Arkea pa

The Transat CIC: the expert’s debriefing

Yoann Richomme, on Monday in the Imoca class, and Ambrogio Beccaria, this Friday morning in the Class40 class, won The Transat CIC. What can we learn from this race? Answer from several experts consulted by Tip & Shaft, namely Pascal BidégorrySébastien JosseTanguy LeglatinAchille Nebout and Dominic Vittet

The 15th edition of The Transat CIC was marked by “trajectories very close to the direct route, fairly hard, varied conditions, with quite a few systems changes and wind strengths”, sums up Pascal Bidégorry, but also by “not a lot of upwind sailing”, adds meteorologist Dominic Vittet. These conditions were “favourable for a fast race – 8 days for the first Imoca boats, 11 for the Class40s”, says the weather routing specialist, who adds: There weren’t any major strategic options – apart from before Ireland, where the Imoca fleet spread out a little – as we had to pass to the north of the two lows to pick up some downwind conditions”.

For Pascal Bidégorry, the race was very much about “positioning and the ability to gybe at the right moment to get good angles on starboard tack when exiting the lows”. He also felt that “the Imoca fleet was evenly matched, with an average high level of quality”. For the Basque, however, “the imperatives of qualifying for the Vendée Globe have certainly changed the commitment of the sailors concerned.”

Another aspect highlighted by Dominic Vittet was the technical problems encountered by some of the competitors: “The boats are becoming increasingly sophisticated and fast, and to be in the match, you have to avoid breaking anything and know how to manage your boat to preserve your chances right to the end”.


“Yoann knows how to set the pace”


Five months after his first major victory in the Imoca class on Retour à La Base, Yoann Richomme (Paprec Arkéa) has added this legendary English transatlantic race to his tally in 8 days 6 hours and 53 minutes. “He showed that his Koch/Finot-Conq design is at ease downwind in a breeze, but that’s not a scoop,” notes Pascal Bidégorry. For Lorient trainer Tanguy Leglatin, as soon as the conditions get tougher, you can see that he manages to be a notch above the others, and that may have more to do with him than his boat”.

Sébastien Josse confirms that the skipper of Paprec Arkéa “knows how to set the pace and keep it. And when the conditions are tricky, he also knows how to ease off and sail like a good sailor. So he’s pretty complete.” Yoann Richomme’s victory was achieved under pressure at the end of the race from Boris Hermann (Malizia-Seaexplorer), who was 2hrs 20mn behind him. “After a fairly cautious start in the Irish low, he came back like a plane as soon as the conditions became downwind,” emphasised Dominic Vittet.

“Very discreet, Boris is not a leader, he doesn’t set the pace, but he knows how to adjust to it very well,” continued Sébastien JosseAnd “his VPLP design holds the 24-hour record [641.13 miles with a crew, in The Ocean Race]”, reminds Tanguy Leglatin.


“Sam Davies, sharp as ever”


Finishing third, Sam Davies (Initiatives Coeur) scored her first podium finish in a transatlantic race. “Since the Transat Jacques Vabre, you can feel that she has changed dimension,” says Sébastien Josse. “In her physical preparation, she’s as sharp as ever, she sails superbly well and has reached the level of the best.” And Tanguy Leglatin adds: She knows how to push hard at the right moment, while having good positioning. We can also see that the downwind points of sail on her Manuard design have been well optimised compared to Bureau Vallée [formerly L’Occitane, from whose mould she was built].

The performances of Malizia-Seaxplorer and Initiatives Coeur have not really surprised Pascal Bidégorry, who says: “During the last training sessions in Port-la-Forêt, they were already really in the game, much more than they were last year.” Among their assets is a new pair of identical foils designed by Sam Manuard“which, with their very C-shaped, very round forms, provide stability downwind in the sea”.

Leader for a long time, Charlie Dalin (Macif Santé Prévoyance) suffered a number of technical problems and finished fourth, just ahead of Maxime Sorel (V and B-Monbana-Mayenne), who, according to the Basque, “hasn’t yet been seen in such good form in terms of pure performance”. Our experts also note the excellent start to the race by Paul Meilhat (Biotherm), who was forced to slow down in third place after foil and foil shaft damage, and Nicolas Lunven (Holcim PRB), who broke his bowsprit while sailing in fifth place.


“Ambrogio was impressive”


As for the Class40s, “there were a lot of transitions, with very light winds and very strong winds following on from each other very quickly, which is quite exhausting for the sailors and the boats,” notes Achille Nebout, a Class40 racer (and just father). “The first three or four boats put in a huge amount of intensity from the start of the race, battling hard and maintaining good average speeds.”

Marked by a fierce final duel between Ian Lipinski (Crédit Mutuel) and Ambrogio Beccaria (Alla Grande Pirelli), the race was won by the latter in 11 days 16 hours and 17 minutes. “They attacked really hard!” says an admiring Pascal Bidégorry. “These are 40-foot boats with a fixed keel, ballast tanks and no foils, but they manage to achieve downwind averages that are sometimes higher than a fair number of Imoca 60-foot boats.”

Winner of the Transat Jacques Vabre, the Italian skipper has once again demonstrated that his Guelfi design is “the most versatile, with a big plus in the downwind breeze”, emphasises Tanguy Leglatin. For his part, Achille Nebout found Ambrogio Beccaria “impressive and very solid throughout the race, adding: “He didn’t panic when in the passage of the ridge of high pressure (Monday evening), he was stopped for around ten hours and saw Ian, positioned a little further north, come back on him. He managed to keep up his level of play to regain the advantage, a great champion!”

Finishing second, Ian Lipinski, according to Pascal Bidégorry, had an exemplary race on a first-generation scow [2019 Raison design] which shouldn’t be at the front so muchEven though Ian knows it by heart, he put a hell of a lot of commitment into it!” Tanguy Leglatin added: “To the north of the second low, when Ian was in the lead and entered the low-pressure system first, he made some big averages, he was clearly a notch above, right up until the moment he had his little problems and lost his little spinnaker.”


“The fleet remains fairly homogenous”


Fabien Delahaye completed the podium on his Lift V2 Legallais (Lombard design), in the leading trio throughout the race. “We saw that the two Lift V2s (the other being Nicolas d’Estais’s Café Joyeux, in fourth place) were very fast on all the reaching conditions” points out Tanguy Leglatin

And what do our experts think of Vincent Riou‘s Pogo S4 (Pierreval Fondation GoodPlanet), well placed to finish sixth on Friday, with its innovative design (keel with a trimer and a single rudder)? “Surprisinglyhe wasn’t very fast during the first 24 hours, when there was VMG upwind, which should have been the conditions for this boat,” analyses Tanguy Leglatin. This is confirmed by Achille Nebout, but they both agree that “it’s still too early to draw any conclusions”, Vincent Riou having launched the boat in February.

With three different designs on the first three steps of the podium“The Transat CIC shows that no one is managing to make any huge differences and the fleet remains fairly homogenous”, underlines Dominic Vittet. And Achille Nebout concludes that “it also proves that it’s the way you lead them that makes the difference, all the more so in a single-handed northern transatlantic race”.

Photo: Demian Neufeld

Tip & Shaft est le média
expert de la voile de compétition

Course au large

Tip & Shaft décrypte la voile de compétition chaque vendredi, par email :

  • Des articles de fond et des enquêtes exclusives
  • Des interviews en profondeur
  • La rubrique Mercato : l’actu business de la semaine
  • Les résultats complets des courses
  • Des liens vers les meilleurs articles de la presse française et étrangère
* champs obligatoires

🇬🇧 Want to join the international version? Click here 🇬🇧