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Route du Rhum Preview

The docks at Saint-Malo look just like the Corinthian YC at the start of the Singlehanded TransPac.

© 2014 Alexis Courcoux

Every four years the Route du Rhum transatlantic race gets the French all excité, and we should get excited too because it’s one of the classic singlehanded adventures – like our Singlehanded TransPac, but with more and bigger boats and scads more money.

The race starts in often-rainy Saint-Malo, Brittany, on Sunday and finishes 3,500 miles later in Pointe-à-Pitre, Guadeloupe, in the warmth of the Caribbean. The race attracts the rockstars of Europe but leaves room for some semi-Corinthian racers, with 89 boats in five classes ranging from the Ultime multihulls, down to the Rhum class of multis and monohulls no smaller than 39 feet. Class Ultime includes Spindrift 2, a 131-ft trimaran that is squirrelly enough sailing with a full crew but now must be reined in by Yann Guichard solo. One of the newest tricks for sail-handling on these beasts solo is a bicycle pedestal for grinding.

Class Rhum includes Grey Power with Sir Robin Knox-Johnston at the controls of an Open 60. At 75 years young, Sir Robin responded to the question of why he’s doing the race: "Because I bloody well want to! I’m not yet ready for the pipe, slippers and TV!"

Famed solo sailor Sir Robin Knox-Johnston is not yet ready for the rocking chair.

© Alexis Courcoux

Rounding out the fleets are the IMOCA 60 monohulls of Vendée Globe fame with some of the same famous racers, the Multi 50 trimarans, and an impressive complement of 41 Class 40 monohulls that surely will bring out close racing all the way to the finish in sunny Guadeloupe.

For a comprehensive preview of the Route du Rhum, see the Sightings section of the November Latitude 38.

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