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Clement conditions for a great start!

Updated: Apr 28

J-1. On the eve of the start this Sunday at 13h30, the skippers met for a final briefing early this morning. The weather conditions are shaping up to be very malleable, giving them plenty of time to get into the race and build up their confidence. Nevertheless, there will be plenty of pitfalls along the way between Lorient and New York, with the first low-pressure system to be crossed on Tuesday for the IMOCA boats.


To remember :

  • Conditions are expected to be particularly mild at the start with 12 to 15 knots of breeze.

  • The skippers will leave the pontoons between 9:30 and 11:30 this Sunday.

  • The start, which will take place at 13h30, will be broadcast on France 3 Bretagne, La Chaîne L'Equipe and the race's social networks from 12h55.

  • At the same time, the Virtual Regatta players are also getting ready for the big jump


© Arnaud Pilpré


FACT OF THE DAY. A smooth, majestic start

They experienced just about every configuration at the start. Violent conditions, very brisk conditions, rain or, on the contrary, relative calm. ‘There are always three scenarios at the start: the dream scenario, the nightmare scenario and the in-between scenario. We're going to get the in-between", smiles Axel Tréhin (Project Rescue Ocean). ‘Last week, the forecast was for a rainy, windy Sunday. Now we're going to have sunshine and light winds,’ adds Fabien Delahaye (LEGALLAIS). ‘We should have 10 to 15 knots of westerly wind,’ adds Yannick Bestaven (MAITRE COQ V). ‘The start will be to the east of the island of Groix, which was the safest option given the wind direction,’ confides Yann Chateau, assistant race director. ‘It's a reaching start, but it will allow us to get off to a gentle start,’ continues Alan Roura (HUBLOT).


Following on from this, the competitors should head north-west and pass close to Ireland. ‘They will be looking for the first low-pressure system to the north of the British Isles and a wind shift that will give them winds of around thirty knots and gusts of around 40 knots,’ adds Yann Chateau. According to him, ‘the start of the transatlantic race and the race as a whole are shaping up to be very fast’.


Any apprehension will have to wait for a while as this very demanding race unfolds. In fact, the mood was light this Saturday morning at the final briefing before the start. It began with the celebration of a birthday, that of Jean Le Cam, who turns 65 this Saturday. The latter announced yesterday that he would be crossing the line tomorrow in order to validate his qualification for the Vendée Globe, but that he would not be sailing to New York for personal reasons.


THE QUESTION. Where exactly is the starting line?

Once they have left Lorient La Base, the skippers will head for the start line, where they were informed of the changes during this morning's weather briefing.


Tomorrow's westerly south-westerly has led us to change the starting line,’ explains Francis Le Goff, Race Director. It's preferable to head east round the island of Groix so that the boats can be protected in this restricted zone. This choice was guided by the safety of the sailors so that they would have an absolutely clear line’. He assures us that this will make for ‘beautiful images’. Francis adds: ‘We'll be starting between two buoys with sights on either side of the line to check that no one has stolen the start. After that, there will be a final buoy to round 3.5 miles off the south of Groix before the route opens out into the Atlantic ahead of them’. The Class40 and Vintage boats will start at the top of the line, while the IMOCA boats will start at the bottom.


© OC Sport Pen Duick


ANIMATION TO FOLLOW. The symbolic departure of SeaKite, Wisamo Michelin and ACC Wing

Alongside the 48 skippers, SeaKite, Wisamo Michelin and ACC Wing will symbolically be taking the start of The Transat CIC. The start will be under sail, 25 minutes ahead of the competitors, to give maximum visibility to the marine transportation solutions. Stéphane Bourrut Lacouture, CSR Manager at OC Sport Pen Duick, says that this is a way of ‘showing that boats using technical solutions aimed at decarbonising maritime transport exist and can sail’.


FOCUS ON... An ‘interesting, complex and demanding’ career path

This route, the Atlantic via the North face, is a paradox: it's shorter (3,500 theoretical miles) than the traditional routes to the West Indies, and a lot more chaotic too. Here, it's impossible to benefit from the trade winds, those warm downwind winds that lead to the other side of the Atlantic. ‘With its open Atlantic course, this is the most complicated single-handed transatlantic race, because at the end of April - beginning of May, there could be a series of low-pressure systems over the North Atlantic generating headwinds,’ points out Francis Le Goff, the race director. He assures us that the sailors could encounter conditions similar to those of the Vendée Globe, which will be rewarding for the IMOCA boats with seven months to go before the round the world race. ‘We're potentially in for some tough conditions right to the end,’ said Charlie Dalin (MACIF Santé Prévoyance) yesterday. It's an interesting, complex and demanding course,’ agrees Jérémie Beyou (Charal). There are going to be a lot of changes of pace, a lot of sails, a lot of pacing... You're going to have to be wide awake, it's going to be invigorating!


MORE INFO. Class40 Crédit Mutuel christened to music

There were plenty of people on the pontoons and quays late on Friday to witness the christening of the new Class40 Crédit Mutuel. To mark the occasion, the singer Santa, the boat's godmother, performed a song from the deck of the Class40. In the presence of the President of Crédit Mutuel Alliance Fédérale, Daniel Baal, Ian Lipinski unveiled his new scow (n°202), which has long been at the cutting edge with his current boat (n°158). ‘We've decided to favour medium downwind conditions,’ explains Ian, ‘The hull is tighter, offering more power and the layout of the structure is more solid. It should be noted that Ian will be taking the start aboard Class40 n°158, while his first race with n°202 is scheduled for next September.



© Arnaud Pilpré


VIRTUAL REGATTA. Good advice from Basile Buisson

With one day to go until the start of The Transat CIC, which will be given from Lorient at 13h30, all eyes are on the start. And as in the real race, getting off to a good start is essential in Virtual Regatta Offshore. While the weather and the strategy have to be fine-tuned, these two major aspects are not the only ones to be taken into account. According to Basile Buisson, a regular player on Virtual Regatta, ‘first of all, it's important to plan your start as early as possible, set the right sails and anticipate your trajectory for the first six hours. The first few hours are very important and will enable you to get into the right position to attack the ocean section. The preferred route is generally the northerly one, where the competitors will be facing rough seas and cold conditions. But this year, we also have to deal with the cetacean protection zones, which have been faithfully reproduced in the game’. Energy management, a feature added to the game before the last edition of the Route du Rhum - Destination Guadeloupe, will also have to be taken into account. "This management is also very important. You have to choose carefully when to carry out your manoeuvre or sail change, because in the conditions the racers are going to encounter, rest will be complicated. Sometimes it's better not to make a sail change if it's only for a few hours, or to try and do it when the conditions are milder. Otherwise, you run the risk of being quickly exhausted and taking a lot longer to get back up to your optimum speed", adds the player, winner of the “From virtual to real” operation, who crossed the Atlantic in 2023 aboard the Class40 Google Chrome.


To sign up for the game, it's here.


© OC Sport Pen Duick


PRACTICAL INFO. It's going to be a busy morning tomorrow!

The skippers will set off at 13:30 on Sunday. They will leave the pontoons at Lorient La Base between 9:30 and 11:30 before heading for the start line opposite Lomener. Spectators will be able to watch the boats from the surrounding coastline or from their own boats (while respecting the restricted and prohibited zone defined by the Préfecture Maritime). The start can also be followed live and on video, notably on France 3 Bretagne and Nouvelle Aquitaine, La Chaîne L'Equipe, the letelegramme.fr and ouest-france.fr websites, as well as on The Transat CIC networks. A live feed in English will also be available. All the practical information can be found on the website www.thetransat.com


THEY SAID

Alan Roura (HUBLOT, IMOCA) : ‘The conditions aren't yet certain in terms of strength and angle, but there won't be more than 15 knots on the line. We'll then leave the island of Groix to starboard before rounding an offshore buoy. We'll avoid tacking upwind single-handed. After that, we'll have the choice of whether or not to put a sail on the bowsprit. That'll give us a gentle start, even though it's a reaching start. After that, there will be some phases to deal with, particularly on Tuesday and Thursday. The seas are fairly short, so we'll probably have to play it a bit safe. On a reach, in 30 knots, the boats are going very fast and there's a chance of getting hurt. After that, we'll have to see when we start to head west. There are still some unknown phases. I'm going to do everything I can to stay in the game!


© Vincent Curutchet


Yannick Bestaven (MAÎTRE COQ V, IMOCA) : ‘As always, we'll have to be careful not to damage the boats and make a good start, being well placed. There will be 10 to 15 knots of westerly so it's a pretty nice type of start. My aim is to get to the other side and see New York, I've never been there. What's going to be interesting in terms of strategy is the fact that there are quite a few transitions. That's going to make for some exciting play. Given that I've already qualified for the Vendée Globe, I don't feel any pressure!


Sébastien Simon (Groupe Dubreuil, IMOCA) : ‘It's going well. The pressure's obviously rising a little but we've been waiting for this for a while. We could have trained a bit more but the timing was very tight. We're going to try and enjoy ourselves. And it's going to be great training before the Vendée Globe. The conditions at the start are fairly mild, so it's reassuring and nice to get into the swing of things. After that, things will get tougher as the race goes on, but like all transatlantic races, it can never be a cruise. It's going to be great to test the boat and try to confirm all the work done over the winter by my team and my partners. I can't wait to get going. This departure phase isn't my favourite moment as it's always full of emotions, but once I'm at sea, I always feel good. I can't wait for the start line to be cut, for Groix to be passed and for me to finally be on my own to cross the Atlantic for the 16th time.’


Antoine Cornic (HUMAN IMMOBILIER, IMOCA) : ‘Things are going rather well. For once, we're really lucky. The weather in Brittany is really pleasant. I'm going to take advantage of this last day to go and eat with my family, as my brother lives a quarter of an hour from here. The boat is ready. I'm going to have a good last night and then head for New York! Tomorrow's departure is going to be fun. I think there'll be some nice conditions with a bit of thermalling and a great show for those who get to see it. After that, we'll have a small zone of light airs to get through quickly before getting to the heart of the matter with the SW'ly coming in to climb towards the north of Ireland and pick up this low-pressure system to continue this crossing. I don't have any sporting objectives given that I've qualified for the Vendée Globe. The only aim is not to damage the boat and to do these two transatlantic races to really train and check that all the winter work we've done on the boat is correct. After that, sport always comes back at a gallop. It doesn't take long for us to break down and step on the accelerator pedal!


© Bastien Hebras


Fabien Delahaye (LEGALLAIS, Class40) : ‘A week ago, we were forecasting a rainy and windy Sunday. Now, we're going to have a cooler start with sunny spells and fairly light winds. That takes some of the stress out of managing the traffic: we're going to have a fairly compact fleet in a restricted area at the start. The course at the start will take us around the east of the island of Groix on a tack. The weather will then take us towards the west of Ireland to deal with the first front. We should have a fairly rapid crossing with an East-Atlantic low-pressure system, a ridge of high pressure to cross and another low. So it's going to be a fast one, and we're going to be on the move!


Rémi Gerin (FAIAOAHE, catégorie Vintage) : ‘I'm ready, the boat's ready, the weather's not bad for the first few hours and then it's going to get progressively better. I'm a bit nervous, as I am before every start, but we'll be liberated once we're at sea.

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