In the right wagon
It was at 12:30 GMT on the dot, in line with the Sailing Instructions, that the Transat Jacques Vabre 2015 got underway. The start was given in particularly light conditions that were more reminiscent of summer. Indeed, at kick-off time, the wind barely put in an appearance and the fleet struggled to extract themselves from the clutches of the start zone. In these tricky conditions, the Josse Caudrelier duo put up a stellar performance to ensure that the Mono60 Edmond de Rothschild made towards Etretat in the leading group. Given the tight wind angle the new foiling boats were not as favoured, which makes their performance all the more creditable.
Entering into race mode
You had to be up with the lark on this Sunday morning 25 October to bid farewell to the forty-two duos as they exited the Bassin Paul Vatine. Among the first to leave, the Mono60 Edmond de Rothschild cast off at 06:20 GMT. Charles Caudrelier shared his thoughts with us prior to stepping aboard: We'd have preferred to have set off with a better forecast for the first few days, but we're always happy to take part in this fine race. Prior to the start there's always a bit of anxiety and stress about whether we've thought of everything we need and whether everything's ready. The few hours that precede the starting gun are never much fun. However, once you're across the line, you're free. Departures are always very special moments, but we only really feel good once we're on the water
Though the very first few hours of the race have been pretty tame, the atmosphere on deck is soon set to change for the forty-two competitors. Indeed, once across the Baie de Seine, the fleet will begin to come under the influence of the low awaiting them at the exit from the English Channel. Put plainly, the wind is set to build and the tone will become tougher. The expected SSE'ly wind should enable the Mono60 fitted out by Baron Benjamin de Rothschild and its four fellow foiling monohulls (Banque Populaire, Safran, Saint-Michel Virbac and Hugo Boss) to pick up the pace and show off the potential of their new appendages: The start will be very light and we'll have to beat towards Etretat. That will be a bit of a rough patch for us at the start of the race, but things should gradually turn in our favour. Once the Etretat course marks are in our wake, we'll be running under spinnaker and the speeds will be a lot more respectable. However, it's not really until we pass Barfleur and then Cherbourg that the wind will ramp up a notch. We're expecting 25 knots of south-easterly wind. With this breeze, we should make it out of the English Channel from tomorrow morning, Monday. At that point, we'll have to prepare for the first storm of the race with a low set to roll through tomorrow night, explained Sébastien Josse.
According to the latest routing, the leaders in the Imoca class could pass Cherbourg and the Cotentin headland late tonight, at around 22:00 GMT to be more precise. From then on, the various options for exiting the English Channel will come into play in this 200-mile sprint, which promises to be wet but fast.