by Matthew Thomas
The TJV as it’s known in France is by far the greatest offshore race, attracting teams from all over the world in 4 classes as they compete double-handed to race from Le Harve to Italjai in Brazil.
This year, our very own, Phillippa Hutton-Squire is skippering Concise 2, a Marc Lombard designed Class 40, together with Pip Hare.
This year’s start was in a gentle breeze and the girls got a decent start in the front pack. It’s important to remember that in this type of ocean racing, the primary goal is to be in the front pack at the start, but to also make darn sure that you get away cleanly as the opportunity for problems with other competitors and the huge spectator fleet, pose a real threat and many a race leader has been involved in an incident that put paid to their chances of a good finish.
With the first mark set up the coast near Etrtat, Phillippa and Pip were around 11th and hoisted their spinnaker and bore away to the NW before gybing to the West and heading for the headland signalling their entry into the Bay of Biscay.
Passing North of the island of Crabby St Anne, they’d slipped back a position and were holding off Groupe Setin who was pushing hard.
As morning broke it is clear that the fleet is starting to settle into the routine of daily life ocean racing and it currently appear that there are 2 distinct courses being chosen by the leaders (Ultime Tris, IMOCA 60’s, Multi 50’s and Class 40’s).
One group is continuing to press towards the west, while the rest have gybed and are now charging down the French Coast. With higher winds forecast towards the west, the race is on to see who will manage to hook into it first and whether the extra distance sailed by going West will pay off.
Phillippa and Pips are close to having to decide which way to go and I’m sure are monitoring the weather forecasts closely as well as their competitors. They’re currently 31.9nm behind the Class 40 leader and have 5,253.1nm to go before they cross the finish line in Italjai, so there is still a lot of ocean to cover and lots of thrilling sailing ahead of them.