On winter months, most of the time, there is not much sail racing going on, out of the Sydney Hobart, Transaquadra and on some years the Vendee Globe or the VOR, but this year in November there are many great ones that are on the water. Not that I am complaining but they don't do a favor to each other to be racing at the same time and the effect is already visible in what regards sponsorship.
Let's start by the Mini Transat, a solo race with few rules in what regards boats allowed being the main the max length, 6.5m (21.4ft). There are two classes: prototypes (proto) and production boats (serie). A great race limited to 84 entries (that were all taken long before the race date) with racers from 15 nationalities and 10 women racing.
The race was decided in two legs, one from La Rochelle (France) to Las Palmas (Canary Islands) and other from there to Martinique ( Caribbean). On the first leg we saw the production boats going at almost the same pace of the prototypes, amazing stuff since the series are pretty basic boats while the protos are canting keelers with daggerboard or foils.
The race on proto was won by Ian Lipinski after a great battle with Arthur Léopold-Léger, both boats finishing in sight of each other!!! after several days at sea. On production boats the faster was Valentin Gautier that made a fantastic race beating all the protos except the two first. On 3rd, almost catching the 2nd and not far from the first arrived Clarisse Crémer the one that the French are already calling "La princesse de l'Atlantique".
Clarisse is relatively new to Solo racing and has been making an incredible race being the 1st on the serie till very close to Las Palmas, where she made a routing error and stayed without wind a lot of time. They are doing now the 2nd and final leg, having passed already Cabo Verde, pointing now to the west Indies and Martinique.
On protos the first is Lipinski, Léger had a rudder problem, lost much time and is stopped at Cabo Verde doing repairs, the second is Kostner, the third Riechers and the 4th a lady, Charlotte that has as sponsor "les femmes de Bretagne" (Bretagne's women) that should be proud of her. Doing a great race. You can follow the mini transat almost in real time here:http://www.minitransat.fr/en/follow-race/cartography
The Jacques Favre Transat, raced in duo, has 4 different classes with separate classifications: the biggest number of boats race on the smaller class, the 40 class (40ft), 15 boats with 30 sailors among them two women, both great sailors, Miranda Merron and Justine Mettraux.
On the 40 class Chappellier/Vaillant are leading but the fight has been huge. Right now there are 5 boats at less than 15nm from the first, among them the two teams with mixed crews.
Then there is the IMOCA class (60ft) with 13 boats racing and a bit unexpectedly it has been also a great race with several boats leading. Right now and quite surprisingly, Meilhat/Gahinet are leading on a boat without the new foils, but here also the fight is fierce and there are 7 boats at less than 15nm from the first.
On this class are the 3 women racing, Isabelle Joschke, Samantha Davies and Servane Escoffier. Isabelle is the only one that is the skipper and among this particular fight between mixed crews, she is the first going in 5th place at only 8.8nm from the first.
There are two multihull classes, all with trimarans, the Muli50 (50ft) with 6 boats racing and the Ultime class (105ft max length) with only 3 boats and one of them less competitive because smaller. On the Multi 50 the fight has been between two boats, with Roucayrol/Pella leading but I would not dismiss yet the 3rd boat (at 21nm) with Leroux/Riou. Riou is a master in routing.
All in all a very interesting race with lots of battles on the different classes. You can follow it here, almost in direct: https://www.transatjacquesvabre.org/fr/cartographie-et-classement
A first note, this post was written mostly last night so there have been some alterations on the classification and that just makes it all more interesting. You can check on that.
A second note regarding the conditions and the boats, terrible conditions during the night and today. As usual with bad weather the multihulls have to slow down more than the monohulls and you can see the IMOCA boats catching the Multi50.
A final note about those women on the images, let's say that it is my homage to those ladies that I respect enormously and that show that on this sport they can be as good as men. For those who wonder why I will not post photos of the women racing on the Volvo, among whom there are great sailors, that's because they are on a bit of a degrading situation: Contrary to this ones on the solo and duo classes they are not there because they are as good as men but because the crews have advantages if they have women on the crew (that allows a bigger crew). I don't find that positive in what regards women and sailing and certainly gives them a 2nd rate qualification as sailors, even if it is not the case for all.
The Volvo Ocean Race departed from Lisboa for the 2nd leg, the first big one that will finish at Cape Town. The in port race in Lisbon, on the Tejo river, was magnificent with a huge fight between Team Brunel and Mapfre that made a huge recovery and almost caught Brunel over the finish line. Till now several winners on the port races and a very competitive race with Vestas leading this leg but with all boats inside 20nm.
This is the first true Ocean leg and till now routing has not been very important but it will be from now on. My bet is on Dongfeng that has some very good routers aboard, but you never know and on other teams there are also some very experienced sailors. One thing is for sure, VOR has improved greatly the video coverage of the race and we have some great images. That's fundamental for making sailing a major sport. Congratulations to the VOR organization in what regards that. Much better that the one on Jacques Vabre Transat. You can follow the race here:http://www.volvooceanrace.com/en/dashboard.html
We have one of the best sailors on the world, François Gabart, attempting to beat the world's circumnavigation sail record, alone on a huge trimaran (99ft) going at times over 40k. He tells about a close encounter with a cargo out of Canary Islands with the cargo asking repetitively if he was a sailing boat (and not believing it): He was doing about 40k at the time!!!
So far so good and Gabart is ahead of the time Coville managed last year on his circumnavigation record. You can follow the attempt here:
Finally we have Yves Le Blévec that on another Maxi trimaran is trying to beat the world circumnavigation record but the other way around, against winds and currents. No doubt he will make it since the record is already an old one made by a smaller monohull but the problem here is to take the boat and the sailor to the finish line in one piece and that is not an easy task because those huge trimarans are not comfortable neither easy to sail upwind. Big balls Le Blévec and also a bit of masochism LOL.
He was not far (cape Finisterra) when he had to come back with some breakage on the boat after a storm on the Biscay golf. He is now waiting for conditions for a new start. I would say that he can leave when he wants since the problem here is to make it, not to beat any particular record. If he makes it, it will be for sure much faster than the actual record that belongs to Van Den Heede (2004 - 122d) on his 4th attempt.!!!This circumnavigation record makes the one with the dominant winds look easy. You can follow it here: https://www.teamactual.eu/la-cartographie/