The Transat: Fleet Building for Classic Solo Race
Published on December 4th, 2015
(December 4, 2015) – The 2016 edition of The Transat, the 3,000-mile solo transatlantic classic from Plymouth in the UK to New York City, will feature some of the top names in world professional solo ocean racing.
Releasing details of the latest entries on the opening day of the Paris Boat Show, race owner and organiser OC Sport, revealed that 15 skippers have now entered the four-yearly race that sets sail from Plymouth on May 2nd and more entries will be confirmed in the next few days.
Speaking at the race launch at the Salon Nautique de Paris today, where some of the confirmed entrants appeared on stage during an official presentation, Herve Favre, Offshore Sailing Events Director for OC Sport, said he is delighted with both the quality and depth of field for what promises to be a world-class renewal of the race in 2016.
“We are already seeing some of the top names in the sport coming back to The Transat and we are confident that more of the most competitive skippers in each of the four classes represented in the race will add their names to the start list,” said Favre.
For the first time, The Transat in 2016 will feature a fully-crewed and non-timed Pre-Start Stage or Warm-Up from St Malo to the official race village at Plymouth. A race village will be open at St Malo for four days prior to the departure of the fleet and journalists and guests of sponsors will get the chance to sail on board the boats on the way to Plymouth. “We’re delighted the race organisers decided to have a pre-start phase in France because there are so many French teams and we’re going to make sure it works.” – Claude Renoult, Mayor of St Malo.
Among the high-profile skippers who have entered The Transat 2016 are the IMOCA single-handers Seb Josse on Gitana, Jean-Pierre Dick on St Michel-Virbac Sailing Team, Armel Le Cléac’h on Team Banque Populaire and Paul Meilhat on SMA.
“I know many IMOCA skippers see The Transat as a training ground for the Vendée Globe and the truth is, it’s important to have as much training as possible and you know what they say… if you want to be a good sailor in 30 knots of wind you had better learn to sail in 40 knots and that’s the opportunity The Transat gives us,” said Paul Meilhat.
In the Ultime class, two skippers have committed so far – Yves Le Blevec on Actual and Thomas Coville on Sodebo.
“I think The Transat, for me, represents history,” said Coville. “I remember going with my Dad way back and it was a turning point for me. When I participated in The Transat in 2004 I remember battling through to the very end and when I arrived in the United States I was just so relieved. I didn’t win but I knew I had it in me to cross the North Atlantic alone and that was good enough,” says Coville.
“It’s going to be a very hard race. You don’t mess around with the North Atlantic and there are a lot of risks involved and this is one of the hardest races around. People just don’t realise it,” he added.
The Transat will also feature Class40 monohulls and the Multi-50 class. Five Class40s have entered so far, including two female skippers in Britain’s Miranda Merron on board Campagne de France and the German skipper Anna-Maria Renken on Nivea.
The Multi50 fleet includes Pierre Antoine on OLMIX Sailing Team and Lalou Roucayrol on Team ARKEMA.
Another unique feature of the 2016 race will be the participation of three-time race winner Loïck Peyron. He will sail the course outside auspices of the race on Eric Tabarly’s first boat, Pen Duïck II. This was the yacht on which Tabarly won The Transat (then known as the OSTAR) back in 1964, inspiring a generation of French solo sailors as a result.
“We call The Transat, The Transat because it was the first. I am honoured to be taking part on board Eric Tabarly’s boat Pen Duick II. I will be doing this old-school,” explained Peyron. “I will have all the necessary safety equipment I need but I will be doing this with sextants and other, what some might call ‘archaic’, equipment. I’d just like to thank Jacqueline Tabarly for giving me this opportunity.”
Entries for The Transat are open until January 8th, 2016.
Entrants for The Transat 2016 so far:
Tomas Coville Sodebo
Yves Le Blevec Team Actual
Sébastien Josse Edmond de Rothschild
Jean-Pierre Dick St Michel Virbac
Paul Meilhat SMA
Armel Le Cléac’h Banque Populaire VIII
Pierre Antoine Olmix
Gilles Lamiré French Tech Rennes – St Malo
Erwan Le Roux FenetrA
Lalou Roucayrol ARKEMA
Brieuc Maisonneuve Cap des Palmes
Anna Maria Renken NIVEA
Miranda Merron Campagne de France
Vincent Lantin Le Slip Français
Thibault Vauchel Camus Solidaires en Peloton – ARSEP
Maxime Sorel V&B
About The Transat
The OSTAR (Observer Singlehanded Trans-Atlantic Race) was created in 1960 by a handful of pioneering sailors. The race was organised every four years by the Royal Western Yacht Club (RWYC) from 1960 through to the 2000 event, albeit with a lot of involvement from the French event organiser Pen Duick in the 90s, in order to cater for the demands of the professional campaigns that dominated the event.
After the 2000 edition, OC Sport stepped in to develop the event and acquired the rights to the professional part. OC Sport organised The Transat in 2004 and 2008, the 2012 edition was deferred at the request of IMOCA (the largest competing class).
The RWYC continues to organise a solo transatlantic race for Corinthian and non-professional sailors that is still known as the (O)STAR,. This race usually falls a year after the professional big boat race i.e. 2005, 2009, 2013, 2017. Both the amateur Yacht Club event and The Transat have the right to link to the history of the original race created in 1960, and to the rich history it has produced.
The first race was competed by just a handful of pioneering sailors including Francis Chichester and Blondie Hasler who coined the phrase: “One man, one boat, the ocean.” There has been tragedy, dramatic rescues and exceptional drama since the race began in 1960. Over time The Transat, as it is known today, has evolved and now serves the professional end of offshore sailing. But there are few modern day races that can reflect on such a long and outstanding history.
Monohull IMOCA 60 record: 12 days, 11 hours and 45 minutes set by Loick Peyron (FRA) on board Gitana in 2008. Multihull 60ft record: 8 days, 8 hours, 29 minutes set by Michel Desjoyeaux (FRA) on board Géant in 2004.
Source: The Transat