Top Figaro competitor Jack Bouttell is about to strike another ambition off his ocean racing bucket list, as he prepares to race his first Transat Jacques Vabre. Teamed with Gildas Mahé, an accomplished French sailor and fellow Figariste, Jack and Gildas will race ‘Concise 8’ (Class 40) in the 5,400 transatlantic drag race from France to Brazil starting 25th October 2015. Jack returns to the Concise crewlist after racing ‘Team Concise’ in 2008. Jack went on to join the ranks of the Artemis Offshore Academy in 2013 and subsequently raced in three editions of the Solitaire du Figaro. Jack achieved his best Solitaire result this July, finishing 10th overall following a stint aboard ‘Dongfeng’ in the Volvo Ocean Race– winning Leg 3 under the guide of his mentor Charles Caudrelier, a double Transat Jacque Vabre winner (2009 monohull and 2013 MOD70). At just 24 years old, Jack is fast establishing himself as a top offshore racing competitor and the Transat Jacques Vabre comes as another stepping stone towards his ultimate goal – the 24,000 mile solo round the world Vendée Globe.
“The Transat Jacque Vabre is something I have wanted to do for a long time now,” Jack explained. “Five thousand four hundred miles is a long way for a crew, let alone two people. I’ll be drawing on my experiences racing the Volvo Ocean Race and three years of solo Figaro sailing to help ensure we are a competitive team. The Class 40 is new boat to Gildas and I, we are definitely looking forward to the adventure ahead.”
The Transat Jacques Vabres is world-renowned race following the historic coffee traders passage between Le Harve, France and Itajai, Brazil. Open to four classes of ocean racers, Class 40s, IMOCA 60s, Multi 50s and Ultime Multihulls, the race sees the world’s best sailors pairing up to take on the 5,400nm course across the Atlantic. Since the first edition in 1993, 226 double-handed duos have taken part in the Transat Jacque Vabre. Jack, Gildas and 41 other teams have signed up for the race in 2015, this year’s entry list boasting some of the biggest names in offshore sailing – Francois Gabart (Macif), Armel Le Cléac’h and Erwan Taberly (Banque Populaire VIII), Charles Caudrelier (Edmond de Rothschild), Jérémie Beyou (Maitre Coq), Yan Elies (Queguiner – Leucemie Espoir) and Michel Desjoyeaux (SMA) to name but a few. “The Transat Jacques Vabres entry list is like a who’s who of short handed sailing, it will be quite an experience.” Jack continued. “I’ve lined up alongside the likes of Armel, Jérémie, Yann and Mich Desj in the Figaro before, and these guys are masters of the sport – weapons! In the Class 40 division much of the entry list is unknown to me as I’m new to the class, except for Corentin Horeau who both Gildas and I know well from the Figaro circuit, he is likely to be amongst the front runners.”
Jack’s ‘Concise 8’ co-skipper Gildas is a five time Solitaire du Figaro competitor, and like many Figaro sailors started out in dinghy and Olympic sailing. The fast and tactical nature of inshore racing, combined with the endurance and skill needed to sail a 33ft keelboat alone makes Gildas a formidable sailor and great Transat Jacque Vabre alliance for Jack. In 2014 Gildas finished 4th in the Solitaire du Figaro and 11th in the 4000nm Transat AG2R La Mondiale in 2014, a double-handed transatlantic Figaro race.
With just over two months until the start of the prestigious race, the training starts now for the latest Transat Jacque Vabre duo hoping to sail to victory in Brazil. Concise 8 is one of 14 Class 40s taking part in the race, with a total 42 entries across all four classes. The 2015 Transat Jacque Vabre starts from Le Havre on 25th October 2015.