The crowds have gathered in the French Brittany port of Saint-Malo to welcome the skippers and boats who will contest this year’s Transat bakerly solo transatlantic race from Plymouth to New York.
For the first time in the history of the solo classic, first staged in 1960 when it was won by Sir Francis Chichester, the race is preceded by a non-timed, pre-start warm-up from Saint-Malo to Plymouth.
Almost all of the yachts taking part in the gruelling 3,000-mile classic will set sail from Saint-Malo at 20:00 local time on Saturday 23rd April for the 130-nautical mile passage to Plymouth.
On board will be the skippers plus members of the media or other corporate guests who will enjoy an authentic taste of what The Transat bakerly is all about – sailing to windward.
The wind forecast for the Warm-Up suggests the crews will start in a north-easterly breeze, but will end up beating to windward in 10-15 knots of wind as they make their way north to the Devon coast. Most of the boats should dock in Plymouth on Sunday morning.
Among the skippers preparing for the departure in Saint-Malo, one of two female competitors Anna-Maria Renken said she was looking forward to the Warm-Up to share the experience of sailing with her onboard guests and as a final test of her Class40 Nivea.
“The warm up is only 130nm, so in comparison with the race it’s not a huge distance,” she said, “but it’s the last time we will get to sail the boats before the start. Conditions are looking fairly light with a north easterly breeze turning north as we arrive. I’m hoping that we will make it to Plymouth in good time.”
Skipper of Multi50 Olmix, French sailor Pierre Antoine said the Warm-Up and the build-up at Saint-Malo was a great way to share the Transat bakerly with the French sailing public and is greatly looking forward to the full 3,000 mile transatlantic race from Plymouth. Antoine bought his first trimaran from Cowes on the Isle of Wight over 20 years ago.
“The Transat bakerly is the reference for transatlantic sailing, but for me it presents a big personal challenge,” the sailor explained. “I sailed in the 1995 edition of the OSTAR aboard a little 40ft Trimaran.
“This is year I am back with a bigger boat which brings with it bigger challenges. The boat is very physical to sail and in strong weather conditions we could sail very fast.”
The Transat bakerly sets sail from Plymouth on Monday, May 2nd at 14:30 BST. The race is contested by 24 boats in four classes – Ultimes, IMOCA 60s, Multi50s and Class40s – plus Loick Peyron sailing Pen Duick II.
The official race village opens on Plymouth Waterfront on Friday 29th April. The boats will be docked and available to be viewed by the public at Sutton Harbour Marina and Plymouth Yacht Haven.
Ahead of the crews lies one of the most challenging race courses in sailing with the winds and swell against them plus the likelihood of freezing fog and ice to avoid, as they make their way from Europe to America.
For more on the race click here.
– Race Media