An action-packed transatlantic
The latest addition to the singular and legendary line of Gitanas, the Maxi Edmond de Rothschild is the first large multihull from a new generation of offshore chargers. With this 32-metre Verdier design, Ariane and Benjamin de Rothschild have given their team carte blanche to take the road less travelled and pave the way forward for a new era of flying boats in the open ocean. By launching into this adventure, the five-arrow team knew that the path to innovation would not be a long, calm river.
On this her first trial run in race configuration and up against particularly stiff competition, the Transat Jacques Vabre has certainly lived up to expectations. The high standard of play pushed Sébastien Josse and Thomas Rouxel to their limits and has given them a better understanding of the fabulous machine that is the Maxi Edmond de Rothschild. Some technical incidents on the second day of racing, did however prevent the duo from expressing the true potential of Gitana 17 by forcing them to do battle without all their weapons. Indeed, in addition to the AIS black-out from the start, which could have had disastrous consequences in terms of the sailors’ safety, the duo had to deal with repeated engine failure; damage which cost the skipper of Edmond de Rothschild many long hours in the bilges, whilst his co-skipper busied himself with maintaining the rhythm at over 30 knots. Last but not least, it’s an injured ‘bird’, deprived of her ‘wings’, which has just pulled alongside in the Marina in Salvador de Bahia. Indeed, on Tuesday, after the front rolled through, the sailor from Nice informed his shore crew of serious damage to the boat’s port foil. Unusable, the precious appendage was raised to avoid any further damage. Two days later, it was the turn of the starboard foil to show the same signs of damage as its twin. To put it plainly, our duo was deprived of her major assets for ¾ of the race, which explains the speed deficit everyone observed.
The numbers speak for themselves
Since setting sail from Le Havre on Sunday 5 November at 12:35pm, the latest addition to the Gitana fleet crossed the finish line at the foot of the historic centre of Salvador de Bahia this Monday 13 November at 12h30’24’’ UTC or 09h30’24’’ local time. In so doing, Sébastien Josse and Thomas Rouxel completed the theoretical 4,530-mile course in 7 days 23 hours 55 minutes 24 seconds, at an average speed of 22.7 knots along the great circle route (the direct course). They secure second place in the Ultime category by finishing 1hr 47 minutes and 57 seconds behind the 2017 winners; two great sailors with whom they’ve been embroiled in a full-on, intense battle, just the way we like it.
Since 2007 and through until today, the reference time between Le Havre and Salvador de Bahia was held by Franck Cammas in 10 days, 38 minutes and 43 seconds aboard his 60’ Orma Groupama. Sodebo Ultim’ and Gitana 17 have logically erased this time by over two days.
Two other figures must be retained from this performance and they themselves testify to the pace set by the two crews. 9 hours and 30 minutes is the time set by the Maxi Edmond de Rothschild to get beyond Ushant and cover the 255 miles between Le Havre and the north-west tip of Brittany; a run which saw them powered up to over 28 knots from the get-go. In terms of race time, the Ushant-Equator reference is a safe bet as this is the time used by the record hunters in determining the pertinence of a departure. By crossing the equator on 11 November shortly before midnight, Sébastien and Thomas have treated themselves to a sub-6-day passage time. It’s worth noting that a certain Thomas Coville pocketed a time of 5 days 17hrs on his previous record mission.
Transat Jacques Vabre, Ultime ranking – Time and speed of the top two
1. Sodebo Ultim’ – finished on 13 November at 10h42’27’’ UTC in 7 days 22 hours 7 minutes and 27 seconds / an average of 24.94 knots over 4,742 miles actually covered
2. Maxi Edmond de Rothschild – finished on 13 November at 12h30’24’’ UTC or 09h30’24’’ local
time in 7 days 23 hours 55 minutes and 24 seconds / at an average of 25.21 knots over the 4,838miles covered