Le Cleac’h puts a marker down for the Vendée Globe
He is known as the Jackal in French sailing because of his relentless competitive zeal and Armel Le Cleac’h lived up to his name with an impressive win in the IMOCA 60 class of The Transat bakerly today – his first victory in the class in 10 years.
Le Cleac’h’s elegant blue and white monohull, Banque Populaire, with its trademark dark blue sails, crossed the finish line under clear blue skies off Sandy Hook at 11:27 local time – 16:27 CET.
The two-time Vendée Globe runner-up had completed the 3,050-nautical mile course from Plymouth in 12 days, 2 hours and 28 minutes and 39 seconds. His total time includes a 31-minute penalty for the accidental breakage of his boat’s engine seal. Le Cleac’h informed the Race Director about this at 16:26 local time yesterday.
With two days to go, Le Cléac’h professes himself happy with his foiler
The IMOCA 60 battle in The Transat bakerly, now in its 11th day, has been dominated by the duel between Armel Le Cléac’h on the foiler Banque Populaire and Vincent Riou on the more conventional PRB.
For days now Le Cléac’h has managed to stay ahead of Riou but never quite shake him off. With 450 miles left to sail to the finish at New York, at a position around 200 miles south-southeast of the southern tip of Nova Scotia, Banque Populaire was this afternoon 63 miles ahead.
The two boats were sailing in a dying northwesterly and will then slow down during a light patch before the breeze picks up again from the south. For Le Cléac’h this race was as much about competing as it was confirming his new boat’s durability for the upcoming Vendée Globe solo round-the-world race.
The Transat bakerly from Plymouth to New York is in its final stages for Macif skipper François Gabart who is now just over 450nm away from the finish line. The current routing is showing Gabart’s estimated time of arrival as tomorrow at 1300 EDT (1800 BST).
Now well into his seventh day of racing, Gabart is 126 miles away from his closest rival Thomas Coville aboard Sodebo, and 473 miles ahead of the third Ultime Actual, skippered by Yves Le Blevec.
Gliding towards the Big Apple at around 20 knots, the 33-year-old skipper looks set to break The Transat bakerly race record tomorrow. Gabart’s mentor and friend, Michel Desjoyeaux, currently holds the record after sailing the ORMA trimaran Géant from Plymouth to Boston in 2004, in a time of eight hours, eight days and 29 minutes.
Time to batten down the hatches in The Transat bakery
At the beginning of the fifth day at sea in The Transat bakerly, the majority of the remaining 21 skippers still in the race are battling a fierce Atlantic depression that is producing gale force winds and big seas.
This is the moment the skippers have been preparing for the last 36 hours and all of those who have been in contact have talked of trying to get through the next day or so without damaging their boat.
In the IMOCA 60 class the contest has turned into a match race in the north between Armel le Cleac’h on Banque Populaire and Vincent Riou on PRB who are just a few miles apart, with Le Cleac’h just ahead as they reach in strong northerlies.
4th May 2016 Top IMOCA skipper retires as damage takes its toll on The Transat bakerly fleet
The Transat bakerly is living up to its reputation as one of the toughest challenges in professional sport, with three of the 24 competitors retiring within the last 24 hours and some fierce battles elsewhere in the fleet.
Shortly after midnight, on May 4th, Edmond de Rothschild skipper Sébastien Josse, was among the leaders in the 6-strong IMOCA 60 fleet, as the boats raced around the north-west tip of Spain off Cape Finisterre, when the Frenchman reported damage to his mainsail.
In 25-30 knots of breeze, the foiling IMOCA broached during a gybe, resulting in irreparable damage to the sails batten. Josse was forced to head approximately 80nm to the Spanish port of Vigo in Galicia, where he will be joined by members of the Gitana Team.
In something of a carbon copy repeat of his success in 2013, gliding across the same finish line, Vincent Riou (FRA), sailing PRB with co-skipper Seb Col (FRA) finished first IMOCA monohull in the 5400Nms Transat Jacques Vabre when they took their winning gun at 12:52.24 (UTC) (+5hrs local time) today.