Pre-race favourites Jéremie Beyou and Franck Cammas on ‘Charal’ lead the IMOCA fleet on the 16th Transat Jacques Vabre double handed race to Martinique.
Sailing with Cammas, who has the chance to become the only sailor to win the Transat Jacques Vabre five times, Beyou on the 2022 launched ‘Charal’ was just under two miles ahead after two hours of racing.
Britain’s Alan Roberts, sailing with his French counterpart Clarisse Crémer on ‘L’Occitaine en Provence’ was fifth.
There was a definite sense of urgency as the top title contenders all crossed the start line in quick succession with one reef in their mainsails and J3 headsails.
The 40 strong IMOCA fleet were finally blessed with ideal conditions to set off on what is now a shortened course of 3,750 nautical miles to Martinque which should take between ten and 11 days.
Among the first to cut the line after the gun were the IMOCA 2021 race titleholders Thomas Ruyant and Morgan Lagravière on their new ‘For the People’, along with Sébastien Simon and Spanish Olympic medal winning ace Iker Martinez on ‘Groupe Dubreuil’, the boat which recently won The Ocean Race as 11th Hour Racing.
Two duos were given 5 hour start line penalties for passing inside, between an inner distance mark and the start boat, Louis Burton and Davy Burton on ‘Bureau Vallée’ and Britons Pip Hare and Nick Bubb on ‘Medallia’.
As for ‘Macif Santé Prévoyance’, so as not to get in the way of their rivals, the Verdier designed boat stayed behind the others, and then took the start before retiring from the race.
Due to medical reasons, 2019 race winner and one of the pre-start favourites Charlie Dalin is unable to compete in the race, but by crossing the line continues his Vendée Globe qualification process.