Final sprint
What suspense! Heading the Transat Jacques Vabre fleet, the 70’ trimarans Edmond de Rothschild and Oman Air Musandam are providing us with a breathtaking final, the conclusion of which could well be decided tomorrow in Itajaí (Brazil), according to the latest estimates. The end of this hellish sprint is forecast to be complicated with a cold front associated with a ridge of high pressure to be traversed before the finish. With less than 500 miles to go, aboard the trimaran fitted out by Baron Benjamin de Rothschild, the watchwords are concentration, application and determination. Firm leaders since rounding Cape Finisterre, on 9 November, Sébastien Josse and Charles Caudrelier are more determined than ever to remain in the chair right the way to the finish.

The very mention of Rio de Janeiro conjures up images of carnivals, Sugarloaf Mountain, Corvocado and, above all, sunshine. On a stopover in the airport of this ‘marvellous city’ before heading for the state of Santa Catarina and the city of Itajaí, part of the shore crew were able to get a bird’s eye view of the phenomenon, which is currently keeping the Edmond de Rothschild duo on its toes: namely close to 100% cloud cover, low clouds and a threatening black sky. There’s no doubt the cold front announced by router Antoine Koch has made it to Brazil.

Final bend and the home straight

This Sunday afternoon, the two one-designs were approaching Cabo Frio, which marks the entrance into the bay of Rio. Having negotiated this bend, Edmond de Rothschild and her adversary could have linked nicely onto the home straight and the finish line, but the situation is becoming complicated: “There’s a big low, which has formed over the Brazilian coast and is heading off on a merry-go-round into the Deep South around Antarctica. Associated with this low is a substantial cold front, which is breaking up the Saint Helena High and is stretching out as far as the coasts and the bay of Rio. To the south of the front, there’s no wind and it’s very stormy,” explained the router from his HQ in La Rochelle, before unveiling the current scenario on the water: “As the front approaches, the northerly wind is beginning to ease gently and the speeds will drop off significantly. This will be an unstable period with squalls possible. In the front itself, the light, gusty wind is likely to shift round 180° and the satellite photos suggest that it will also be very rainy. Behind the front, the decor will radically change and Sébastien and Charles should hit a southerly wind of around 25 knots.”

However, the episode described by the router will be rather short-lived, as a final weather obstacle is due to loom across the trimarans’ course: the passage of a ridge of high pressure synonymous with another gybe in a zone of light airs. To sum it up, until tomorrow, the speeds will yo-yo and you can be sure that the sailors will both be on deck more often than not, one at the helm and the other trimming so as to make the absolute most of any oscillations in the wind.

On the attack right the way to the finish

Two days ago, the skipper of Edmond de Rothschild admitted: “You don’t get something for nothing!” It’s an expression that Sébastien Josse and Charles Caudrelier put into practice again last night. Indeed yesterday, at the 1900 GMT ranking, they had conceded some ground to their pursuers and were just 21 miles in front of Oman Air – Musandam. The situation wasn’t the most favourable but the Gitana Team duo managed to keep a cool head. Physically tested by the 10 days of incredible intensity in this race, the two sailors didn’t hesitate for even a second at the idea of digging even deeper and putting the pedal to the metal after nightfall. “They were able to take it turns a great deal at the helm so as to maintain a fast pace (26-30 knots of boat speed) and find the right trim under gennaker. It involved a night of piloting and on top of that it was necessary to make a nicely choreographed gybe overnight so as to set a course to the south-west. They timed it to perfection. The upshot of this was a single gybe for them compared with three for Oman,” Antoine Koch explained. In this way, this Sunday morning, Edmond de Rothschild had snatched back some precious miles in relation to her adversary as they prepare for the final ‘sprint’: they boasted a 31-mile lead at the 1600 GMT ranking.

Ranking on Sunday 17 November at 1530 GMT:

1 – Edmond de Rothschild (Josse-Caudrelier) 465.6 miles to go /13.80kt average over 2 hours
2 – Oman Air-Musandam (Gavignet-Foxall) 31.73 miles behind the leader /12.40kt average over 2 hours

Note to editors
The Edmond de Rothschild duo

Sébastien Josse, skipper

38 years of age, lives with his partner
6 Solitaire du Figaros, 2 Vendée Globes, 1 Volvo Ocean Race, 1 Jules Verne Trophy
2011, joined the Gitana Team and performed his first tacks on an oceanic multihull
3rd participation in the Transat Jacques Vabre, 1st on a multihull

To find out more about Sébastien Josse:

Charles Caudrelier, co-skipper

39 years of age, married, two children
8 Solitaire du Figaros, 11 transatlantic races, 1 Volvo Ocean Race
4th participation in the Transat Jacques Vabre, 2nd on a multihull, including 1 victory in 2009 in the Imoca class with Safran

To find out more about Charles Caudrelier:


Transat Jacques Vabre

11th edition, celebrating its 20th anniversary this year
Double-handed transatlantic race between Le Havre and Itajaí (Brazil)
5,400 miles to cover over a direct route
4 classes of boat entered (Class40’, Imoca60, Multi50 and MOD70), 44 duos competing
Departure from Le Havre: Thursday 7 November at 1200 GMT
Estimated race time: between 12 and 16 days

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