9 days to the start of the Transat Jacques Vabre

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9 days to the start of the Transat Jacques Vabre

20 October 2023

As French navigators say, “J-9 to the Transat Jacques Vabre”, which means 9 days to the start of the last and most important regatta of the 2023 calendar of the Class40 IBSA and her skipper, Alberto Bona. On board with Bona, for the Transat Jacques Vabre – the 4,500+ mile oceanic crossing from Le Havre (France) to the Caribbean – the co-skipper who accompanied him for most of the year: the Spaniard Pablo Santurde del Arco.

In Le Havre, the village is ready to welcome the hundreds of visitors and enthusiasts who will flock to the docks in the days before the start to greet the crews leaving for the so-called Route du Café (“Coffee Route”); the official inauguration of the village  is scheduled for Saturday, October 21, followed by a week of preparatory events and activities, including meetings dedicated to skippers, safety and weather briefings and the official launch of some of the registered boats, many of which have been built in the last six months and are at their first ocean crossing.

On the starting line – exactly like a year ago at the Route du Rhum – the four classes which have always thrilled ocean sailing enthusiasts: Class40, Imoca60 and the great oceanic trimarans Ocean Fifty and Ultim, for a total of 95 boats.

Departure is set for Sunday, October 29, from Le Havre (Normandy, France), with four separate starts, depending on the class, to ensure the safety of participants and a better control of the starting procedures on the part of the race committee. Spaced about 10 minutes apart, the first to start will be the Ultim class, at 1:05 pm, followed by Ocean Fifty at 1:17 pm, then Imoca at 1:29 pm and finally Class40 at 1:41 pm. A single starting line for all, but four different routes, to ensure that the arrival in Martinique is homogeneous:

  • 7,000 nautical miles for the Ultim class;
  • almost 6,000 for Ocean Fifty and Imoca;
  • 4,500 for the Class40s, whose route involves crossing the North Atlantic with an obligatory passage to Cape Verde, with a gate located on the Island of Sal, which must be left on starboard.

“In the last month”,commented Bona,“we trained a lot and under each and every weather condition that Brittany offered us. With Pablo, harmony and trust are at the top, we’ve been sailing together for a year now, and we are ready to go; in fact, we can’t wait!”

Once completed the training at sea, for Alberto and Pablo the nine days until departure are dedicated to official engagements, to refining the last details of the boat, to mental preparation, as well as to the organisation of the galley, mainly composed of freeze-dried foods, protein bars, jams, honey and fruit pulp, combined with the comfort food chosen for the crossing: “For me, bresaola, parmesan and Italian extra virgin olive oil are essential”, specified Alberto, “and this time we will also have Pablo’s jamón serrano, directly from Santander”.

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