The 35-boat fleet competing in the 2011 Transat Jacques Vabre set sail at 15:00 CET today from Le Havre, France on their way to Costa Rica.
Under a cloudy sky and in a southeast wind of 20-25 knots Groupe Bel, Akena Verandas, Safran and PRB got the best starts in the IMOCA. In the Multi 50 Fenetrea-Cardinal was the fastest off the line whilst in the Class 40 Initiatives - Alex Oliver had an early advantage.
Before racing Alex Thomson, IMOCA Open 60 Hugo Boss Skipper, said, "It certainly looks better than it did last Sunday. It looks reach-y and fast. The first week looks pretty fast. You get what you get. The key for us will be just trying to get the boat going as fast as we can, but everyone is probably looking at the same things, it is about boatspeed. Generally I am not too bad at that but then obviously we dont know this boat too well. It will probably take us a little bit longer to get into the groove than others."
And Hugh Piggin, co-skipper on 11th Hour Racing, said, "The first week is looking like it will be windy and wet which is fine, it is all manageable. The first bit is getting out the channel cleanly and safely. And focusing on the waypoint we have set for the second week. I think there will be two groups develop, a leading group and a trailing group, not so much on boat speed but also on boat handling which will be an issue as well. Sail choices will be a big one.
"I am a little bit nervous, excited. The extra three days have built up the anticipation, looking forwards to getting out. We did a little bit more boat work, we took a trip to Normandy to Omaha Beach, most of the team are American so you can't really come here and not go and see that. It was really humbling."
Transat Jacques Vabre Website