Le Havre (AFP)

Ten days ! It's a record time for British sailing star Alex Thomson to predict the 14th edition of the Transat Jacques Vabre aboard a brand new flying boat, one of five foilers at the top of the list. Duplicate race poster.

Sunday, at 1:15 pm, a large fleet of 59 boats will leave the port of Le Havre for Salvador de Bahia (Brazil) for a crossing that promises to be very fast with these 'foilers', a new generation of sailboats equipped with side appendages (the foils) that allow the hull to rise above the water to fly.

"The record is what?" Twelve days and a half (13d to 7h in 2017, Ed) With the same conditions, I will be surprised if these new boats, at least that of Charal, do not do it in 10 days Alex Thomson, who will launch his machine (Hugo Boss), launched in September.

His boat is an Imoca, an 18m monohull that makes the beautiful days of the legendary race around the world alone, the Vendée Globe, whose next edition will be played in a year. All the riders of the offshore race dream of winning, and the Transat Jacques Vabre (TJV) is a big point of passage.

"I remain convinced that if you have to be successful in the Vendée Globe, it is that you will have been ready for the Transat Jacques Vabre", assures Jérémie Beyou, the big favorite of the race with his foiler Charal (and his co-skipper Christopher Pratt).

- Beyou favorite -

His boat is the first of the last generation of imoca to be launched a year ago. Which means a year to learn from the machine to draw the greatest potential.

His rivals - who have all taken control of their machines in recent weeks - are Thomson (co-skipper Neal Mc Donald), Thomas Ruyant (Advens for Cybersecurity, co-skipper Antoine Koch), Charlie Dalin (Apivia, co-skipper Yann Eliès) and Sébastien Simon (Arkéa Paprec, co-skipper Vincent Riou).

"The good forward on some gaits is colossal, sometimes there are differences of 7 knots (13 km / h), it's crazy.It's sometimes twice the speed of the wind, it's fabulous. all atomize but as in multihulls, we always have this limiting factor of the wave height, "says Beyou, who failed to cross the Atlantic last year during the Route du Rhum, and who prefers to speak of an arrival in 12 days.

In ambush, imoca less modern but well broken to all tests like Master CoQ Yannick Bestaven / Roland Jourdain, Initiatives-Heart of Samantha Davies / Paul Meilhat or the Banque Populaire Clarisse Cremer / Armel le Cléac'h, will benefit from the less ambush on the road of the pioneers.

But even if the imoca are good and well the stars of this Transat Jacques Vabre, - 29 boats at the start - the race should be won by a multihull, faster - a priori - a monohull.

- Without the Ultims -

For this 14th edition, they are only three multi, in the class of Multi50 (15 m long), and have trouble taking light. They are in the shadow of the elite Ultim class, these giant trimarans 32 m long, which paved the way for flying navigation.

And the Ultims do not dispute the Transat Jacques Vabre this year, for lack of agreement between the organizers and the Ultim class. They have therefore concocted their own race in doubles, the Brest Atlantiques, a loop via Brazil and South Africa, which must last a month. The start of this race will be given a week after the start of the TJV ...

"I would have preferred that the Ultim are on Jacques Vabre", regrets Vincent Riou. The problem of sailing is the lack of legibility because there are too many events and we add one to the calendar, I'm not sure it's a good thing.

© 2019 AFP