In pursuit of the legend

Sunday, November 4, in the French Saint-Malo, start of the famous transatlantic race ROUTE DU RHUM – Destination Guadeloupe 2018. All the details – in the reporting Elena Tekinay:

© Elena Tekina

The start of the legendary transatlantic race is 3542 miles in length will be given in French Sailing valley, as it is now called Brittany, and if exactly one of the most beautiful cities of Saint-Malo. The finish in Pointe-a-Pitre, the largest city of the French overseas Department of Guadeloupe. The race takes place every 4 years, and this time Route du Rhum celebrates the fortieth anniversary since the first start.

Arriving at the end of October in Brittany, especially quickly understand why the entrepreneur Michel Etienne had a desire to create a race in the footsteps of the ancient route of commercial ships carrying to Europe the rum. Without this fiery drink is not easy to endure the cold, wind and damp late autumn Breton. While I before the start was in Saint-Malo, a short Indian summer instantly gave way to winter hail, rain, +3 heat and wind over 40 knots!


Although the real reason for the birth of the modern “Rum Road” was still another.

In 1976 the British, organized in 1960, a single OSTAR transatlantic race (later renamed The Transat) with the route from Plymouth to the USA, decided to limit the length of the participating boats 56th feet, and the number of participants – 110-Yu. The French, who by this time has strongly dominated the race (by the way, Eric Tabarli won the OSTAR twice), this is very upsetting. Nobody wanted to accept restrictions, and…

In December 1976, Eteleon together with the composer and Director of the famous Parisian concert hall Olympia Bruno Kokatriksa, as well as with several manufacturers of Guadalupe Roma created the Association and announced the launch in 1978 of the new French transatlantic single race where there will be no restrictions for participants, in addition to a ban on the use of the motor, and where the winner is the fastest who finish.

In fact, Eteleon set new standards for sponsorship in the sailing world. He showed how beneficial for entrepreneurs may be to support the offshore sailing projects and the extent of the interest of the wider public can call the ocean race.

Odnoklubniki, catamarans and trimarans, Amateurs and professionals — 38 yachts without separation into sizes and classes was released on 4 November 1978 at the start of the first race. Among the tens of thousands of spectators had many celebrities, including Serge Gainsbourg and Jane Birkin, which even became the godmother of one of the yachts. The first race was marked by the tragic disappearance at sea of Alain Cola, who won the OSTAR in 1972, and with the victory of canadian Mike birch on 39-foot trimaran Olympus Photo.

The idea with the cold weather all together to raise the sails and set off from chilly Europe to the warm Antilles quickly gained popularity, and the race has become a must for every self-respecting offshore racer. “Rum Road” is now considered to be not only the hallmark of Saint-Malo, Brittany and all of France, but also true classics, of the Royal race among transatlantic ‘cousins’.

Gradually regatta occupied the large mnogoyarusnyi with a length of over 23 meters and there was a division of the Navy one – and multi-hull divisions. The third race in 1986 again resulted in the death of one participant: a 26-metre catamaran Loïc is Karateka overturned, and the driver was killed at sea. In 1990 the race was first introduced carbon fibre trimarans, but also a restriction of the maximum length of the hull 60 feet. This race was first won by a woman, a yachtswoman and writer Florence Artaud. Because of the openness rules new innovative solutions continued to set the tone in 1996 all were impressed by the use of 60-foot monohulls ballast water.

Race 2002 broke the record for the number of major breakdowns, lost masts and kaprizov. Of the 58-mi launched yachts finished only 28. Due to the heavy storms with winds reaching 65 knots and huge waves in the class 60-foot ORMA trimarans out of 18 skippers before the finish got only three, and the winner of the single non-stop voyage around the world Vendee Globe 2000-2001. Michelle Dezhuayo won the competition of mnogoyarusnyi. Another winner of the race was the winner of the second place Vendee Globe British yachtswoman Ellen MacArthur. 26-year-old Ellen this time not behind his main rival for the world and “the Rum trail” won the Open class 60.

In 2010, the race was allowed giant mnogoyarusnyi class Ultime, and the winner was the famous Frank Kamma for nearly 32 meter trimaran Groupama 3, which he in the same year won the Jules Verne Trophy.

The previous Route du Rhum in 2014 was won by the legendary French racer, winner of “the Cup of Jules Verne” by Loic Paranam. All the same trimaran-winner of the previous race, but updated speakers called Banque Populaire VII, Peyron set an absolute record of the race is 7 days 15 hours 8 minutes 32 seconds.

All the same trimaran, but under the name IDEC Sport and under the management of Francis Guaiana was the last year the new holder of the Jules Verne Trophy and will be one of the main contenders for victory in the class Ultime “Rum Road” 2018!


Crucial in the Route du Rhum start playing and the first 48 hours of the race. It is always a compromise between faster trying to get ahead to be the first to get into the zone of the prevailing North-easterly winds – the trade winds, and the danger of damage to the materiel in rough conditions when passing Cape Finisterre and the Bay of Biscay.

After leaving Biskaa it all depends on what latitude will be famous Azores anticyclone, which in winter is usually shifted to the South. Depending on this, the sailors usually choose one of three options. The first diffraction zone of high pressure from the North, this is the shortest route, but the problem is the predominance of headwinds and the risk of weaker winds on reaching the zone of the trade winds. The second option is to descend at once to the South. Although this is the longest route, but then there is the opportunity to get a strong and steady tailwind that quickly deliver the yacht to Guadeloupe. The third option is the Central route with a more southern direction at the start of the race, but with less downhill and into a more moderate trade winds.

Unfortunately, although the area of the trade winds is characterized by stable winds average 15-20 knots, in fact, often it is not so stable. The wind speed may then fall calm, then increase to 35-40 knots and be accompanied by a strong wave.

Defining the primary route is always to find the balance between course and speed, and this crucial choice for all skippers to be done immediately after passing the coast of Portugal. As you get closer to Guadeloupe and falling into a low-pressure zone, the riders will have to face a risk for severe squalls, and a variety of local winds blowing between the Antillean Islands, which makes the finish in Pointe-a-Pitre particularly complex and unpredictable.


This year 11 people race record fleet of 123 boats in 6 classes from 11 countries. Participants included 6 women skippers — three in the class IMOCA, including the famous Englishwoman, a participant in the Vendee Globe and VOR Sam Davy,with three – in Class40.

The uniqueness of the Route du Rhom is that, in contrast to divided into two different races for Amateurs and for professionals British single OSTAR-The Transat, in the French race at the same time participate as absolute Amateurs and the best professionals. All start at the same time, with the same starting line. The fastest boat was able to finish during the week, and the way the slowest to the blessed rum banks may take more than 40 days.

The previous Route du Rhum gathered 2.2 million visitors to the race villages at the start and at the finish. This time only in the start-up village in Saint-Malo in 10 days is expected to 2 million visitors!

Race, as always, will gather the flower of French offshore sails and demonstrate the latest developments of the leading yacht designers. Perhaps in France there is not one offshore racer who wouldn’t dream to pass the Route du Rhum. According to Director of racing Herve favr, places in the port of Saint-Malo is sufficient for any number of boats, but the main problem is to get through the gateways to get all at sea to start, so that the number of applications was limited.

“Everywhere try to create boats that win, and we make skippers-winners” – say in the main training center of the French offshore stars – Breton offshore sailing school “Paul finistère”. And indeed “Rum Road” is still predominantly French. Grafted the French legendary Eric Tabarli taste to a single offshore race is gradually, but very slowly transferred to the representatives of other Nations.

This year’s foreign sailors – skippers 25 of the 123’s- account for almost 20% of participants. When any of our compatriot among them, unfortunately, no.

Only the current race are 6 classes: Ultime – 6 participants, MULTI50 – 6, IMOCA – 20, CLASS40 – 53. Amateur Rhum class in the current race for the first time divided into two divisions – Mono (monohull boats with length from 40 to 60 feet, their 17) and Multi (catamarans and trimarans from 39 to 59 ft – 21 yacht).

Of course, the attention of all – and journalists, and sponsors, and guests on the pontoons are primarily confined to the two most high-speed and innovative classes — IMOCA and Ultime.

In smite the imagination of the class giant 32-metre trimaran Ultime will participate 6 carbon cars. These radical sports machine is too large to be accommodated in the port, and Saint-Malo, they are in the outport on the floating pontoons. For most of them the current Route du Rhum is one of the stages of preparation for launch at the end of December 2019 new solo non-stop round the world race of mnogoyarusnyi Brest Oceans, which will be a real test of the ability to “fly” on hydrofoils around the world alone.

Latest tollingovye oceanic monsters able to overcome almost 900 nautical miles per day and cost more than € 10 million. The first major French star-Champions of ocean racing meet at the same distance.

This 35-year-old françois Gabaret, winner of the Route du Rhum in the IMOCA class, the winner of the last Vendee Globe and winner of the land speed record alone around the world, set by him last year at follingbo trimaran Macif. To the current Route du Rhum trimaran was seriously converted. Optimized the yacht is able, according to Francois, very early, compared to competitors to enter in airplane mode — already at 12-13 knots wind speed and the vessel speed 25-26 knots. While Macif can quite easily fly at a speed of 40-45 knots.

“On this race in our class of 5 boats came here to win, says Dim. For me the main rivals are IDEC Sport, and Banque Populaire. It is important a good balance between the reliability of the boat, experience of the skipper and his knowledge of the capacity of the boat. I know your boat, but we have a lot in it have changed. Put the new wings they are bigger and thinner, new rudder, new boom, new mainsail, changed the electronics and hydraulics. I would say that the trimaran Macif sample 2018 is a new yacht. And it will be very interesting to fly on this new boat, we can fight for the victory in the race. We see ourselves somewhere between IDEC and Sodebo, which are quite old. But thanks to the modifications we made, we approached the boats of the last generation, the Banque Populaire and Gitana. All three boats can fly. During my world tour in flight mode passed could be 10% of the time, and with the new folami in such a race as “Rum Road”, we will be able to fly about half the time”.

41-year-old winner of the last Vendee Globeи armel Le Cle will start the “Rum” on his new flying the latest generation of trimaran Banque Populaire IX. Armel twice participated in the legendary race by finishing 4th and 2nd. For Le Cle, according to him, the biggest setback in his career was the hand injury not allowing him to participate in the last Route du Rhum. Then he had to pass the helm of its well-prepared for the race trimaran Banque Populaire VII Loic Peirano, which triumphantly won the race.

This time Le Cle really wants to win, but he has failed to spend enough time on preparation. In April of this year during training in Morocco, the trimaran turned over, had a broken mast and damaged the cockpit, so a lot of precious time was spent on the repair.

Kapsis, however, only strengthened the team spirit and also gave the opportunity to redesign the Central control room, and also effectively improve the system of counter-revolution and control of airplane mode. Everything on the trimaran is arranged according to the wishes of Le Claix, especially the cockpit, which is a comfortable bed with an ergonomic mattress from your home where you can control the course of boats. Favorite author armel – Tolkien, and he finds many Parallels between a long and difficult journey, the little hobbits and their journey alone around the world. Maybe that’s why it is small but very functional living space on ultramodern trimaran is reminiscent of a cozy hobbit hole, where everything is comfortable, beautiful, rational and everything is at hand — from the kettle to the onboard computer.

“Participation in “Rum Road” is a very important stage in my program, says Le Glue. We spent a year preparing for this race, we have ambitions and we want to achieve a good result. It’s a legendary race with a great history. It was won by the great yachtsmen and yachtsmen. I grew up in the atmosphere of this race. When I was a kid, I looked at boats in Saint-Malo, watching the news. This is a great event for all who love offshore racing. The most difficult are the first 48 hours, this passage of the English channel, full of fishing and commercial vessels. But it is important to keep the rhythm throughout the week, pauses will not be, required constant concentration, you need to be constantly in shape, to the finish. How much time you will be in the mode of “flight” is highly dependent on wind and sea state. To “off”, you need 25 to 26 knots speed, which takes something like 15 knots of wind. And, of course, if waves are more than 2-3 meters, “fly” would be unsafe”.

The flying trimaran is the latest generation of Maxi Edmond De Rothschild (Gitana 17) 43-year-old Sebastian Josse, a veteran of the Vendee Globe and winner of the Transat Jacques Vabre 2013, is also among the main contenders for victory in the Route du Rhum. Its huge underwater wings according to Sebastian, let before the competition start flying, with 15 knots of wind the boat goes into flight mode at a speed of 26 knots. Gitana and Banque Populaire spent together only two joint training in “Paul finistère”, where there is a special training programme for class Ultime. Armel for repairs spent on training, insufficient time, and therefore, according to Sebastian, his trimaran while generally slower than Gitana.

The most experienced skipper in the class Ultime – 62-year-old Francis Joyon – acts on IDEC Sport, which won in the two previous races. Francis raced in 6 “publications” Route du Rhum out of 10, but his best result is second place. Thus, Guyon, the famous offshore racer, is the current holder of the Cup of Jules Verne. Francis understands that launched in 2006-quite an old boat that you can’t force “to fly”. “However the route of “Rum Journey” is still a single-player adventure, where the sailor must be able to manage their boat in difficult conditions, – says Guion. Is, in my opinion, opens up the chances of success of old boats like mine. Assuming the yacht is well prepared, and you anticipate all the scenarios and, of course, if you’re lucky”.

It is noteworthy that the foot drive of the winch appeared on the trimaran long before the advent of “bikers” in the new Zealand team at the last America’s Cup. In 2010 Frank Kamma attached the winch to the bike, to force the legs faster to pick up sails. Since then, the bike cockpit remained on Board, and Guyon it uses. “After each change of the wind I’m happy to sit on my bike and set sail. It saves time, I understand it’s spring training in the Mediterranean”.

The winner of the Route du Rhum 1998б in the IMOCA class, the holder of record of a single voyage in 2016., the winner of the Transat Jacques Vabre-2017 50-year-old Tom Covill and his trimaran Sodebo Ultim feel quite relaxed before the start. “I have nothing to lose but I can win everything. I have a very reliable boat that I love and know thoroughly”.

Finally, the sixth participant in the class Ultime 43-year-old Roman pillar in the tri-Use it again! does not hide that he feels an outsider among the famous opponents and expects to win. But it does not bother him. The task of the Novel is to draw attention to recycling, and the old trimaran 2005. former Castorama Ellen MacArthur could not be more naturally fits into his program.


In the IMOCA class after the last Vendee Globe no one there is no doubt – to fly or not to fly. A first wingless participants decided to acquire folami and enjoy the new features – such as PRB Vincent Rio or La Fabrique Alan Ruhr. The main struggle will unfold between the first launched on a boat cruise last generation IMOCA, is completely “flying” Charal the winner of the last VOR and the bronze prize-winner of the last Vendee Globe-Jeremie Bayou and took the second place despite the loss of one of the wings in the last Vendee Globe Hugo Boss, Englishman Alex Thomson.

Despite his great love for Saint-Malo, Thomson’s first participation in the Route du Rhom, but very determined to win the first time. According to him, even if he had to choose a boat, he still would have chosen to participate in this race, because it believes it is the fastest and most optimized. “But I will closely monitor Charal, as well as for PRB Vincent Rio with her new wings. Here is a good chance to look at them, the more that we will no longer chase together until August of next year.”

“Rum road” will be the last race in which Alex is participating on my old boat, it is already on sale, so, think, to spare his yacht in the race, the Briton will not – unlike Jeremy Bau, who built a new boat for the next Vendee Globе. (By the way, participated in the “Rum Route” Jeremy sees first and foremost as an opportunity to become better acquainted with your new boat). As for Thomson, in the spring of next year will be launched a new cruise Hugo Boss – same as Charal, design VPLP, although the yacht is held in England. And knowing Alex and his passionate desire to finally win the Vendee Globe, there is no doubt that the new boat will once again be radical.

And while “flying” Charal instantly captured the attention of all connoisseurs and lovers of the sail. Stunning photo and video of stable flight boat completely lifted out of the water body left no one indifferent, and pontoon around Charal was always crowded with spectators and journalists.

According to Jeremy, a model for the shape of their new giant foil he took something of a cross between the French “Dali’s mustache” and more horizontal wings Hugo Boss. “Boat Alex was the one on which we focused, but we have tried to surpass it, did Charal more appropriate for different courses. I wanted a boat that had to go into airplane mode and would be better on a collision course. She’s great on smooth water and moderate winds, but now I’m at the very beginning. The boat is new, and while I don’t exactly know where the limit of its capabilities. I only study it, but I think after about six months it will be much faster than today. “Rum Way” is only a step on the way to Vendee Globe, it is a way to test and get to know my new boat. With this purpose, we previously lowered it in the water”.

Bau continues: “Participation in the Volvo Ocean Race team Dongfeng was for me a big step, because there had to be very tough to chase. You were supposed to throw that part of the brain that kept you behind to move forward and push hard. I really have changed, I hope I can drive the boat harder. Now in competition with such strong rivals as Alex, you need to be stronger to squeeze out of the boat more, think faster, use new technology and be able to take on risk – as in the design of the boat and in the process of governance and strategy.”

The winner of the last Route du Rhom legendary loïc Peyron who took part in seven “Rum racing”, plans to participate in last time and will be competing in the Amateur class Rhum Multi on the historic 39-foot trimaran Happy, the twin of the first winner of the Route du Rhom. Loic accident a few years ago I found and bought this boat, then completely rebuilt her and wanted to go on it in the last race of 2014. But then he had to postpone his venture and come to the rescue of the team Banque Populaire, replacing the injured armel Le Cle.

According to 58-year-old Parona, his latest “Rum race” he plans to go through like in the old days, using paper maps and present sextan, just like he did his first three Transatlantic. Thus, Loic wants to pay tribute to Sail, all sailors, designers and boatbuilders. After the big trimaran, on which he passed the 3.5 thousand miles in nearly a week, Loic willing to sit on a tiny ship, a way on which to Guadeloupe will be at least three weeks. “I always wanted to race like I did before. Four years later, I am at the start of the race, which I won and in which I set the current speed record, and I’m sure I’ll lose it. And it’s great, it’s a great situation!”

In the most widely represented at the “Rum Route” Class40 among the 53 boats in the first race takes part Swedish sailor Mikael Raikin on the boat Talanta – the one with which the Russian yachtswoman Irina Gracheva as co-skipper last year set a record crossing of the Atlantic double-handed from Bermuda to Plymouth. And it is on the same boat Michael will take part in the current “Rum Journey”. Irina Grachev for his achievement was awarded the knowledge of Yachtsmen years-2017, and in the current Route du Rhum she’s helping her co-skipper for the ride. Miki is the only Swedish sailor at the start and the only skater among Swedish offshore racers. According to him, he always wanted to take part in the “Rum Route” and Class40 chose because it is quite affordable – compared to, for example, from IMOCA. At the same time, the class is very large, about 150 boats, and chase with a large number of opponents in an interesting offshore race is extremely exciting.

Start all classes will be given at the same time, although avoiding the danger of collision of the start line will be divided into 6 segments for each class. Due to the high tides and limited bandwidth gateways for all yachts to the starting area near Cape Pointe du Grouin, you’ll need two of tide. So the first hour of the day on Saturday, November 3, will leave the pontoons of the yacht Rhum class Multi and Mono, and then will go to sea classes Multi50, Class40, Imoca and Ultime. The last boat will itsvarious from welcoming the quays of the port of Saint-Malo at 4.45 am on 4 November. A General opening will be held on Sunday at 14.00 local time (+2 hrs GMT).

To follow the live broadcast of the launch on the site on the page in Facebook of the race or through a special mobile application.

Saint-Malo – Moscow

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