Countdown to the Artemis Transat

Prologue race to Plymouth to take place this weekend

Thursday May 1st 2008, Author: OC Events, Location: United Kingdom
25 skippers are now heading towards Plymouth in preparation for the start of The Artemis Transat on Sunday, 11 May. The entire race fleet must be berthed inside Sutton Harbour, Plymouth by Sunday evening, 4 May. Once at Sutton Harbour the skippers and their shore teams will continue with their final preparations as the Race Committee carry out final boat inspections to check the boats comply with the racing rules. Then the fleet are confined to their pontoons on Friday, 9 May at 1100hrs until the start.

Michel Desjoyeaux, skipper of IMOCA 60 Foncia, and winner of the ORMA 60 trimaran class in the 2004 race observed: "The North Atlantic in May is a very demanding playground, but it will be a bit more relaxed for me this time since I'm now racing a monohull, which is less stressful,.but it certainly won't be an easy ride. The Artemis Transat will be a good round of observation as far as our future Vendée Globe rivals are concerned, but given the specificities of the course, it will be important not to jump to conclusions."

Yvan Noblet, skipper of Class40 Appart City, had this to say: "I've heard the accounts of the oldest of all transatlantic races ever since I was a child, and for me it really is a reference - its course on the North Atlantic is certainly the toughest given the extreme conditions that are likely to be encountered. I'm very confident as far as my boat is concerned, and am looking forward to going back to solo racing, which I have not done since the last Route du Rhum."

Following on from the Grand Prix Petit Navire in France, up to ten of The Artemis Transat race fleet plan to take part in the official prologue from Douarnenez to Plymouth. The IMOCA 60s include Akena Vérandas (Arnaud Boissieres), Brit Air (Armel Le Cleac'h), Foncia (Michel Desjoyeaux), Generali (Yann Elies) and PRB (Vincent Riou). The Class40 coompetitors are Appart' City (Yvan Noblet), Beluga Shipping (Boris Herrmann), Custo Pol (Halvard Mabire), Prévoir VIE (Benoit Parneaudeau) and Telecom Italia (Giovanni Soldini).

Yann Eliès who raced Generali at the Grand Prix Petit Navire reported: "We've been facing our rivals for the past ten days, either in solo mode during the recent Port la Forêt training sessions or fully crewed in Douarnenez, where we really pushed the boat to a 100% of her potential. The level of performance and reliability she displayed allows me to leave knowing I have a boat that is capable of winning The Artemis Transat, yet I know that it will be like tackling a summit by its North face! Having worked extensively with Jean-Yves Bernot on the course analysis, I'm fully aware of the difficulties that lie ahead. I'll be leaving Brittany on Saturday night, hoping to deliver the boat to Plymouth with good breeze - I have a new small spinnaker designed for heavy weather I'd like to test!"

The prologue race is approximately 160 miles and the 10-boat fleet are expected to head off on Saturday night although the final decision on the start time will not be made until Friday once the weather scenario can be more accurately forecasted. The skippers will be racing with a crew but, undoubtedly, the prologue will sharpen their race instincts with only ten days to go until the start of the 'big one'!

The Race Village for The Artemis Transat located at Sutton Harbour officially opens at 10.00am on Saturday, 3 May. Councillor Glenn Jordan, Plymouth City Council Cabinet Member for Healthy Communities and Leisure and Nigel Godefroy, Chief Executive, Sutton Harbour Group will be cutting the ribbon to mark the occasion. At the heart of the action the Race Village will offer a host of attractions to the public including the Tall Ship Earl of Pembroke, Gipsy Moth IV and an Ocean Racing Exhibition (part of the education programme). The entertainments package is extensive with street entertainers plus the inaugural Barbican International Jazz and Blues Festival. "The best events have colour excitement, ambience, uniqueness and community support. Event South West has worked very hard with OC Events to ensure that the cultural heart of the The Artemis Transat has been a real focus. The extensive entertainments and educational programmes centred around the race village really demonstrate how it has become a great public spectacle which was central to Plymouth being awarded its host city status," commented Conrad Humphreys, Managing Director, Events South West who have been a driving force behind the cultural programme of activities.

Race partners Omega, Renault and BT add their support.
Joining title partner, Artemis, and an array of other supporting partners, are Omega, Renault and BT. Omega, who were the main partner for The Transat in 2004, continue their association as official timekeeper. A giant Omega clock will be placed at Sutton Harbour to countdown to the start at 1400BST on Sunday, 11 May. And it will be the precision of Omega timekeeping that will record key timings during the race as the fleet cross race gates and ultimately the finish line. Omega will also be offering six 'The Artemis Transat' special edition watches as prizes to competing skippers: three for the podium winners in the IMOCA class, one for the Class 40 winner, one for the first boat to Omega Race Gate 1 at Eddystone Lighthouse, the first gate of the course, and one for the 24-hour distance record setter in the race.

Communications provider, BT, and car supplier, Renault, will provide essential services in kind in their respective categories to The Artemis Transat. BT, as official communications supplier to the race, is providing integral communications and IT support. This includes providing Sutton Harbour with WiFi via BT Openzone to the race fleet, when in port, visiting guests and international media. Renault, official vehicle supplier, has provided a fleet of Espace vehicles to the organisation for use during the start period. "All professional sporting events rely on sponsorship and we are no different in that regard," commented Francois Vergnol from the OC Events Commercial Team, "so it is especially pleasing to welcome Omega, BT and Renault to the family of supporting partners and suppliers to The Artemis Transat."

The Ellen MacArthur Trust is the official charity to the race and is planning a proactive week of fundraising in Plymouth. Members of the public can come and have a go at a Virtual Skipper game and try beat Ellen's best time and the chance to win a bottle of G.H. Mumm Champagne for the best time of the week.

The Ellen MacArthur Trust's aim is to support, empower and enliven children suffering from cancer, leukaemia or other serious illnesses by introducing them to the joys of sailing on the sea. The Trust work with children all over the UK including the south-west of England.

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