Photos: Jean-Louis Carli / Alea, Jean-Marie Liot / Alea, Croatia Full of Life, Transat Jacques Vabre

After 22 days, 14 hours, 29 minutes and 51 seconds, Ivica Kostelić and Calliste Antoine, sailing on the Croatia Full of Life, crossed the finish line of the Transat Jacques Vabre as the 17th crew in Class 40. During the race, Ivica Kostelić kept a diary for ACI No. 1 magazine

I won’t bore the reader with too long an introduction to describe in detail the preparation immediately preceding the Transat in the port of Le Havre. I’ll just briefly say that the Transat Jacques Vabre is a great sporting event attracting hundreds of thousands of visitors to the ‘race village’ in the week before the start. It’s a great pleasure to see the elite of offshore sailing brought together, while a large fleet of incredibly expensive sailing boats and trimarans in one place automatically attracts the attention of many interested spectators.
There are the Class 40s, the IMOCAs, the Ocean Fifties and the Ultime… a total of 85 boats.

7 November 2021

We got off to a good start with 20 knots from the northwest and fought the wind to the first mark, then set a Code 0 to continue to Étretat. At the same time, I took my first real washing over on the bow; however, we successfully moved up six positions before making the turn at Étretat.

9 November 2021

Last night wasn’t for those of a nervous disposition. The wind rarely exceeded 3-4 knots, and the current off Ouessant Island (the westernmost point of Brittany) was 4-5 knots, against us at that. The shallower the sea, the less current. Everywhere around us are shallows, some rocks are visible, and some are covered by high tides. All these dangers are hidden from the eye on a pitch-black night, especially when it rains, like it did last night. Anyone brave enough (or a little crazy, if you will) will try to slalom between the rocks in the shallows and this is the only way to slowly push forward. Actually, it might have been a good thing it was nighttime, so I didn’t have to see the tight spots we went through last night…

10 November 2021

We chose the riskier option and quickly sailed across the shallows at the exit of Chenal du Four, which let us catch a favourable current at Raz de Seine. From there, we had very light and variable conditions as we tried to break through a high-pressure ridge. Personally, since I come from the Adriatic, I have already mastered the school of light winds and I felt as if I was on home soil. At one point we even made it up to the fifth position. That moment came as a reward to my team because, as a complete outsider financially and technically, I had beaten the big players for at least a split second. Always outnumbered, never outgunned!

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