Quotes from skippers
Marc Dubos, skipper, Esprit Scout (Class40)
“I don’t know if it's going to be easy - there are always little things that can happen off Brazil. We haven’t worked out our ETA in relation to the closing of the line, we won’t be able to relax until we’ve crossed it.”
Maxime Sorel, skipper of V and B (Class40)
"Thanks for the welcome on the line, it was crazy. This victory feels magnificent because there are two outstanding competitors behind us. We left Le Havre together, we arrived in Brazil together, everything came down to the last night. They did an incredible job and so did we. It was nice from the start, we were happy to pass the buoy at Fécamp in the lead. We said 'There's one battle won, now it's the war!' But we had lots of moments of despair. Athe Brittany point, we had a broken bulkehad; we called Sam Manuard the designer (of the boat) who advised us on how to fix it. We thought that if we wanted it to hold, we had to wait. We waited three hours seeing our competitors pass. It was hard, we sat down, we had a coffee on the advice of Sylvie Viant (race director)v. When we left, we had 50 miles to make up. But in the end, it may have helped us because we didn't push the boat to the limit."
Antoine Carpentier, co-skipper, V and B (Class40)
"It's a competitive class. It was what people were saying before we left; half the fleet (of 15) could have won the race. In the end, the new generation boats go much faster reaching. We felt for Phil and Pablo (Imerys Clean Energy) because they couldn't do anything. We spent the day ovetaking them in the trade winds, we went 1.5 knots faster. We didn't dare to get them on the VHF for fear that it is badly received. Phil and Pablo raced like crazy. They found a lot of pace. But we knew it was good to come out of the Doldrums with them. Even in the south east trade winds after that, they held a moment."
Fabrice Amedeo, skipper, Newrest-Brioche Pasquier (Imoca)
“This crossing has been a mixture of joy and frustration, but that frustration will turn into positive energy for the future.”
Arnaud Boissières, skipper, La Mie Câline – Artipôle (Imoca)
“The crossing? We started in the cold with waves and finished in the warm without wind. It's not been unpleasant, but it was a little longer than expected."
Isabelle Joschke, skipper, Generali (Imoca)
"We did three races in one: the before, during and after the Doldrums."
Paul Meilhat, skipper of SMA (Imoca):
“We have no regrets, we feel like we have sailed well, but they (St Michel-Virbac) made the right choices too. We’re proud to be second behind them. It's not because they have foils they’ve won.”
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.”
“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.”
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."
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.”
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.”