Transat's epic line up

We look forward to November's Route du Rhum
At a time when most eyes in the yachting community will be focussing on the America's Cup an incredibly event will be kicking off in northern France. A record number of entries are expected to take part in November's singlehanded transatlantic race, the Route du Rhum. This classic event, as important in the French offshore calendar as the Vendee Globe, starts in St Malo and heads across 'the pond' to Pointe a Pitre in the French Caribbean island of Guadeloupe. With five months still to go until the start, an incredible 51 yachts are signed up to take part. Because of this there will be separate monohull and multihull starts - on the 9 and 10 November. Among their number are an unprecidented fleet of seventeen 60ft trimarans. In the Offshore Racing Multihull Association (ORMA) class there are many top events such as the OSTAR and the Transat Jacques Vabre, but by far the biggest is the Route du Rhum and it is for this that a majority of new boats are built. The competition in this fleet this year will be incredible. New skippers on brand new boats include Vendee Globe winner Michel Desjoyeaux on Geant, the equally talented Thomas Coville on Sodebo, the high rated Lionel Lemonchois on Baron Benjamin Rothschild's new Gitana X, Tornado sailor Fred le Peutrec on Bayer Crop Sciences. They will be up against ORMA fleet regulars like Alain Gautier, Franck Cammas, Loick Peyron... to name but a few. The monohull Open 60 fleet will be no less competitive with 14 currently entered. With Transat Jacques Vabre and Regate de Rubicon wins recently Roland Jourdain is the present favourite on his red-hulled Sill Plein Fruit, but he has always to date been beaten in singlehanded events by Ellen MacArthur. It may also