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5 November 2003

OMEGA ambassador Ellen MacArthur off to flying start in two-handed Transat Jacques Vabre race

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At 10 o'clock French time exactly, the 14 ORMA 60-foot multihulls competing in the two-handed Transat Jacques Vabre race finally set off from Le Havre to sail a direct course to Salvador de Bahia, Brazil. OMEGA ambassador Ellen MacArthur with race partner Alain Gautier had a fantastic start in flat seas and a good ENE 20 knot breeze. <br/> <br/>

The start of the multihull race had been postponed due to bad weather conditions. The Transat Jacques Vabre organisers had started the 60-foot monohull fleet and 50-footers last Saturday, but erred on the side of caution in not starting the 60-foot multihulls. In hindsight it proved to be a good decision as the Open 60 monohull fleet were battered by 50 knot winds leading to 3 abandonments.



The Transat Jacques Vabre is a highly original and exciting event in the international sailing calendar. Starting in one hemisphere - in Le Havre, France and finishing in the other - in Salvador de Bahia, Brazil this is a race where the number two holds particular significance. This competition is different from fully-crewed and single-handed races in that it is double-handed: two yachtsmen make up each crew. Two families of boats also make up the fleet monohulls and multihulls. Navigation in two opposite weather systems belonging to the two hemispheres of the planet.



This double-handed race can only be undertaken by the most skilled of yachtsmen. Not only does it require having an excellent knowledge of one's own physical capabilities, it also involves acute awareness of the limits of the other crew on board. Stamina and speed are the two key ingredients required for success in this race.



OMEGA ambassador Ellen was delighted to be taking part in this year's TJV: "It is awesome to be sailing with Alain and fantastic to be doing the Transat Jacques Vabre again. We came pretty close to winning it last time, but gear failure in the final stages of the race meant we finished second. Racing in the ORMA fleet is a crucial part of our build-up programme to racing the new 75-foot B&Q trimaran solo next year as well as keeping in touch with the ORMA competition for the future".



MacArthur and Gautier are competing against a strong line-up including Michel Desjoyeaux and Hervé Jan on Géant and - the only other mixed team in the multihull fleet – Karine Fauconnier and Damian Foxall on Sergio Tacchini. Both Hervé Jan and Damian Foxall raced with MacArthur on board the 110 foot catamaran Kingfisher2 in the Jules Verne record attempt.



The Transat Jacques Vabre has been changed to a direct course of approximately 4 340 miles from Le Havre to Brazil, cutting out rounding Ascension Island that was originally part of the multihull course. If weather conditions are favourable, the high-speed ORMA fleet can be expected to reach Brazil in around 12 days (ETA 17 November), overtaking the Open 60 monohull fleet along the way.


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