04 Nov Route du Rhum : imminent departure : 2 PM
History and track record
1978 : The Transat of Liberty
As its creator, Michel Etévenon, intended, the first Route du Rhum was the transat of freedom: monohulls and multihulls were mixed without class divisions and without size restrictions. Professionals and amateurs competed under the same rules and all outside aids to navigation were allowed on an open course.
What to remember from 1978:
- The first transatlantic to overthrow conventional wisdom.
- Thirty-eight competitors started the race, barely a quarter of them on racing boats.
- Olivier de Kersauson, Philippe Poupon, Florence Arthaud and Bruno Peyron were among those who set sail.
- French skipper Alain Colas was lost at sea.
- Olympus Photo, the small yellow trimaran sailed by Mike Birch, won by just 98 seconds from Kriter skippered by Michel Malinovski, after 23 days of racing.
1982 : More than 50 boats at the start
Fifty-two sailors registered for the second edition including a group of professional sailors to enliven the history books of offshore racing. This time the boats were again admitted without size limitations and all were equipped with Argos beacons. It was now much easier to follow the progress of the skippers and to detect when things went wrong or their boats were damaged.
What to remember from 1982:
- Great multihulls made their appearance with Eugène Riguidel’s 27-metre William Saurin or Elf Aquitaine sailed by Marc Pajot. Three boats measured more than 20 metres.
- Marc Pajot managed to win, 10 hours ahead of Bruno Peyron on Jaz, despite serious damage to his boat.
- There were 19 retirements including Ian Johnston on his trimaran Rennie (capsized), Jean-Yves Terlain on Gauthier III (dismasted), Eric Tabarly on Paul Ricard and Daniel Gillard on BAI Britanny Ferries.
1986 : A year of heavy weather
Thirty-three skippers took the start of this edition. The best skippers were still taking part even if the number of participants was down compared to 1982. The size of the boats continued to grow with 13 boats entred measuring more than 23 metres. Never had offshore racing brought such a group of giants together. The trend was resolutely towards catamarans with no less than 13 in the fleet, against nine trimarans some of which were equipped with the latest appendage – foils. The depressions followed one another in the Atlantic making it a tough journey westwards.
What to remember from 1986:
- The big multihulls marked this vintage with no less than 13 boats over 23 metres in class 1.
- Royal, a 26-metre maxi catamaran, capsized in a storm and Loïc Caradec was lost at sea.
- With a 48-hour lead, Philippe Poupon (Fleury Michon VIII) crossed the finish line to win. His foiling trimaran did wonders on the southern route and he dedicated his victory to the memory of his friend Caradec.
1990 : The first female winner
The fourth edition marked a year of change. The trimarans had definitively imposed themselves on the race but a limitation of 60ft was now imposed, ruling out entries from Bruno Peyron, Francis Joyon and Hervé Laurent. Thirty-one competitors set sail from St Malo, among them sailors on new boats like Florence Arthaud (Pierre 1er), Mike Birch (Fujichrome), Laurent Bourgnon (RMO) or Philippe Poupon (Fleury Michon IX). Bourgnon passed the buoy off Cape Frehel in the lead but in Pointe-à-Pitre, it was Florence Arthaud who entered the legend of Rhum by becoming the first woman to win.
What to remember from 1990:
- A limitation on the size of boats of 60ft was imposed.
- The trimarans dominated with new boats made from carbon.
- Florence Arthaud on Pierre 1er sailed a remarkable race to win.
- The runner-up was Philippe Poupon with the new kid in the block, Laurent Bourgnon, third.
1994 : A breathtaking podium
They were only 24 sailors taking the start of the fifth edition. But this time the fleet was split between a multihull class and a monohull class for the first time, with 12 skippers setting sail in each category. Although many race fans still had memories of Florence Arthaud in their minds, she did not defend her title. But her boat took part having been bought by the American adventurer and billionaire, Steve Fossett, under the name of Lakota. The intensity of competition was still off the limits.
What to remember from 1994:
- Cherbourg Technologies skippered by Halvard Mabire lost its keel and turned over. Mabire was recovered after 10 hours – his boat sank 10 days later.
- In addition to the sailors fighting on the water, the quality of the routers working for them on land was better than ever with Richard Silvani advising Laurent Bourgnon and Jean-Yves Bernot and Louis Bodin working for Paul Vatine.
- The new generation of water-ballasted 60ft monohulls showed incredible potential. While they may be not have been on par with trimarans, they coped with the elements more easily and could afford to hold more canvas than before.
- It proved to be an incredible podium as behind the two leading trimarans – Laurent Bourgnon on Primagaz and Paul Vatine on Region Haute-Normandie – followed the first two monohulls: Cacolac of Aquitaine skippered by Yves Parlier and Alain Gautier’s Baggage Superior.
1998 : A growing line-up for the 20th anniversary transatlantic
Nineteen multihulls and 18 monohulls set sail on this edition: a strong birthday turnout for the twentieth year of the Route du Rhum. In six editions, the race had become a classic and a must for all professional sailors. The Atlantic was once again transformed into a veritable chessboard on which the world’s leading soloists played out their options: Francis Joyon, Paul Vatine, Loick Peyron, Laurent Bourgnon, Alain Gautier, Marc Guillemot and Franck Cammas were all involved. On arrival in Guadeloupe, Laurent Bourgnon was the first in the history of the race to achieve a second consecutive victory.
What to remember from 1998:
- Yves Parlier, who was seriously injured during a fall while paragliding, entrusts his 60ft Aquitaine Innovations to Thomas Coville. The latter wins the monohull class, routed by Yves Parlier himself. A great sailor is born.
- Four sailors contested the finish in view of Guadeloupe: Laurent Bourgnon, Alain Gautier, Marc Guillemot and Franck Cammas. The winner was the one who made the least mistakes according to Alain Gautier. Laurent Bourgnon achieved his second consecutive victory in the Route du Rhum.
- The victory of Primagaz, was also an endorsement for the preparation and racing methods of Bourgnon whose boat was reliable in every way and was routed by Richard Silvani and Bob Rice.
2002 : the year of records
With 58 competitors at the start, 2002 was a record year, in terms of participation but unfortunately also in terms of abandonment, because while 28 boats finished, only three out of 18 arrived in the Caribbean in the queen class of 60ft multihulls. Another historic first was the finish of two monohulls ahead of all the multihulls – a result of the departure of the monohulls one day before the multihulls, and the widespread damage to the multihulls in a storm off La Coruna.
What to remember from 2002:
- The seventh edition was marked by the passage of a very deep depression that caused havoc with the ORMA multihulls. Michel Desjoyeaux (Giant), Marc Guillemot (Biscuits La Trinitaine) and Lalou Roucayrol (Banque Populaire) were the only three to finish of the 18 starters.
- This edition celebrated the resounding victory of Britain’s Ellen MacArthur in the IMOCA monohull class and that of Michel Desjoyeaux in his ORMA trimaran.
2006 : A great vintage
The eighth episode of this famous solo transatlantic race will remain marked by the breathtaking sprint of Lionel Lemonchois, winner of the queen category of 60ft multihulls aboard Gitana 11. Sailing from St Malo to Pointe-à-Pitre in just 7 days, 17 hours and 19 minutes, the Norman pulverised the old record by Laurent Bourgnon by more than four days, with an average speed of 19.11 knots. The other outstanding feature was the epic duel between Roland Jourdain (Sill et Veolia) and Jean Le Cam (VM Materials), which produced a thrilling finish. After 3,543 miles, only 28 minutes separated them, allowing Jourdain to enter the legend of Rum.
What to remember from 2006:
- Seventy-four skippers lined up at the start, a milestone in the history of the race. Sixty-two boats made it to Guadeloupe, including 61 classified, making it a great sporting success.
- 1.2 million visitors gathered on the docks in St Malo during the 10 days preceding the start.
- For the first time, the monohulls of Class40 were admitted and immediately formed the biggest category with 25 entred.
2010 : The return of the giants
Eighty-five solo skippers took the start in 2010, while almost two million people visited the race villages at St Malo and Pointe-à-Pitre – the 2010-vintage Rum established itself as a record-breaker. On the water, the return of the great multihulls did not disappoint. The winner aboard his 31.50-metre trimaran, Franck Cammas, skipper of Groupama 3, entered the legend of the race but he did not beat the record, taking nine days, three hours, 14 minutes and 47 seconds to cross the Atlantic. Francis Joyon (Idec) and Thomas Coville (Sodebo) completed the podium.
What to remember from 2010:
- Nine Ultimes, nine IMOCAs, 12 Multi-50s, 11 “Rhum” class yachts and 44 Class40s made for a total of 85 competitors at the start.
- Two million visitors had greeted the sailors at the race villages.
- Franck Cammas entered the winner’s circle of the Queen of Transatlantic races and celebrated in his own way the return of the giants of ocean racing to this event.
2014 : The edition of all the superlatives
For its 10th edition in 2014, the Route du Rhum-Destination Guadeloupe broke all records with 91 boats together on the startline off St Malo. The race witnessed a magnificent victory by Loïck Peyron, who set a new reference time, completing the 3,542-mile course in an incredible seven days, 15 hours, eight minutes and 32 seconds. On the media front the output was phenomenal with unprecedented coverage. This included more than 67 hours of television coverage, over 44 hours of radio coverage, over 5,500 news articles, over 900 accredited journalists and more than 12,000 web-based stories about the race. Finally, more than 2,200,000 people came to enjoy the race villages in St Malo and in Pointe-à-Pitre.
What to remember from 2014:
- Eight Ultimes, nine IMOCAs, 11 Mutli-50s, 20 “Rhum” class yachts and 43 Class40s entred the race, making a total of 91 competitors.
- 2.2 million people visited the race villages.
- Loïck Peyron achieved the feat of winning in record time after deciding at the last minute to skipper the Ultime trimaran, Banque Populaire.
2014: 91 entries
Winner per category :
ULTIME: Loïck Peyron in 7d 15h08’32”
IMOCA: François Gabart in 12d 04h38’55’’
Multi50: Erwan Le Roux in 11d 05h13’55’’
Class40: Alex Pella in 16d 17h47’08’’
Class Rhum: Anne Caseneuve in 17d 07h06’03’’
Try for yourself & now play on :