This tenth edition of the legendary Route du Rhum-Destination Guadeloupe...
starts on Sunday 2nd November 2014 at 1400hrs CET (1300hrs UTC) off the Pointe Grouin. There are 91 solo skippers racing in five classes. There are 24 trimarans, 1 catamaran and 66 monohulls. The theoretical course from Saint-Malo to Pointe-à-Pitre, Guadeloupe is 3,542 miles and the record is 7 days 17 hours 19 minutes.
Since 1978's inaugural edition of this famous race, the course has not really changed, except in the second edition when the soloists had to round Martinique first and in 2002 when they could head directly to the finish line at Pointe-à-Pitre (without rounding the island).
3,542 miles is the official distance between the start line off the Pointe du Grouin and the finish line off the Creole Beach Hotel off Gosier. There are several marks to be adhered to, notably leaving the Cap Fréhel mark to starboard, Ushant and the TSS traffic separation zone to port, then the islet of the Tête à l'Anglais et l'île and Guadeloupe are left to port (so there is effectively most of an anti clockwise circumnavigation on the islands) before Basse-Terre where the mark is left to starboard.
The start line off Grouin point is orientated North South with big exclusion zones marked out so the solo skippers can manoeuvre in safety. The start line is divided into two more or less equal sections, the multihulls offshore and the monos closer to the point. The warning signal is given at eight minutes and preparatory signal at four minutes at which point the skipper must be solo. The finish line is closed at 35 days after the start so finishers after December 7th will not be given a finish time. The solo skippers can anchor themselves for shelter or to repair but if they make a technical stop to a jetty, buoy or dock they are considered to have had help and so must make a stop of a minimum of four hours.
There are five classes, totalling 91 soloists. There are 43 Class 40s (monohulls 12.18m long), there are 20 in the Rhum Class (14 monohulls, over 12m long and 6 multihulls, between 12 and 18m long). There are 11 Multi50s (Class 18.28m) and eight Ultimes (Multihull over 18.28m). Only the Rhum class, the Multi 50s and the Ultimes can be supported by external on shore weather routers.
Among the roll honour Lionel Lemonchois is the only skipper racing this time who has won the race twice, in 2006 in the ORMA Class and in 2010 in the Multi50. Laurent Bourgnon has also achieved the double on the ORMA multihull (1994 and 1998) as well as Franck-Yves Escoffier in Multi50 (2002 and 2006).
Two other previous winners are on the starting line this time: Thomas Coville (IMOCA monohull in 1998) and Andrea Mura (Class Rhum 2010).
Two days before the start of the Route du Rhum-Destination Guadeloupe, wheather information suppliers Meteo Consult's Cyrille Duchesne is predicting a bouncy, difficult breezy, fast first 72-hours. But the course should run fast and after the first stage it should be relatively straightforward.
The Indian Summer in Saint Malo is over from Saturday and from then the weather will turn cloudy, returning to Autumn. At the start Sunday afternoon at 1400hrs the fleet will be under the influence of a low pressure system. There will be around 15-17kts from the SW with gusts to 25kts.
The wind will then back and build as they get out of the English Channel, stronger offshore. We can expect a long port tack to the Scilly then a tack to start the dive south.
The first boats should pass a front early in Monday morning off the point of Brittany when the wind shifts to the WNW and during this phase the gusts could reach 40kts. But thereafter it will be fast, reaching in 20kts across Biscay. That should get them quickly down to the Portuguese trades when speeds will remain high in winds to 25-30kts. The leaders should be at Cape Finisterre by late Monday and the Ultimes at Madeira on Tuesday!
The number of the day:
7 Seven former winners of La Route du Rhum gathered today in Saint-Malo. Only one was missing and he had a good reason he could not attend. Presented to the public were Mike Birch (1978), Marc Pajot (1982), Philippe Poupon (1986), Florence Arthaud (1990), Laurent Bourgnon (1994 and 1998), Lionel Lemonchois (2006) who is of course racing again this edition, and Franck Cammas (2010). Only Michel Desjoyeaux who won in 2002 at the end of the most tempestuous edition is absent, involved in the Volvo Ocean Race.
The record reference time for La Route du Rhum was set by Lionel Lemonchois on an ORMA trimaran in 2006: 7 days 17 hours 19 minutes. In the other categories, the reference time is 12d 11h IMOCA 60 (Roland Jourdain 2006), Multi50 of 11d17h 28' (Franck-Yves Escoffier in 2006), Class40 17j 23h 10 '(Thomas Ruyant in 2010), and the Rhum class in 19d 09h 40 '(Andrea Mura in 2010). The passage time from the Basse-Terre buoy to the finish line off Guadeloupe sets a reference time also.
Foto Alexis Courchoux Bapteme d'Acapella (Charlie Capelle) par Mike Birch, vainqueur de la Route du Rhum en 1978 - Route du Rhum-Destination Guadeloupe 2014 - Saint Malo le 31/10/2014