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The Atlantic Cup - America's Class40 Race

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Transat Jacques Vabre Preview


One of the iconic offshore distance races held every other year starts on Sunday, November 5th. Our very own Sam Holliday is on the ground in Le Havre and below is his preview of who to watch in the Class40 race.

The Transat Jacque Vabre is an event that has firmly secured itself as one of sailings principle offshore races. Created in 1993 when the maritime town of Le Havre and the coffee brand Jacques Vabre came together to form a solo transatlantic race to celebrate the historical coffee trade route. From 1995, the ‘TJV’ has been raced double handed and this is now the race's defining factor. Two sailors, two ports, a biennial race and four offshore classes containing many of the world's best sailors.

The four classes are as follows: IMOCA 60, Multi 50, Class40 and the simply nuts Ultime (for those that haven’t checked them out, definitely do so!). Considering the Atlantic Cup is the only dedicated Class40 race in the United States, it is the Class40s I’ll focus on. Below is an insight into the route, and the teams I expect to be arriving into Salvador at the top of the leaderboard. Please note that the position of the teams in no way indicates my view on where in the top 5 they will place - it looks like it is going to be brutal first few days, anything can happen and realistically any one of 10 boats can win..!

The Contenders

The Route

Destination Salvador de Bahia: The race start is scheduled for Sunday 5th November at 13h30 local time. After crossing the start line the four classes (Class40, Multi 50, IMOCA and Ultime) will sail a quick coastal route to Etretat before heading for Brittany to escape the often-dangerous English Channel as quickly as possible. They will then enter the Bay of Biscay, where, depending on the position of the Azores high, they will either find nice and fast downwind conditions or a much tougher crossing in a late autumn depression! Some 400 miles later, having passed Cape Finisterre, the northern trade winds should propel the teams quickly towards the island of Madeira and then onto the Canary Islands. At this point the northeast trade winds should be waiting. The Canary Islands can create an important tactical decision. Do crews hug the coast or head offshore? The crews position here will be important for setting up the most efficient passage of the often-horrific Doldrums which are located slightly above the equator. A good crossing of the Doldrums can be the difference between first and last! A good crossing can also set the crews up to benefit from the first southeast trade winds for the remaining 850 miles, passing by the islands of Fernando de Noronha and arriving in Salvador probably ready for their first Jacque Vabre coffee (or rum), I’ll leave that decision to you! The current Class40 record is set at 20 days, 21 hours, 41 minutes and 25 seconds. The record can be bettered but expect this race to take between 20 and 25 days. For more information and to track the fleet, check out: https://www.transatjacquesvabre.org

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