Quotes from skippers

Jean-Pierre Dick, skipper of St Michel-Virbac (Imoca)

It was the perfect race that I’d imagined with Yann. It's amazing to be have been able to realise it. A fourth victory is great. I like this race, the duo side of it.”

Paul Meilhat, skipper, SMA (Imoca)

“We sailed along the Brazilian coast all night, we met a lot of fishermen. Since this morning, we’ve had between 12-15 knots of easterly wind, we’re going pretty quickly under a Code 0, we were averaging 15 knots. We crossed La French Tech (Multi50) several times, last night we saw their light.It was our last night at sea, we’re not very tired; the late watches are beautiful, we’re enjoying the lights and the stars.

We’ve talked a lot over the last day, we’re trying to enjoy being at sea.There are a few localised effects, we won’t be slow with the spinnaker at the beginning of the night. Even if there is not much wind, it can suddenly come back a little. We’ve been analysing the race from the start. And if we had our time again, we would follow the same route; St Michel-Virbac’s perfect.There’s no shame in the positions, it's easier to swallow second behind winners who’ve sailed so well.”

Yann Eliès, co-skipper, St Michel-Virbac (Imoca)

“We’re counting the miles one by one, we cannot wait to be there but there is not much wind and we’ll have to gybe a few times. It's a beautiful sunny day for sailing into Bahia. The faster the better. We’ve moved away from the coast to avoid the fishermen, we have to be careful because they’re very small and low on the water. We’ll see them again when we come back to the coast in a few hours, they’re nice, some came to see us yesterday.

Once we passed the Doldrums, we’ve been sailing on long gybes and that immediately allowed us time to recover pretty well. It's very difficult to know what kind of state you're in when you're at sea. We'll find out back on land, but we're relatively fit, I think.

For this last day, we’re keeping the same watch system, we’re try to stay in race mode; there are a few stupid things to avoid. The race isn’t over yet, we’ll tell you everything when you get there; we’re happy to still have a big lead on SMA. We know we have a lot of room to manoeuvre but we don’t want to fall asleep.

Jean-Pierre and I talk a lot about strategy and routes. JP is very logical, there’s a reason for everything. Everything’s gone well, but we spare a thought for those behind (who were unlucky in the Doldrums). At the moment, we’re enjoying it, we are savouring it…Another 8-10 hours of sailing and it’ll be over. We’re doing our best to arrive before sunset.”

Aymeric Chappellier, skipper, Aïna Enfance et Avenir (Class40)

Thursday overnight (UTC)

“The problem is that it's going to be a very short transat,” Aymeric Chappellier, skipper of Aïna Enfance et Avenir, said. “The ranking on exit (of the Doldrums) will be similar to the final ranking and it feels hard that the whole transat will decided by the Doldrums.”

Friday lunchtime

“It still wasn’t easy last night with random, crappy wind fluctuating between sod all and not much, but it’s the game we’re in and the same for everyone. It’s not often that after more than 10 days at sea 5 boats are less than 30 miles apart, for us it's a war of nerves on the water, but back on land it must be fun to watch.

The crew of Aïna is in great shape, ready for a new day of scanning the horizon, chase squalls and clouds, trimming, trimming, helming, dancing on the head of a pin to scrape a tenth of a knot – we won’t stop.”

Samantha Davies, skipper, Initiatives-Cœur (Imoca)

“Finally we made it out last night, about 22:00 or 23:00. We were under a cloud and had unusual westerly winds, which meant that when we popped out (of the Doldrums) we had a 180 degree wind shift to south-east trades, which was obviously pretty uncomfortable - it was like being thrown about in a washing machine - but luckily it was only a 20-minute cycle. When we were out of that transition we happily going upwind.

I’ve done a fair few (Doldrums), that was pretty hard one. I’m not sure it’s the longest, I think on the Volvo with Team SCA was long, but this Doldrums was one where the lucky dice were rolled. Obviously we had a strategy and thought east was best, but some were unlucky. It the biggest changes and distances lost and gained in the fleet I’ve seen in the Doldrums. Generali and Bureau Vallée really didn’t deserve to get dealt those cards. That’s pretty bad luck.

We took 14 days of food and it’s going to take us a day longer. We took food out, but we have pretty good food and actually we haven’t eaten as much as our daily ration allows. And we’ll still even have some treats. Initiatives-Cœur is 100%.”

Phil Sharp, skipper, Imerys Clean Energy (Class40)

“We’ve had average speeds of around 2 knots - as Pablo said yesterday: It’s like we have been cast adrift into the middle of the ocean…

“Yesterday was the hardest day of the race so far, pushing us right to the limits of our psychological stability. At one stage we averaged 1.5 knots over 3 hours, whilst boats to the east were sailing between 4 and 7.5 knots. We were then hit by a large squall with 35 knots of wind, the boat took off and we covered our previous 3 hour distance in just 20 minutes! The centre of the large squall passed right over us, with strong flashes of blinding lightening and rain so hard it was like someone pouring constant buckets of water over you. Half an hour later, we were back to 1.5 knots…”

Pierre Lacaze, co-skipper, Vivo A Beira (Imoca)

“When the sound of flying fish fades, we hear the samba schools in Salvador.

[Vivo A Beira is 1,100 miles from the finish]

Lalou Roucayrol, skipper of Arkema, (Multi50)

“Two years ago, I had to make a stopover in Salvador de Bahia because the boat was almost cut in half and we had to laminate so we could re-start for Itajai and finish the race. We deserved this victory, we sailed a great race, I’m really happy. We kept our foot on the gas, we were fast, it was a fight from start to finish. We had a great start, it's crazy as it’s the first time we’ve sailed together, but Alex is reassuring to be with, and it relieved me that he agreed to go with me. A Transat Jacques Vabre, it's a commitment, you sail at 110% of your maximum the whole way, it's real sport.”

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Bernard Stamm, co-skipper of Prince de Bretagne (Ultime)

“When the rig is under tension, the platform is under tension. When it's loose, it's ‘bing!’ Everything camedown. We tried to get the mast back as fast as possible but it broke quickly."

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Lionel Lemonchois, skipper of Prince de Bretagne (Ultime)

“We're happy to be here, but that’s three Transat Jacques Vabre with Prince de Bretagne, and I haven’t finished one, that starts to feel like a lot. But we felt good for this one. Anyway, the big news of the day is that I learned this morning that I will be grandfather, it's the best news this year!

We’re disappointed…since morning, we’d been at full speed, we had ideal conditions, under gennaker, full mainsail, 16-17 knots of wind, speed 26-30 knots, not even on a hull, nothing, extraordinary, great conditions to arrive. And all of a sudden, it was falling. It started softly, it was amazing. I didn’t feel it too much, Bernard was at the helm, he felt that the mast was falling.”

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Alex Pella, co-skipper of Arkema (Multi50)

“The Mutli50 is great! It's an awesome experience, they are superboats. I worked my way through the instructions (on how to sail it) as we went along and I was happy to be here, this boat has huge potential.

"We spent 10 days in our oilies, and when we removed them, it was right in front of the entry to the Bay (of All Saints), and we got hit by a big squall. The whole race we slept under the cockpit roof. It was a novelty for me, these boats are very lively, you have to keep hands on and your eyes and ears open constantly.”

“My lucky pants never lose, I always take them, even though they’re not that beautiful anymore.”

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Servane Escoffier, skipper, Bureau Vallée 2 (Imoca)

"We’re never really happy with the Doldrums because we have a boat which is good for sailing at 20-25 knots and for 48 hours now or more, it’s been very slow for us. But we’re trying to get the best position in the south of the Doldrums and we don’t know if we’re east enough, but we didn’t really have the choice with the very slow light wind that we had two days ago. We will do our best with this position. 

"When you’re offshore racing, you never can tell until you’ve crossed the finish line, because you can have a mechanical problem, or a wind hole, and we’ll try to do our best to get the third place but to be realistic I think Des Voiles et Vous! Is now out of the Doldrums and I don’t see how once they are off we can catch them, but nobody can tell. We will keep pushing until the finishing line and we want to finish in the best place we can. 

"Like all skippers doing a transat we’ve had some little words, but really, really little and we are still friends and still boyfriend and girlfriend I think, (shouts to Louis) yes, are we still boyfriend and girlfriend? Yes, I think it’s OK. We’re fine, we know each other very well, so, when once of us is in a bad mood the other is supportive."

Aymeric Chappellier and Arthur Le Vaillant, Aïna Enfance et Avenir (Class40)

"Cape Verde is quite far in our wake now, we spent the day (Tuesday) heading south downwind towards the gateway to the Doldrums, which is looking pretty sticky both to the east and to the west. We’ll refine our trajectory tomorrow in the morning and after that we will hope that Aeolus (the Greek god of wind) is with us. Otherwise, after a downwind speed test of day, it's difficult to say if one of the boats has an advantage. In any case nobody is holding anything back on either side of us. It's almost like training With Tanguy. Have good day everyone, 

- Aymeric & Arthur."

Phil Sharp, skipper of Imerys Clean Energy (Class40)

“It's great, these are conditions you dream of for crossing the Atlantic; flat sea, 15-20 knots of wind, a tailwind, it’s like the books you read. Yesterday, the sun was intense, I was at the helm and wow, it was hot, fortunately there were some clouds. The sea is very hot, there are a lot of flying fish.

We’re just south of Cape Verde, we’ve had some unbelievably close racing. It's just amazing to be next to other Class40s after more than 2,500 nautical miles. We have 2 boats next door, it's very intense, we’re pushing the boat to its limits. It’s 24/7. It's like a Figaro on boats that are a little bigger and more fun. If it stays like this for the remaining 2,000 miles until the finish, it's going to be very tight, so we're going to look to get the advantage in the next few days in the Doldrums."

 

 

 

Isabelle Joschke, skipper, Generali (Imoca)

“We’re approaching the Doldrums, very slowly, in a weak wind, and a calm sea. The night was complicated because the wind came and went as it pleased, we had to follow it. We have filled up with energy for the next two days that will not be a pleasure. We also took advantage of the calm to do some DIY below, and take stock of our food and water reserves.

Currently we are slalom between seaweed, it’s is everywhere. This is forcing us to be doubly focused (to not get it stuck on the keel). And now that there is not so much wind, we’re seeing how the veranda which we move around and grind and which protects us from the spray, can turn into a furnace. Fortunately we packed a small fan.”

Lalou Roucayrol, skipper, Arkema (Multi50)

“Here we are, coming to the end of the Doldrums and we did not hold anything back. We had big squall of 35 knots. We were under J1 we stayed upwind and quite close-hauled, to calm things down. We’d get through and then roll out the J1 in the soft and we finished with mainsail only, fully open at 25 knots. The Doldrums were a bit of a last chance to get back to Erwan and Vincent, so it feels pretty good. Everything will be played at the exit of the Doldrums and the arrival to Bahia! These are the angles that we like, the boat goes pretty well in these conditions, we know we have good speeds but nothing is won yet and we remain very focused. In any case, Alex and I are enjoying it.  It's a great race.”

 

Antoine Carpentier, co-skipper, V and B (Class40)

“We’re passing Cape Verde there is a little less wind and it’s a break in the battle. The day before yesterday, our routing was not very obvious, but we could see that there was a little less wind in the west. That's why we pointed closer to the wind and accelerated. We’re really very close to Imerys and Aïna, we’re watching each other, without having them on the AIS. The Doldrums change so fast you have to see 48 hours before. We’re looking a little at what the Imoca and Multi50 are doing but we’re not fixed (on a strategy) yet. The Doldrums I have only been through once, and the memory I have in 2007 is a pretty good one. We didn’t stop. I hope it will be the same this year.”

 

Skipper's log:Pablo Santurde, co-skipper, Imerys Clean Energy (Class40)

"Last night was a difficult one as we sailed through the wind shadow of the Cape Verdes. The wind was light and shifty and it wasn’t until this morning that we were able to access some consistent wind.

"We are starting our approach to the doldrums, which could be a little bit longer than expected due to the lights wind ahead. No longer is the moon shining and we are sailing through a kind of sandy fog, so the nights are long and dark. Apart from that, we can’t ask for much more!

"Life on board is nice, we are happy with our progress so far and there is still a lot to play for - so all in all we are a happy crew on board Imerys Clean Energy!!

"That’s all for now, cheers from the flying fish land; or should I say sea?? – Pablo."