The start of the 16th edition of the Transat Jacques-Vabre, a famous double-handed race created in 1993, was given on Sunday off the coast of Le Havre in rough seas, noted an AFP journalist.
Five Ultim maxi-trimarans began a two-week journey to Martinique at 1:05 p.m. under cloudy skies, transformed into a race against time to avoid a storm expected mid-week in the Bay of Biscay.
These 32 meter long sailboats are the fastest class of boat to set sail off the coast of Normandy. “And if we don't have a technical problem, there is a good chance that we will avoid a big depression,” explained Anthony Marchand, helmsman of the Ultim Actual on Saturday.
The other boats entered, 40 Class40 monohulls and 6 Ocean Fifty multihulls, headed a few dozen minutes later towards Lorient (Morbihan) where they will have to make a stopover to take shelter.
“It’s more like a cyclone than a depression! It’s rare, very powerful and dangerous,” said Xavier Macaire (SNEF group), at the helm of a Class40. Forty Imoca, Vendée Globe monohulls, remained at the dock due to the weather.
“We did not have the capacity to offer this format with a stopover in the Imoca class for reasons of space in the port,” explained Francis Le Goff, race director on Sunday.
After the cannon fired, the SVR Lazartigue, helmed by François Gabart and Tom Laperche, and the Maxi Edmond de Rothschild, led by Charles Caudrelier and Erwan Israel, took the lead of the Ultim fleet, reaching at times more than 70 km/ h in two-meter waves.