The Transat Jacques Vabre (TJV) started on 5th November, 4 different classes all double handed, across the Atlantic from Le Harve to Itajai. This event is used as key building block for sailors on their pathway to the Vendee Globe. We caught up with Samantha Davies who returns to sail with Tanguy de Lamotte on Initiatives-Coeur in the IMOCA60 class and Justine Mettraux who steps onto TeamWork’s Class40 with Betrand Delesne about their pathway in solo offshore sailing.
Both have their eyes on the Vendee Globe in 2020, Sam will be taking on her third campaign, the most any female sailor has competed in, and Justine is looking to compete in her first Vendee Globe. We took some time to ask them about their current TJV campaign, their Vendee aspirations and whether we will see them in a boat together in the future.
TMP: Justine, it has been a busy year and a great performance in the Solitaire du Figaro breaking into the top 10. Were you pleased with your result and where do you think you made the improvements from the previous year?
Justine: Yes I was really happy. I’ve been working hard for 2 years to get that so I was satisfied it paid off because it’s not easy to do a top 10 in the Solitaire.
I think the biggest improvements from last year were that I got to the start really rested taking care at planning my season for that and I tried to have a minimal stuff and media to do the days before, so I had the time to sleep well in Bordeaux and to make naps and to get mentally into the race.
This really helped me because I was in a really good shape for the whole race and just started to feel tired on the last leg. I also, continued to work mentally during the year and I felt pretty strong during all the legs. I knew my boat even better and the areas we were sailing with one more year experience and that helped also.
TMP: Justine, your goal is the Vendee 2020 and shortly you will be stepping offshore again in the TJV in Class40 with Bertrand Delesne? Do you see this as a stepping stone to the Vendee, if so how?
JUSTINE: Yes it’s nice for me to end the season like this with a “bonus race” and it was interesting for me to learn a new boat and to get back on a bigger boat. For sure the Class40 is a step closer to an IMOCA as it looks more like it than a Figaro but it’s just a one shot for me as I’ll continue in Figaro next year.
It’s definitely nice to have a new experience and also to get back in more offshore mode regarding weather forecast and routing, race management, preparation etc. It’s a good recall of what a big offshore race involves.
TMP: Sam, you are about to embark on your 3rd Vendee Globe campaign and have been based out in France for most of your career what do you think the advantages have been from being based in France for your sailing pathway?
SAM: Definitely for me it is compulsory to do either the Mini Transat, Figaro, or Class 40 (for several years) to be ready to embark on a safe and competitive Vendee Globe, so given that these three circuits are very French-based, it is a good idea to spend a lot of time here to be able to line up with the best and fast-track the learning…..
TMP: TJV is double-handed event what skills do you look for in a co-skipper?
JUSTINE: I would say naturally I’d look for same kills as it’s probably easier to work together then. So I think with Bryan (Justine’s brother who she did some double-handed Figaro sailing earlier in the year) we were quite similar. With Bertrand we’re more complimentary, we have different ways to work but organized and defined well I think it’s also a strength but it takes more time to set up.
SAM: Complimentary skills are good. It sometimes depends on where you are in your project. Ideally it’s great to sail with someone that you can learn from and progress with. The most important for me is to have someone equally motivated as I am and with the same attitude.
TMP: So, Sam, a new boat since the last TJV you did with Tanguy and it’s a foiling boat, how has the training and learning been going?
SAM: FUN, FAST, a BIG learning curve, difficult to find all the answers in the sailing time we have had. It is definitely a new way of sailing and we are at the beginning of this phenomenon . Really exciting. Great to take over from Jeremy and his team who have done such a good job on the development of this boat. Still a lot to learn and great potential in the boat too.
TMP: What have you been doing to fast track your skills in this area?
SAM: Training with The Port La Foret squad (against the best) and working with Tanguy Leglatin too. Trying to make every day on the water count. Being rigorous with our testing which is never easy in a small team but we have made the most of the tools available such as Sailing Performance and Adrena to learn even when we are out on our own. We have managed to get a few “experts” out sailing with us (Guillaume Verdier, Jeremy Beyou, Jean-Baptiste Le Vaillant…) to fast-learn!
TMP: Sam/Justine with very similar goals but different stages of your pathway towards the Vendee Globe in 2020, could we see the two of you working together in the future?
JUSTINE: It could be as we’re working with the same coach in Lorient, Tanguy LeGlatin. Sam already has her project going well and told me I could join sometimes during the winter when they need crew onboard. That would be nice already for me to get a bit of experience with her!
SAM: I hope we will see JuJu on the start line of the Vendee. If she gets an IMOCA project going we will almost certainly work together as we both train with Tanguy Leglatin as coach. JuJu definitely showed us that she is more than ready to race an IMOCA at top level this year with her top-ten finish in La Solitaire du Figaro.
You can follow the TJV on their live tracker by simply clicking here