Edmond de Rothschild expected into Itajaí this afternoon
The two 70’ trimarans are negotiating their final hours of racing in the Transat Jacques Vabre. Positioned 127.6 miles from the finish this Monday at the 1000 GMT ranking, Sébastien Josse and Charles Caudrelier are still leading the way to Itajaí, where they’re expected into port late this afternoon (middle of the afternoon Brazilian time). This morning they boasted a 58.5-mile lead over Oman Air Musandam. They owe their slight edge to their perfect handling of the cold front, which took shape across their course yesterday afternoon. That said, this final day at sea will be far from restful as the wind is easing over the end of the course and the Gitana Team duo will have to remain focused on getting the boat making headway as they make landfall on Brazilian shores.

Yesterday was a very dangerous day. Whilst the 70’ trimarans were beginning to hang a right at the entrance to the bay of Rio, the forecast weather situation appeared to harbour a great many hurdles. The passage of a large cold front further spiced up proceedings: “There was a bit of tension before we were able to tackle this phenomenon as there were a lot of random elements to deal with in their negotiation of the bay. However, Sébastien and Charles managed the situation very well. On entering the front, they hit a very big wind shift, the breeze moving round virtually 180°, with a very strong breeze which went from 4 to 30 knots in a matter of minutes. They just had the time to furl in the gennaker and head off upwind in the other direction! It wasn’t at all easy to deal with but it enabled us to traverse the front fairly sharpish. Oman, which was positioned further to the north at the time, seemed to take more time to escape this band of storms,” Antoine Koch explained.

The trimaran fitted out by Baron Benjamin de Rothschild is currently sailing on port tack and is making headway to the south-west in an easing easterly wind. Sébastien Josse and Charles Caudrelier will hunt down a north-easterly rotation of the wind. From that point, they’ll have to put in one last gybe, which will finally enable them to set a direct course to the finish. “The boat has slowed considerably over the past few hours, but it wasn’t forecast. They are the first to enter into a zone where there is less wind and Oman Air should close on them again between now and the finish. There’s a small migratory zone of high pressure, which is trailing behind the front and is situated to the south-east of Itajaí. It is this system, which is generating these lighter winds. They will have to remain on their guard and focused all the way to the finish!” explained Edmond de Rothschild’s onshore router.

“The finish isn’t long now but it’s a bit complicated; the weather isn’t great. There isn’t a lot of wind and we’re expecting a transition tomorrow. The weather model is a bit lost and even though we have a good lead, it’s never over,” admitted a somewhat prudent Charles Caudrelier yesterday evening. Indeed, as hardened sailors, Sébastien and Charles are all too aware of the adage, which states that nothing is a done deal until the finish line is crossed.

Extracts from the radio session between Charles Caudrelier and the Transat Jacques Vabre press HQ yesterday evening:  “I’ve already been to Itajaí: either there is wind… or there isn’t! The conditions are calm, so we’re getting as much rest as we can to handle the end of this complicated course. We’re trying to conserve our energy. These boats are high performance, the weather was good and everything has gone well sailing double-handed ultimately. These boats are fabulous. They go twice as fast as the others. We had planned a course time of 12 days at best. However, all in all, we’ve encountered conditions, which are favourable to performance: fair winds, seas that aren’t overly big, good linkage from one system to the next, with an average of 30 knots at times. Sébastien and I know each other well, we’ve sailed well without making mistakes… so far at least. We’re knackered; we never stop as you can’t afford to put a foot wrong on these boats. You don’t let go of the helm when you’re on watch, even to drink a coffee. You’re steering the whole time, because you can’t go flat out with the automatic pilot. Sometimes you alternate every hour. We’ve really been pushing the boat. A scare? When we saw Oman Air – Musandam closing on us.”

Ranking for Monday 18 November at 0930 GMT
  1. Edmond de Rothschild (Josse-Caudrelier) 127.6 miles from the goal / 20kt average over 2hrs
  2. Oman Air-Musandam (Gavignet-Foxall) 58.5 miles from the leader / 8.8kt average over 2hrs


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