The latest race news from the race
Despite the mild weather in Le Havre, the atmosphere has been increasingly feverish for a few days on the Class40 pontoons of the Bassin Paul Vatine. Vogue avec un Crohn (Pierre-Louis Attwell, Calliste Antoine), A chacun son Everest(Yves et Renaud Courbon) and Beijaflore(William Mathelin-Moreaux, Marc Guillemot), may not be on the start line because of a lack of insurance. The first two Class40s are rented by their skippers just for the race. The third is a longer lease. For all three, the boat must be covered for total loss in order to start. This is not a requirement by the race organisation, which asks only for liability insurance, that is to say third party damage.
Pierre Louis Attwell explains: “When we applied for the renewal of our contract, which runs until October 25, our insurer Pantaenius told us that they could only offer us a civil liability for the Transat, not total loss. That was a big shock because the boat has not suffered any damage for five years.”
On the previous edition of the Route du Café in 2017, the German insurer shared the fleet with an English company that has since withdrawn from the market. So Pantaenius finds itself this year covering a larger number of boats and seeing an increase in risk. “We received a very clear statement from our re-insurance company,” explains Marco Dittmann of Pantaenius. Apart from Hugo Boss, we insure all of the IMOCA, twelve Class40 and one Multi50. It's unfortunate, but the risk is very high and we cannot make an exception.”
Beijaflore(a Lombard design launched in 2018) was covered during the first part of the season up to the latitude of the Azores and was preparing to sign a specific contract for the Transat. But thus far, Beijaflorehas not found an insurer to give it 100% coverage. "For the moment, Marc and I are stuck...” explains the young skipper, William Mathelin Moreaux. And starting the race without insurance? “Some do it. It is tempting of course, especially if the weather forecast is mild for the first part of the race. But I completely understand why the chairman of Beijaflore, the owner of the boat, doesn’t want to take such a risk.”
The risk is relatively low on the 159 Class 40s built since the birth of the class in 2004. The number of boats which have been completely lost can be counted on the fingers of one hand. These boats are the least extreme of those competing in the Transat Jacques Vabre Le Havre Normandie and the damage is usually minor and usually well covered by the existing arrangements.
Ahead of Sunday, everyone is working in their networks to find solutions and not throw in the towel. “We’re now looking to guarantors so we can secure the project and obtain the permission from the owners of the boat to start without insurance,” Atwell concludes. All good ideas are welcome and more than ever, the solidarity in offshore racing is clear.