Open 50 race has first entrantSaguenay-St.Pierre-Vendée, the first ever race run exclusively for Open 50s, has now got its first entry in Renaud Youdec, owner of the Berret/Racoupeau design, St Pierre et Miquelon (ex- Saving). Luc Coquelin, skipper of the Open 50 Florys was also present at Paris' Salon Nautique today for the presentation of the race and is likely to take part too.
While the Open 60s are increasingly well catered for with races, so Race Director Gérard Petipas, has seen the need for an event to promote the smaller class that gives an opportunity for professional without an Open 60 budget or amateur to have a high profile stepping stone into the bigger arena.
Around 20 Open 50s now exist in Europe and the USA, several currently taking part in Around Alone, others such as Nick Moloney's Ashfield Healthcare which have just taken part in the Route du Rhum and others such as the Owen Clarke Design Group's boats for Viktor Yazykov and Kip Stone and Jean-François Durand who has a newly launched 50-footer, that was built with the intention of entering the next Vendée Globe (until it was decided Open 50s would not be allowed to take part).
Race organisers Pen Duick, who are staging the event, have stated that the race due to start will only go ahead if 10 boats are entered by 15 March. Over 15 yachtsmen have already expressed their intention to take part.
The event has four sponsors - the Province of Sagenay, which will be hosting the yachts in the stunning fjord off the St Lawrence river; the French Saint Pierre et Miquelon Archipelago, where there will be a four-day stopover; the town of Les Sables d'Olonne and the Vendée Regional Council.
While the rules of IMOCA, the Open 60 class association, in theory covers Open 50s, a new special class rule is also being considered.