Coming to Plymouth this Sunday...

On Sunday the Class40s, Multi 50s, IMOCA 60s and Ultimes will arrive at the start port of The Transat bakerly

Friday April 22nd 2016, Author: James Boyd, Location: United Kingdom

One of our favourite events pitches up in Plymouth on Sunday for the build-up week prior to the Bank Holiday Monday (2nd May) start of the Transat bakerly, better known to the more greying of our readers (inc ourselves...) as the OSTAR, or at least the grand prix end of it.

It is the first time this quadrennial event has been held since 2008 after a hiatus in 2012 and reflecting what are the most popular classes at present, the race features four classes - the Class40, the IMOCA 60s, the Multi50s and the Ultimates. While none of the four classes has a particularly huge turn-out for the event, the entries can be considered the cream of each class and it is the first time ever, possibly (including the recent Rolex Fastnet Races), that such an array of the coolest French offshore racing hardware has been parked in the UK (normally for the Fastnet Race, the grand prix French boats pitch up for the start, do the race and head home again, their crew never touching land...)

After a few days berth in St Malo, Route du Rhum-style, on Saturday at 2000 CET, a prologue event for The Transat bakerly sets sail from St Malo with an overnight 130 mile leg across to the start port of Plymouth with a forecast of a 20 knot northeasterly.

Most of the competitors are taking part in the Prologue with a few exceptions such as the IMOCA 60s Edmond de Rothschild and that of Richard Tolkien, who are using the time to make finish preparations, while Vincent Riou’s PRB sustained damage to her keel en route to St Malo after colliding with a log and has stopped off to effect repairs before heading direct to Plymouth.

From Sunday the boats will be in Plymouth, with the Class40s and IMOCA 60s in Sutton Harbour, and the Multi50s and Ultimes mostly a short ferry ride away at the Yacht Haven over at Mountbatten.

We'll be taking a more detailed look at the form for the Transat bakerly closer to start time but there's been good news in the Class40 with Phil Sharp acquiring the competitive Mach 40, that as GDF Suez won most of its races in the hands of Seb Rogues. This makes up for Miranda Merron's Campagne de France entry on a newly-built boat, designed by her partner Halvard Mabire, not being ready in time. This leaves British representation in the event in the hands of Sharp and long term fan of the event, Richard Tolkien.

The Class40s are of course familiar fare with a fleet that at present stands at 10 including two female skippers, both highly experienced in France's Isabelle Joschke and the Netherland's Anna-Marie Renken.

Some of the latest IMOCA 60 hardware is participating including three new generation boats: Armel le Cleac'h's Banque Populaire, Seb Josse's Edmond de Rothchild and Jean-Pierre Dick's St Michel Virbac - all VPLP-Verdier designs and all featuring the latest lifting foils that are turning the new IMOCA 60s into partial foilers. They are up against 2004 Vendee Globe winner Vincent Riou on the conventionally-foiled (ie canting keel and twin daggerboards) but much tweaked PRB and Paul Meilhat's SMA, which as MACIF is the VPLP-Verdier which carried Francois Gabart to victory in the last Vendee Globe.

The Transat bakerly will provide a good opportunity to see how the new generation boats perform against the conventionally foiled PRB, especially on what is in theory an 'upwind' course, a point of sail where the foil-born boats are supposed to be weak.

The Multi 50s are fairly unfamiliar boats in the UK but are effectively smaller, dumbed down versions of the ORMA 60s (the pics are bust, but you can read more about them here). Five examples are taking part including the latest, Arkema, skippered by one time Banque Populaire ORMA 60 skipper Lalou Roucayrol. 

The whoppers of the fleet will be the Ultimes, including Thomas Coville's latest Sodebo, a 31m three-hulled beast recreated in 2014 from many of the parts that were once Olivier de Kersauson's Geronimo. Actual, skippered by former Mini Transat and Multi50 winner, Yves le Blevec, is Coville's previous Sodebo, a similarly long but narrower design from Nigel Irens and Benoit Cabaret.

But the favourite among the Ultimes is certainly Francois Gabart's MACIF, the latest Ultime, a 30m long by 21m wide VPLP-Verdier design launched last year when, fresh out of the box, she won the Transat Jacques Vabre. More of this in due course. 

Of course the wildcard in the Transat bakerly will be French legend and two time winner of the Transat, Loick Peyron, who is competing on board the Fife-designed Pen Duick II, the boat in which Eric Tabarly won the second OSTAR in 1964.

Program for next week in Plymouth

Sunday 24 April - Prologue finish, between 0800 and 1100

Saturday 30 April - 1415, Public presentation of the skippers - main stage, Plymouth waterfront
2115, Fireworks display

Monday 2 May 1430 - The Transat bakerly start

Entries as of 22 April


Class40 Column1
Phil Sharp Imerys
Robin Marais Espirit Scout
Edouard Golbery Normandie
Isabelle Joschke Generali - Horizon Mixite
Armel Tripon Black Pepper
Louis Duc Carac
Hiroshi Kitada Kiho
Maxime Sorel V&B
Thibaut Vauchel - Camus Solidaires en Peloton - Arsep
IMOCA 60  
Vincent Riou PRB
Richard Tolkien 44
Armel Le Cléac'h Banque Populaire VIII
Sébastien Josse Edmond de Rothschild
Jean-Pierre Dick St Michael Virbac
Paul Meilhat SMA
François Gabart Macif
Yves Le Blevec Team Actual
Thomas Coville Sodebo
Pierre Antoine Olmix
Gilles Lamiré French Tech Rennes St Malo
Lalou Roucayrol Arkema
Erwan Le Roux Fenêtrea - Cardinal
Erik Nigon Vers un monde sans sida
Loïck Peyron Pen Duick II

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