Reflections – Transat Jacques Vabre

Martyn RuksClass 40 racing, Dream or Two Sailing, TJV

Reflections on the Transat Jacques Vabre

Reflections on the Transat Jacques Vabre (TJV)

Dream or Two’s Reflections on the Transat Jacques Vabre 2015

It was great to watch the start of the Transat Jacques Vabre (TJV) amongst the thousands of hardcore French sailing fans. Unfortunately the notorious harsh weather had deserted us and it was a beautiful sunny day with no wind. The fastest offshore yachts in the world were reduced to very expensive flotsam, drifting at unspectacular speed. It didn’t dampen the enthusiasm of the crowd though and provided us with some Reflections on the Transat Jacques Vabre 2015.

At Dream or Two we have utter admiration for this sport. It is rather like Formula One, with the latest composite creations on show, advanced hydro and aerodynamics, every aspect optimised. The race is a test bed for new ideas, new technology. The latest materials are developed here and the teams have produced some beautiful machines and inspirational sailors.

Many forum pundits, particularly in the UK seem to struggle with what the Transat Jacques Vabre race is about, with talk of very uncomfortable rides, speeds that are too dangerous, not seamanlike etc. The large number of retirements gets the press (they love a disaster), some would say bad press, but the race is a challenge not to be underestimated. It is HARD. You could easily build a boat more or less indestructible, but you would finish last – what’s the point of that? That would be cruising, which is great and many cruises happen across the Atlantic every year that no one watches. THIS IS A RACE! Of course, to be successful you need to strike a balance, and apply good seamanship, and good decision making to guide your vessel to the finish in one piece. The winners were the teams that got that balance right.

For us, professional sport is about progress. The constant striving to improve on what has gone before. It is how we develop, how we learn. No team wants to retire, but when they do, what we are watching is someone learning. They will analyse the weakness, then seek to improve it, amongst serious competition. Those that make mistakes and go through the heartache of a retirement, will learn, develop and make progress. This is what spices up life and gives us things to talk about! Inspiring and far more interesting than those who criticise on the sidelines and would never dare to try.

Sailing is such a vast subject that there are more areas to develop than ANY other sporting discipline we know of, whether it is weather modelling (huge subject!), materials development, naval architecture, human performance, sail design, new printing techniques, new paint, new HD Satellite broadcast media technology… the list goes on. A rich mix of things to learn about and discuss! The great thing with the Class 40 is that there are so many areas to develop, it is not just about the expensive hull. Established designs tend to be good all rounders, that deal well with the varied conditions the race can throw at them. They have been tried, tested and refined. It is worth noting that CARAC Advanced Energies, an Akilaria Prototype from 2008, finished in third place in the Transat Jacques Vabre and spent time fighting for second. This boat is of a similar vintage to Fortissimo (an Akilaria RC-1) and was the precursor to the Akilaria RC-2.

We hope our enthusiasm for this sport comes across, and inspires you to take a closer look at what offshore racing is all about. Those adventurers who take part always have an interesting story to tell, and are inevitably inspiring to listen to. They are well rounded, balanced, driven and determined people, in our opinion amongst the best and most inspirational sportsmen and women we have in this country, as their expertise extends to so many different areas. The crime is that despite the UK’s maritime heritage the French know more about them than we do! Many of our sailors have to learn French and become part of the French scene in order to live out their dream. We should recognise their achievements and support them in this country, after all, we are a sea faring nation, with some of the best sailors, and best designers and engineers on the planet.

If you want to know more then take a look at Phillippa Hutton-Squire and Pip Hare, the only all British team, via their blog here. Very well written and gives you an idea of their challenge in the Transat Jacques Vabre 2015. Find out more about this year’s race here.

At Dream or Two we purchased Fortissimo in order to open up the sport and enable people to try this type of sailing. The more people we can teach, coach and inspire, the more engaged with offshore sailing they will become. A heady mix of seamanship, competition, performance and adventure. The intention is to give everyone the opportunity to sail on her. Day Sails in the Solent are tailored to each individuals requirements, from complete novice to expert, we will give you the experience you want. For those with previous sailing experience we are offering the opportunity to join the crew for offshore racing, and fast cruising around the channel. Take your sailing to the next level with us, two of our Fastnet crew this year had not sailed across the channel before, by the end of the summer they had logged over 1,700NM offshore.

And please remember, we are always available for a chat about sailing if you have any questions or want to give offshore racing a try.

More Reflections on the Transat Jacques Vabre

More Reflections on the Transat Jacques Vabre

TJV Skipper Requirements

To be a skipper in the TJV you need the following skills, a perfect illustration of why this is a sport that inspires and drives those that take part.

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