The Route du Rhum – Destination Guadeloupe 2018 starts on November 4, 2018 from Saint Malo, France.

The Route du Rhum-Destination Guadeloupe – one of the classic races in solo ocean sailing – is set for a record entry this year as it celebrates its 40th anniversary.

Charting a 3,542-nautical mile course from Saint-Malo in Brittany to Point-à-Pitre on the French Caribbean island of Guadeloupe, the Route du Rhum was first held in 1978 and has since established itself as one of the big targets for the world’s top solo ocean racers.

This year’s race starts on November 4th and will be contested by 125 male and female skippers in six classes, headlined by the super-fast and spectacular giant Ultime trimarans, four of which will be flying for the first time on their foils.

There is also a very strong line-up in the IMOCA fleet, and a highly competitive Class40 division which accounts for almost half of the total entry. The remainder of the fleet is made up of the Multi-50 multihull class and a “Rhum” class of amateur entrants divided into multihulls and monohulls.

Race organiser Hervé Favre, Co-Chief Executive Officer of OC Sport, the Anglo-French event creation and management company which owns and runs the four-yearly race, said this is going to be a very special year.

“We are delighted to see such an incredible turn-out across the six classes to mark the anniversary,” said Favre. “This is the eleventh race in Route du Rhum history and the sheer size of the fleet in monohulls and multihulls will make for a unique spectacle both at the start and for fans to follow online.

“The course has become a classic of its kind and we expect – if the weather co-operates – that the outright record held by French sailor Loïck Peyron of seven days and 15 hours may well come under threat,” added Favre.

The race often begins with rough conditions in the English Channel and as the fleet crosses the northern fringes of the Bay of Biscay where many competitors have experienced boat-breaking seas in the past. Then, as the skippers head further west, they come under the influence of the northeast trade winds that can offer a fast downwind passage to the Caribbean.

The majority of the sailors entered this year are from France but there is a sizeable contingent from elsewhere including skippers from Britain, Belgium, Germany, Switzerland, Japan, Finland, Sweden, Italy, South Africa and the United States.

Undoubtedly much attention will focus on the Ultime category – an astonishing collection of fully flying trimarans that can travel more than 850 miles in a day. The line-up of six skippers in this division reads like a who’s who of the greatest solo sailors racing today.

The favourite will be the golden boy of French sailing Francois Gabart, fresh from his 42-day solo round-the-world record in 2017. Gabart won the Route du Rhum – Destination Guadeloupe in 2014 on an IMOCA monohull.

I have a very strong memory of my only participation in 2014, including the arrival in Guadeloupe,” said Gabart. “It was just magic: first an olfactory memory with all the smells of the earth arriving early in the morning; then the victory that I really went looking for despite the loss of my spinnaker – I was exhausted.”

Among the favourites in the 22-strong IMOCA fleet will be Britain’s Alex Thomson on Hugo Boss who finished in second place in the last Vendée Globe race and is currently awaiting delivery of a new boat for the next Vendée in two years’ time.

Thomson has never competed in the Route du Rhum-Destination Guadeloupe and he will be looking to try to repeat the feat of fellow countrywoman, Dame Ellen MacArthur, who won the race in the IMOCA fleet in 2002.

“Up until now it’s always been complicated to do the Route du Rhum, which didn’t fit into our programme. This year, there’s a space in our schedule and it’s time for me to compete in it,” said Thomson.

Among his rivals for glory will be the French skipper Jérémie Beyou who has just won the Volvo Ocean Race as part of the crew of Dongfeng Race Team. Beyou will be trying out the very latest foiling IMOCA design – his new boat named Charal – and his performance in the Route du Rhum – Destination Guadeloupe will be watched carefully as a form guide for the Vendée Globe.

The aim is to discover what the boat can do, but not in delivery mode,” said Beyou. “I need numbers, to see what she’s made of and to compare my performance with the others. As such, the idea is to put her through her paces.”

In the Class40 monohull division there will be stiff competition in a massive 53-boat fleet with the French sailors Maxim Sorel and Nicolas Troussel likely to start among the favourites. Giving them a run for their money will be two British skippers in this super-competitive fleet Phil Sharp, Sam Goodchild.

The race village at St Malo opens on October 24th with the race starting on November 4th. You can also follow our new English Twitter channel dedicated to the Route du Rhum – Destination Guadeloupe here.

 The 2014 Route Du Rhum finish. Guadeloupe. Pictures of Sidney Gavignet onboard his MOD70 Trimaran Musandam - Oman . Finishing the Route du Rhum in 5th place this morning Credit: Mark Lloyd/Lloyd Images

The 2014 Route Du Rhum finish. Guadeloupe. Pictures of Sidney Gavignet onboard his MOD70 Trimaran Musandam – Oman . Finishing the Route du Rhum in 5th place this morning ( Photo © Mark Lloyd/Lloyd Images)

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Sidney Gavignet, French skipper of the Sultanate of Oman’s flagship, Musandam-Oman Sail, crossed the finish line of the Route du Rhum in Guadeloupe at 9:15:24 CET this morning completing the epic adventure in 8 days 19 hours 15 minutes and 24 seconds. After 4,446 nautical miles at an average speed of 21.5 knots he was delighted to reach dry land.

“Mission accomplished!” he said as he came ashore to speak to the media who welcomed him in at 03:30 local time. “The boat was superbly prepared by the shore team and is in as good shape as when I left St Malo 8 days ago, a testimony to their great work.

The 2014 Route Du Rhum finish. Guadeloupe. Pictures of Sidney Gavignet onboard his MOD70 Trimaran Musandam - Oman . Sidney speaks with reporters after the finish  ( Photo © Mark Lloyd/Lloyd Images)

The 2014 Route Du Rhum finish. Guadeloupe. Pictures of Sidney Gavignet onboard his MOD70 Trimaran Musandam – Oman . Sidney speaks with reporters after the finish ( Photo © Mark Lloyd/Lloyd Images)

“My primary objective was to get to Guadeloupe in one piece and here I am. I made a few small errors during the last few hours of the race, but I managed to finish on the same night as Prince de Bretagne, a boat that is 10 feet bigger than Musandam-Oman Sail, and as Gitana, a heavily modified MOD70. I am immensely proud to have flown the flag of the Sultanate of Oman all the way across the Atlantic and into Guadeloupe. This place is very special to me as I met my wife here 23 years ago while I was training for the Whitbread.”

He was given a hero’s welcome in Pointe-a-Pitre by his Oman Sail teammates who have lived every moment of the race, highs and lows, alongside the skipper. Support for the 45-year-old Frenchman across three different time zones was immense with cheers going up in France and Muscat when he crossed the finish line.

Sidney Gavignet and shore crew member Suliman Al Wahaibi happily celebrate Musandam's arrival in Guadaloupe (Photo © Mark Lloyd/Lloyd  Images)

Sidney Gavignet and shore crew member Suliman Al Wahaibi happily celebrate Musandam’s arrival in Guadaloupe (Photo © Mark Lloyd/Lloyd Images)

CEO David Graham, who waved Sidney off in St Malo was the first to applaud such a triumph: “Huge congratulations to Sidney for this incredible achievement. It has been a voyage of discovery for the whole Oman Sail team that has lived this epic experience alongside him, every nautical mile of the way. It has proved very inspiring for our Omani sailors, especially our offshore team who have been sending Sidney messages of support throughout the race, as well as our younger sailors that aspire to greatness on the water in years to come.

“This event has been a great success for us both on the sporting front and in terms of promoting Oman as a high-end tourism destination – we are very proud of Sidney’s achievement and the impact it had with our sailors in terms of inspiration. It may have been a single-handed race, but the reality is there were hundreds of people on the MOD70 with Sidney!”

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Sidney Gavignet and Oman Sail – Musandam arrive in Guadaloupe under a full moon sky (Photo © Mark Lloyd/Lloyd Images)

After a nail-biting first 48 hours of the race that saw the French skipper and his 70ft trimaran battle 40knot gusts and huge seas across the Bay of Biscay and then around Cape Finisterre, with a broken jet burner and no hot food, and a hurt and swollen forearm, the Frenchman bounced back with cheerful and awe inspiring tales of full moon sailing at 30knots and nerve-wracking squalls rolling in one after the other.

He punched way above his weight as he wrestled with Prince de Bretagne, an 80ft trimaran 10 feet his senior, all the way across the Atlantic and led right up to hours before the finish when boat length finally prevailed and Lionel Lemonchois gave him the slip to finish ahead.

The Oman Sail Route du Rhum had two objectives, the first to raise awareness of the Sultanate of Oman as a high-end tourist destination, and with over 2 million visitors to the St Malo race village and the “Visit Oman” tourism pavilion, over the course of a week at the start, this box was firmly ticked. The second was to finish – Sidney himself had estimated a 50/50 chance of catastrophe – and as a result to share the experience with the Omani sailors that aspire to follow in Sidney’s footsteps. Mission accomplished.

“One of the highlights of my race was receiving an email from Fahad Al Hasni, one of our best MOD70 sailors – it made me so happy I picked up the sat phone to tell him about life onboard. I think he was very surprised to hear from me, but I could hear the grin in his voice – I know that this race is inspiring my Omani teammates and making them want to go further in their careers and getting his message was a happy moment for me.”

Sidney will take some well-earned rest now and have a long overdue hot meal before the MOD70 Musandam-Oman Sail is prepared for the return trip to Europe with Fahad Al Hasni, Yassir Al Rahbi, Abdulrahman Al Mashari and Sami Al Shukaili, onboard.

Route du Rhum Ultime Class – provisional results

  1. Banque Populaire VII/Loick Peyron/103ft – 7 days, 15 hours, 8 minutes, 32 seconds
  2. Spindrift II/Yann Guichard/131ft – 8 days, 5 hours, 18 minutes, 46 seconds
  3. Edmond de Rothschild/Sebastien Josse/modified MOD70 – 8 days, 14 hours, 47 minutes, 9 seconds
  4. Prince de Bretagne/Lionel Lemonchois/80ft – 8 days 17 hours 44 minutes, 50 seconds
  5. Musandam-Oman Sail/Sidney Gavignet/70ft – 8 days 19 hours 15 minutes, 24 seconds
  6. Idec/Francis Joyon/97ft – still racing
  7. Paprec Recyclage/Yann Eliès/70ft – still racing
Sidney Gavignet and Oman Sail - Musandam finish the Route du Rhum in Guadaloupe (Photo © Mark Lloyd / Lloyd Images )

Sidney Gavignet and Oman Sail – Musandam finish the Route du Rhum in Guadaloupe (Photo © Mark Lloyd / Lloyd Images )

Challenge and Adventure’s Colin Merry reported today on the  goings on in and around the race village for the Route du Rhum.   “Amid the building carnival atmosphere that is gripping the town of St. Malo work goes on to prepare the fleets for the coming race. The crowds of mainly French people keep increasing in spite of the weather. For instance, Saturday with a 40knot storm with it’s accompanying heavy rain did little to disuade the crowds from descending on the race village! “

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Nighly walk on the docks (Photo by Colin Merry)

  • “On DMS (Pete’s boat) as on the other boats work progressed at a pace.  Whilst Pete and Tom got on with the technical aspects myself and Henriette went out to get the shopping list fullfilled. 20ltr. water cans for emergency water, coloured dye packs, 50ltrs. of drinking water, igniter for the gas burner,ten rolls of kitchen roll,white electrical tape, ptfe tape etc etc. I think without Henriette’s knowledge of the town I would still be out looking now! “
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Oiling batten cars on DMS (Photo by Colin Merry)

 
“With Pete and Tom finally happy with the day’s work we wandered around the other Class 40’s whilst Tom (a self confessed Class 40 geek) pointed out some of the subtle differences in the interpretation of the Class 40 rules.  He certainly knows his stuff and I am hoping to remember some of the info that he knows so well.  It is amazing to see so many same class boats in one place and yet not one seems to have much if anything in common with the others.

Legends Bar (Photo by Colin Merry)

Legends Bar (Photo by Colin Merry)

  After this informative walk around we retired for a well earned drink in the ”Bar de Legends”.  The walls in this pub are filled with photos of famous sailors and daring deads! Well worth a visit if you are in St.Malo.”

Pub (Photo by Colin Merry)

Legends bar (Photo by Colin Merry)

Tomorrow’s schedule:

Guadeloupeian groups “Kontak & Vidim”.
8:30 am10:30 amRennes Atalante conference.
10:00 am Opening of the race village.
11:30 am1:00 pmChallenge Handivoile (SNBSM).
2:30 pm5:00 pmLes Saintoises Trophy (SNBSM).
5:00 pm6:00 pm . Journal du Rhum – Témoin : Pierre-Louis Castelli – France Inter
 

17h00 – 17h20: François Angoulvant – Fermiers de Loué (Class40)/ Joris de Carlan – Generik Exp’hair en beauté (Rhum) / Samuel Manuard – Vecteur plus (Class40)

17h20-17h40: Vincent Riou – PRB (Imoca) / Jean Paul Froc – Eurosanit (Rhum) / Jean Paul Criquioche – Groupe Picoty (Class40)

17h40-18h00:Yves Le Blevec – Actual (Multi50) / Yvan Noblet – Appart City (Class40)/ Pierre Yves Lautrou – L’Express/Sapmer (Class40) / Christopher Pratt – DCNS 1000 ( Imoca)

7:30 pm Sound and light show.
8:00 pm Closure of the race village.
10:00 pm Sound and light show.

Sorting Out Weather Files on DMS (Photo by Colin Merry)

Sorting Out Weather Files on DMS (Photo by Colin Merry)

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Route du Rhum Fleet In Saint Malo preparing for The Start (Photo by Colin Merry)Pete Goss has not done a solo race in 13 years, but the British adventurer and businessman is readying himself to take on the hotbed that is the 46 strong Class 40 fleet. But, he says, ‘this is more than just a yacht race. ‘Arriving in Saint Malo Friday, Pete Goss is back in the world of solo ocean racing after a 13 year absence. It is not in any way that his epic 1996 Vendee Globe experience, fighting back upwind for two days in hurricane force winds to rescue Raphael Dinelli from a liferaft in the Southern Ocean, closed his chapter of solo and short handed racing. In fact Goss’s life of adventure has followed a zig zag course, which has been driven by diverse ambitions and varied opportunities and, and neither have really focussed his attentions back to solo racing since then. Until now. Pete Goss doing winch maintenance on his Class 40 racer DMS (Photo by Colin Merry)

He still describes solo ocean racing as his first love.

His return, for his first ever Route du Rhum, is an entirely unexpected opportunity. He was approached out of the blue by a successful British entrepreneur Tony Lawson who offered him the chance to do this race as part of a double-edged programme for Team Concise.

Lawson’s objective is to help bring on younger British skippers and crew by giving them a top level platform to compete offshore with. This is the second year of the programme and Concise 2 is their second Class 40, a new Marc Lombard Akilaria design.

Already last year the young crew won the Class 40 World Championships, and this year with the new boat they won the Class 40 division in the Sevenstar Round Britain and Ireland race.

Goss’ role within the team is to help, where he can, with coaching, mentoring and helping develop the short handed racing side of the programme, but with it comes the opportunity to take part in his first Route du Rhum.

 Despite his relative lack of time on the boat, which so far probably amounts to less than 20 days in total and maybe 2000 miles – including delivering the boat to Gijon for the 2010 world championships Goss says he feels completely at home on the boat, as he might with some 250,000 ocean miles under his belt.

 “Some boats like to please you and others you feel like you have to work for every mile, and this is a very happy boat. I am really delighted with her and could not really want for anything else. The miles I have done have been quality miles, though I have to say we have not been through a big blow, but I feel like with the experience I have that does not worry me too much.” Says Goss over a characteristic cup of tea in the cabin in DMS PACK IT IN.

 It is strangely ironic that this Route du Rhum La Banque Postale really only features two die-hard British skippers, Goss and Tolkien both forerunners, in their own way, for following generations of solo and short handed sailors.  

“ I am certainly saddened to find us the only Brits. You kind of wonder where all the youngsters are who should be cutting their teeth. It has been very hard to see them not here. It is very sad. But for us their really is an ulterior goal with Team Concise to try and help these youngsters, and so it would be great to see Tom Gall who is the boat captain, for there to be a vehicle like this to offer a platform for him to work from. I can think of nothing better than at the next skippers’ launch for a big race in Paris, for Tom to be there in his own right, and me to be sat in the audience.”  

“And it is terrible that Phil Sharp (who won the class last time) is not here, terrible. But I do think the Class 40’s are a great stepping stone.”

Goss is objective about his prospects, admitting that he is fiercely competitive and raring to go:

 

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Multi Hulls at dock in St. Malo (Photo by Colin Merry)

 

Between ten and midday this morning it was time for the skippers to meet up and sit down for the first formal briefing of this ninth edition of the Route du Rhum La Banque Postale. Eighty six skippers attended and were addressed by Jean Maurel, the Race Director, Sylvie Viant who is in charge of the race committee, Pierre-Andre Saladay and Didier Querler, who are representatives of the 24F maritime survelliance, the Nantes customs, Stanislas-Xavier Azzis, representative of the 32 F maritime surveillance, Jean-Yves Chauve, doctor of the race, Didier Moreau, representative of the SNSM and mebers of CROSS. The key reminders about safety at sea were presented and points on the race Sailing Instructions were discussed.  

 

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Nighttime at the St. Malo docks (Photo by Colin Merry)

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