Sunday, February 11, 2018


Yesterday 88 boats, solo or duo sailed, restarted this Transat, now from Madeira to Martinique. This is one of the most famous racing Transats and one that on what regards number of boats only has as rival the Mini Transat and none comes even close if we consider production boats.

 But it cannot be a more different race: the Mini Transat is for many sailors the starting point for a professional sail career with already many young professionals. All the boats are racers from a box rule class. This one is an IRC race; all professional racers are excluded as well as all young sailors trying to become professionals. 
This is a race for amateurs and old timers since for racing they have to be more than 40 years old. And it is not a “normal” IRC race because all the boats have to be inside a narrow gap in what regards handicap: no less than 0.949, no more than 1.051 and in what regards size no less that 8.50m, not more than 12.50m, all category A sailboats.

This short gap on boat speeds allows that most of the time the boat that has line honors is also the boat that wins the race and if not, it is among the first. 

Some of you that don’t know the race history would be thinking that a bigger boat with a bigger LWL and the same handicap would have an advantage….and you would be wrong since never a “big boat” won this Transat and that’s why most opt for small fast performance cruisers or cruiser racers. Most of them have already one or more posts about, on this blog.

The bigger boats racing are a First 40.7 and a Wauquiez Opium 39, fast performance cruisers that are competing with smaller boats among them many JPK (9.60, 10.10, 10.80, 38FC), Sunfast 3200 and 3600, Pogo 30, Ofcet 32, J11S, Bepox 990, Bongo 9.60, A31, A35, Mistral 950 and Dufour 36P.

Many strange brands, I am sure, for the non French or for the ones that are not following this blog, but all (with the exception of the First) very recent boats, all interesting performance cruisers and cruiser-racers still in production, some new on the market like the Ofcet 32 or the J11S. 

That is another thing that differentiates this race and these sailors from sailors from other parts of the world: they want to win but they want to win arriving first, not sailing some old slow boat with a good handicap and wining, arriving last.

After this post I will make another  about the 1st leg of this race, that took place in the summer, while I was sailing, but for now just have fun following the race on the tracker.
Great sailing conditions, a bit on the strong side, with some boats doing double figure speeds. 

One of the few things I don’t like in this race is that for knowing what brand of boat is the one you are looking at on the tracker you will have to look at the inscription list here: A very annoying thing that I hope they will rectify for the next edition. Here is the tracker:

(photos from François Van Malleghem)

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