The 4,900 mile regatta started with severe weather capsizing the multihull Actual (above, left).
The 9th edition of the Transat Jacques Vabre transatlantic sailing race kicked off this past Sunday, Nov. 8 with 2 of the fastest and most modern sailboats in the world and their crew waving goodbye to an audience of more than 10,000 people in Le Havre, France. Their destination: the sunny port town of Limon, Costa Rica.
The route is an estimated 7.900 kilometers (4,900 miles) and runs from the mouth of the Seine River, through the English Channel and into open seas, retracing the legendary coffee shipping route from the Americas to Europe. The first race took place in 1993 with the finish line in Cartagena, Colombia. The tradition has carried on every other year with four races ending in Cartagena and four more en route to Salvador de Bahia, Brazil. In this 9th edition, the Transat Jacques Vabre is now considered the 3rd most important sailing regatta in the world, and the 5th most watched sporting event in France.
A variety of sailboats are included in the race, though the competition is divided between 14 monohulls and 6 multihulls, which will follow slightly variety routes to reach the finish line at Puerto Limon. The first place competitors are expected to make the transit in just over 12 days, arriving to Limon on Nov. 20 or 21st.
Based on statistics from the 2007 regatta that concluded in Brazil, Costa Rica is expecting more than $25 million in profits from the estimated 20,000 tourists that are expected to flock to the port town of Limon for the finish line festivities. Let’s home Limon can clean up its streets in time in the aftermath of the Carnavales de Limon celebrations.
And they’re off!
While the inauguration of the annual event was marked by calm conditions this past Sunday, the weather made a quick change for the worst. Within just 3 hours, the competitors saw their first capsize due to strong 23-knot (80 kmh) winds. Co-skippers Yves Le Blevec and Jean Le Cam did not receive any severe injuries, but their multihull sailboat Actual had to be towed to Cherbourg, thus disqualifying them from the race.
The intense conditions set an accelerated pace for the race and allowed Franck-Yves Escoffier and Erwan Le Roux, co-skippers on the Crepes Whaou to reach a gain of nearly 70 miles with their multihull after the second day of competition. The IMOCA Open 60 fleet of monohull yachts saw a much tighter race with Sebastien Josse and Jean Francois Cuzon on the BT stealing the lead from the Groupe Bel crew (Kito De Pavant and Francois Gabart) in the second day of competition.
After their excellent start Dee Caffari (one of only two female competitors) and Brian Thompson worked hard to draw their multihull Aviva into 4th place. Before their departure Thompson described their preparation and said: “The thought of the sunnier climes of Costa Rica waiting for us at the finish is definitely something to look forward to as well!”
|Written by Claire Saylor|
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Filed under: Sports on November 10th, 2009