During its first weekend, the Route du Rhum – Destination Guadeloupe village has clearly been a huge success with the crowds turning up. Out on the water, the Rhum Mono and Multi boats took advantage of ideal weather conditions for their parade in front of the ramparts in the privateers’ city. When he arrived early this afternoon in the dock, Nicolas Rouger completed the line-up for this twelfth edition. In terms of the special events, tomorrow, the 138 sailors will be on show with the official presentation of the skippers on the main stage from 5 p.m.
La Route du Rhum – Destination Guadeloupe : More international than ever
With 25 skippers originating from outside of France representing 14 different nationalities, the Route du Rhum-Destination Guadeloupe fascinates people around the world, from Australia to the United States and from China to South Africa. The dream of sailing away across the Atlantic is shared by everyone and they all express their desire to see the event and ocean racing become more popular with their fellow citizens.
You just have to listen to sailors on the pontoons to hear that the big French transatlantic race is something other nationalities look forward to. You can hear people speaking English, Italian, Chinese, Japanese… There are indeed 25 foreign skippers taking part (12 in the IMOCA class, 11 in Class40, 1 in the Rhum category and 1 aboard an Ocean Fifty). Several will be aiming to win the race: Britain’s Sam Goodchild (Leyton) on his Ocean Fifty, the German skipper Boris Herrmann (Malizia-Seaexplorer) on his IMOCA and in Class40, the Italian Ambrogio Beccaria (Allagrande Pirelli).
Each in their own way hopes through their adventures to encourage others in their respective countries. “The Route du Rhum-Destination Guadeloupe is a massive event like our Superbowl!” exclaimed the American Alex Mehran (Polka Dot, Class40). Without a doubt, with his tens of millions of followers, Xu Jingkun (China Dream-Haikou), the first Chinese sailor to attempt the adventure, will help many of his fellow citizens to discover the event. “I hope that my project will prove in Australia that anything is possible,” added the Australian Rupert Henry (Eora, Class40). “If we manage to get youngsters interested in copying us, that could just be the start,” declared British sailor Pip Hare (Medallia, IMOCA).
Seven women competing: “We too have some high performance projects”
“Slowly, we’re making progress, but we’re getting there,” stressed Samantha Davies (Initiatives Cœur). “Women are not in the world of sailing just to make up the numbers. We too have high performance projects.” In all, there will be seven women lining up at the start on 6th November. “It’s regrettable, as there are just as many women as men in the sailing schools,” explained Amélie Grassi (La Boulangère Bio).
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It is the IMOCA class that will include the biggest number of women, as alongside Sam Davies, there is also Swiss sailor, Justine Mettraux (TEAMWORK.NET), Britain’s Pip Hare (Medallia) and the Franco-German skipper Isabelle Joschke (MACSF). They would all like to follow in the footsteps of the three women who have won the race: Florence Arthaud (1990), Ellen MacArthur (1998, 50-foot monohull and in 2002 on an IMOCA) and Anne Caseneuve (2014, Class Rhum).
Parades: time for the Rhum Multi and Mono boats
After the Ultim 32/23 and the Ocean Fifty boats on Tuesday and the IMOCAs on Wednesday and Class40 on Friday, it was time for the Rhum Multi and Mono categories to take part in the parade today (Saturday). With large crowds watching them, the 30 skippers in question left the harbour to the delight of the spectators, who were able to admire some of the boats that left their mark on the history of the race: Kriter VIII (Wilfrid Clerton, Cap au Cap Location), the Red Cigar (Catherine Chabaud (Fomatives ESI Business School pour Ocean As Common) and Pierre 1er (Philippe Poupon, Flo).
Philippe Poupon explained: “I’m pleased to be lining up at the start, as it’s also with a thought for Florence, as we were very close, Géraldine and I. We were rivals, but sometimes sailed together too. Our lives ran parallel. Roland Jourdain also told us about his motivation declaring that this race was “part of his life.”
Ocean Fifty: a race that looks like being very exciting
This will be the finest line-up since the class was founded in 2009. In the Ocean Fifty class, the battle looks like being exciting on more than one level. “I think it’s wide open and everyone has a chance,” explained Sam Goodchild (Leyton). The Ocean Fifty class is thriving with some new projects appearing, but not too many, as that would risk upsetting the balance that currently exists between different generations of boat. At a time when people have to watch how much they spend, these fast 50-foot multihulls represent one of the best purchases for ocean racing in terms of the price to performance ratio.
Class40: happy as a sailor from Saint Malo in the Rhum
Since the village opened, they have enjoyed being on their home turf. Local sailors from Saint-Malo who are competing in the Route du Rhum-Destination Guadeloupe cannot hide their pleasure. “The event is something you experience from the end of the summer,” explained Florian Gueguen (Dopamine Sailing Team). Geoffrey Mataczynski (Fortissimo) smiled, “We’re a bit like the lads from Les Sables-d’Olonne who compete in the Vendée Globe.” Baptiste Hulin (Rennes / Saint-Malo / Parenthèses de Vies) confirmed, “Here, this is a big thing for everyone. You just have to stroll around Saint-Malo to see that.”
Down on the pontoons: Christenings and smiles
Several boats were officially named today (Saturday). Jules Bonnier was the first one late this morning with his Class40 Nestenn – Entrepreneur pour la planète. “I have always dreamt of taking part in the Route du Rhum-Destination Guadeloupe and being at the start, so this is a first victory for me.” During the afternoon, Gwen Chapalain’s Rhum Multi, Guyader – Savéol, was also named.
A bit later, it was time for Stan Thuret (Everial, Class40). “My aim is to be in harmony with my boat and with the elements,” he explained earlier this week. “Usually, when you achieve that, you can look forward to some great things.” Maxime Sorel was also clearly excited. Launched last June, his IMOCA V and B – Monbana – Mayenne was officially named by French TV journalist Laurence Ferrari, who is patron of honour of the Vaincre contre la Mucoviscidose association (a cystic fibrosis charity), and young Niels Berger, 18, a patient suffering from cystic fibrosis, who is patron of honour of the boat. “I’m proud to be working with them and highlighting the Vaincre la Mucoviscidose charity with my project,” explained Maxime Sorel. “I really hope to live up to what is required concerning the charity, allowing them to help cure as many patients as possible.”
Staying with the IMOCAs, we should add that Nicolas Rouger arrived late this morning. The skipper of Demain c’est loin had to deal with a technical problem. He said, “When I bought the boat in April, I knew the keel was cracked. I thought the problem could be repaired, but in fact it wasn’t . We had to build another keel, which was very complicated in terms of the funding.” The keel was finally fitted on Wednesday in the Mer Agitée yard in Port-la-Forêt.
The programme for tomorrow: a presentation not to be missed
The countdown is now well underway before the start on 6th November. Excitement is set to build tomorrow (Sunday) as all of the skippers are going to be presented on the main stage between 5 and 7 in the evening. A moment for people to get together and enjoy themselves as the final week before the start begins.
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