Transat Jacques Vabre preview

Jean-Marie Liot / DPPI / TJV
We look at the MOD70, Multi50 and IMOCA 60 line-up in the 20th anniversary Transat Jacques Vabre
The Transat Jacques Vabre is 20 years old this year, having started out as the Route du Café when it ran from Le Havre to Cartagena, Columbia and was sailed singlehanded for just the ORMA and IMOCA 60 fleets. Since the second race in 1995 it has been sail doublehanded and over the intervening year has become a fixture in the French approaching the same stature as the Route du Rhum and Vendee Globe. This year the biennial race has many new features, plus the usual highly competitive line-up across all four classes, but particularly in the giant 26-strong Class40. As usual leaving Europe at the beginning of winter in the northern hemisphere, the crews can expect robust conditions for the first few days, but with the Class40, IMOCA 60 and Multi 50 starts having being delayed by 24 hours to Monday, hopefully the race in bigger boats won’t result in the same catastrophe that has beset the Mini Transat this year (where three weeks on from when they were supposed to have started, the fleet remains storm bound across two ports in northern Spain). New course This year the Transat Jacques Vabre course has changed. After the last two races finished in Costa Rica, the 2013 event will return to Brazil, finishing in Itajaí, familiar for being a stopover port in the last Volvo Ocean Race. The race last finished in Brazil in 2007 but then went to Salvador de Bahia, to the north of Rio. Going to Itajai is a big deal as it adds another 1,100 miles to the race track making this, at 5,400 miles, the longest ever Transat Jacques Vabre. As ever this year the course will require the competitors to get through the first and most challenging phase of the race – exiting the English Channel and all