Alex Thomson - Guillermo Altadill) : arrived on Saturday november, 19th at 00h 20mn 00sec
3 - Banque Populaire (Armel Le Cléac'h - Christopher Pratt) : arrived on Saturday november, 19th at 6h 00mn et 23sec
4 - Macif (François Gabart - Sébastien COL) : arrived on Saturday november, 19th at 7h 50min 12sec
5 - Groupe Bel (Kito De Pavant – Yann Régniau) : arrived on Saturday november, 19th at 9h 04min 32sec
6 - Safran (Marc Guillemot – Yann Eliès) : arrived on Saturday november, 19th at 10h 27min 52sec
7 - Bureau Vallée (Louis Burton – Nelson Burton) : arrived on Saturday november, 19th at 07h 45min 40sec
8 - Mirabaud (Dominique Wavre - Michèle Paret) : arrived on Saturday november, 19th at 10h 39min 26sec
9 - Gamesa (Mike Golding – Bruno Dubois) : arrived on Saturday november, 19th at 12h 42min 10sec

Multi50
1 - Actual (Yves Le Blevec - Samuel Manuard) : arrived on Sunday november, 20th at 08h 07min 43sec
2 - Maître Jacques (Loïc Fequet - Loïc Escoffier) : arrived on Monday novembre, 21st at 13h 10min 30sec

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