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Transat Jacques-Vabre: storm Ciaran paralyzes the race

While the imminent arrival of storm Ciaran in the north-west of France and the dire weather that accompanies it are putting the nerves of the organizers and the vast majority of skipper duos in the Transat Jacques on edge -Vabre, Pierre Le Roy remains surprisingly zen.

With Benjamin Ferré (Monnoyeur-Duo for a job), this 38-year-old Northerner is nevertheless one of the forty Imocas crews (18-metre monohulls) stuck at the dock, in Le Havre (Seine-Maritime), since Sunday October 29, the date initially planned for departure.

But Pierre Le Roy is also a meteorologist. “I was disappointed not to leave, but we understand the organizers’ decision to shelter the boats given the conditions in the Gulf [de Gascogne, où de 8 à 10 mètres de creux et des rafales à près de 120 km/h sont annoncés entre mercredi et jeudi] “, he said.

Read also: Article reserved for our subscribers Ciaran: a “very strong autumn storm” is preparing to sweep across the north-west quarter of France

From 2010 to the end of 2022, Pierre Le Roy juggled between his job as a forecaster at Météo-France in Lille – occasionally, on the Grand Slam tennis tournaments of Roland-Garros, Wimbledon or the US Open – and a intense activity as an offshore racer crowned by a victory, in 2021, in the Mini-Transat, a solo event on a 6.50 meter walnut hull. Now based in Lorient (Morbihan) and full-time sailor, he plays co-skipper while looking for a used Imoca and partners with the aim of lining up at the start of the Route du Rhum in 2026 and the Vendée Globe in 2028. Enough busy to wait patiently for the communication of a new departure date.

“The problem is not so much the strength of the wind as the state of the sea, he explains to World. Sending a fleet of forty Imocas, each costing several million euros, into boat-breaking seas is a big risk one year before the Vendée Globe. »

Skippers reduced to turning their backs

If he doesn’t sulk “position of competitor, much more comfortable than that of the organizers”he scrolls through weather files in garnet and violet tones on his laptop screen, which even the philistine guesses does not bode well. “956 hectopascals is 100 km of wind on the coasts alone”he warns.

And it’s not over. In the wake of Ciaran, the curves of another depression are emerging which should affect the north-west of France between Saturday and Sunday. “It seems a little less strong, but it’s still a little early to be certain”says Pierre Le Roy who refuses to make any predictions, out of respect for the race meteorologists. “They will follow the evolution of this Saturday-Sunday depression, and if they consider it too strong, we will perhaps not leave until next week”he guesses.

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