Organised by the Atlantic Yacht Club, Transat Classique 2012 race is attracting participants from both the Atlantic and the Mediterranean coasts of France, thanks to two feeder races to the start. One will leave Douarnenez during the Breton fishing-port's maritime festival, whenrethey will be on display from 19 July until Sunday 22 July, the other starting gun will be fired on 25 October in Saint-Tropez, with both feeder races bound for Cascais, Portugal.
Once assembled, the flotilla of classic yachts will be standing by at the entrance to the Bay of Lisbon until they set out for Barbados on 2 December. All the yachts must cross the Barbados finishing line before the end of December 2012.
The first Transat Classique in 2008 brought together 24 crews.
“We've already had 33 vessels pre-register for 2012,” say Loïc Blanken and François Séruzier, organizers of the event.
And some exceptional vessels they are too! Moonbeam IV, owned by Prince Rainier of Monaco in the 1950s and a participant in many prestigious regattas will be among the vessels on the starting line. This Fife design, winner of the King's Cup in 1920, is 35m long overall and carries 600 m² of sail upwind and 1,000 downwind. She is a piece of yachting history.
Will she get a chance to flash her transom to the other competitors? Not if Germania Novia can help it! This modern classic is a 54m replica of a Max Oerst design from 1908. And then there's the White Dolphin, a 20m Beltrami design. After 40 years of racing she is still as fresh as the day she was launched, her pretty Italian curves a delight to behold.
From the north of France is the 14.8m Stiren, a Stephens design built by the Pichavant shipyard and winner of Transat Classique 2008. Her crew will be doing its utmost to come out to defend their title. Another thoroughbred hoping to impress is Amazon. Designed by Sparkman and Stephens, this 22.25m beauty was winner of the 2011 Atlantic Trophée. Many others are in with a chance, such as Persephone a 37ft Dick Carter design which has a great potential in a handicap race. Owned by Yves Lambert and based in La Trinité-sur-Mer, Persephone will have among her crew Pierre Follenfant, a maxi-multihull sailor from the 1980s who competed in the first ever Vendée Globe.
Sea Lion is a superb 21m long yawl also lining up for Transat Classique 2012. Her owner was looking on the internet for a family boat, but fate had other ideas. By chance, in Greece, he came across his mother's old yacht which he had lost contact with many years before. Designed by Abeking Rasmussen in 1953, she was in a terrible condition, so he bought her. The family entrusted Sea Lion to Southampton Yacht Services and gave instructions that she should be returned to her former glory. One complete rebuild later and she's ready to fly the Portuguese flag in Transat Classique 2012. Her crew are based in Cascais and ready to go.
Transat Classique 2012 is open to monohulls under the AYC's definition of 'classic yacht'. They define this as a yacht built because 31 December 1976 that have not been substantially modified from their original plans and that have been built as one-offs or in a limited non-industrial series. Or they can be replica yachts that, regardless of their launch date, were built to plans pre-dating the end of
1976, and in accordance with techniques of that period or yachts built in the spirit of the classic yachts, of the period in which they were built and built as one-offs.