The latest race news from the race
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.