Aerial view of the port of Saint-Malo, departure town of the Route du Rhum, November 2, 2018 / AFP
An impressive fleet of 123 boats launches the Atlantic on Sunday in Saint-Malo for the 40th anniversary of the Route du Rhum, this famous solo race that could be played over the water in less than 6 days thanks to the + flying + boats.
All sails outside, multihulls and monohulls are found on the same line of 5 km to take the start of the 11th edition, the gun given at 14:02 precisely.
They will be tens of thousands of people, on land and sea, to attend the big show and see all these sailors leave the winter to find the summer, in Pointe-à-Pitre (Guadeloupe) after an infernal crossing. Brave the elements, face a huge forecast storm Tuesday, sleep so little, hold the pressure of confrontation and manage non-stop boats extremely soliciting.
"To go boating is not complicated, to cross the Atlantic, it's a little less, to do it alone, it's a bit more and to do it alone in the race, it becomes frankly. ", says AFP Loïck Peyron, winner of the last edition in 2014 in record time of 7 days and 15 hours (Banque Populaire VII).
The defending champion will also be among the competitors on Sunday but on a small yellow boat, identical to Canadian Olympus Mike Birch, entered the legend with the first win in 1978 in 23 days 6 hours. A race tribute to all the pioneers of ocean racing that Peyron wanted.
– 'Face the worst' –
Of course, there are sporting stakes concentrated on the very elitist Ultim category, these maxi-trimarans (32 m long and 23 m wide max.) Of which three are capable of + flying +.
The public presses on the fortifications of Saint-Malo on the eve of the departure of the sailboats, November 3, 2018 / AFP
"Crossing the Atlantic on Ultims, the biggest boats, is the worst, and from my point of view, they are the ones who will face the worst, because physically it's colossal. is an amazing effort and stress, the threshold of tolerance needed to be effective on an Ultim is totally out of step with the rest of the common people, "notes Peyron.
At the helm of these extraordinary boats, great sailors: François Gabart (Macif), holder of the record of the solo world tour (42d 16h), Sébastien Josse (Edmond de Rothschild) and Armel Le Cléac'h ( Banque Populaire IX), winner of the last Vendée Globe, for those flying + flying machines. And Thomas Coville (Sodebo Ultim), author of a solo world tour record (49 d 3 h), and Francis Joyon (Idec Sport), holder of the Jules Trophy (crewed world record, 40 d 23 h) for Ultim first generation, so that do not fly.
Of these gear that will fly over the water, two are very recent. Launched less than a year ago, 'Edmond de Rothschild' and 'Banque Populaire IX' were designed from the outset to fly. And the one skippered by Josse is the most flying of all.
– 'Incredible stories' –
Just behind Gabart's tip with a 3 year old boat, but completely revisited last winter go even faster in even higher on the water.
Whatever the winner, this transatlantic race will go down in history as the first race and solo competition of the great multihull + flying +.
But beware of the first 24 hours, which are mostly decisive, regardless of the boat.
The French skipper Yann Eliès, November 3, 2018 in Saint-Malo / AFP
"We are in the Channel, each Route du Rhum there are incredible stories, dramas, capsizing, collisions, demastings, disappearances unfortunately," recalls Yann Elies, competing on a monohull Imoca (Ucar Saint -Michel).
From the first edition, Alain Colas was gone. This was also the case of Loïc Caradec in 1986. In 2002, of the 18 multihulls left, only 3 arrived safely.
"As soon as we pass the Héaux de Bréhat, in the bottom of the bay of Saint-Brieuc, there is the fight, it is left for the violent body-to-body with the elements", continues Eliès.
Sunday, the start is in good conditions but it will quickly spoil with a storm on Tuesday. Of what strongly worry small boats, the Class40, is half of the fleet (53 monohulls).