Getting the boats back to France
Published on November 28th, 2023
After a record fleet of 40 IMOCAs competed in the 2023 Transat Jacques Vabre from France to Martinique, the Class has organized a solo race for the 60-footers to get back to Europe. Starting November 30, over 32 boats will be taking on the inaugural Retour à la Base from the French Caribbean to Lorient.
Ahead of them is the daunting challenge of sailing out of the heat of the Tropics and into the cold and often dangerously unstable December weather off northern Europe in a race that, for many, is a key component in their qualification for the 2024 Vendée Globe round the world race.
“To be honest, it’s not really easy,” noted class veteran Romain Attanasio. “When I meet other skippers, everybody says ‘yeah, yeah, my God, why are we doing this? It will be difficult because everybody is tired and it’s not an easy road ahead.”
“We know the north Atlantic is hard in winter, and there has been just one week for recovery (since the TJV), which is not enough for us. But yeah, we are happy to go back to France in this race but we know it will be hard for sure.
“Everybody is saying they will sail slowly – better safe than sorry – but, you know we are stupid; when you give us a startline and a finish line, it’s difficult to stay sailing slow and just delivering the boats. That’s why it will be difficult to find a good balance between the two modes.”
Attanasio, whose shore team has been working hard in hot conditions at Fort-de-France to repair lots of breakages from the Transat Jacques Vabre, says the routing for the 3500nm course suggests a fast race of under 10 days. “We go 1,000 miles to the north, reaching in the tradewinds to find a big low pressure to go back to France downwind,” he summarized. “The race looks good – it’s going to be fast.”