After a little over one hour of racing, Marc GUILLEMOT and Charles CAUDRELIER's monohull Safran won the Transat Jacques Vabre - Laguna Trophy prologue in spite of starting off at the rear end of the fleet.
Leading the way from the outset, Bruno JOURDREN and Nicolas PICHELIN grabbed victory in the Class 40 category on Lord Jiminy
. There were therefore two victorious new boats on Saturday in Seine Bay on their first official outings. The multihull fleet had their prologue scheduled for Sunday, but high winds meant their race was cancelled.
In contrast, on Saturday, in dull and overcast weather with poor visibility, the wind was only blowing at around 10 knots in Seine Bay. However, this was not to put the brakes on Kito DE PAVANT and Sébastien COL, who got off to a very quick start for this prologue of around eight miles. With the large gennaker hoisted for this first tack reaching, Groupe Bel
led the way, followed right behind by Jean LE CAM and Gildas MORVAN's VM Matériaux
. Behind it was tough going for Marc GUILLEMOT, who got blocked in on the starting line. Still further back, probably due to a technical problem, Michel DESJOYEAUX brought up the rear on Foncia
Thirty minutes later, on a second tack reaching, which brought all these great names in towards the coast and the crowds of spectators, Safran
were back in the game, easily overtaking the boats from the previous generation. For the last tack, sailing close hauled with the main gennaker the crew of Safran
, skippered by GUILLEMOT, really showed their skill.
"We could see there was less wind to the left. We got on the right track and downwind overtook Ecover and that's what it takes to win a race, which began rather badly. I cannot but feel happy, as it was after all the boat's first race,"
Forced to tack to reach the final mark, Groupe Bel
would finish in fifth place behind Foncia, who also managed to get back in the race, and Gitana Eighty
. Quite logically the brand new boats grabbed the winning places, with the exception of Brit Air
, who did not seem to do well in the light airs.
In the Class 40 category, the new generation boats were also up at the front. They set sail 10 minutes after the 60-foot IMOCA boats, and were up with the winners, with victory going to the talented Bruno JOURDREN on his Lord Jiminy
, after a remarkable race. He was followed by the British yachtsmen, Tom GALL and Daniel GOHL (Concise
) and by their compatriot Peter HARDING (40 Degrees
), helped out this time in the Jacques Vabre by the French yachtswoman, Anne LIARDET. Also of note was the fine performance from Florence ARTHAUD (Deep Blue
), who grabbed sixth place, out of the 30 lining up at the start. A fine result to celebrate her 50th birthday on Sunday. With her race partner, Luc POUPON, she has just shown that she is a force to be reckoned with in the three weeks of sailing that it will take for a Class 40 to reach Salvador da Bahia.