Every other year, France puts on a massive show for their ‘adventurers’, attracting over a million people to the start of two great races: the solo Route Du Rhum alternates with the double handed Transat Jacques Vabre, which begins this coming weekend. Here’s the story from US/UK entry 11th Hour Racing and their former SCOTW skipper Hannah Jenner.
Our Team 11th Hour Class 40 is in Le Havre, France with one week to go to the start of the Transat Jacques Vabre [pronounce it “Jock Varb” with a soft ‘j’ to get close]. We have smiled and waved and signed autographs for the public and it now feels REAL! The race to get to the start is over, the lock gates are closed and there is no going back now. It’s funny how the blood, sweat and tears of the preparation period dissolve into pre race excitement and all of those moments of wondering what on earth you are doing and questioning your crazy career choice are fading into the background. (Although we may find ourselves revisiting those questions again looking at the forecast for start day. It seems the weather gods know when its a TJV year and amp up the depressions that crash into this area of the world in November).
I was here in the same spot two years ago sailing on 40 Degrees and two years on I am back in the same boat under a new name and with a new co skipper (Rob Windsor). This time around though we are streaks ahead in terms of preparation, and rather than the usual frenetic craziness, the atmosphere in the team is happy and relaxed. After losing our rig in the 2012 Atlantic Cup we have a new and lighter rig, we have shaved weight of the keel, we have re-wired and upgraded the electronics and spent a lot of time training both on and off the water. Above all, we feel we have a great team.
Having sailed 6,000 miles together this year, most of which have been aboard 11th Hour Racing, we understand what makes each other tick and how to get the best out of the boat. We have been tired and frustrated and grumpy and we are still talking! Its a good sign and most importantly we have the same aspirations in our sailing careers, which really helps to focus us when the pressure is on.
So all that is left to do is get through the scrutineering checks, attend the safety briefs and soak up the incredible atmosphere here in Le Havre. As long as the boat stays attached to its mooring through tonight’s storm we are in great shape and ready to race. This time around, it’s not about finishing: Our goal is CLEANER FASTER BETTER.
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