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Transat Jacques Vabre 2017 - 42 pairs at sea

As happens every two years, couples are getting together as the summer approaches…to form solid partnerships for the Transat Jacques Vabre, the double-handed race of reference, which has been leaving Le Havre since 1993. For this 13th edition, 42 teams will cast off their moorings, and head for Salvador de Bahia, Brazil, on 4,350-mile long ride; a mixture of tactical and strategic plays, spiced with extremely diverse weather. Thus, this demanding two-handed “Route du Café” – it follows the coffee trade route - requires sailors to find their other half, for the better and for the worse. So, who will be there on the start line on November 5?

Class40 : the international class

20 monohulls of 12.18 m in length will compete on the great chessboard of the Atlantic. 20 crews composed of sailing amateurs and professionals, who are unreserved fans of race machines which are high-tech at the same time as being steadfastly sailboats. The Class40 is the largest and most international category of the 13th edition, with 7 foreign boats: Mussulo 40 Team Angola Cables with a hitherto unseen duo of the Brazilian, Leonardo Chicourel, and the Angolan José-Guiherme Caldas; Kiho with the Japanese sailor Hiroshi Kitada (co-skipper to be announced), Imerys with Phil Sharp and Pablo Santurde, Oman Sail with Sidney Gavigney and co-skippered by Fahad Al Hasni, Campagne de France with the Franco-British couple of Halvard Mabire and Mirranda Merron, Colombe XL and Magalè two 100% Italian teams led by Massimo Juris - Pietro Luciani and Andréa Fantini-Alberto Bona respectively and finally Stella Nova with two German skippers, Burkhard Keese and Alexander Kraus. Alongside them, several duos, true connoisseurs of the class, will be closely followed: Bertrand Delesne and Justine Mettraux (TeamWork), the La Rochelle sailor, Aymeric Chapelier with Arthur Le Vaillant on board their brand new Mach 40.3 (Aïna Enfance et Avenir) and the Normandy duo of Louis Duc and Alexis Loison on their brand new and fiendishly-fast Lombard-designed boat (Carac). The Class40 promises to be an exciting race.

Multi50: Seven Flying Aces

This should be a high-quality race of aces. 7 Multi50 boats skippered by the leading specialists in the discipline will participate in the Transat Jacques Vabre. The sailors are particularly fond of this race as the contest is so demanding, with only two to manage racing machines that now have foils. The triple winner of the Transat Jacques Vabre (2009, 2013 and 2015) Erwan Le Roux (FenêtréA - Mix Buffet) partnered by Vincent Riou (twice a winner of the IMOCA class in 2013 and 2015) comes to defend his title against some high-flying competitors. Le Roux will face Lalou Roucayrol (Arkema), who will be participating in his 8th race, and has called on Karine Fauconnier (a winner in 2007), to try and land victory. We will also have to watch out for the brand-new Ciela Village of Thierry Bouchard and Oliver Krauss, which will come to be launched at Le Havre; and Gilles Lamiré on French Tech Rennes Saint-Malo (co-skipper tba) and Eric Defert on Drekan Groupe (co-skipper tba). Two newcomers on the Multi50 circuit are also expected: Armel Tripon on Réaute Chocolat (co-skipper tba) and Thibaut Vauchel-Camus on his brand new Solidaires en Peloton - ARSEP. Thibaut has called on a multihull ace, triple winner of the Transat Jacques Vabre (2005, 2007 and 2009), Franck-Yves Escoffier - There will be some serious racing in Multi50.

IMOCA: marriages of reason…and passion

There are three mixed couples out of 12 crews and some interesting combinations of skippers in the IMOCA60 category. Tanguy de Lamotte and Samantha Davies on board Initiatives-Cœur renew their partnership of 2015, when they were a joyful presence on the Transat Jacques Vabre. Isabelle Joschke has called on Pierre Brasseur (winner in 2015, alongside Yannick Bestaven, in the Class40) to dive in at the deep end of the IMOCA race. A couple at sea as in the city, Louis Burton and Servane Escoffier on board their foiler, Bureau Vallée (ex-Banque Populaire, winner of the last Vendée Globe) will share the experience, as great as it difficult, of a  transatlantic on a flying machine. Jean-Pierre Dick has called on Yann Eliès to help him lead his St Michel-Virbac (2003, 2005, 2011) to a fourth victory in this two-handed transat. Paul Meilhat will have Gwénolé Gahinet in the colours of SMA, Kito de Pavant and Yannick Bestaven are on board Bastide Otio and Fabrice Amedeo and Italian, Giancarlo Pedote, are on Newrest - Brioche Pasquier – all will be serious competitors.

Ultime: three beautiful couples

You do not change a team that is working wonderfully. Thomas Coville and Jean-Luc Nélias, on Sodebo Ultim', are the fastest men on the planet (Coville as skipper and Nélias as router broke the round-the-world record last winter) and demonstrated perfect harmony on the Transat Jacques Vabre 2015, finishing second. So, here they are, back against two race-hardened crews: Lionel Lemonchois and Bernard Stamm on board Prince de Bretagne and Sébastien Josse and Thomas Rouxel on the brand new maxi trimaran with foils, Maxi Edmond de Rothschild, which will racing in its first competition.

The Transat Jacques Vabre will start on the way to Brazil on Sunday, November 5, 2017, after a week of festivities in Le Havre, which begin on Saturday, October 28.