Rhum class essence of La Route du Rhum – Destination Guadeloupe

Open to all boats with no size limit when it was created in 1978, the most legendary of the transatlantic races still retains its original spirit through the Rhum class. On November 6, 17 competitors will start in Rhum Multi, 12 in Rhum Mono. And so it is an eclectic, diverse line-up of multihulls and monohulls comprising of sailors and boats with very different profiles who all contribute so much to forging the legend of La Route du Rhum – Destination Guadeloupe.

The fleet of La Route du Rhum – Destination Guadeloupe has long since been split into several classes – Ultim 32/23, IMOCA, Class40, Ocean Fifty – but it is the Rhum division perpetuates the spirit of freedom inspired by Michel Etevenon 44 years ago. “The Route du Rhum – Destination Guadeloupe was thought of as the transatlantic race of freedom. It is the only one on which amateur and professional skippers line up on the same starting line in Saint-Malo and set off for Guadeloupe on a course that has not changed since the creation of the race”, recalls Joseph Bizard, general manager of OC Sport Pen Duick. The Rhum Mono and Rhum Multi categories “embody the core values of the race. These are historic boats, which are mostly sailed by amateurs, and which remind us of the DNA of this great race. Jospeh Bizard adds, “In addition to the historical aspect, we have ensured that sport is at the heart of everyone’s projects. There will be a fight in this iconic category, which embodies the history and myth of La Route du Rhum – Destination Guadeloupe”.

Unlike the four Classes competing in La Route du Rhum – Destination Guadeloupe, the Rhum category is very eclectic: production boats and prototypes rub shoulders with legendary sailboats. On the multihull side, there are iconic boats including the gold coloured trimaran Flo, the former Pierre 1er. It was on board this multi that Florence Arthaud became a legend in the discipline in 1990 by becoming the first woman to win a solo offshore race.

Philippe Poupon, who will take the helm, will share the starting line with other golden oldies including the Walter Green designs Happy and Acapella, sisterships of the Olympus Photo of Mike Birch, the first winner of the race. Skipper of Acapella – La Chaîne de l’Espoir, Charlie Capelle is competing in La Route du Rhum – Destination Guadeloupe for the 7th time. “I never imagined racing another boat. I am one with her”. And the skipper adds : “I have spent my whole life developing Acapella and I have rebuilt it several times. It’s a wonderful boat built in Maine in 1980 at the Walter Green shipyard where I was an apprentice. I like sailing, racing and taking part in competitions.

Arnaud Pilpré / #RDR2022
© Arnaud Pilpré / #RDR2022

An impressive variety of boats

Charlie Capelle also appreciates the entry level. “I’m very happy that Laurent Etheimer (Happy) and Christophe Bogrand (Château du Launay), whose boats were built at the same time, are here too. There will be a race within the race, it will be fun! I have already broken the record of Mike Birch who left us last Wednesday. I will race for him this year. I will try to curl around 20 days, that would be wonderful”.

There are also prototypes and series boats such as Open 50, Cigale 16, ORC 50, Pogo 12.50 that we commonly see on IRC races. Or even boats that have been taken out of their original class as they no longer fit the class rule, like the four ex-Multi50s competing this year: Rayon Vert by Oren Nataf, Ille-et-Vilaine – Cap vers l inclusion of Fabrice Payen, Interaction of Erwan Thiboumery and Trilogik – Dys de Cœur of David Ducosson from Guadeloupe. Former coach for several Guadeloupe skippers including Claude Thellier and Philippe Fiston, David decided to take the plunge in 2018. After his retirement during the last edition, he is back aboard a 50-foot Lombart/Joubert-Nivelt design for a second race. “I’m not putting any pressure on the sporting side, although I won’t let my friends go without a fight. I want to finish the adventure and arrive in Pointe-à-Pitre after having had a good race”.

Arnaud Pennarun: “Do as well as Poupon”

On the Mono Rhum side there is Catherine Chabaud’s famous “Cigare Rouge” (Formatives ESI Business School for Ocean As Common), aboard which she did her first Vendée Globe in 1996, or the Cap au Cap Location by Wilfrid Clerton, ex-Kriter VIII sailed by Michel Malinovsky. The Mauric plan will take its 6th start of La Route du Rhum – Destination Guadeloupe. That is not to forget Éric Tabarly’s ex-Pen Duick III. Now skippered by Arnaud Pennarun from Finistère, Pen Duick III for the children of Robert Debré also knows the course well.

“The boat was designed for nine people but can be sailed single-handed and finished 7th in the first edition of the race with Philippe Poupon in 1978. I am happy to take part in the race. It will allow us to pay tribute to those who made the boat still there today, including Jacqueline Tabarly who saved the boat,” says Arnaud Pennarun, head of two boatyards in Brittany. “We took advantage of the race to dismantle the boat and put it back in offshore racing configuration after 20 years of cabotage. We decided to put it back in its original configuration last winter. The boat, built in 1967, is the only one without a furler. With Jacqueline Tabarly, we intend to classify the Pen Duick fleet

Innovation also at the heart of racing

Innovative prototypes rub shoulders with these legendary classic sailboats, including Roland Jourdain’s We Explore or Marc Guillemot’s Metarom MG5. Two emblematic figures of ocean racing who have bet on sobriety by betting on biosourced materials such as linen fiber for the first, or a solar mainsail for the second. And who return to the race with different objectives than before, but always with the same pleasure.

“I have taken part in La Route du Rhum five times, including two in ORMA and two in IMOCA. I’m coming back with a different project, with an eco-designed boat that we’re going to use commercially outside of the races. I never thought I’d be setting off in the to the Rhum category with so much excitement and pleasure. Things have gone up bit by bit over the months, with the registration of Gwen Chapalain (Guyader – Savéol), Loïc Escoffier (Lodigroup), Roland Jourdain or Brieuc Maisonneuve (CMA Île-de-France – 60,000 rebounds). They are boats somewhat similar to mine with real sporting objectives. I’m not the only one aiming for victory, that’s what makes the race so interesting,” says Marc Guillemot. “But here in this class there really is the spirit that animates the La Route du Rhum as it has since the very beginnings, a variety of racers from very different backgrounds”.

138 sailors presented to the public

The outstanding feature of Day 6 in the village of the Route du Rhum – Destination Guadeloupe was the official presentation of the 138 skippers which took place between 5 p.m. to 7 p.m this afternoon. Each walked through the the streets of Saint-Malo before going up to the main stage, to be greeted by the public.


The Route du Rhum – Destination Guadeloupe
Created in 1978 by Michel Etevenon, La Route du Rhum-Destination Guadeloupe is regarded as the queen of solo transatlantic races. For 44 years, the race has joined Saint-Malo in Brittany to Pointe-à-Pitre in Guadeloupe. It musters the biggest fleet ocean racing fleet of all levels on the same starting line. This transatlantic course at a tota distance of 3542 miles has become legendary as its unique magic is all about the range of different classes and the mix of competitors. Some of the best solo racers in the world of sailing, professionals and amateurs, meet every 4 years to taste “the magic of the Rhum”.
On November 6 2022, this legendary race will set off once again, taking on the Atlantic whilst appealing to a broad mass of public fans and followers. They are offered the chance to dream, to escape and share the wonder at the solo racers who are all ready to go to sea and challenge the Autumn Atlantic.

OC Sport Pen Duick
OC Sport Pen Duick is the French subsidiary of the OC Sport group which primarily runs offshore racing events. Created to manage the sports campaigns of Eric Tabarly, on the one hand, and Dame Ellen MacArthur on the other, both emblematic figures of international sport, the group faithfully perpetuates the spirit and the values which were dear to these pioneers: living and sharing unique experiences with the public, athletes and partners.
Historically involved in offshore racing, the group has developed unique expertise in professional sailing based on expertise in sailing team management and the organization of the most prestigious races (Route du Rhum – Destination Guadeloupe, The Transat CIC, La Solitaire du Figaro, the Transat Paprec, ARKEA ULTIM CHALLENGE – Brest…).
OC Sport is a Telegram Group company.

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