July 18 2019
The 67 duos are getting ready to head for Salvador de Bahia in Brazil on the 4,350-mile ride across the Atlantic. It is a journey full of bravery, commitment and teamwork that characterises the Transat Jacques Vabre, the world’s blue ribbon double-handed ocean race, where both skippers and boats are pushed to their full potential.
The 2019 edition will see a strong international flavour to this historic Route du Café tracing the coffee trading routes. There are new boats, mixed crews, young rookies and old campaigners. There are all the ingredients to make the longest transatlantic race another classic. With the entries now closed, here are the competitors that fans will find moored in the Bassin Paul Vatine Basin in Le Havre, from Friday, October 18 to Sunday, October 27.
“This edition promises to be exceptional; we have a record number of skippers, with 67 competitors on the start line in Le Havre, and an especially high level of competition,” Gildas Gautier, managing director of the Transat Jacques Vabre, said. “We will make every effort to make this 14th edition an unforgettable one for all the duos.”
Class40: a battle royale reloaded
In 2017, everyone held their breath for the twists and turns that marked the Class40 as it narrowed to one of the closest finishes in Transat Jacques Vabre history. 17 days of racing came down to just 17 minutes, as V and B (Maxime Sorel / Antoine Carpentier) eventually won the nerve-jangling, sleep-deprived three-way finish.
This year promises more of the same from the 29 crews registered. Sorel and V and B have moved to the IMOCA class, and after finishing 17 minutes and 42 seconds behind them in second in 2017, Aymeric Chappellier on Aïna Enfance et Avenir, intends to on the top step of the podium in Salvador de Bahia this time. Likewise, one of the other 2017 favourites, Louis Duc on Carac, who had to abandon in Madeira because of a serious knee injury. These two Class40s, new in 2017 and now very well developed will be competing with three new boats launched this year: Banque du Léman (Simon Koster / Valentin Gautier), another Sam Manuard design; Cape Racing Yacht (Jorg Riechers / Christophe Château), an Owen Clarke Design boat; and Ian Lipinski's brand new scow, Crédit Mutuel, designed by David Raison.
There will also be three other Class40s launched in 2018: Leyton (Arthur Le Vaillant / Sam Goodchild), Lamotte Module Création (Luke Berry / Tanguy Le Turquais) and Beijaflore (William Mathelin-Moreau / Marc Guillemot). Challenging them will be seven other well-armed crews. But few know the road and raise their game like Kito de Pavant (paired with Achille Nebout), who will participate in his 10th Transat Jacques Vabre, but his first in Class40: everyone knows that this old hand has more than one trick up his sleeve. The international nature of the class is also the highlight of this 2019 Route du Café, with seven international boats from Switzerland, Germany, America, Belgium and Japan.
Multi 50: the four musketeers
Small in size but big in quality, the Mulit50 class of will see four crews battling at high-speed across the Atlantic. Thibaut Vauchel-Camus and Fred Duthil are clearly aiming for victory on their 50-foot Solidaires en Peloton ARSEP, launched in 2018 and built in Dubai on a VPLP design. Facing this new generation boat, Gilles Lamiré, with three participations in the Transat Jacques Vabre, will take up the challenge on Team Groupe GCA-Mille et un sourires (the former FenêtréA, twice a winner of the Route du Café, skippered by Erwan Le Roux). The third competitor is a newcomer to the 50-foot circuit: Fabrice Payen will be the skipper of Gilles Lamiré's old boat. Finally, we will have wait to reveal the fourth crew, with the names of the skippers and boat being kept secret at the moment. For these four, the competition on the Transat Jacques Vabre will be extreme, as these boats are flighty and devilishly uncomfortable at high speed.
IMOCA: an exceptional fleet
Of the 34 crews registered, 6 latest generation IMOCA will race to Brazil. All eyes will be on Alex Thomson’s new British rocketship, Hugo Boss, the VPLP design made in England. Likewise, Jérémie Beyou’s Charal (co-skipper Christopher Pratt) should be flying at the front. But there is also Thomas Ruyant’s stunner designed by Guillaume Verdier and built in Italy; the brand new Arkea Paprec skippered by Sébastien Simon (co-skipper Vincent Riou, twice a winner in 2013 and 2015); Charlie Dalin’s Apivia (co-skipper Yann Eliès, winner 2017), also designed by Guillaume Verdier; and finally Japan’s Kojiro Shiraishi, skippering the sistership of Charal. The fleet is full of the great and the good of sailing determined to fly across the Atlantic faster than the 2017 winners, Jean-Pierre Dick and Yann Eliès (13 days and 7 hours).
We will not want for stories of men or women in this packed class, with so many fascinating and experienced duos. Britain’s Sam Davies, making her fifth appearance, will have Paul Meilhat (winner of the 2018 Route du Rhum and second in the last edition of the Transat Jacques Vabre) as co-skipper on her competitive, Initiatives-Cœur. Clarisse Cremer, a Route du Café rookie, has Armel Le Cléac'h, the 2016-17 Vendée Globe winner, as her co-skipper. Britain’s Miranda Merron and her partner on earth and ocean, Halvard Mabire, will sail together for the first time in the IMOCA fleet. Nicolas Troussel will sail with Jean Le Cam, the 2013 champion. The five-time para sailing world champion, Damien Seguin, has as his co-skipper the winner of the last La Solitaire Urgo Le Figaro (the amateur fleet of the great French solo series), Yann Richomme. This is fleet full of quality and personalities, who will paint vivid and varied pictures as they race across the Atlantic. Those following the action will savour a robust and full-bodied edition.
The 67 duos will be moored in the Bassin Paul Vatine from Friday, October 18 heading out to the land of coffee on Sunday, October 27th, 2019, after a week of festivities in Le Havre.