Jacques Vabre: start in the gale, Class40 and Ocean50 on Lorient. Stop IMOCAs


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Jacques Vabre 2023 – Class40 and Ocean50 on Lorient. Stop IMOCAs

In Le Havre everything suddenly changes. Overnight, weather models and forecasts deteriorated further, with the Atlantic disturbance worsening heavily, bringing with it winds of 80 knots and expected up to 100. So everything changes, starting with the stop given to the IMOCA class, which will remain in Le Havre waiting for a better weather window. Indeed, winds of 80 knots and waves of up to 10 meters are expected at Cap Finisterre, conditions that will only allow the ULTIMs to tackle the start as planned, quickly escaping south before that front actually arrives.

Ocean50 and Class40 will still be on the starting line, but heading for Lorient, in a sprint race designed to get ahead of the schedule, then continuing on from Brittany once the worst has passed. No dice for the IMOCAs, however, which will remain in Normandy: no port on the Atlantic coast allows all 40 of them to anchor. A skipper briefing at 6 p.m. will define the next steps.

Surrounded by a cheering crowd, meanwhile, Ultim, Ocean50 and Class40 have meanwhile left Le Havre.

transat jacques vabre 2023
Giancarlo Pedote and Ambrogio Beccaria moments before the start for Alla Grande Pirelli

Transat Jacques Vabre 2023 – The Double Factor | REPORTAGE

Weather, changes and hype aside, there has been no shortage of time these days to discuss other issues as well. If the Route du Rhum , in fact, is the legendary solo transatlantic, the Route du Café, aka the Transat Jacques Vabre, is the longer, double version. A factor that well distinguishes the board approach and organization. Everyone, of course, has their own approaches in this regard. Below, as well as an interview with Alberto Bona done 2 days before the start (and thus before all the changes) we tell you what emerged from our interviews, chats and discussions with the skippers.


Alberto Bona will share his Jacques Vabre with Pablo Santurde del Arco, his Co-Skipper on IBSA, Class40 Mach 5 launched in August last year. Their approach, says the skipper, is a bit like part-time solitaire: “with Pablo we see it as alternating solitaire. We see each other very little. We do two-hour shifts and in those hours we do everything solo except for maneuvers. I do more of the weather, but then still we compare often. That’s also the beauty of doubles, the sharing.”

An approach not so different from that of Beccaria and Nicolas Andrieu, Skipper and Co-Skipper respectively on Alla Grande Pirelli, the first launched among the Musa40s present-all by Sangiorgio Marine. “Andrieu and I also take two-hour shifts. He has never sailed in the ocean but he has a lot of experience inshore, in the method and management of a team. I work more on weather and long-term strategies. He works more on the start, on fleet control: he is very sensitive to the helm, to sail adjustments, really strong thanks also to his past in 470.”

To the Great Pirelli

Alberto Riva, when asked about the topic, well emphasizes the issue of “democracy” aboard his Musa40. He and Jean Marre met as adversaries in the Mini class, to now find themselves sailing together on the Class40 Acrobatics. Both with solo backgrounds then, but strong in their respect for confrontation: “I am very democratic on board and appreciate what emerges from confrontation, that’s where good ideas come from.” This is a very similar approach to Luciani’s, which, after all, underscores an important theme: to lose democracy in decision-making is to move toward difficult junctures.

Pietro Luciani, co-skipper of Dekuple, minutes before leaving Le Havre

More differentiated are the approaches of Pedote on his Prysmian (IMOCA 60) and Fornaro on his Influence2 (Class40). The former, Pedote, will race with Gaston Morvan, to whom he has delegated navigation. She also relies heavily on him on the adjustments front, emphasizing his good savoir faire. He will be in charge of systems management instead. “I have systems management, I know the boat very well, and I will be in charge of sail choices and adjustments. Of the rest, with the new foils we have so much to discover.”

To the same question, Fornaro responds by cracking a smile, but addressing aspects that are actually present on the board, but usually less stated: “I do the navigation, Benoit is more about boat management. He can run it fast. When he falls asleep, though, he’s incredible. I have to wake him up, he asked me to. He sleeps a lot and we laugh about it. In fact, sometimes I let him sleep because I’m enjoying it.”

Transat Jacques Vabre 2023
Starting from the right, Riva, Fornaro, Bona, Pedote, Beccaria and Luciani, Ocean Sailing’s “Italian Wave.”

Transat Jacques Vabre 2023 – Last Night in Le Havre | REPORTAGE

Drizzling rain, bad weather and schedule changes populated the afternoon and the last pre-departure evening. An increasingly packed Race Village thus saw festivity and merriment set in parallel with the continuation of work on board, which went on non-stop until just the right amount of satisfaction was achieved. Teams at work everywhere, details to be sorted out, weather and updates to be checked one last time, last-minute meetings and focused skippers glimpsed below deck, among the sails and navigation stations. In the water everywhere were the heads or tanks of divers, a silent and prodigal army that did not miss a hull among the many in the dock.

Transat Jacques Vabre 2023
Preparations are also moving forward for the Imoca60 Singchain Team Haicou, with Jingkun Xu Skipper and Mike Golding Coskipper

Amidst all the commotion, the audience, friends, sponsors and suppliers. Not to mention all the insiders, the key figures without whom D-1 would not have come about. Among those present, therefore, was not missing Edoardo Bianchi, founder and ceo of Sangiorgio Marine, which will see its 3 Musa40s, so far among the most competitive hulls at the start line. A result that hints at the future, and above all dispels the myth that “Italians do not know how to build ocean-going boats.”

Among the 3 Musa40s launched to date, in No. 2 is Fornaro’s Class40, still willing to chat despite the incessant countdown. The charge was not lacking; it was tangible. A feature actually general throughout the evening, with a positive mood permeating the forty-foot dock. The same on the Imoca front as well, however, despite the fact that they will weather it all. Conrad Colman, the New Zealand skipper of the Imoca MBE (Mail Boxes Etc.), was perhaps the most striking case of this. Cheerful, kind and smiling, he had a word for everyone. After all, with so little time to go, everything is ready, has been ready for some time in fact. Attentions and concerns touch the details, the minutiae. Also crucial, but by this point the games are played. The whole thing is in the water.


Transat Jacques Vabre 2023
Conrad Colman, skipper of Imoca MBE on the eve of the Transat Jacques Vabre 2023

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Jacques Vabre 2023 – CLASS 40: Il meteo peggiora, tappa obbligata su Lorient



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