26 Oct They are off… (More…)
There may have be a “Man for all Seasons” but unfortunately that does not apply to boats. Especially race boats! You have to make crucial decisions when you get one. Inshore, offshore, full crew, short-handed, upwind, downwind performance?
Both Concise 8 and Concise 2 are built to the Class 40 rule. The two Blue Ribbon events of their Association are “The Route de Rhum” (the single-handed race from France to Guadalupe) and the double-handed, “Transat Jacques Vabre” which is underway right now from France to Brazil.
The main component of both of these events is offshore sailing in trade wind conditions. We had this very much in mind when we had Concise 8 designed. We decided on a boat that would perform well when power-reaching in winds of around 15 knots with wind angles of between 90 – 110˚.
It seems to have worked quite well. Yesterday’s start of 2015 TJV saw Concise 8 perform better than expected in the light and variable conditions, and then take the lead once she got to reach down the English Channel. Jack and Gildas managed to hold off all comers throughout the night, as they sped west at speeds between 15 and 20 knots.
It was with that comfortable feeling that we went to sleep on the ferry home last night as we returned from the race to Portsmouth UK. Waking this morning we saw that C8 was still heading west, but that two of our opponents, Credit Mutual and V&B had chosen to dive south. The tracker was showing them to have taken the lead, with them sailing closer to the rumline (the most direct route between the start and finish). The big trimarans had also taken that route, as had two of the IMOCA’s. The rest of the fleet like ourselves had decided to plug on west.
Looking at the charts you could see why there was a “split decision”. The whole fleet is facing a series of depressions sweeping in from the Atlantic with wind speeds of 40 knots plus in the southern Bay of Biscay. What our boys are trying to do is sail into the first big depression, then use this to catapult themselves down to the Azores.
The teams sticking to the rumline have probably decided that slamming into the 20 foot waves associated with the low was too risky and that they would rather go for the more easterly route – even though it means facing head winds all the way across Biscay and probably down the coast of Portugal as well. These are the decisions that make offshore racing so interesting and outcomes that can mean the difference between “zero and hero”.
As we go live with this news, C8 is still pushing west, and on paper losing ground to all of those boats who kept south. Only time will tell which was the right move.
Meanwhile C2, the only women’s team in the race and sailing the older, slower boat, are making steady progress, albeit towards the rear of the fleet. With some luck they might well be spared the worst of the weather. There was a charming moment just after the start of the race. A French yachtsman stood on the side of his boat and extravagantly doffed his hat, bowing to our fair ladies, wishing them “bon chance”, saluting them as the only women’s team in the 2015 TJV.