Clarisse Crémer’s perseverance

After a reassuring start to the race, the L’Occitane en Provence sailor had to deal with damage to her J3 bulkhead, which forced her to stop in the Azores. After five days of repairs with her technical team, Clarisse is back at sea and is now almost 660 miles from the finish. Even though conditions are likely to be rough on her route, she is aiming to finish the race in four days’ time, i.e. before the line closes on May 20.

She has rediscovered the simple pleasures of sailing. Setting off on a race, being alone on board, managing the weather, maneuvering… Clarisse set sail again with the necessary concentration, a touch of apprehension, but also the desire to taste once again the unique sensations of the open sea. Nothing but the boat, to reconnect with an adventure that she would have liked to be purely sporting. “My main aim is to have a smile on my face at the finish and to feel once again what incredible means of locomotion these boats are,” she explained before the start.

Clarisse Crémer's perseverance

“At the time it was okay, but the next day it was hard”.

Clarisse’s first few days of racing were up to the task, and she even got closer to the ‘top 10’ on the ascent to Ireland. “The first few days were in line with my expectations in terms of speed,” she confides. “I wasn’t too sick at sea, I was able to find my feet”. At that point, she assures us, “I didn’t ask myself any questions”, which can be perceived between the lines as a relief that does so much good and is reassuring.

And then, because the open sea is never a long, quiet river, there was another incident, this time a technical one. On the 4th day of the race, the skipper of L’Occitane en Provence went around the boat to check everything after the two previous fronts. That’s when she noticed that the forward bulkhead of the J3 had been severely cracked over a distance of almost 4 meters.

I managed to be pragmatic, to talk to the team and analyze the situation. We had to put the
race on hold. It was okay at the time, but the next day it was hard
.” She shoots a video,
looking worried before wiping away a few tears, exhausted. There are all the small repairs
she’s made, and then there’s the magnitude of the task ahead: getting back to the Azores,
making repairs, setting off again, far from the excitement of the race.

Clarisse Crémer's perseverance

A five-day stopover and an express repair

Clarisse set course 500 miles further south, for the Azores. She moored on the island of Faial, in the port of Horta. There, her technical team – eight people were mobilized – began a race against the clock. “They did an amazing job, taking turns day and night to get me back on the water as quickly as possible”. During her five days on site, Clarissealternates between “rest and site supervision”. One day, she allowed herself a walk “to take her mind off things”. “It’s a magnificent place,” she says, ”I wish I’d discovered it under different circumstances… But it’s good for the heart.”

Before she can take a breather, however, the end of her racepromises to be copious. On the agenda: the front of a low-pressure system to get over on Tuesday, a transition phase, strong winds, a ridge of high pressure to negotiate… “I’ve almost got a new system to go through every day between now and the finish,” confides the sailor. And she concludes, dispelling the few remaining doubts, with a note of optimism: “I’m managing to keep up a good pace, to make clean maneuvers. Overall, I’m fine!”

RACE UPDATE. Five skippers still in the race!

The next boat expected to cross the finish line is Patrick Isoard’s, which should win the Vintage categoryUship pour Enfants du Mékong is less than 175 miles from the line. Currently in a less windy zone, it should cross the line in less than 24 hours. The other entrant in the Vintage categoryFAIAOAHE (Rémy Gerin), has passed the halfway mark and is making good progress in a steady southerly flow which is set to intensify on Tuesday. In the IMOCA class, in addition to Clarisse CrémerOliver Heer (Oliver Heer Ocean Racing, 25th) has made good progress with 290 miles to go. He should, however, “hit a slightly less windy zone at the end of the day”, explains Francis Le Goff, the race director. Finally, the last Class40 entrantAnatole Facon (Good Morning Pouce), was showing good pace, covering almost 200 miles a day. “If he keeps up the good work and the hard work, Anatole could make it to the finish before the line closes, even if it’s going to be a tight race.”

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Text Credits: The Transat CIC
Photo Credits: The Transat CIC
Video Credits: The Transat CIC

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