Yesterday morning at 0900hrs BST, SKANDIA co-skippers Brian Thompson and Will Oxley left East Cowes to set off on their delivery trip to Le Havre. This morning at 0400h local time, after 18 hours at sea, SKANDIA Open 60 arrived in Le Havre, the start port of the two-handed transatlantic Transat Jacques Vabre race to Brazil: “It was a wet and bumpy ride across the channel, sailing in around 20 knots of wind. We had a great sail down here and it was a great opportunity to get some last minute training in!”
Thirteen Open 60 monohulls, ten 60ft multihulls, six 50ft monohulls and six 50ft multihulls make up the thirty-five fleet of boats that will compete in seventh edition of this biannual two-handed race that takes the fleet from Le Havre to the finish port of Salvador de Bahia in Brazil. The 60ft monohulls will race a course of 4,340 miles (slightly shorter than the multihull course) across the Bay of Biscay that could deliver some cold and autumnal conditions before reaching the tactically difficult Doldrums at the Equator after which they will hook into the warmer Trade Wind conditions to the finish line off the coast of Brazil.
Brian, Will and the SKANDIA shore team will be making the all-important final checks on SKANDIA today before the prologue event which takes place tomorrow (Saturday). At 1400h local time, SKANDIA and the 12 other competing Open 60 monohulls will be on the start line of the Renault-Transat Jacques Vabre Prologue event. Will and Brian will be accompanied onboard by Nick Moloney, Matt Lees (Boat Captain) and Erwan Lemeilleur from the SKANDIA shore team.
From Brian Thompson, Skipper SKANDIA Open 60:
“There is a great fleet of Open 60s assembled and it’s going to be fascinating to see who comes out on top. The first tester is going to be the prologue race and this is going to be a unique event – part sailing race, part rollerball. There are four laps of the course and at the end of each lap 4 boats drop out, until just 2 boats are racing, for the first prize of a Renault Kangoo van on loan for next season.
I enjoy prologue races, being able to do buoy racing rather than just ocean sailing with these Open 60s. The trick is to do well in the prologues, but not to win them. Whenever we have won a prologue, we have never won the main event. This is probably not going to be an issue this time as there are some much newer machines out there. We will just try to stick in this prologue race as long as possible, and not get eliminated on the first lap!
It will be great to have Nick on board, he knows the boat inside and out now so any last minute tips he can give us before the start next weekend, will be very useful!”
The 50ft Monohull Prologue starts at 1000hrs tomorrow, prior to the 60ft Monohulls. The Multihull Prologue event is the following day, Sunday 30th October.
What’s happening in the week before the start?…
Sunday: The Race Committee will begin their boat inspections of the Open 60 monohull fleet. The multihulls inspections commence the following day. Throughout the next week they will look at each boat in turn, checking all aspects from sails to safety and technical equipment.
Wednesday: At 1100hrs Brian, Will and the other 68 competing sailors will attend the safety briefing, to explain in detail the technical, and organisation structure surrounding the race with regards to safety & communications in an emergency situation.
Thursday: In the morning, the pontoons will be visited by local school children to give them a chance to learn about these Formula One racing machines and to meet their sailing super-heroes! In the afternoon there is the ProAm Renault Modus for all skippers, where they will racing on a fleet of Bénéteau 7.50 boats in the Eure Bassin, with the prize-giving in the evening.
Friday: At midday, the 70 race skippers are meeting for the Official Transat Jacques Vabre 2005 photocall. This is a rare event – there are not many occasions where you see so many professional sailors from all around the world together and captured in one place! At 1900hrs local time, there is the Official Presentation of the skippers to the public and media, on a stage in the Océane Docks.
Saturday: On the morning of the start day, there is a final briefing for all race skippers, focussing more on the weather, the start and the race itself.
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