The Route du Rhum is a solo transatlantic race created in 1978 by Michel Etévenon. It has been raced every four years since 1978 between Saint-Malo (France) and Pointe-à-Pitre, in Guadeloupe. An open race which professionals and amateurs can enter, the Route du Rhum brings together on the same course multihulls and monohulls of all sizes and all classes.
Since its first edition back in 1978, it has become a legendary ocean race and has been won by some exceptional sailors. Mike Birch (winner in 1978), Marc Pajot (in 1982), Philippe Poupon (in 1986), Florence Arthaud (in 1990), Laurent Bourgnon (in 1994 and 1998), Michel Desjoyeaux (2002) and finally Lionel Lemonchois (2006) and Roland Jourdain (in 2010)have all has their names added to the list of winners in what is referred to as "the Queen of transatlantic races".
Since 1994 and their arrival in the event, the 60-foot IMOCA boats have also seen wins by some of the top names of ocean racing: Yves Parlier (winner in 1994), Thomas Coville (in 1998), Ellen MacArthur (in 2002) and Roland Jourdain (in 2006 and 2010). As time has gone by, the IMOCA class has become one of the headline classes in the event.
Someone who has followed closely the progress of the IMOCA skippers is Christian Le Pape, Director of Pole France in Port-la-Foret, and he had the chance to go training with 4 potential winners of thi...