Strong north-easterlies and a lumpy swell are forecast for the start of the Panerai Transat Classique transatlantic race

A transatlantic race for classic yachts beginning today in Lanzarote, heading across to Martinique, is set to get off to a windy and bumpy start that will put boats and crews to the test. The Panerai Transat Classique features 11 entries, with such great classics as the Fife schooners Altair and Adventuress and the 1948 S&S-designed yawl Argyll.

Conditions are expected to be excellent with 15 to 20 knots of wind from the north-northeast. A cross sea in the north of the Canary Islands is something to avoid, conditions being calmer to the south. But the situation is expected to get more lively in the following forty-eight hours, with an established north-easterly blowing 20 to 25 knots and gusting up to 45 knots between the islands and wave heights will increase, perhaps exceeding 3.5 metres.

Options at the start of the race are to brave the heavy cross sea to the north of the archipelago, keep on the alert for violent gusts and big waves between the islands of Fuerteventura, Gran Canaria and Tenerife or head south into the lee of the Canaries. The latter option is probably the most prudent one but some of the skippers will be very tempted to take the shortest route.

Emmanuel Fontaine, skipper of Argyll, comments: “We’re all really motivated to run this race. The Panerai Transat Classique 2015 is a natural extension of what we do all year long in the Med, and it feels really good to get out on the ocean. After just a few days at sea you start to relax and have the most wonderful dreams.

“Alexis Bordessoule usually commands the boat but temporarily he’s in charge of safety and working the rig. I’m skippering her for the race and won’t be standing a watch so I can concentrate on tactics and navigating. Sabine is our owner and will be mothering us across the Atlantic, while Laurence, Paola, Rémy and Simon are our very special crew.

“For the day to day stuff, everyone has concocted at least three menus and will be taking turns to do the evening meal which we eat together. We’re still aiming for the top spot [they finished 2nd in real time and 3rd in corrected time aboard The Blue Peter in 2012] and we’ll be concentrating on getting the angles right. We’ve got a top-notch crew which can make this boat perform. There’s everything to play for between midnight and daybreak, we mustn’t give an inch.”