Twenty-Five Skippers for Solo Transat Race to New York
Published on April 3rd, 2016
A fleet of twenty-five first-class ocean racers and fearless adventurers will set sail May 2 on the world’s oldest solo transatlantic race from Plymouth, England to New York City: The Transat bakerly.
This year’s Transat race has attracted a star-studded line up of offshore greats, from the likes of Vendée Globe competitors Sébastien Josse and Armel Le Cléac’h in the IMOCA60, to Transat Jacques Vabre winner Erwan Le Roux and Route du Rhum winner Thomas Coville on the flying multihulls and seasoned offshore competitors Miranda Merron and Thibaut Vauchel in the Class40.
The Transat is a nostalgic race steeped in history, full of adventure and touched upon by tragedy. Established in 1960 by Sir Francis Chichester and Blondie Hasler, Hasler’s legendary vision for the race is still as relevant today as it was then: The Transat is about “one man, one boat, one ocean.”
But while the principle behind the race remains the same, a new generation of ocean racing machines sees a classic reborn in 2016. Giant Ultimes, flying Multi50s, powerful IMOCA60s and hardy Class40s, helmed by some of the world’s finest solo sailors, could make for one of the fastest crossings yet.
“We are absolutely delighted by the turn out and the calibre of the skippers who are taking on the challenge of one of the greatest solo races in the sport,” said Hervé Favre, Offshore Events Director for OC Sport. “With the right conditions we could see records tumbling in all four classes.”
Paying homage to The Transat’s origins, the 14th edition will set sail from Plymouth – the first city to play host to the race. From the start at the Plymouth breakwater on May 2, the fleet will race 3,000 miles to Brooklyn, NY, where The Transat first finished 56 years ago. Boats could finish as early as May 9 into the newly-built ONE°15 Brooklyn Marina.
The 2016 edition of The Transat bakerly will see solo skippers in four classes – Ultimes, IMOCA 60s, Multi50s and Class40s – take on one of the great challenges in professional sailing. The field includes the first ever Japanese-entry, as well as three female skippers. They face a 3,000-mile course complete with storm force headwinds, rough seas and freezing fog.
Between the two cities, competitors will be alone faced with the towering waves of the Atlantic, blinding fog, ferocious winds and the danger of ice drifting down from the Arctic. The fleet will spend anywhere between eight and 18 days at sea, dependent on the boat. Racing upwind for the majority of the race, The Transat will be a hard slog for the skippers. Frequent rest, good nutrition and staying hydrated will be key to staving off fatigue and staying in the game.
The Atlantic is a dangerous playground and intelligent sailing will be the key to success in New York City, as Race Director Gilles Chiorri explained: “The Transat is the mother of all transatlantic races, it launched the trend for solo sailing. The Transat is the most challenging transatlantic to win.”
The Transat bakerly is named for partner bakerly, a new brand of French-inspired bakery goods. Founded in 2015, bakerly, is a new consumer brand, but it shares with The Transat – which enjoys a 56-year history steeped in adventure and sailing folklore – a common path: both The Transat and bakerly are crossing the Atlantic.
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