On Monday 2nd May, six sailors competing in the 2016-2017 Vendée Globe will line up for the start of the Transat bakerly. Among them, five who are hoping to win both this legendary race across the North Atlantic and the iconic French solo round the world race next winter.
The Transat bakerly is one of the qualifying events for the Vendee Globe further confirming the special links between these two great events.
This year, there will be six IMOCAs competing and amongst them leading names from the Vendee Globe including French skippers: Vincent Riou (PRB), Paul Meilhat (SMA), Jean-Pierre Dick (St Michel-Virbac), Sébastien Josse (Edmond de Rothschild), Armel Le Cléac’h (Banque Populaire VIII) and Briton Richard Tolkien (44).
“The Transat is a legendary race, which is particularly testing for the boats and skippers as we will encounter strong winds and heavy seas as we race upwind across the Atlantic from Plymouth to New York. I am sure that it will be a great competition,” explained Vincent Riou. The skipper of PRB added that the Transat, for all six of the registered skippers, would involve ‘total commitment’.
Ten times out of 13
Racing against the prevailing winds is far from easy and a Frenchman has won the Transat ten out of thirteen times – from Eric Tabarly in 1964 to Loïck Peyron in 2008. Peyron is the only sailor to have won the race three times, including the last edition.
Historically, there are also many leading Vendee Globe skippers that have won this transatlantic race – Philippe Poupon in 1998 and Michel Desjoyeaux, winner in 2004, between his two wins in the Vendée Globe (2001 and 2009). The close relationship between the legendary solo transatlantic race and the Everest of the seas is clearly not set to change this year.
Qualifier for the Vendée Globe
Three of the skippers and IMOCA boats competing in the Transat bakerly are already qualified for the 8th Vendée Globe, Vincent Riou, Jean-Pierre Dick and Sébastien Josse. Three others are racing not just for line honours, but also to get their ‘ticket’ to the Vendée Globe: Armel Le Cléac’h, Paul Meilhat and Richard Tolkien.
Foilers vs daggerboards…
The Transat is going to be a fantastic test for new technology with three of the new foiling IMOCAs, Banque Populaire VIII, StMichel Virbac and Edmond de Rothschild, competing against three of the IMOCAs with daggerboards, including Vincent Riou, winner of all the recent races with his PRB, and Paul Meilhat’s SMA, which is none other than François Gabart’s former MACIF, the Vendée Globe title-holder. Put simply, the line-up is for a very competitive race and it would be a brave person that would predict the outcome of this demanding transatlantic race.