Yachting Art Magazine

Route du Rhum 2018 - 40 years and a record-breaking edition

For this 40th anniversary staging of the race, a record number of single-handed sailors will take part with 124 boats in six classes expected on the startline in the Bay of St Malo on November 4 for the 3,542-nautical mile voyage to Point-a-Pitre in Guadeloupe.

Route du Rhum 2018 - 40 years and a record-breaking edition

The fleet will be made up of both professional and amateur sailors all looking for victory in the “queen of transatlantic solo races”, which is both a technological and sporting challenge, and for some an extraordinary experience or fulfillment of the dream of a lifetime.

This time the fleet is more varied than usual and the 11th edition gives pride of place to a large representation of amateurs. For the first time in the history of the race the amateur “Rhum” class is divided into two with a monohull division and a multihull division.

With 53 boats registered, the Class40 fleet also adds its share of amateurs setting out on an extraordinary adventure. Together they make up one third of the total field, and these architects, business leaders, physiotherapists, tobacco experts or firefighters will write a new page of Rhum history as they make their way westwards across the Atlantic.

There is a large contingent of French Breton sailors (47%), but 20% of the fleet is from outside France with British entrants the most numerous with six sailors including two women. There are also sailors from Japan and Finland; there are two from Switzerland, three Germans, three Americans, three Belgians and one from Sweden. It’s a cosmopolitan fleet that underlines that the magic of the Route du Rhum-Destination Guadeloupe extends well beyond the borders of France.

Getting 124 boats safely away from the same startline on November 4 is not going to be easy, so the race organisers have devised a line that will stretch for two-and-a-half miles and will be divided into four parts. The Ultimes – the biggest and fastest boats - will have one section to themselves, then it will be the sector for Multi50s and Rhum Multis, then a section for IMOCAs and finally a segment for Class40s and Rhum Monohulls.

With 50,000m2 dedicated to the event at the race village at the foot of the walls of the “Corsair city”, St Malo is ready to celebrate this anniversary edition of the race first staged in 1978. The Duguay-Trouin (IMOCA) and Vauban (Class40, Multi 50, Multi Rhum, Mono Rhum, Ultime Use it Again) harbours will welcome this extraordinary fleet, while the large trimarans in the Ultime category will gather at the Maritime Station. From October 24 to November 4, the public is expected in large numbers – there were 2.2 million visitors in 2014 – ready to enjoy this great festival of offshore racing. View the full St Malo schedule here.

For the first time, it will be in front of the iconic Memorial ACTe in Guadeloupe –dedicated to the memory of victims of trafficking and slavery - that the solo mariners will cross the finish line at the end of the race where the esplanade will vibrate to the rhythm of the race and its heroes.

The Bas du Fort Marina will be a centre of entertainment while the Guadeloupian culture will be honored in Basse-Terre where the famous buoy off the coast - the last point of the course before the finish - will once again be a focus of suspense as winners in each class are decided. Full the Guadeloupe schedule here.

The official website, routedurhum.com, has been given an anniversary makeover and comes with a new mobile race App which is available today on the Apple Store and Google Play. Having become Official Digital Supplier of the Route du Rhum-Destination Guadeloupe last June, Niji conceived and developed the new website and App with the team at OC Sport Pen Duick, the race owner and organiser. A clean design, easy access to multi-media content and customisable navigation, provide a new digital experience to enable fans to fully live the race.

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