This year in the Transat Jacques Vabre, the categories of Imoca monohulls, Vendée Globe boats, and Class40 (twelve-meter boats) offer a unique configuration with in each race a fleet divided into two groups. On the one hand, the supporters of a route to the north, the shortest but more uncertain, and those who favored the trade wind route to the south. It is therefore difficult to establish a hierarchy between these two groups with completely different strategies and separated by hundreds of miles.
The organization publishes a distance ranking but this does not always seem to reflect the reality of the race. “It is a position of the boats at the instant T in relation to the distance to the goal, in this case Martinique”, explains the management of the event whose HQ is installed a few meters from the pontoon of 'arrival. The principle is simple, we draw a straight line between Le Havre, city of departure and Fort-de-France, city of arrival (this curves automatically to take into account the curvature of the earth) and "obviously, the competitors who move close to this straight line find themselves closer to the goal than those who move away from it.
This was the case for those who favored the northern option while the leading favorites who had opted for the southern route suddenly plummeted in the rankings. Tactical choices which initially fully benefited Justine Mettraux and Julien Villion, authors of a risky bet aboard Teamwork.net. “The problem is really that the rankings are too interpreted as being a projection of the future hierarchy,” insists the race direction.
In the discipline of ocean racing, the shortest path is, fortunately, not the fastest. And the opposite is also true, which is what makes this type of test so interesting. Implementing medium- or long-term strategies can obviously make it possible to reshuffle the cards very quickly. This is also what happened when the southerners in turn moved west after overtaking the Canaries to regain their places at the top of the ranking.
“We have never had such an interesting race. We are more than ever in the glorious uncertainty of sport. We have two completely different routes in the two monohull classes and two uncertain outcomes,” rejoices Gildas Gautier, the general director of the event. The latter can rub his hands because the weather projections for the two routes, south and north, for the coming hours currently predict an arrival at the knife point scheduled for around 6 p.m. (local time, or 11 p.m. Saturday).
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