A different battle, not in the middle of the ocean – as expected – but on land, at the moorings. Four days after the start of the Transat Jacques Vabre, only the Ultim class is where it should be, that is, in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, near the Canary Islands, with the bows pointed towards the finish line in Martinique. The other three classes, including the Class40, are competing, yes, but not between sailors in the middle of the sea, but rather on the docks, against a storm of rare proportions.
Ciaran – as the large disturbance, with waves of up to 13 metres and winds out of scale for navigation, has been called – struck during the night between 1 and 2 November in Biscay, in the English Channel, between Northern France and the UK. The sailors spent the night awake, monitoring in real time the progress of the disturbance and the conditions of boats and moorings.
In Le Havre, the Transat Jacques Vabre organisation hastily dismantled the village and moved all the IMOCAs, mooring them English-style – along one side – even positioning trucks in strategic positions, to protect boats and equipment. In Lorient – where the Class40 IBSA is right now, together with all her class opponents and the Ocean Fiftys – the moorings have been strengthened and numerous people hired to help protect the boats.
The Race Committee announced yesterday that the Class40 and the Ocean Fifty will start their race from Monday, while there seems to be a useful window for the IMOCAs on Sunday. At least two more full days, then, in which the crews will have to protect their boats as they are watching Nature run wild with an extremely rare bad weather, even for Northern Europe, while at the same time preparing for the coming start.
We are still awaiting news on the route, because the organisation could place a way-point to ensure that the teams choose their route within a defined strip of ocean, thus avoiding going too far north and exposing themselves again to critical weather conditions. This solution would suggest a sort of “cut” into the Southward route: indeed, to make up for the “lost” time, the Committee could decide for the cancellation of the gate which would have forced the Class40s to follow the Southern route going through Cape Verde.