Today Friday July 29 at 1302hrs CEST marks exactly 100 days before the start of the 12th edition of La Route du Rhum – Destination Guadeloupe, a symbolic point in time for sailors who are set to compete, for the general public who plan to visit the race start and finish and for partners and the organisers who are counting down the time remaining.
There is already a heightened sense of anticipation, as this record edition approaches, but most of all for the 138 competitors who are preparing to take on the classic Transatlantic course from Saint Malo to Guadeloupe.
These 100 remaining days become increasingly important, many using the time for technical preparations, qualification and perhaps even the search for the last partners to complete their budget. 100 days may sound and feel like a long time for those who can’t wait to be in Saint Malo to enjoy the buzz and see the giant fleet, but for competitors with seemingly endless job lists this time will pass all too rapidly.
On Sunday November 6 at 1302hrs off Saint Malo there will be 138 sailors at the starting line for the 2022 edition of La Route du Rhum – Destination Guadeloupe. For some it will be the start of fulfilling the dream of a lifetime, for others it is an essential, must-do race, a flagship event on a high level sporting programme, the race always musters a very diverse fleet.
Since April 5 for most, or April 27 for the 18 beneficiaries of the Wild Card entries, those who will race have been allocated a place subject to a certain number of essential formalities to validate their registration.
Whatever the size of the boat or the skipper’s track record, the obligations are the same for everyone, starting with qualifying for the event. The Race Direction requires each sailor to complete a 1,200-mile solo course aboard his boat before October 6*.
This navigation can be done on a free route, validated by the organization, on the condition that it includes a minimum of 120 miles (10% of the course) upwind in steady wind. Qualification can also be granted by participating and finishing a so-called “qualifying” race.
Thus, many sailors have done so by finishing the 1000 miles Les Sables (Ocean Fifty and Class40), the Guyader Bermudes 1000 Race (Imoca), the Vendée Arctic (Imoca) or more recently the Drheam Cup (Ultim 32/23, Ocean Fifty, Imoca, Class40).
At 100 days from the start 7 Ultim 32/23, 6 Ocean Fifty, 22 Imoca, 39 Class40, 9 Rhum Multi and 6 Rhum Mono, i.e., 64.5 percent of the fleet, have now already completed their qualification.
For the others, this will be the sole focus over the coming weeks Once this essential box is checked and the administrative formalities (measurement certificate, medical file, etc.) have been completed.
After that, all that remains is just delivering the boat to Saint-Malo on time for the opening of the village on October 25.
On land, preparations are also going well. In Saint-Malo. The test passage through the lock into the basin by an Ultime trimaran went off without a hitch on July 12, thanks to Yves Le Blevec, who accepted that his Actual be the standard test boat.
This slightly delicate operation was successfully carried out under the leadership of the La Route du Rhum – Destination Guadeloupe race management team confirming the practicalities of getting all of the Ultimes into the inner berths for the first time – rather than them mooring off.
This will be a significant attraction to visitors and means that all 138 boats will be docked inside and accessible. The huge race village on the quays of the Corsair City will cover 70,000 square miles and is open October 25 to November 6.
In Guadeloupe the festivities are also be prepared. Three villages will allow you to live to the rhythm of the race and the finishes of the sailors: at the Mémorial ACTe from November 11 to December 4, at the Bas-du-Fort Marina from November 11 to 27 and in Basse-Terre from November 10 to 13.
Francis Le Goff, Race Director of La Route du Rhum – Destination Guadeloupe said, “The qualification course imposed on competitors of La Route du Rhum – Destination Guadeloupe is listed in the Notice of Race, but its format is defined by the organiser, depending on the level of difficulty of the event.
“It is for this reason that we ask sailors to complete a minimum of 10% of the course in strong winds and upwind. The idea is to test the boat, whatever it is and to be sure that the sailor will be comfortable on board, once offshore.
“The rule is the same for everyone, whether the competitor has won a race around the world or is an amateur. This principle also allows us to validate the participation of competitors that we know less. By laying down this rule, we encourage sailors to do miles quite early in the season. It is also a form of security for them. They have the opportunity to test themselves and their boat.
“We favour qualifying in the race because there is more commitment – the sailors are looking for a sporting result – and they don’t have the choice of the weather. But if the skippers decide to qualify on a free course, we follow them from start to finish.
“The summer vacation period will be conducive to the qualification of those who do not sail all year round, in particular for the Class40s, the Rhum Multi and the Rhum Mono. But at this stage, more than 50% of the fleet has already completed its compulsory course.”
*Unless there is an exceptional exemption from the Race Direction.