The latest race news from the race

“Game on across the board” 

“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.

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