Transat Jacques Vabre, thrilling finale and showdown: does the North or the South win?


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Transat Jacques Vabre
Ambrogio Beccaria at work in the cockpit of Allagrande Pirelli with Nicolas Andrieu, who is his partner for the Transat Jacques Vabre.

Ambrogio Beccaria paired with Nicolas Andrieu on Allagrande Pirelli is leading the Transat Jacques Vabre, Alberto Bona paired with Pablo Santurde on IBSA is in second place. The ranking of the Class 40 seems to smile on Italy, in reality, however, the arrival in Martinique, 800 miles away, will be anything but easy and is open to a variety of scenarios.

The huge uncertainty is related to the weather, which promises to be quite complex in this final race and does not seem to be very favorable to the Italians. To understand what is happening, however, we need to take a step back.

Transat Jacques Vabre – What’s going on.

The Class 40 fleet has been divided now for days into a North and a South group, spaced even at times by several hundred miles in lateral distance. Beccaria and Bona, who were always among the first, at the height of the Canary Islands crossed the archipelago going after the strongest possible trade wind to the south, setting a fairly classic strategy in transatlantic liners such as the Jacques Vabre.

Another group, on the other hand, led by Ian Lipinski and Xavier Macaire first bearded the Azores anticyclone, sailing in less intense air but traveling less distance than the Italians. The same group then abandoned the tradewind track altogether to push further north, where two moving fronts that would bring sustained wind had been visible for days. Macaire and Lipinski, who were also joined by Andrea Fornaro on Influence 2, went to meet the first front, outpacing it and putting themselves at the carriers at over 15 knots average speed. Now they await the second front, and the game, simplifying it, will be similar: behind the front is first a foiled area and then the strong wind from the north, which will push them toward Martinique. Beware of final surprises, however.

Transat Jacques Vabre – Weak trade winds to the south

Transat Jacques Vabre IBSA
IBSA by Alberto Bona

In the south the situation is different. Beccaria and Bona remain in the Trade Wind, but it will gradually become weaker as it approaches Martinique. In fact, the passage of these fronts is as if it somewhat implodes the Trade Wind, leaving it weaker and more variable as a direction. The result is that in about 48 hours east of Martinique a large area of weak winds will form, which is a real puzzle. How to get around them? The answer is not yet there; perhaps there may be a southern corridor within reach of Beccaria and Bona, but it is difficult to know if the two Italian boats will be able to engage it.

The current position of the Class 40 with wind forecast in 48-50 hours. Above in red is Lipinski and the Northern group where, in yellow, is also Andrea Fornaro. Bottom, black-red-yellow boat, Allagrande Pirelli and the southern group. Ahead of Martinique the windless zone.

Partly different discussion on the northern group: they might be able to get through before the windless zone really forms, and this would be very bad news for the two current leaders, but they might also fail and be swallowed up in the same way in the becalmed zone. So we are in the realm of hypotheses, and it will depend a lot on how fast this second front passes and on the actual wind conditions on the water compared to the forecasts, which are not always aligned with reality.

One thing is certain, however: for those cheering on the Italian boats, Allagrande Pirelli, IBSA and Influence 2, at least two days of cheering and great suffering are in store.


Mauro Giuffrè



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