Sailing: the Vendée Globe solo sailors rehearsing on “The Transat”

The English Transat had not been raced since 2016

Sailing: the Vendée Globe solo sailors rehearsing on “The Transat”

The English Transat had not been raced since 2016. After an eight-year break, a fleet of around fifty boats set off in Lorient, Sunday April 28, for the 15th edition of this legendary race born in 1960 and now called “The Transat”.

At 1:30 p.m., 33 Imoca – the Vendée Globe monohulls – and 13 Class40s will leave for New York, on a particularly demanding course of around 3,500 nautical miles (6,500 kilometres), the equivalent of a Route du Rum, but in the North Atlantic.

“We expect to face harsh conditions, to be in the cold, to have complicated front passages to manage,” explains the young Violette Dorange (Devenir) who is still looking for a title partner to finance the entirety of his Vendée Globe project.

For this 23-year-old sailor, as for several other Imoca skippers, the stakes are double on this first solo transatlantic race of the year before the world tour next November. First, take the start and accumulate as many miles as possible to win one of the 40 qualifying tickets for the Everest of the seas. “The idea is above all to get to the end of the crossing,” recognizes navigator Fabrice Amédéo (Nexans-Wewise).

Then, tame your mount while measuring your opponents. Most of the favorites for the Vendée Globe are there – Charlie Dalin (Macif), Jérémie Beyou (Charal), Yannick Bestaven (Maitre Coq) – but will remain cautious. “We are going to oscillate between the desire to win and the desire to preserve the boat because we know that a major breakage can be prohibitive a few months before a world tour,” explains Yoann Richomme, winner of the Return to the Sea. base, last solo race in 2023.

“The most complicated solo transatlantic race”

During the last edition of the Transat eight years ago, a certain Armel Le Cléac'h won between Plymouth (England) and the Statue of Liberty in New York before crossing the line first a few months later in Sables-d'Olonne on the Vendée Globe.

According to Francis Le Goff, race director, this is “the most complicated solo transatlantic because at the end of April-beginning of May, there can be a series of low pressure systems over the North Atlantic generating headwinds.” . “Sailors won’t go down to look for the trade winds. The Transat doesn’t go towards the sun. It can be foggy, rainy and windy,” he describes.

The Transat, the first major single-handed offshore race, was created by the English in 1960. It departed from Plymouth from 1960 to 2016 and was notably won by the French sailing legend Eric Tabarly (1964, 1976), but also by Alain Colas (1972), Philippe Poupon (1988), Francis Joyon (2000) and Michel Desjoyeaux (2004).