Change of venue
After the first four races concluded in Columbia, followed by four more in Salvador de Bahia, Brazil, the Transat Jacques Vabre fleet in the autumn of 2009 will be making for Puerto Limon, on Costa Rica's Caribbean coast.
Puerto Limón, known simply as Limón, is the capital of the region of the same name. This natural paradise is situated at the centre of the Caribbean coast of Costa Rica, the region made up of a mixture of dense tropical forests, imposing mountains and picture postcard beaches. The most abundant region of Limón is the Tortuguero National Park, an immense lakeside expanse composed of natural channels, which is also the green turtles' preferred spot for laying their eggs.
In 1852, the port of Limón was developed into a commercial port for transporting the coffee produced in the Central Valley of San José. As such it went on to become a key port in Costa Rica's economic life, as well as being the finest example of the region's meeting of cultures over the course of history.
In 1872 the first Afro-Caribbeans arrived to help construct the railway. This brought about the start of immigration, which gives this region such a varied ethnic and cultural character.
Roxana Pinto, Ambassador of Costa Rica in France commented: “I am delighted to learn that the Transat Jacques Vabre will this year be going from Le Havre to Limón, a port on the Caribbean coast of Costa Rica. It's a voyage which commemorates a route which has linked Costa Rica and France since 1852, when the port of Limón was developed into a commercial port and the precious coffee grains from Costa Rica were transported exclusively via this route. This competition will be proof of the friendship between our two countries, as well as being a voyage to the perpetual summer of the tropics, the lush countryside and the scorching sandy beaches that Christopher Columbus saw for the very first time in September 1502.”
Pierre Bojic, Managing Director of race organiser Pen Duick said: “In the tradition of Jacques Vabre and Pen Duick, the discovery of the coffee world continues. After Columbia and Brazil, Jacques Vabre is inviting you to discover Costa Rica. This new destination for the Transat Jacques Vabre would seem to me to be a maritime destination which is entirely consistent with our shared objective of public awareness about the topic of sustainable development and protection of the environment. Costa Rica is a country which has the most long-standing and mightiest commitment towards protecting and preserving the environment. In addition it's an extremely welcoming country whose Caribbean coastline is still preserved. I'm convinced that the Town of Le Havre, which has made sustainable development a priority over the coming years, will find some points on which they agree with this new partner.”
Two starts, two courses
There will be two boat categories taking the start line: monohulls and multihulls. As usual, there will be two starts and two courses. The monohulls (60 foot Imoca and the Class 40) will leave Le Havre on 7 November with the start given at 1400. As for the multihulls (Orma 60 footers and Open 50 Class), they will start the following day, on Sunday 8 November, again at 1400.
Once the fleet is out of the English Channel and across the Atlantic the two fleets have different marks to round: the monohulls will leave the Dominican Republic to starboard, while the multihulls will leave Barbados to starboard, or a 4,730 mile course for the monohulls and a 5,005 mile course for the multihulls.
This time the sailors will not cross the equator, and so won't have to negotiate the Doldrums. However they will face a dilemma in choosing between the northern route and the ‘southern expressway', or that of the longer but more comfortable tradewind route.