Following the passage of storms Ciaran and Domingos, at the start of next week a suitable weather window is set to open which will allow all of the record fleet of 40 IMOCAs to start the Transat Jacques Vabre Normandie Le Havre two handed race to Martinique on Tuesday morning.

Meanwhile the six Ocean Fifty multihulls and Class 40 fleet will resume their race Monday from Lorient where they were stopped to avoid the storm force winds and big seas. 

The ULTIM fleet left last Sunday on schedule. Outpacing the huge storms they are today approaching the Doldrums. 

It's almost a week since the start of the 16th edition of the Transat Jacques Vabre Normandie Le Havre started last Sunday in Le Havre. This period was spent with the race direction and race management teams watching closely for an  opportunity to restart the race for the all the boats which had their races put on hold.

“The sea will have calmed significantly in the Bay of Biscay as in the English Channel,” explains Christian Dumard, the race meteorologist. “The general westerly flow continues from the Atlantic but the starts should be completed in manageable conditions. A new front does look set to come in and hit the Atlantic coasts from Wednesday but we are seeing wind sof 30-35 knots which is much less violent than these recent storms.” 

Class40 and Ocean Fifty: The race will restart in Lorient on Monday morning (6th November)

Monday at 1030hrs local time, the six Ocean Fifty will set sail on the second leg between Lorient and Fort de France leaving the island of Sal (Cape Verde) to starboard. This 4320-mile long course will mean that the duos will have to dive south as soon as they are out of the Bay of Biscay. Their speeds should allow them to get away from the front moving into the near Atlantic on Wednesday.

At 1045hrs local time on Monday, the Class40 boats will set sail on a 3500-mile long course to Fort de France. “They will have to leave the island of Santa Maria (Azores) to starboard. This more direct route will mean that the monohulls will have to cross the front, but unlike Storm Ciaran, the winds will not be as strong and there are many more opportunities to avoid them, including in the Bay of Biscay,”explained Christian Dumard.

“The first boats will leave the pontoons in Lorient at eight in the morning,”added Francis Le Goff, the Race Director. “The start line will be set up between Talud Point in Lorient and a mark positioned offshore at a distance of around one mile with a buoy in place for both classes. To avoid the worst winds and the deep low forecast for the 11th-12th, we have put in place a mark that the sailors will have to pass to take them to the South. That is to say Santa Maria in the Azores for the Class40 boats and a waypoint in the south for the Ocean Fifty boats that we are working on with the Race Directors based on the latest weather forecasts, and which won’t limit the skippers’ options too much.”

Two boats have officially retired in the Class40 class (Movember and Acrobatica). Three boats are undergoing repairs (Crédit Mutuel, Sogestrans-Seafrigo and Dékuple) and they have said they intend to set sail again on Monday. As for P-Rêve à perte de vue, the crew has not officially retired, but the boat is still in the harbour in Le Havre. “At this point, we cannot give a precise figure for the number of boats that will set off again. We will discover that at the last moment depending on how repairs have gone,” added Francis Le Goff. “It is important to stress that the start line will remain open for another 72 hours after that.”

IMOCA: big departure Tuesday November 7 at 9:30 a.m. from Le Havre

The 40 IMOCAs will start from Le Havre on Tuesday at 9:30 a.m local time. They will leave the Paul Vatine basin from 4 a.m. and the sea lock gates will be open at 4:45 a.m. until 6 a.m.

The IMOCA’s 3,750 mile course also leaves the island of Santa Maria (Azores) to starboard as do the Class40s. “They will hit the front leaving the Channel on Tuesday evening and Wednesday night with 35 knots from the South/South-West and seas not exceeding 4 meters” according to Christian Dumard.

As per plans for last Sunday, there will be full photo and video coverage and it will be broadcast live on the networks.

“In collaboration with Race Management and the classes, we have calibrated everyone's courses and timings according to the weather windows to prioritize the safety of sailors and boats. That was the prerequisite. At the same time, we have done everything possible to ensure that the start of this superb fleet of 40 IMOCAs benefits from the best possible media coverage and we have no doubt that once again, the images will be superb.” concluded Gildas Gautier, co-director of the Transat Jacques Vabre Normandie Le Havre.

ETA arrivals in Fort-de-France in Martinique of the 4 classes

ULTIM: between November 12 in the evening and November 13 in the morning
IMOCA: November 17
Ocean Fifty: November 18
Class40: November 22