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Campagne de France finishes twenty-third in the Transat Jacques Vabre Normandie Le Havre IMOCA

Campagne de France finishes twenty-third in the Transat Jacques Vabre Normandie Le Havre IMOCA

Miranda Merron and Halvard Mabire, on their 60ft monohull, Campagne de France, have finished twenty-third in the IMOCA class of the 14th edition of the Transat Jacques Vabre Normandie Le Havre after crossing the finish line in the Bay of All Saints in Salvador de Bahia, Brazil on Wednesday, November 13, 2019 at 23:06:03 (UTC), 17 days, 10 hours 51 minutes and 3 seconds after leaving Le Havre, Normandy, France on Sunday, October 27 at 12:15 (UTC). 

Campagne de France covered the theoretical course of 4,350 nautical miles at an average speed of 10.39 knots but actually sailed 4,612.02 nautical miles at an average speed of 11.01 knots. It finished 3 days 22 hours 43 minutes and 3 seconds behind the winner, Apivia.

In Le Havre, Britain’s Merron and France’s Mabire, partners on land and sea, said it felt strange to be setting off in a boat that had no chance of winning  “and we’re not a couple when we’re at sea,” as Merron always says. 

Both have huge experienced of this race and Mabire, a big figure in French sailing and President of the Class40, has been more used to being at the head of the fleet. Mabire, 62, was one of two skippers in this race (with Vincent Riou) who were part of the first edition in 1993 and Mabire started as one of the favourites before having to abandon. 

In the last addition, they had a very competitive Class40. But this is different project with Merron planning to go around the world on this 2006 Owen-Clarke design. The Transat Jacques Vabre Normandie Le Havre is where the world gets a first view of all the new projects in offshore sailing; from the latest generation foiling IMOCAs to those fighting for causes, to the adventurers. 

Coming out of the Channel after a solid start, Campagne de France, took the most easterly track, clearly signalling they were heading south, regardless of the temptations of the west that eventually called six boats. 

It was not easy for any of the skippers and Mabire was in typically colourful form in his message after the second night: “The motorway south seems to be well and truly closed for temporary roadworks, whose finishing date seems rather poorly defined,” he wrote. “The North Atlantic Highways Agency must be on a break, or otherwise overrun. On Campagne de France we are deploring the state of the ‘B’ roads, because the various potholes are not very beneficial to the on-board computer.”

For half the race they kept their noses ahead as part of the last pack of five in what became a 27-boat fleet. But at the Cape Verde, those closest to them weaved between the archipelago and Merron and Mabire escaped to the west and opened up a 100-mile lead they would never relinquish. In fact, as they emerged the Doldrums and into the trade winds first, they more than doubled their lead, and even held off the lead Class40 boats. Without the pressure of being chased they were able to concentrate on more earthly matters. 

“We’re going as fast as we can! It's time to finish anyway, as we are about to run out of milk, cheese and chocolate,” Merron wrote in her last overnight message.