Transat Jacques Vabre: on the coffee trail
The Transat Jacques Vabre transatlantic sailing race is organized every two years. After being a solo race in its maiden year, 1993, the Transat Jacques Vabre became a two-handed race. It leaves from the French port of Le Havre, heading for a different port in South America for each edition. The Safran ocean racer took part for the first time in 2007.
The Transat Jacques Vabre route is inspired by the route taken by the great sailing ships that brought coffee beans back to France starting in the 18th century. The race always starts from Le Havre, the leading coffee port in France, and heads to a port in one of the coffee-producing countries in South or Central America (Colombia, Brazil, Costa Rica) – a route it has taken for 22 years now!
This transatlantic race has changed over the years. Starting as a solo race, right from the second edition it became a two-handed race, the longest of its type without routing*. The Transat Jacques Vabre is open to IMOCA class monohull boats, 50 feet or Class40, and the multihull classes Multi50, ORMA and MOD 70.
The route has changed as well. After finishing in Cartagena, Colombia, starting in 2001 the Transat Jacques Vabre set sail for Brazil, finishing in Salvador de Bahia. But this meant that navigators had to cross the much-feared Pot-au-Noir. In 2009 and 2011, the race finished in Costa Rica, at Puerto Limon. When the Transat celebrated its 20th anniversary in 2013, it headed back to Brazil, choosing the port city of Itajai as final destination.
*Except for the Multis50 and MOD70 boats which can use routing.