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Transat Saint Barts – Port la Forêt, an exceptional race course and a return to roots

(Photo: Benoit Stichelbaut / Sea&Co)
(Photo: Benoit Stichelbaut / Sea&Co)
  • From the Caribbean pearl to the home of offshore racing
  • A singlehanded winter transatlantic race as a foretaste of the Vendée Globe
  • An opportunity to qualify for a prestigious line-up

The IMOCA 60s are obviously in for a spectacular conclusion to the year. Having just completed the Transat Jacques Vabre, the skippers of the IMOCA Ocean Masters World Championship will line up for a second transatlantic race, this time in singlehanded format. On the menu of this winter odyssey is a dream course from the small ocean paradise of Saint Barts to Port la Forêt in Brittany, where offshore racing all began. Race start on 6 December 2015.

Olivier de Kersauson nicknamed Port la Forêt the Vallée des Fous – or the Valley of Fools. In this little corner of southern Brittany, there is a unique mindset where competition rubs shoulders with a kind of village kinship, where the spirit of camaraderie sits alongside the development of leading-edge technology aboard increasingly sophisticated race boats. This uniqueness obviously weighed heavily in the race venue decision taken jointly by OSM (Open Sports Management), the organiser of the IMOCA Ocean Masters World Championship, and the IMOCA Class Executive Committee. Boasting a coefficient 4 in the Championship, the event will be decisive in appointing the provisional leader of the 2015-2016 Championship after the first half of the season.


A dozen candidates for an historic course

A race which serves as a qualifier for the next Vendée Globe, there will be a dozen candidates at the start of a course which echoes the previous two editions. Indeed, in 2007 the race set sail from Brazil to Port la Forêt and in 2011, Saint Barts was chosen as the start venue for the sprint to Lorient in Brittany.

Essentially though the key appeal of such a course is that it is incredibly technical and complex. Indeed to extract themselves from the Caribbean arc, the monohulls will have to climb northwards to hunt down a train of depressions. This will take two or three days, close-hauled, before they can hook onto the westerly winds which could catapult them at high speed towards Brittany. The course will be an opportunity in solo configuration for in situ testing of the differences in behaviour of the classic optimised boats and the fast-developing foilers. Sport at the very highest level, a key technical comparison, a start from Saint Barts, which is fast becoming a familiar destination for the skippers, and a finish in the Mecca of offshore racing… For its third edition, the Transat Saint Barth – Port la Forêt is making its mark amongst the major transatlantic races.


Jean Kerhoas (President of the IMOCA Class):
“We’re very proud to be able to work with the home of French offshore racing, and we have the active support of the Brittany and Finistère regional councils to organise this project. Saint Barts is the finish port for a number of transatlantic races and the competitors will once again be able to appreciate its charm before the darkness of winter.”

Peter Bayer (Managing Director of OSM)
“It’s fantastic to be going back to the roots of this transatlantic race which is better known as the B to B. For the finish, we had to choose between several excellent files and ultimately Port la Forêt was selected. This will be the first solo race for the foiling IMOCA 60s, which is very exciting particularly as it will give us a foretaste of the Vendée Globe. And it’s right in the middle of the Paris boat show which is a great opportunity to share this spectacle with the many fans of offshore racing across France.”

Practical information:

  • Entries closed on 15 October 2015
  • Prologue on Friday 4 December 2015 around St Barts
  • Start of the Transat Saint Barth - Port la Forêt on Sunday 6 December, estimated arrivals on 18 December 2015

Programme of the 2015-2016 IMOCA Ocean Masters World Championship

  • Rolex Fastnet Race (double-handed), started 16 August 2015
  • Transat Jacques Vabre (double-handed), starts on 25 October 2015
  • Transat Saint Barth - Port la Forêt (single-handed), starts on 6 December 2015
  • Transat New York - Vendée (single-handed), starts on 29 May 2016
  • Vendée Globe (single-handed), starts on 6 November 2016


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