The queen of solo transatlantic races
A solo transatlantic sailing race created in 1978 by Michel Etevenon, the Route du Rhum is held every four years between Saint-Malo in the French region of Brittany, and Pointe-à-Pitre in Guadeloupe, French West Indies. The race has become legendary over the years, making sailing popular in France and democratizing ocean racing. The race's motto is: "a man, an ocean, a boat".
The Route du Rhum emphasizes a diverse field of competitors, the original concept of its creator, Michel Etevenon, an advertising executive and creator of sailing sponsorships. Since the first race, it has maintained the same starting line and the same route, stretching 3,510 nautical miles, with entrants including monohulls and multihulls, small ocean racers and giant ships (Ultime, Multi 50, Imoca, Class 40, etc.).
It also welcomes a wide range of skippers, spanning both pros and amateurs, and from all four corners of the globe, who want to enjoy a sip of this incomparable "Rhum". The Route du Rhum melds the intensity of the race with a wealth of human stories, placing anonymous sailors and world-famous navigators on an equal footing for a few thrilling days.
The Battle of the Atlantic
November is considered the best period to cross the Atlantic, with trade winds well known, but competitors still have to contend with more challenging aspects at the beginning of the race. For instance, it's not unusual for low-pressure systems to be found in the English Channel and the Bay of Biscay. With strong winds and rough seas, the race gets off to an exciting start. In fact, past experience has shown that this zone, well known to navigators, is often the most hostile part of the race. Then they have to sail through the high-pressure area of the Azores, via the north, which is the shortest (close to the great circle), or via the south, which considerably lengthens the distance, but also allows the skippers to more quickly catch the famous trade winds, downwind conditions found in the northern hemisphere, blowing from northeast to southwest. This sets the navigators free, and they can start a sprint towards the West Indies. At this point, the arrival strategy in Guadeloupe takes on its own importance, since the navigators have to skirt the island, whose terrain can disturb the wind, before crossing the finish line.