The entry for the imminent Transat Jacques Vabre appears to reflect a welcome upturn for shorthanded ocean racing if the number of rookies taking on the Transat Jacques Vabre for the first time can be considered a useful barometer.
The organisers are welcoming a record entry of new sailors to the 2015 race: 34 new skippers will race the renowned classic double-handed Transatlantic for the first time.
The rookies span an age range of 22 to 55 years and are all driven by the same determination to finish the 5,400 mile race and prove their worth against the more established, more experienced racers. This new blood comes with a variety of different crewed racing experience, including the Figaro Circuit and the Mini 6.50 circuit.
Ultimes, The Land of the Giants
It is no surprise at all that there are no rookies in the four strong Ultime class. These giants is populated by leading, vastly experienced sailors, household names of the multihull world.
The powerhouse fleet includes several past winners of the Transat Jacques Vabre, inlcuding Roland Jourdain, winner in 1995 with Lionel Lemonchois onPrince de Bretagne, Thomas Coville the 1999 winner, sailing Sodebo Ultim’with Jean Luc Nélias, Pascal Bidégorry the winner in 2005, onboard Macif with Francois Gabart, and Yves Le Blevec the 2011 champion on Actual with Jean Baptiste Le Vaillant.
Class40: Rookie Country
The Class 40 division on the other hand is full of fresh meat. 18 Transat Jacques Vabre first timers with take on the Class 40 in this year’s edition of the Transat. With just 14 entries, several teams will be competing skipper-duos that are all new to the race.
Of the 14 strong fleet, eight boats are comprised of Transat Jacques Vabre newbie pairings. These eight Class40 are sailed by a diverse crew of men and women, including both the youngest sailor to take on the Transat, Alan Roura at 22 years old, and and the oldest, Eduardo Penido at 55.
Multi 50: A Mix of Experience
The Italian Giancarlo Pedote is a newcomer to the race but is partnered alongside the last winner of the Transat Jacques Vabre in the Multi50 Erwan Le Roux. Both sailors have merged sponsors together to develop a serious campaign for the Jacques Vabre aboard FenêtréA Prysmian. They both originally did battle in the Mini class, but after a year on the Figaro circuit, Giancarlo discovered multihulls and learned alongside one of the class’s best. Aboard Arkema, on his eighth Transat Jacques Vabre, Lalou Roucayrol sails with his sailmaker, Caesar Dohy who is a first timer for the race but knows the boat well.
IMOCA: Figaro and Mini sailors step up
Seven sailors from the Figaro Bénéteau Circuit will make their IMOCA class debut in this year’s race. Adrien Hardy, Charlie Dalin, Erwan Tabarly, Romain Attanasio, and Paul Meilhat will all take on their first Transat Jacques Vabre with an experienced co-skipper, however, it is the rookie pairing of the new Safran skippers Morgan Lagravière Morgan and Nicolas Lunven that are making waves in the IMOCA class as they brought new life to the boats with their groundbreaking new boat featuring lateral foils.
Among the IMOCA Transat Jacques Vabre first timers are also several Mini 6.50 sailors. Nicolas Boidevezi got his feet wet in a Mini 6.50 prototype, and will now start on Sunday alongside Ryan Breymaier. Breymaier is also taking on his first Transat Jacques Vabre, but brings plenty of IMOCA and other ocean racing experience to the table. Other rookies to watch include Eric Bellion, skipper of the Finot-Conq design Comme Un Seul Homme, and Canadians Eric Holden and Morgen Watson, are both in their first Transat Jacques Vabre together.
The 5400 nautical mile Transat Jacques Vabre race will depart this Sunday, October 25th Le Havre on the Channel coast of France and head south-west across the Atlantic to Itajaí, a city that is no stranger to ocean races coming to town.