The 15th edition of the famous Transat Jacques Vabre Normandie Le Havre race is upon us as 45 Class40s get set to depart the Bassin Paul Vatine, Le Havre for the final race of the season this weekend.
In what is described as the longest and most demanding double-handed transatlantic race on the calendar, the Class40 Championship battle will also reach its climax in the next three weeks – and it's certainly all to play for!
The island of Martinique in the West Indies – a new finishing location for the TJV – will welcome the first Class40 champion for two years at the end of the month following the pandemic-interrupted 2020 season. Catherine Pourre and Pietro Luciani's Eärendil took top honours in 2019, and a new victor is now set to be crowned in the Caribbean this time around.
With a maximum of 400 points available to the Transat Jacques Vabre winner this year, the identity of the impending champion remains anyone's guess.
Class40 European Trophy winner Antoine Carpentier heads the way going into the race on 566 points following a strong year for his Redman. He's yet to finish outside the top four in Championship races this season, having taken third (Normandy Channel Race) and fourth (Rolex Fastnet Race) either side of his memorable victory in Les Sables Horta.
But with a vast amount of points still on offer, his 39-strong advantage is well within reach for the chasing pack.
Trailing by that specific number is Lamotte Module Création's Luke Berry, who's also taken two top-three finishes in 2021, at the Normandy Channel and Rolex Fastnet races respectively.
Another duo within 50 points of Carpentier's tally is Banque du Léman's Valentin Gautier and Simon Koster, as well as Axel Tréhin and Frédéric Denis of Project Rescue Ocean, who won the opening race in Normandy but were dealt a blow in August's Rolex Fastnet, posting a DNF after dismasting shortly after the start.
After their race-winning heroics in Cherbourg at that very same event, Palanad 3’s father and son team of Antoine and Olivier Magré sit fifth in the standings with 490 points knowing any repeat of their performance could see them in serious contention for the title.
The Legallais crew of Pierre Casenave and Kevin Bloch are sixth, six points clear of 2019 Transat Jacques Vabre winner Ian Lipinski and his Class40 Crédit Mutuel. Lipinski missed the Rolex Fastnet Race last time out, but has displayed record-breaking Class40 speeds on multiple occasions this season – peaking at 424.5 miles covered in 24 hours on his way to third place at Les Sables Horta.
Further back, consistent top 20 finishers in the form of Avanade’s Maxime Cauwe, Vouge Avec un Crohn’s Pierre-Louis Attwell and Maxime Bensa and Optimus Prime’s Ivica Kostelic round out the top 10.
Ahead of packed calendar next year, which includes the Route du Rhum, the final action of 2021 is set to provide a host of thrills and spills yet!