The Transat Jacques Vabre 2005 is one of the highlights in the 2005 season. It is run every odd year over a tough course where the fleet encounters the effects of the Channel as it leaves Le Havre, followed by the Bay of Biscay as far as Cape Finisterre, avoiding the major autumn low pressure systems down to the Canary Islands before latching onto the trade winds which propel them over to the Cape Verde Islands. But the race is not over yet as the fleet still has to get through the Inter-tropical Convergence Zone, also known as the Doldrums, hence the expression « in the doldrums ». As the fleet exits that zone, it will be in search of the trade winds but which will this time be head winds over to the coast of Brazil.
In order to qualify, the teams have to sail a passage of at least 1,500 miles on their boat. Frédéric Le Peutrec and Yann Guichard had to bring Gitana 11 back to the Atlantic anyway after the start of the season in the Mediterranean. Other teams have done likewise, using the return passage as a means of validating their Jacques Vabre entry.
ITV with Frédéric Le Peutrec :
« This was tough from a weather point of view – complicated but interesting. We identified one or two minor improvements to be made to deck layout for sailing her two-handed. We ran into a whole range of weather conditions. Upwind, close-hauled, light air, medium wind and a healthy breeze. We had 35 knots off the southern tip of Spain, the Cape Saint Vincent with a rather rough sea. It was good to be in a boat which is as uncomfortable as a trimaran to get used to blue water sailing once again, two-handed. After two months racing on calm seas, this has bucked our ideas up.
As it turned out, we took seven days, which is quite long in fact, but our stay sail blew out and the mainsail ripped on a level with the third reef. All the way up the coast of Portugal, we had shortened sail. But in the space of a week, we had the opportunity to make a trial run of what we will be going through in the fortnight long race in November.
Yann and I also spent a bit of time working on manœuvres to find out when we will both be needed. There are certain occasions when one of us will need to stay at the helm. We tried out all of the sails ! We had to be highly reactive as we were sailing along the coast with cargo vessels all over the place. We made it to La Trinité sur Mer on Tuesday night and will be setting out for the Grand Prix de Galice on Saturday. But a little bit of work needs to be done on the lines and sails before we getting underway.
We'll be doing a couple of two-handed sessions after Douarnenez but once we get back from Vigo, I think I'll do a few solo stints, a sort of revision session before the Route du Rhum ! »