Transat Jacques Vabre 2019


And they’re off! The 118 sailors in the 14th Transat Jacques Vabre set off at 1.15pm (French time) in light-medium airs for this double-hander transatlantic race from Le Havre to the seaside resort of Salvador de Bahia,retracing the historic route for clippers bringing coffee back to France from Brazil.

The fleet comprises 27 Class40s, 3 Multi 50s and 29 IMOCA 60s, including a Monegasque team on the foiling mono-hull Malizia II – Yacht Club de Monaco, co-skippered by German sailor Boris Herrmann and 25-year-old Englishman, Will Harris, both having competed last summer in the Rolex Fastnet.


It’s the second time the YCM-flagged boat has taken part in this biennial race. “An integral part of our sailing policy, Malizia II is the Yacht Club de Monaco’s offshore flagship and competes in world-renowned events to get our young racers dreaming and perhaps steer them towards new vocations. With 29 IMOCAs on the start, the level has never been so high. That’s going to be very motivating for our Monegasque team as they face the big offshore specialists. This edition will be a chance to see how these very promising additions to the class perform, they really fly, but it’s not certain how they behave under race conditions. The range of new features in terms of their design is without precedent. This transatlantic should be a spectacular and exciting race. A fantastic rehearsal a year before the Vendée Globe!,” says Pierre Casiraghi, YCM Vice-President.


I’m really happy to be back doing this race. Unlike the previous edition when the first two days were incredibly intense, we’ll have a much calmer start this time round as we will be heading into a medium north-easterly. The wind should gradually strengthen for a downwind race in the Channel.  It’s during the night of Sunday-Monday that things get complicated with a large depression centred on the Azores which should generate a steady south-westerly on the Atlantic, which means several sail changes,” said Boris Herrmann who seemed unfazed by the conditions, although he had yet to decide on which strategy to adopt. “We will probably only make our decision on Monday. We have two options: head south on a shorter route but against the wind or bypass the centre of the depression to pick up a more downwind tack if conditions look favourable. It is longer, but could be quicker.”  


From Monday evening onwards, depending on whether boats are fitted with foils or not we could see very different strategies. The first boats are expected in Salvador de Bahia around 7th November, six days after the start.


A reminder that for his first crack at the Transat Jacques Vabre in 2017, sailing with Frenchman Thomas Ruyant, Boris Herrmann pulled off a solid 4th place in the overall ranking. The 60-foot monohull (18.28m) took 14 days 21 hours 31 minutes and 53 seconds to cover 4,350 theoretical miles from Le Havre at an average speed of 12.18 knots.