After 56 years: Rebirth of a Classic – TRANSAT 2016 heads to New York.

Beginning of September 2015 came in the astonishing news… surpise, surpise… as it will be a rebirth of a “classic race”:

The Transat 2016 will head to New York.

After its start 56 years ago as the first ever single-handed ocean yacht race originally christened in 1960 THE TRANSAT (not to be confused with the TJV – Transat Jacques Vabre) will return in 2016 to the original route.

The original course in 1960 and same in 2016 will start from The City of Plymouth (on May 2nd) and the finish line is setup off Manhattan, New York.

The latest edition in 2008 – under the name The Artemis Transat – saw 13 IMOCA skippers and 10 Class 40 skippers race at relentless pace across the North Atlantic from Plymouth to Boston (similarly ~2,800 nm course). Three world-class skippers failed to make the finish and IMOCA 60 skipper Vincent Riou was forced to abandon his multi-million pound yacht mid-Atlantic in his quest to reach the USA first. The IMOCA 60 fleet was peppered by the best in class including the ‘old guard’ of Loick Peyron, Michel Desjoyeaux, Vincent Riou and Marc Guillemot, challenged by the ‘new guard’ of Seb Josse, Yann Elies, Armel le Cleac’h and Samantha Davies. Despite the challenges this was the fastest edition of the race in its history and from day one the monohull record set by Britain’s Mike Golding on Ecover in 2004 was under threat. It was Loick Peyron who took the finish line first in a new record time of 12 days, 11 hours and 45 minutes – around four weeks shorter than the original time taken by Sir Francis Chichester in 1960.

The biggest boat in 1960: Francis Chichester's Gipsy Moth III (40ft)

The biggest boat in 1960: Francis Chichester’s Gipsy Moth III (40ft)

Loick Peyron as “Mr. Multihull” already committed himself for 2016. It will be interesting to see what boat he will select for to beat his own record. By sure we will see some others of the world’s best solo sailor caste and most spectacular yachts to take part in the classical course of ~2,800 nautical miles distance, from Britain to the United States.

This coming event is so remarkable for any sailor as we can look back to the beginning of solo sail racing and remember how all began: 4 of 5 boats had been tiny small 21-25 footers… on three different routes.

The start in 1960 short noted: “Fifty declarations of intent were received by the organisers but in the end only five boats crossed the start line off Plymouth, and remarkably all five reached New York on the other side of the North Atlantic. Self-steering gear was in its most basic homemade form, roller-reefing sails were just a dream and there were no satellite navigation systems, just hand-held compasses and sextants.
withchichesterThese five pioneer yachtsmen took very different options, with Blondie Hasler (1914-1987) on the helm of Jester (25ft) opting for an extreme Northern route, Sir Francis Chichester (1901-1972) on Gipsy Moth III (40ft) and excellent navigator David L. Lewis (1917-2002) sailing on Cardinal Vertue (25ft) along the Great Circle route and Val Howells on Eira (25ft) and Jean Lacombe on Cap Horn (21.5ft) following the Azores route. Little was heard from the competitors during the race and fears grew for their safety.
Finally Chichester arrived in New York after 40 days, 12 hours and 30 minutes. “Every time I tried to point Gypsy Moth at New York, the wind blew dead on the nose,” said Chichester. “It was like trying to reach a doorway with a man in it aiming a hose at you.Jean Lacome was the final skipper to arrive after 74 days!

A deep bow for these sailing heroes and their tough achievements which required extra ordinary capability of mentally and physically strength. – Applaus, Applaus !

To get an understanding what happened in sail racing over last 5 1/2 decades: the world record for non-stop circumnavigation is set by Loick Peyron since 2012 on the Maxi Trimaran Banque Populaire V during the Jules Verne Trophy at 45d 13h 42m 53s.

For more information please visit the officially website: Transat Ocean Race

Documentary about French navigator Jean Lacombe …

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