GDF Suez first into Roscoff

Class40s into Roscoff in the Transat Jacques Vabre as remainder of the fleet take on breezy Bay of Biscay

Friday November 8th 2013, Author: James Boyd, Location: France

Leading the Transat Jacques Vabre Class 40 fleet in to their weather stop at Bloscon, Roscoff Sébastien Rogues and Fabien Delahaye on GDF Suez crossed the line there holding first place at 13:45:25 UTC to earn themselves a margin of 19 minutes and 39 seconds when they restart to Itajaí, Brazil tomorrow evening.

Spain’s Alex Pella and Pablo Saturde on the new Botin-designed Tales Santander 2014 rose from fifth in the early morning to cross second, gaining in the reaching conditions in to the finish line, while mare sailed by German Jorg Riechers and Pierre Brasseur finished third, 4 mins and 27 seconds behind the Spanish duo.

The first 180 miles of the race to Roscoff, where the 26 boat fleet will sit out a Bay of Biscay gale, was mainly a tactical upwind sprint, using and cheating the strong currents to best effect and also changes to wind strength and direction.

The Class40s are scheduled to restart from Roscoff tomorrow, Saturday at 2100 UTC.

Sébastien Rogues, winning skipper of GDF SUEZ, which has been the dominant Class 40 this season, recalled: “We were up with the leaders at the windward mark and on the long tack towards Barfleur with our gennaker up. Then the wind came in and was shifting constantly, big clouds and there was plenty of room for error, but we did okay to be with the leading ten boats at Barfleur. We then had a lot of tacks, so it is good to be sailing with a Figaro sailor for that! Lots of manouevres and we managed to do well…After Cherbourg we found ourselves on a port tack and then this morning the first bigger winds came in and really tested the boat hitting 18 knots, which was fun; it was real racing… We are really pleased to have taken shelter here. There is still a long way to go to the finish in Itajaí.”

Alex Pella, Spanish co-skipper of Tales Santander 2014, was very pleased to have made it into Roscoff in second place: “We had a big of a mistake which side to pass Guernsey, we tried a lot of times to get the best position but we made a mistake here. But fortunately the last third of the race was a long reach and we have a very fast boat and we came back again. But it was a great race, very close with a lot of tactical sailing and close with other boats. So now I am tired, very tired, but happy with second.”

Brian Thompson and Mike Gascoyne on Caterham Challenge remained consistent through the leg, crossing in 11th place just over three minutes ahead of Miranda Merron and Halvard Mabire on Campagne de France.

In 15th place Britons Sam Goodchild and Ned Collier Wakefield aboard the new Forty(1)Design Concise 8 were taking some time to get to know their new boat, finding their straight line speed good, but they struggled more on the corners and transitions. Collier Wakefield said: “We are glad to have got here, it is a learning process as much as a race for us and doing things in the middle of the night is not the best way to learn, but we are okay. We are not too upset where we finished, we were in the mix but made a couple of mistakes and did get stopped at the start under a cloud, but it is all okay. We got stopped a little off Guernsey but we are happy with how the boat is going.”

The organisation of the Transat Jacques Vabre passed on their thanks to the CCI Morlaix and trimaran sponsor Prince de Bretagne for their help with Class40 berthing in to Roscoff. The Breton food cooperative offered boxes of cherry tomatoes and strawberries trays ashore before their crossing of the Atlantic.

Meantime in the IMOCA 60s, the lead changed once again late this afternoon when François Gabart and Michel Desjoyeux returned to the front of the fleet as they passed the NW tip of Brittany on MACIF. The two Vendée Globe winning skippers had dropped behind PRB and Safran during the strategic passage past the Channel Islands during the first night at sea but were 2.1 miles almost directly ahead of Vincent Riou and Jean Le Cam on PRB, but MACIF was extending away slightly in the building southwesterly breeze.

In the Multi 50 race Yves Le Blevec and Kito de Pavant on Actual, the race winner in 2011, were in control as they marched into what promises to be very difficult conditions tomorrow for the Multi 50s especially, seeking to avoid the worst of a trough which holds a relatively short period of winds of 50-60 knots which seems unavoidable but the timing of their approach will be critical.

And in the MOD70s Sébastien Josse and Charles Caudrelier on Edmond de Rothschild still hold a small lead over Oman Air-Musandam of Sidney Gavignet and Damian Foxall.

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