With less than 40 days to the start of the 11th edition of the Route du Rhum-Destination Guadeloupe solo transatlantic race, sailors, partners, organisers and journalists gathered at the Maison de la Radio in Paris today for the official presentation of the race.
For this 40th anniversary staging of the race, a record number of single-handed sailors will take part with 124 boats in six classes expected on the startline in the Bay of St Malo on November 4 for the 3,542-nautical mile voyage to Point-a-Pitre in Guadeloupe.
The fleet will be made up of both professional and amateur sailors all looking for victory in the “queen of transatlantic solo races”, which is both a technological and sporting challenge, and for some an extraordinary experience or fulfillment of the dream of a lifetime.
This time the fleet is more varied than usual and the 11th edition gives pride of place to a large representation of amateurs. For the first time in the history of the race the amateur “Rhum” class is divided into two with a monohull division and a multihull division.
With 53 boats registered, the Class40 fleet also adds its share of amateurs setting out on an extraordinary adventure. Together they make up one third of the total field, and these architects, business leaders, physiotherapists, tobacco experts or firefighters will write a new page of Rhum history as they make their way westwards across the Atlantic.
There is a large contingent of French Breton sailors (47%), but 20% of the fleet is from outside France with British entrants the most numerous with six sailors including two women. There are also sailors from Japan and Finland; there are two from Switzerland, three Germans, three Americans, three Belgians and one from Sweden. It’s a cosmopolitan fleet that underlines that the magic of the Route du Rhum-Destination Guadeloupe extends well beyond the borders of France.
Getting 124 boats safely away from the same startline on November 4 is not going to be easy, so the race organisers have devised a line that will stretch for two-and-a-half miles and will be divided into four parts. The Ultimes – the biggest and fastest boats - will have one section to themselves, then it will be the sector for Multi50s and Rhum Multis, then a section for IMOCAs and finally a segment for Class40s and Rhum Monohulls.
With 50,000m2 dedicated to the event at the race village at the foot of the walls of the “Corsair city”, St Malo is ready to celebrate this anniversary edition of the race first staged in 1978. The Duguay-Trouin (IMOCA) and Vauban (Class40, Multi 50, Multi Rhum, Mono Rhum, Ultime Use it Again) harbours will welcome this extraordinary fleet, while the large trimarans in the Ultime category will gather at the Maritime Station. From October 24 to November 4, the public is expected in large numbers – there were 2.2 million visitors in 2014 – ready to enjoy this great festival of offshore racing. View the full St Malo schedule here.
For the first time, it will be in front of the iconic Memorial ACTe in Guadeloupe –dedicated to the memory of victims of trafficking and slavery - that the solo mariners will cross the finish line at the end of the race where the esplanade will vibrate to the rhythm of the race and its heroes.
The Bas du Fort Marina will be a centre of entertainment while the Guadeloupian culture will be honored in Basse-Terre where the famous buoy off the coast - the last point of the course before the finish - will once again be a focus of suspense as winners in each class are decided. Full the Guadeloupe schedule here.
The official website, routedurhum.com, has been given an anniversary makeover and comes with a new mobile race App which is available today on the Apple Store and Google Play. Having become Official Digital Supplier of the Route du Rhum-Destination Guadeloupe last June, Niji conceived and developed the new website and App with the team at OC Sport Pen Duick, the race owner and organiser. A clean design, easy access to multi-media content and customisable navigation, provide a new digital experience to enable fans to fully live the race.
Ary Chalus, President of the Guadeloupe Region:
"After months of preparation by organisers and partners, here we are! From St Malo, more than 120 solo sailors are preparing to challenge the Atlantic and put their tenacity and competitive spirit to the test to reach Pointe-à-Pitre. And in Guadeloupe, it is the whole archipelago that is preparing to welcome the sailors, their teams, organisers and visitors, for the 11th time in 40 years. Because between St Malo and Pointe-à-Pitre, between Brittany and Guadeloupe, this is a true love story that has been built and strengthened over the years, and has been going on for 40 years. It’s time to celebrate four decades of adventure and intense emotions. And we will be at the build-up to race start in St Malo where Guadeloupe will bring the flavors of victory to sailors and visitors through the presence of our companies and cultural events. From 9 November, the finish of the race will be celebrated for the first time on the magnificent esplanade at the ACTe Memorial in Pointe-à-Pitre. With its long seafront, the public will delight in the arrival of the giants of the seas. In all, three villages will celebrate the finish until November 25: the very festive Memorial ACTe, the very educational Marina and the gourmet, Basse-Terre. 2018, the Guadeloupe Region and its partners will meet you in the islands of Guadeloupe! "
Loïg Chesnais-Girard, President of the Regional Council of Brittany:
"Forty years of Route du Rhum is 40 years of adventure, technology, solidarity and the support of the general public. The Brittany Region is a partner because it is its role to be alongside those who promote this beautiful image of a conquering Brittany, to the rest of the world."
Maurice Bourrigaud, Managing Director of the Banque Populaire Grand Ouest:
"For the Banque Populaire Grand Ouest, being the Main Partner of the Route du Rhum-Destination Guadeloupe, is to be fully part of the continuity of its commitments in the sailing universe. For 29 years, daring, performance and team spirit have been the values we support with envy and pleasure. We are on the side of those who dare, those who change the game. For this legendary race, there is only one word: success is in you!"
Mathieu Sarrot, Events Director OC Sport Pen Duick:
“This 40th anniversary edition promises to be exceptional. What better gift to celebrate this birthday than a set of the best sailors taking part, the most successful boats in all categories and many stories that will enrich the Legend of the Rhum?
In St Malo, an increasingly ambitious race village of more than 50,000 m2, 124 sailors and exhibitors will welcome the two million visitors expected. An event on this scale had to promote a cause and a responsible movement and we are thus proud to be associated with the Call for the Common World Ocean of Humanity. Finally, Guadeloupe, title sponsor of the race until 2026, is preparing to welcome all the sailors in an iconic setting, the ACTe Memorial. See you in St Malo from October 24 “.
Claude Renoult, Mayor of the city of St Malo:
“The city of St Malo has always been the starting point of this legendary Route du Rhum race. For 40 years we have lived every four years to the rhythm of this great adventure. As a PREMIUM partner, we have a real commitment to this event that mobilises the entire community of St Malo. Inhabitants, tradesmen, municipal agents, elected representatives, we are all ready to welcome you to the 11th edition of the Route du Rhum-Destination Guadeloupe, which promises to be exceptional. Welcome to St Malo! ”