Transat Jacques Vabre: 79 boats, 5 Ultimes … the return of the great adventure


As a duo on the ocean: our special Transat Jacques Vabre

This Sunday, November 7, 79 boats will set off for the duo crossing the Atlantic, a record. Objective: reach Le Havre The next solo round-the-world trip, which will not start until November 2024, promises to be full. While ten Imoca – the 60-foot monohulls – are currently under construction and three other projects are in the pipeline, the Vendée Globe organizers have already announced that the tonnage will be revised upwards, 40 boats in 2024, against 33 in 2020. France is plunged into crisis, but sailing is on the rise.

« We are currently talking about resilience, adaptability, ecology, and our sport represents all these values, » says François Gabart. Sailing allows sponsors to communicate about healthy things. What could be more beautiful than to use the wind to move forward? « 

Avalanche of sponsors

In November 2020, while France was going through a second confinement, the start of the round the world trip had been launched, against all odds. « The sailors were leaving alone on a boat around the world in an uncertain period, the French wanted to follow their adventures », admits Antoine Mermod, president of the Imoca class. “People were confined. Thanks to the means of communication at our disposal, we made them travel with us for three months, ”recalls Yannick Bestaven, winner at the end of a race full of twists and turns, which also kept the public in suspense.

Shortly after his arrival, “Maître-Coq”, who gained 4 points of notoriety during the race, announced that he was putting a new boat in the yard. “In previous editions, the teams gave themselves a period of reflection. This time, everything went very quickly, ”emphasizes Antoine Mermod. “Charal” (Jérémie Beyou), “Linked Out” (Thomas Rettant) and “Apivia” (Charlie Dalin) are preparing a new Imoca, allowing teams (“Banque-Populaire” with Clarisse Crémer) to acquire foil boats latest generation, which have only one round the world on the clock.

« Sailing is a fascinating sport »

“This Vendée Globe 2020 is the race that has worked best in the history of offshore, continues the president of the Imoca Class. About thirty funding projects are currently active and that makes other sponsors, who were not yet in sailing, want to get involved. This is particularly the case of Fortinet, one of the leaders in cybersecurity, new partner of Romain Attanasio.

In this Transat Jacques Vabre, the Imoca will be “only” 22 at the start, but there will be a lot of Class40s – crews with more modest budgets -, Ocean Fifty and Ultimes, these huge flying trimarans. Very quickly, the enthusiasm for this duo crossing the Atlantic was visible.

“As soon as we announced that the race was going to be held, we felt that the sailors were eager to get started,” recalls Francis Le Goff, the race director. Due to the health crisis, we had imagined all the scenarios, a departure with a limited audience rating (the start and finish of the Vendée Globe took place behind closed doors), a return to Le Havre for the finish, instead of Fort-de-France. In the end, everything is going under better conditions than expected. « 

The departure village was also able to open its doors last weekend, allowing tens of thousands of spectators to gather along the pontoons to admire the boats. « Sailing is a fascinating sport, thanks in particular to sailors who remain accessible people, » said Antoine Mermod. « Our sport is above all very much in tune with current society: it speaks of adventure, of preservation of the planet, » summarizes Paul Meilhat, co-skipper of Charlie Dalin on Apivia. And then, in this period of health crisis, sailing is a real breath of fresh air. « 

Ultimate – the 5 boats entered

  • « Actual Ultim 3 » (Yves Le Blévec and Anthony Marchand)
  • “Banque-Populaire XI” (Armel Le Cléac’h and Kevin Escoffier)
  • “Maxi Edmond de Rothschild-Gitana” (Franck Cammas and Charles Caudrelier)
  • « Sodebo Ultim 3 » (Thomas Rouxel and Thomas Coville, photo on the left)
  • « SVR-Lazartigue » (François Gabart and Tom Laperche)

Imoca – our 11 favorites (in our early 20s)

  • « Apivia » (Charlie Dalin and Paul Meilhat)
  • “LinkedOut” (Thomas Rettant and Morgan Lagravière)
  • « Charal » (Jérémie Beyou and Christopher Pratt)
  • « Bureau-Vallée 3 » (Louis Burton and Davy Beaudart)
  • “Corum l’Épargne” (Nicolas Troussel and Sébastien Josse)
  • “Maître-Coq IV” (Yannick Bestaven and Jean-Marie Dauris)
  • “Apicil Group” (Damien Seguin and Benjamin Dutreux)
  • “Heart Initiatives” (Sam Davies and Nicolas Lunven)
  • « Arkea-Paprec » (Sébastien Simon and Yann Eliès)
  • « MACSF » (Isabelle Joschke and Fabien Delahaye, photo on the right)
  • “Nexans-Art & Fenêtres” (Fabrice Amedeo and Loïs Berrehar)

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