17 skippers at the start of the New York – Vendée (Les Sables d’Olonne) on 29 May.
They will be heading off downwind from the Big Apple, surfing as if they were on the Southern Oceans towards the famous channel of the Sables d’Olonne. No less than 17 solo sailors from 7 different nationalities have signed up for the new Transat New York – Vendée (Les Sables d’Olonne). Five months before their round-the-world and in Vendée Globe configuration, they will be taking full advantage of this 4th leg of the IMOCA Ocean Masters World Championship to ratify the latest optimisations carried out on their Formula Ones of the seas, but also to observe with each other closely. This first ever edition of the Transat New York – Vendée (Les Sables d’Olonne) – a real warm-up for the Vendée Globe – has caught the skippers’ inspiration. And a chance for the IMOCA Ocean Masters World Championship to shine well beyond the North Atlantic Ocean. Start date 29 May. In 100 days exactly.
The teams had until last Monday 15 February to sign up for the New York – Vendée (Les Sables d’Olonne). Now, D-Day minus 100 we’re looking at a high-level and variety of fleet for this Vendée Globe warm-up.
17 solo riders for a first edition is a very good score, especially when you consider the range of competitors: 6 – 7 foilers (IMOCA60s equipped with latest generation foils), and solid challengers...
Starting from the foot of Freedom Tower, this new Transat takes the IMOCA Ocean Masters to an international public. On top of what is already an incredible race from a sporting point of view, the skippers are unanimous in saying that this international dimension of the New York - Vendée (Les Sables d’Olonne) is a huge plus.
Downwind sailing – advantage for the foilers? Or not…
The racecourse from New York will have the skippers doing their homework. The key will be to get into the downwind depressions that cross the Atlantic at the right place and at the right time, and to ride on their back towards the East. Next winter between the Cape of Good Hope and Cape Horn – about 2/3 of their round-the-world – the conditions will be the same.
These 3050 miles will then be mostly downwind – the chance for the foilers to show their full potential after their recent trip to the workshed for final optimisation?
“Anything is possible. It’s hard to say if the weather will favour the foilers. If it’s the case it will be a great occasion to see their real advantage.” Vincent Riou (PRB)
“We’ve been waiting for this race impatiently. It will be a key moment to test the reliability and integrity of our choices.” Jean-Pierre Dick (StMichel – Virbac).
The IMOCA60s will all be in Vendée Globe mode during the New York – Vendée (Les Sables d’Olonne). So potentially all the machines (and skippers) competing will be the same as those leaving les Sables d’Olonne on 6 November. The seeded players will take the time during the 8 or 9 days of Transatlantic sailing to take the temperature and check out their competitors.
“This race is a perfect opportunity to take stock of the various forces.” Armel Le Cléac’h (Banque Populaire).
“It will be interesting to go looking for confrontation, and to see how each one manages to push his boat during the 8 or 9 days of racing.” Yann Eliès (Quéguiner – Leucémie espoir).
From the Statue of Liberty to the Chaume Channel. Stuff of myths and dreams
Last but not least, this west-east race course is a party in itself. It’s not every day you get to moor your boat at the foot of the Statue of Liberty. “It’s incredible, once-in-a-lifetime!” All those who have been there remember it forever.
Conrad Coman – the only American skipper (of New Zealand birth) can’t wait for this “home-start” to show his compatriots how fabulous ocean racing is and why not to attract partners from that side of the Atlantic!
Many of the skippers have already sailed up the famous Sables d’Olonne channel, but to do it in an IMOCA at the end of a race and 5 months prior to the Vendée Globe is really something else.
“Sailing up the channel to meet the fans – That’s about as good as a finish can get!” Paul Meilhat (SMA).
“Arriving in les Sables d’Olonne just makes sense.” Sébastien Destremau (Face Ocean).
“The finish in Vendée is perfect for us, for our partners for the Vendée people. And the timing just ahead of the Vendée Globe is ideal.” Jérémie Beyou (Maître CoQ).
Jean Kerhoas (IMOCA President)
« This new race will be the dress rehearsal for the Vendée Globe and the impressive fleet of 17 skippers shows how much the skippers have welcomed it. Of course, some of the skippers are looking to qualify for the solo round-the-world, but many of the competitors are favourites for the up-coming Vendée Globe. The new IMOCA rookies will be rubbing shoulders with the more experienced skippers, while the new foilers – which are still in the development stages – will be up against boats that have already proven their worth. We’re looking at some very exciting sport after a week spent in Manhattan, which I’m delighted to see as a sign of the international development of the race. »
Yves Auvinet (President of the French Department of Vendée)
« The Vendée region will do everything in its power to ensure that the New York – Vendée (Les Sables d’Olonne) will be a big public party. I know the people of Vendée will come out in crowds to welcome the skippers just a few months ahead of the Vendée Globe. »
Didier Gallot (Sables d’Olonne Mayor)
« Beautiful race start, great race finish! » All of us here in the town of the Sables d’Olonne are preparing to welcome the skippers of the Transat New York – Vendée and their incredible boats from 6 June. »
Transat New York – Vendée (Les Sables d’Olonne) Entry List (17 entries)
Fabrice Amedeo - NEWREST MATMUT (France)
Jérémie Beyou - MAITRE COQ (France)
Conrad Colman - NC (New Zealand – USA)
Bertrand de Broc - MACSF (France)
Tanguy de Lamotte - INITIATIVES CŒUR (France)
Sébastien Destremau - FACE OCEAN (France)
Jean-Pierre Dick - STMICHEL VIRBAC (France)
Yann Eliès - QUEGUINER-LEUCEMIE ESPOIR (France)
Nandor Fa - SPIRIT OF HUNGARY (Hungary)
Pieter Heerema - NO WAY BACK (Netherlands)
Morgan Lagravière - SAFRAN (France)
Armel Le Cléac’h - BANQUE POPULAIRE VIII (France)
Stéphane Le Diraison - NC (France)
Paul Meilhat - SMA (France)
Vincent Riou - PRB (France)
Alex Thomson - HUGO BOSS (United Kingdom)
Ari Huusela - NC (Finland)
Facts and figures
Program Transat New York – Vendée (Les Sables d'Olonne)