2021 Edition

The new Transat Jacques Vabre,
bound for Martinique

For its 15th edition, the Transat Jacques Vabre Normandie Le Havre is injecting fresh impetus into the race, bound for Martinique! For the first time in its history, the Transat Jacques Vabre is heading out to explore the West Indies. Indeed, it’s Fort-de-France Bay, which will host the finish of the longest and most demanding double-handed transatlantic race, in what promises to be a sensational spectacle.

The historic starting point remains the same: the Bassin Paul Vatine in Le Havre. In 2021, the founding members of the race, namely the City of Le Havre and JDE group, will be assisted with the organisation of the event by the Normandy region. Today, above and beyond being a race, the Transat Jacques Vabre Normandie Le Havre aspires to become an event. As such, it is eager to make the most of its considerable renown and turn it to good account, to inspire, to encourage and to pass on a message.

At the forefront of these new ambitions is the desire to break new ground in terms of environmental issues. This commitment to CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) is evidenced by the fact that the Transat Jacques Vabre Normandie Le Havre will launch two innovative programmes: a competition (open to start-ups and students) to showcase projects promoting a reduction in our carbon footprint, together with a conference on good environmental practice.

Moreover, the fresh impetus championed by the new Transat Jacques Vabre Normandie Le Havre team will be used to support the feminisation of offshore racing, by encouraging a project helmed by a female sailor, who would like to participate in her first transatlantic race. Finally, the Coffee Route 2021 version also intends to strengthen the links between real sailing and virtual racing, by officially integrating a fifth Virtual Regatta class.

This year, out on the racetrack and in all the actions carried out in relation to the race, the Transat Jacques Vabre Normandie Le Havre has set itself the task of enhancing performance and respecting its environment. To this end, it hopes to join together numerous skippers ready to brave the Atlantic in pairs from 7 November, the start date for the 2021 edition.

Route 2021

4 classes on the water, 3 different courses

The race will set sail off Sainte-Adresse, to the north-west of Le Havre. One to two hours later, the fleet is expected to reach the Etretat mark, celebrated as the perfect vantage point for spectators. Indeed, the Transat Jacques Vabre Normandie Le Havre always kicks off with a show sequence before heading offshore.

The first section of the course involves a common-core syllabus for all the different classes. This will start with the exit from the English Channel, either by hunting down a trajectory along the English coast or skirting the Cotentin peninsula, according to the weather conditions. In the English Channel and at the north-west tip of Brittany, the skippers will have to be on their guard against the abundance of shipping.

Next up will be the negotiation of the Bay of Biscay, which can sometimes be a theatre for quite potent gales in November. Once around Cape Finisterre, the sailors will drop down the North Atlantic in a bid to hook onto the trade wind. It’s here, to the south of the Canaries, that the three courses will part ways.

The Ocean Fiftys and Imocas will both set a course towards the Brazilian archipelago of Fernando de Noronha, in a nod to the race’s historical destination. The complete circuit equates to 5,800 miles. These boats will cross the equator twice over, which translates as two passages through the doldrums, though the second, further out to the west, should be less hazardous. The Ocean Fiftys are expected to be first into Fort-de-France after 12 to 15 days at sea. Meantime, the Imocas could take 14 to 17 days.

The course adopted by the Class40s will be shorter in distance at 4,600 miles. They’ll have to leave the island of Sal to starboard, at Cape Verde, before powering eastwards to Martinique. They won’t have to negotiate the doldrums or the equator so the Class 40 circuit should be completed in 17 to 22 days.

Finally, the course for the Ultims, the fastest boats on the circuit, is inevitably the longest: 7500 miles. The designated waypoint rounding is another Brazilian archipelago, off the coast of Rio de Janeiro : Trindade and Martim Vaz. Here too, the crews must double up on their passages across the equator and through the doldrums. They are estimated to finish after 16 to 17 days.

Francis Le Goff
Francis Le Goff

“Game on across the board”

The key new feature in this Transat Jacques Vabre Normandie Le Havre 2021 version has to be the new finish venue: Fort-de-France in Martinique. What are the competitive implications of this major change? How is the course expected to differ?

The game changer is that the classes will have different courses and different distances to race before they make landfall in Fort-de-France. The start of the course will be identical for all. Next, each class will have a different mark to round and we’ve chosen islands throughout the Atlantic: the archipelago of Trindade and Martim Vaz, off the coast of Rio de Janeiro, for the Ultims, Fernando de Noronha, another Brazilian archipelago, for the Ocean Fiftys and Imocas, and finally Cape Verde for the Class40s. These three courses will enable all the classes to enjoy a great celebration, together, in Martinique.

But you’ve chosen to retain certain key historical markers. Which elements will be renewed from the previous course?

We’ve sought to preserve the sporting history of the Coffee Route. The first way to achieve this has been by ensuring the race continues to set sail from Le Havre, in Normandy. The whole of the first part of the course remains identical: the passage through the English Channel, which is the first hurdle; then the Bay of Biscay, which everyone has to brave and isn’t always easy to tackle in November; before slipping southwards towards the equator.

The three courses will merge again in the final sprint. How will the finish in Martinique play out in practice?

We’ll make landfall via the south of Martinique, passing very close to the fabulous Diamond Rock, before arriving in Fort-de-France Bay. The exceptional aspect: the line will be set close to the port, and the public will have the chance to admire the boats racing across the finish line. Indeed, what’s extraordinary in this bay is that you can practically race up to the dock under sail. This is unprecedented when you compare it to other destinations.

A promising course then. Is this also true of the expected line-up?

Yes, both in terms of number and quality. New boats will have been built in all the classes. The Ultims will be back in play with some boats due to make their major race debuts. The Imocas will return from the Vendée Globe with a lot of lessons learned, together with a series of refits and intermediate races, so they’ll be especially honed. Among the Ocean Fiftys, a great deal of energy has been expended by the class to have a solid turnout, including some new additions to the fleet. The smallest, but certainly not the least dynamic group will comprise the Class40s, with a host of new projects, which always combine professionals and amateurs. Some incredible battles are on the cards then, in all the classes, so it will be game on across the board.

Logo Le Havre

Le Havre

The city of adventures

The Transat Jacques Vabre is the opportunity for you to discover Le Havre in its greatness : water sports, events, architecture and exceptional heritage are waiting to be spotted by visitors and curious people, only 2 hours from Paris.

First, there is water. Everywhere. From the entrance of the city and the historical basins, where the Transat Jacques Vabre’s ships and the festive village are settled, to the marina and the beach, running alongside a converted coastline over several kilometers to relax or get sporty.

The beach being located within the city center, Le Havre offers an atypical setting to pleasure-boating, water sports, nature and hobbies amateurs. The procession of container ships and sailboats give a constant show in the harbor, facing the extraordinary skyline of Auguste Perret and the first cliffs of the Côte d’Albâtre. It is here, on the Baie de Seine, that the first continental regattas took place, nowadays followed by races and regattas on a lake famous for its demand : Normandie Cup, Le Havre Allmer Cup, Double de Normandie, Voiles étudiantes...

Nautical sports in Le Havre gather sports practice or multiple activities hobbies such as windsurfing, kitesurfing, land windsurfing, bodyboarding, stand up paddleboarding, skimboarding, surfing, wakeboarding or rowing. Reason of sportsmanship and contrast effect, the water gives you salt for your adventures in Le Havre.

Being a coastal town, Le Havre is also a territory full of culture and heritage. Created by Francis I of France in 1517, the city had always been loyal to History, willing to be reinvented all over again. Its rebirth, in the aftermath of World War II, allowed it to be recorded on the World Heritage Site by the UNESCO since 2005. A sense of pride usually claimed by the people of Le Havre.

The idea of sharing is part of their culture, just as being a hosting place for big sporting events such as the FIFA Women’s World Cup back in 2019 or obviously, the Transat Jacques Vabre since 1993.

On the occasion of original cultural meetings, we can find for example the literary festival Le Goût des Autres, musical festivals like moZ’aïque or Ouest Park or the artistic season Un été au Havre, initiated in 2017, that offers to discover every summer, a large collection of contemporary work on an open-air space.

Surprising, generous and bold, Le Havre is waiting for you to create your unforgettable memories.

Le Havre
Logo Jacques Vabre

Jacques Vabre

Follow the coffee trading route

The route of coffee merchants of the 17th century

It is naturally that the brand Jacques Vabre, expert and passionate about coffee since 1968, decided to co-create the Transat Jacques Vabre alongside the city of Le Havre. This race, classic from now on, redraws, since 1993, the way followed by the clippers of the 17th century.

Starting from the countries where the coffee was produced, they travelled to Le Havre, first coffee port in France. Jacques Vabre succeeded in using this transatlantic as a sporting yet human adventure, linking France and multiples coffee grounds like Colombia, Costa Rica or Brazil.

Jacques Vabre, an everlasting invitation to travel

For over 50 years, the brand Jacques Vabre turned out well to the spirit of its creator, with a tireless will to innovate and provide better quality.

Always looking for superior beans, Jacques Vabre never ceases to surprise: it arouses curiosity, the will to discover the coffee world and explore grounds. These days, the brand gives to its customers a large range of origin coffees; milled coffee, coffee beans and aluminum coffee pots.

Logo Région Normandie

Région Normandie

Full course on normandy

Its historical events, from Joan of Arc to D Day, its unique and emblematic monuments, its geographical location at the tip of Europe make Normandy one of the most famous regions in the world. The theater of the crazy adventures of the gentleman-thief, Arsène Lupin, it has been captured by the great names of Impressionism (Monet, Dufy), described by the greatest authors (Flaubert, Maupassant) and celebrated for its many PDOs and other gastronomic delights. And if the Mont-Saint-Michel is the most visited French tourist site with the Eiffel Tower, it is the first of a long list of very popular from the Gardens of Claude Monet (Giverny) to the Gros Horloge (Rouen) through the medieval city of Bayeux and its tapestry…

Normandy is also a land of sailors and navigators. Its history and heritage have shown this many times since the great Viking epic. With 640 kilometers of coastline and some of the most famous beaches in the world, it is synonymous with landscapes and maritime attractions that are as diverse as they are complementary. Harbors, fishing, boating, renewable marine energies influence its identity when the mention of its major seaside cities, such as Deauville, Honfleur, Le Havre or Etretat, resounds majestically far beyond its borders…

Open to the sea and the world

Bordered by the busiest sea in the world, Normandy also has two distinct shipping areas with different characteristics. The Baie de Seine is ideal for light and traditional sailing, while the Norman-Breton gulf is ideal for deep-sea sailing. Its numerous marinas follow one another from Le Tréport to Granville and its numerous islands (Chausey, Guernsey, to name but a few) allow trips at sea lasting from a day to a week. For the most advanced sailors, the northern part of the Cotentin peninsula, with its strong currents, is a unique place for development. With three coastal departments and its wide opening on the sea, Normandy has all the assets to practice multiple activities related to water sports and host major events such as the Transat Jacques Vabre or the Solitaire du Figaro.

All the sailors of the world

Indeed, regularly, the best sailors in the world meet in Normandy, to to compete in major sports competitions.To take up the challenge, the Normandy Region has set up "Young Normandy Talent". This system allows to select a talented sailor living in Normandy, to equip him/her and to support him/her for two years. Therefore, the Figaro Bénéteau III Normandy Region have made available with an operating budget for registration fees, insurance, maintenance, equipment costs and the Normandy skipper's participation in the French solo ocean racing championship. After Joan Ahrweiller, Sophie Faguet, Eric Delamare and Alexis Loison, the Region has selected its new navigator for 2022-2023: Guillaume Pirouelle. During a year of apprenticeship, the new navigator will take part in the 2021 racing program as a duo with Alexis Loison.

More information on : normandie.fr/nautisme

Normandy, France's 1st seafront

More than one Norman out of 6 lives in a coastal town.

15% of Normandy's coastline is protected by the Conservatoire du littoral (Coastal Protection Authority).

1st French region for shellfish farming and shellfish fishing.

France's 2nd largest maritime fishing region.

1st French region for container traffic and 28% of national port activity for trade.

France's leading marine renewable energy production facility.

3 regional ports (Dieppe, Cherbourg, Caen-Ouistreham) and 2 autonomous national ports (Rouen and Le Havre).

1,200 people work for the boating industry in Normandy, which includes 165 companies.

Logo Martinique

La Martinique

An Outstanding Destination

Heading to Fort-de-France for the Transat Jacques Vabre Normandie Le Havre 2021! The city of Martinique will offer its rich cultural heritage and local festivities to the skippers who will have crossed the Atlantic Ocean. A true land of sailing, this will be the first time that Martinique will host one of the world's greatest offshore races.

The crossing of the Atlantic in duo will offer the teams the traditional difficulties of the race but above all, it will allow them to take the original Route du Café. Martinique is best known for its sugar cane crops and its agricultural rum, yet Martinique was the cradle of coffee cultivation in the Americas. In the 18th century, three precious Arabica Typica plants from the private gardens of King Louis XIV were imported to the island to be cultivated there before being introduced to South America.

The Bay of Fort-de-France, ranked among the most beautiful in the world, will be transformed into a natural arena. It will host the final of the four classes and celebrate the winning duos to the delight of all sailing enthusiasts…

With 386,500 inhabitants, Martinique is known for its warm-hearted population, its family tourism and its rich historical and cultural heritage, illustrated in particular by its original Creole architecture. The houses, roads and carnivals are full of color and bring a festive spirit wherever the events take place.

Nicknamed the Flower Island, Martinique has become over the years, a very popular tourist destination, thanks to the diversity of activities offered: swimming and camping on the coast, hiking in the forest, cruises in the Caribbean, or diving in exceptional marine sites… the million tourists present in 2019 is not mistaken!

This archipelago located in the middle of the Caribbean Sea is also a destination more and more appreciated by the world of fashion and cinema. Numerous shootings have taken place in Martinique, mainly French TV fiction films. As far as fashion is concerned, the island is known for its original creations inspired by its multiple roots.

Land of Rum and cradle of coffee in the Americas, symbol of travel and tourism, the small island of flowers has a wide range of sporting activities, linked to the sea and rivers. So many assets and cultural diversity that make Martinique an exceptional destination for the Transat Jacques Vabre Normandie Le Havre 2021.

Les chiffres clés

  • Grandes dates
  • Les marins
1993
Creation of the Route du Café, a single-handed race from Le Havre to Cartagena, Colombia.
1995
The Transat Jacques Vabre becomes a double-handed race
2001
New destination. Heading for Brazil, Salvador de Bahia
2009
The race is anchored in Costa Rica at Puerto Limon
2013
Back to Brazil, with a new destination: Itajaí
2017
The Transat Jacques Vabre returns to Salvador de Bahia in Brazil
2019
An exceptional year with 59 competitors
2021
Destination Martinique