At 15:00 GMT, 11:00hrs in St Barths, 6 of the 7 IMOCA60 skippers in the Transat Saint-Barth / Port-La-Forêt set sail on a race that serves as a qualifier for the Vendée Globe. The Irish skipper Enda O’Coineen (Currency House Kilcullen) has been forced to defer his start due to technical issues. The rest of the fleet are currently heading north in a steady tradewind system.
No need for sunshine to put on a show! The IMOCA60s treated onlookers to a fine spectacle this afternoon, under cloudy skies, offshore of the island of St Barths. Paul Meilhat (SMA) was the first across the start line, closely followed by Sébastien Josse (Edmond de Rothschild) and Thomas Ruyant (Le Souffle du Nord).
Making 15 – 16 knots, upwind, in heavy seas, a tad emotional but fully focused, those competing in the Transat Saint-Barth / Port-La-Forêt are, with the exception of Sébastien Josse, beginning their very first solo transatlantic race in an IMOCA60…
Hunting down the fronts
Over the next 24 to 36 hours, thanks to a steady 17 to 20-knot easterly, the solo sailors will be seeking to make headway northwards so as to leave the tradewind system behind them and board the ‘train’ of lows sweeping eastwards across the North Atlantic. Their strategy will consist of positioning themselves ahead of these weather systems so as to benefit from the downwind breezes that precede them.
A race within a race
Yesterday, the shore crew for the Irish skipper Enda O’Coineen (Currency House Kilcullen) discovered some engine problems. As such, they’re doing the necessary to effect repairs as quickly as possible to enable their skipper to take the start within the next 12 to 24hrs (the line remains open for 5 days). A race against the clock has begun then for Enda O’Coineen, but, as is the case for all the competitors in this Transat Saint-Barth / Port-La-Forêt, his primary aim remains his qualification for the Vendée Globe.
Ranking on passing Ile Fourchu, the first and final course mark prior to the finish
1. Paul Meilhat - SMA
2. Sébastien Josse - Edmond de Rothschild
3. Thomas Ruyant - Le Souffle du Nord
4. Morgan Lagravière - Safran
5. Fabrice Amedeo - Newrest-Matmut
6. Éric Holden - O Canada
7. Enda O'Coineen - Currency House Kilcullen