The last few miles laced with tension
The closing scene in this Transat Jacques Vabre is exciting to say the least! The final sprint is in full flow and the battle is raging at every stage. In the Ultime class, the pursuers have made great inroads into their deficits, causing the head of the fleet to squeeze back up together some twenty-four hours from the finish in Martinique. Yesterday morning, before tackling the 2nd doldrums passage, the 400-mile lead Franck Cammas and Charles Caudrelier boasted over their closest rival had dropped to under 125 miles by early afternoon this Monday. Since then, the men on the Maxi Edmond de Rothschild have picked up the pace again whilst Banque Populaire XI and SVR-Lazartigue have stalled. With less than 400 miles to the finish line off the marina in Fort-de-France, the atmosphere is more studious than ever aboard the five-arrow giant. Dealing with the clouds one after the other, trimming the boat as precisely as possible and effectively linking together the final manoeuvres, true to form the skippers of Gitana Team are extremely focused and clearly in serious race mode, an exercise in which each of them is particularly adept.
Tomorrow in Fort-de-France

How interminable yesterday and especially last night must have seemed to Franck Cammas and Charles Caudrelier. The leaders in the Ultime category were the first to negotiate the light winds of the intertropical convergence zone, which stood between the Maxi Edmond de Rothschild and Martinique. Whilst the sailors of Gitana Team were making headway in slow motion in an asthmatic breeze, to their south the duo of Le Cléac’h / Escoffier and Gabart / Laperche were not suffering the same fate at all, enabling them to lengthen their stride. In all, 300 miles were lost in the battle. “We knew that our pursuers were going to come back really strong at the end. Added to that, conditions out on the water were not in line with the grib files and all in all we had less breeze than forecast. It’s tough to see the others catching back up like that, so close to the finish, but Franck and Charles know how to handle the pressure and are keeping a cool head. The weather models haven’t been very reliable for a few days so it’s very difficult to give a precise ETA as a 1 or 2-knot discrepancy changes the deal on a multihull.”

The timing for when the duo will cross the finish line is yet to be fined down then, but one thing for sure is that the name of the winners of the Transat Jacques Vabre 2021 in the Ultime category will finally be revealed tomorrow, Tuesday 23 November, after more than 16 days of racing.

Finishers galore

The Transat Jacques Vabre is a race made up of multiple classes. On 7 November, four separately ranked fleets set sail from Le Havre in north-east France. On top of that, three different courses were on offer. In this way, no matter who takes line honours, the goal is to win in your category and hence your transatlantic race! The maxi-multihulls in the Ultime Class benefited from a course designed especially for them, namely a route stretching 2,000 nautical miles further than that of the 50-foot multihulls, which will be the first to make out Diamond Rock and the lights of Fort-de-France, sometime tomorrow night in all probability.

This order of arrival, which may be surprising given the difference in size and potential of the two categories, is not quite so unexpected if we consider the unique weather patterns encountered by the sailors in this Transat Jacques Vabre. Indeed, the light airs have played a far greater role than usual during the 15 days that have elapsed at sea, especially over the first few hours of the race and the passage across the Bay of Biscay.

Position on Monday 22 November at 19:00 UTC
  1. Maxi Edmond de Rothschild (F. Cammas / C. Caudrelier) 337.8 miles from the finish
  2. Banque Populaire XI (A. Le Cléac’h / K. Escoffier) + 190.9 miles
  3. SVR - Lazartigue (F. Gabart / T. Laperche) + 219.6 miles
  4. Sodebo (T. Coville / T.Rouxel) + 942.1 miles
  5. Actual (Y. Le Blevec / A. Marchand) + 970.6 miles
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