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Route du Rhum skippers gather in Paris

Route du Rhum solo skippers gather in Paris

40 days before the start of the singlehanded Route du Rhum – Destination Guadeloupe transatlantic race, the competitors in the eleventh edition gathered in Paris today for its official presentation.

The 2018 race has attracted a record number of professional and amateur single-handed sailors. 124 boats in six classes are expected on the start line in St Malo on November 4 for the 3,542-nautical mile voyage to Point-a-Pitre in Guadeloupe.

The 53-strong Class 40 fleet makes up one third of the total field and includes a large contingent of French Breton sailors (47%), but 20% of the fleet is from outside France with British entrants the most numerous with six sailors including two women.

There are also sailors from Japan and Finland; there are two from Switzerland, three Germans, three Americans, three Belgians and one from Sweden.

Getting 124 boats safely away from the same start line on November 4 is not going to be easy, so race organisers have devised a line that will stretch for two-and-a-half miles and will be divided into four parts.

The biggest and fastest boats – the maxi trimaran Ultim class – will have one section to themselves, then it will be the sector for Multi50s and Rhum (amateur) multihulls, then a section for IMOCA 60s and finally a segment for Class40s and Rhum (amateur) monohulls.

Large crowds of spectators are expected in St. Malo in the period leading up to the start (October 24 to November 4) – there were 2.2 million visitors in 2014 – for what is billed as a spectacular festival of offshore racing.

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