In the 44 year history of the Route du Rhum there has never been so many solo skippers set off as there will be at the start of this year’s edition. On this 12th Route du Rhum – Destination Guadeloupe 138 solo racers with compete on the classic race which leaves Sain Malo and heads across the Atlantic to Pointe a Pitre, Guadeloupe. And on Wednesday in Paris’ Mogador Theatre, the assembled skippers were presented at the official Press Conference alongside the Telegramme Group who are the owners of the event, the exclusive major partner which is the Guadeloupe region and main partners the city of Saint-Malo, Brittany Region and CIC, the official partners as well as the organizers and the media. And so effectively the countdown is now running towards the 1302hrs start gun on November 6 off Saint Malo.
The press conference is a great time for the record number of skippers to catch up, to share dreams and smiles, to compare plans and ideas, all within the famous Mogador theatre. There are the well known superstars of the sport and the intrepid first timers, all are introduced one by one before lining up in the six different divisions for their group photos at 46 days before the start.
Start day and indeed the start line itself is always filled with emotions. For the sailors it is time to buckle down to their solo endeavours, whilst for the public, fans and enthusiasts sharing the adventure takes on a real dimension. From the big teams and their carefully prepared machines and skippers the challenge is every bit as important as for the first timer looking to realise a long held dream. The strength and uniqueness of the legendary Route du Rhum is that it brings together solo racers of all different profiles and backgrounds as they seek to take on the Atlantic alone in the depths of Autumn. Alongside the top names and their perfectly prepared big race boats there are many amateurs set off to pursue the dream of a lifetime.
An increasingly international entry
On the starting line, there will be eight entries in the Ultims and eight in the Ocean Fifty division. 37 IMOCAs will be there, 55 Class40s as well as 16 in the Rhum Multi category and 14 in Rhum Mono fleets. Among the 138 competitors, 5% (7) are women across the IMOCA, Class40 and Rhum Mono. The start line is also a good representation of the internationalization of ocean racing. Fourteen nationalities will be represented, including Japanese and Chinese skippers. In total, 20% of the participants are from outside France. Half of the French skippers are either residents or natives of Brittany where the race starts from. And there are also 6% Guadeloupeans among the competitors.
New features to enjoy at the start in Saint-Malo at the race village which opens on October 25
Just as it does every four years, Saint-Malo is preparing to live to the rhythm of this great event over 13 days in a huge race village which opens on October 25th. Everything is on hand to make the experience as unforgettable as possible for the hundreds of thousands of spectators expected. The race village is free and open to all and this time is open for 13 instead of 12 days and with 15% more ground area at 70,000m2. The entire fleet will be grouped along the iconic docks beside the Intra-Muros and the Palais du Grand Large. For the first time, the Ultims will be moored actually in the basins in the heart of the city in the Vauban and Duguay-Trouin basins.
Among the innovations of this year, the competitors will parade near the coast and in the locks when entering the basins in order to show their boats to visitors who can see the Ultims and the Ocean Fifty on Tuesday 25 October, the IMOCAs on Wednesday 26, the Class40s on Friday 28 and the Rhum Multi and Mono on Saturday 29.
At the finish in Guadeloupe as well, the festivities are set to be enormous and centred around the Memorial ACTe village, a place of culture and memory, where sailors, the media and the general public will come together from 11 November to 4 December, as well as in the villages of Marina du Bas-du-Fort from November 11 to 27 and in Basse-Terre from November 10 to 13.
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Major partners fully on board
The 138 sailors taking part in this 12th Route du Rhum – Destination Guadeloupe can count on the support a very large and passionate group of partners. Guadeloupe Region are the exclusive major partner and they will be present in Saint-Malo, inviting visitors to travel, as well as providing a prefect welcome to the racers on arrival. The city of Saint-Malo and its teams will welcome the skippers, their teams, the media and the general public for 13 days of celebration. The owners of the start port the Brittany Region and the Bretons will be the most fervent supporters of this record and historic fleet of women and men who will set sail, driven by the dynamism of an entire territory. Finally, for its first “participation” in La Route du Rhum – Destination Guadeloupe are CIC, the regional bank which serves the local economy. CIC share common foundations of shared core values, entrepreneurial spirit, self-transcendence and societal commitment.
La Route du Rhum – Destination Guadeloupe promises to be the unmissable offshore sailing sports event of the year. Join the Route du Rhum – Destination Guadeloupe from October 25 in Saint-Malo and from November 11 in Guadeloupe.
Francis Joyon (IDEC), winner of La Route du Rhum – Destination Guadeloupe 2018 in Ultim: “It’s an incredible memory! Not in the fact that I won, but mostly from the struggle man to man with François Gabart. You leave at the beginning of November into unknown weather. This is a race which is very hard at this level. It is still 15 tons of boat which lifts above the water and despite the state of the sea, it makes everything fascinating!”
Paul Meilhat (Biotherm), winner of La Route du Rhum – Destination Guadeloupe 2018 in Imoca: “Four years ago, when I won La Route du Rhum – Destination Guadeloupe, there was so much joy and happiness. It is four years worth of memories that go back: the family, the friends, oved ones… These are extraordinary times. The intensity is very strong, it’s a sprint that lasts 10 days. Those who start badly do not have the chance to come back behind. It is necessary to find the right pace, the right level not to break the boat at the beginning but to maintain a very high pace. Since the last Vendée Globe, the Imoca fleet has become really exceptional and the best sailors in the world will race each other!”
Armel Tripon (Les P’tits Doudous), winner of La Route du Rhum – Destination Guadeloupe 2018 in the Ocean Fifty: “The Rhum is a bit of a drug, it’s a race that galvanizes me: a victory is a kind of consecration. It is inscribed in the imagination of all sailors. This course is of such a high intensity. This year, the level is up and there are more and more competitors, highly motivated, relentless sailors… The line-up is amazing!”
Yoann Richomme (Paprec – Arkea), winner of La Route du Rhum – Destination Guadeloupe 2018 in Class40: “I won the 2018 edition and that’s one of the cornerstones that built my career. The Route du Rhum was a dream, the race you follow as a kid. There is a crazy history! It is the commitment from the start that is super strong, super intense. It’s necessary really give it your all the first 5 or 6 days. The Class40 is the biggest of the categories, almost half of the fleet with quite amazing boats. So it promises a great contest.”
Philippe Poupon (Flo), Winner of La Route du Rhum 1986, entered in Rhum Multi: “Obviously, when you win La Route du Rhum, it really matters! It is a race that takes place every four years so you have to succeed in putting your name on the list of winners. It’s not easy ! A man or a woman who races solo on a boat is inspiring, it makes you dream. We know that it’s a tough race that can be very tough. We are alone on incredible machines. The race has become a legend, the first in 1978, a small trimaran which beat off a big monohull by a few seconds, it’s magic.”
Willy Bissainte (Tradysion Gwadloup), the Guadeloupean skipper, entered in Mono Rhum class: “The Route du Rhum – Destination Guadeloupe comes to me in Guadeloupe. For me it is the most beautiful thing. It is something magical. This race is an adventure! We will spend almost three weeks at sea. Mono Rums are the class of old boats, the class of amateurs, the class is accessible for people like me who are not professionals and who don’t have big budgets. This is the origin of the Route du Rhum!”
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Edouard Coudurier, Telegramme Group: “The challenge for the Telegramme Group is to ensure the success of La Route du Rhum – Destination Guadeloupe as a major event of OC Sport Pen Duick whilst respecting the spirit and the magic, but developing it qualitatively, in association with public and private partners, racers, owners, media, who all contribute to the success of the race. There is also an important responsibility, on the water and on land, both in terms of safety and respect for the environment. Because La Route du Rhum – Destination Guadeloupe is an event that brings together 2 million of people on site and many more through the media.”
Joseph Bizard, Managing Director of OC Sport Pen Duick: “It is a great source of pride for us at OC Sport Pen Duick to see the La Route du Rhum – Destination Guadeloupe line up gathered here in Mogador. In a few weeks these sailors will take on the ocean race and offer us an unforgettable, sensational show. With 138 sailors at the start, this new edition is so promising and it will be the finest solo transatlantic event. It is an historic race that has become a major global event, it is also a formidable collective adventure driven by commitment and the support of all our partners. To the Guadeloupe Region – Exclusive Major Partner, to its main partners – Saint Malo, La Région Bretagne and the CIC, to the historical partners and to newcomers, we extend our sincere thanks and look forward to writing this twelfth chapter with them.”
Ary Chalus, President of the Guadeloupe Region: “The Route du Rhum – Destination Guadeloupe is a formidable sporting and human epic which for 44 years now has sealed a common legend between Saint-Malo and Guadeloupe. It is obvious to us that we mobilize with great enthusiasm for this 12th edition. It is an edition that we approach as a real catalyst to continue the development of our blue economy. La Route du Rhum – Destination Guadeloupe is also a story of men and women who during their transatlantic race share a common horizon.”
Gilles Lurton, Mayor of Saint-Malo and President of Saint-Malo Agglomeration: “138 boats in the basins of the port of Saint-Malo. 13 days of festivities. 70,000 m2 of village. 20 Saint-Malo skippers. This 12th edition of La Route du Rhum – Destination Guadeloupe is a race setting many records. For several months, Saint-Malo and its conurbation have been preparing for this… All city and territory services, volunteers, hoteliers, shopkeepers, everyone is mobilized around this mythical race. In Saint-Malo, we are enthusiastic and proud to participate in this great adventure. Less than a month from the opening of the village, Saint-Malo is ready !”
Loïg Chesnais-Girard, President of the Brittany Region: “One month before the opening of the race village in Saint-Malo, I must admit that I am impatient! I can’t wait to be, as the main partner of the event, to immerse ourselves in the rhythm of La Route du Rhum – Destination Guadeloupe. It is a great honor and a immense responsibility for the Brittany Region to host this mythical race in its port of Saint Malo.”
Daniel Baal, CEO of CIC: “The Route du Rhum – Destination Guadeloupe sets a new record, that of bringing together so many skippers and so many boats, teams and partners. 138 skippers are gathering, all of them great talents, ready to do battle but at the same time, lucky to collectively take part in writing a new chapter in the legend of this offshore race. All the CIC teams are looking forward to seeing the arrival of the first boats in Saint-Malo, the official opening of the village and the final discussions with the skippers and all the teams. Experiencing this rise in power when you are the main partner of an event is a unique opportunity. That of feeling involved and committed to building something strong with the world of sailing and all the partners of La Route du Rhum – Destination Guadeloupe … but fortunately without the pressure that competitors must feel.”
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