The 11th Route du Rhum transatlantic singles race will start at 2pm on 4 November from the French corsair capital Saint-Malo. The regatta, which celebrates its 40th anniversary this year, will start with 125 competitors. That is two more than during the last race in 2014. Traditionally, they will include both yachting stars who have already participated in the Route du Rhum and the Vendée Globe, and amateurs, for whom the regatta will be a fun way to spend a holiday.
The yachtsmen, competing in 6 divisions, will have 3,542 nautical miles to cover.
«Following the vintage route from the Caribbean to Europewill be multihulls Ultime, capable of speeds up to 40 knots, 50-ton vintage kechas, the latest» Class40 pocket rockets and IMOCA foilers.
The race's finish line is located in the largest port in French Guadeloupe , Pointe-à-Pitre Harbour .
The race is expected to take from 5.9-9.2 days (at 16-25 knots) to 28 days depending on the boat type. The current speed record (7 days, 15 hours and 8 minutes) was set during the last regatta in 2014 by French Loïc Peyron. (Loïck Peyron) on the 31.5m Maxi Banque Populaire VII. As sailing has steadily evolved over the past 4 years, the organisers of the Route de Rhum expect that this year's time may well be surpassed. François Gabart and Armel Le Cléach, for example, are both up for the job in their ULTIME class trimarans. It is likely that when the large trimarans, flying at 30 knots, pass Biscay and Cape Finisterre , the remaining half of the fleet will not yet pass the island of Ouessan in the west of Brittany.
For the first time, the«rum» race will feature Briton Alex Thomson.
The experienced yachtsman is already considered one of the favourites in the IMOCA class. For his famous black IMOCA HUGO BOSS, on which he finished second in the 2016-2017 Vendée Globe circumnavigation, this will be his last race. For the next Vendée Globe, the athlete is already designing a special solar-powered IMOCA 60.
«For me this race is a real opportunity to test myself and make the boat show everything we all know it can do. During last week's Vendée Globe we saw that HUGO BOSS is one of the fastest, if not the fastest IMOCA in the fleet. I'm looking forward to seeing what we can do this time»," Thomson said.
Not reaching the finish line on time, which would stretch the trip out to more than 28 days, according to the Route du Rhum experts, is Frenchman Laurent Jubert , who will start in the 16m Renaissance Ketch. He has never raced offshore. Jubert is a father of 6 children, a physiotherapist and tobacco specialist. The race will be a way for him to promote healthy lifestyles and quitting tobacco.
Another contender for«anti-record» race, according to the official Route de Rhum website, could be Frenchman Christophe S ouchaud. Just in case, he's taking a 30-day supply of food on his Beneteau 40.7, the smallest monohull in the racing fleet. Interestingly, he will go on a boat that was built for Yves Gallot Lavallée specifically for the 1982 Route du Rhum. The boat then finished 13th on her 20th day of sailing.
One of the regatta's partners is the non-profit organization «Ocean as Common». The organization promotes the idea that the world's oceans, now threatened by pollution and climate change, are a shared value for all humanity. In this way, partners and participants in the race will help draw attention to environmental issues.
«For four decades, professional and amateur sailors have competed side by side on the Route du Rhum. Today, the ocean they know so well is increasingly threatened. It is an incredible challenge for humanity. Our partnership with Ocean as Common will help us raise awareness of this challenge, which is close to everyone involved in the race, from skippers to partners and fans», explained Herve Favre, CEO of OC Sport Pen Duick, which organizes the race.