17 boats for the Transat New York–Vendée
17 solo sailors from seven different nationalities have signed up for the new Transat New York–Vendée (Les Sables d’Olonne). Five months out from the start of the Vendée Globe, the new race will provide an opportunity for the skippers to race in solo configuration, enabling them not only to take full advantage of this fourth event of the IMOCA Ocean Masters World Championship to ratify the latest optimisation carried out on their IMOCA 60 yachts, but also to observe their rivals closely.
This first ever edition of the Transat New York – Vendée (Les Sables d’Olonne) has caught the skippers’ imagination. And it's a chance for the IMOCA Ocean Masters World Championship to shine well beyond the North Atlantic. Start date 29 May.
Starting from the foot of Freedom Tower, this new transatlantic race aims to present the IMOCA Ocean Masters fleet to an international public. On top of what is already an incredible race from a sports point of view and the IMOCA skippers are unanimous in showing that this international dimension of the New York - Vendée (Les Sables d’Olonne) is a huge bonus not only for their campaigns but for the class.
The race course from New York eastbound across the North Atlantic will require the skippers to do their homework. The key will be to get into the downwind conditions south of the depressions that regularly cross the Atlantic. These could represent similar conditions to what the boats may experience in the SOuthern Ocean between the Cape of Good Hope and Cape Horn – about 2/3 of the Vendee Globe.
These 3,050 miles should be mostly downwind – will this be the chance for the new generation foil-assisted boats to show their full potential?
“Anything is possible. It’s hard to say if the weather will favour the foilers. If that’s the case it will be a great occasion to see their real advantage,” says PRB skipper, Vincent Riou.
Jean-Pierre Dick, skipper of StMichel – Virbac adds: “We’ve been waiting for this race impatiently. It will be a key moment to test the reliability and integrity of our choices.”
The race also represents a good guage of the form for the Vendee Globe. The top team will be taking the time during eight or nine day long crossing to check out their competitors.
“This race is a perfect opportunity to take stock of the various forces,” says Banque Populaire skipper, Armel Le Cléac’h.
“It will be interesting to go looking for confrontation, and to see how each one manages to push his boat during the 8 or 9 days of racing.” adds Quéguiner – Leucémie Espoir skipper, Yann Eliès.
Conrad Coman – the only American skipper (albeit born in New Zealand) can’t wait for this 'home-start' to demonstrate IMOCA racing to an American audience in the hope of attracting potential partners for his campaign.
Many of the skippers have already sailed up the famous Sables d’Olonne channel, but to do it in an IMOCA 60 at the end of a race, five months prior to the Vendée Globe is really something else.
“Sailing up the channel to meet the fans – that’s about as good as a finish can get!” says Paul Meilhat, skipper of SMA.
“The finish in Vendée is perfect for us, for our partners for the Vendée people. And the timing just ahead of the Vendée Globe is ideal,” says Jérémie Beyou, skipper of Maître CoQ.
Transat New York – Vendée (Les Sables d’Olonne) Entry List
Fabrice Amedeo - NEWREST MATMUT (France)
Jérémie Beyou - MAITRE COQ (France)
Conrad Colman - NC (New Zealand – USA)
Bertrand de Broc - MACSF (France)
Tanguy de Lamotte - INITIATIVES CŒUR (France)
Sébastien Destremau - FACE OCEAN (France)
Jean-Pierre Dick - STMICHEL VIRBAC (France)
Yann Eliès - QUEGUINER-LEUCEMIE ESPOIR (France)
Nandor Fa - SPIRIT OF HUNGARY (Hungary)
Pieter Heerema - NO WAY BACK (Netherlands)
Morgan Lagravière - SAFRAN (France)
Armel Le Cléac’h - BANQUE POPULAIRE VIII (France)
Stéphane Le Diraison - NC (France)
Paul Meilhat - SMA (France)
Vincent Riou - PRB (France)
Alex Thomson - HUGO BOSS (United Kingdom)
Ari Huusela - FLYING WITH FINNAIR (Finland)
17 May : Arrival at the Newport Shipyard - Newport, RI
21-22 May : Prologue race from Newport to New York (North Cove Marina, Brookfield Place, NY)
27 May: Pro-am Charity Race in New York
29 May : Race Start
5/6 June : First arrivals in Les Sables d'Olonne, France
11 June : Pro-am race / Prize-Giving and Closing Ceremony
IMOCA Ocean Masters World Championship Rankings after three events:
1. Vincent Riou (PRB) 69 points
2. Fabrice Amedeo (Newrest-Matmut) 63 points
3. Yann Eliès (Queguiner-Leucémie Espoir) 62 points
4. Thomas Ruyant (Le Souffle du Nord) 61 points
5. Armel Le Cléac’h (Banque populaire) 57 points