Construction starts on The Transat Race Village this week in Plymouth

In 14 days from now the signal from the Royal Navy’s HMS Tyne will mark the start of the 12th single-handed transatlantic race on Bank Holiday Monday, 31 May.

At the Plymouth Yacht Haven, a short ferry ride across the Cattewater from downtown Plymouth, construction starts on The Transat Race Village this week. Under race rules, the competing boats in The Transat are required to arrive in Plymouth on or before Saturday, 22 May – the contingent of American skippers Rich Wilson, Kip Stone and Joe Harris are all already berthed safely in Plymouth following their trans-oceanic delivery trips. With eleven 60ft trimarans and one 60ft catamaran along with 18 Open 60 monohulls making up the bulk of the entries, the race fleet will take up considerable acreage and will be one of the most impressive gatherings of the world’s fastest and most advanced ocean racing machines ever seen. This is the only occasion in the four year offshore yacht racing cycle that these two classes of boat gather in the UK and it will be a spectacle not to be missed.

The Transat Race Village will be open to the public from 22 May to 31May and will house a multitude of exhibitors. The Royal Navy display will include a submarine simulator and Renault will be displaying one of their Formula 1 racing cars alongside many exhibitors from the British and French marine sector.

More qualification passages for The Transat have now been completed, the latest being Alain Gautier’s trimaran Foncia and Temenos, the Swiss Open 60 of Dominique Wavre. The only remaining boats still to carry out their obligatory qualifiers are the Open 60s Bonduelle, Sill, Pro-Form and Quiksilver – skipper Anne Liardet departed on Thursday night on her qualifier.

Six of The Transat’s IMOCA Open 60 fleet competed in the 1000 Milles de Calais crewed race last week. The event started last Sunday (9 May) afternoon from Calais and saw the boats head west down the Channel across the Celtic Sea, rounding the Fastnet Rock off southern Ireland before returning to Calais. The event has been the race debut for the two brand new Marc Lombard-designed Open 60s Bonduelle and Sill, respectively of former trimaran skipper Jean le Cam and Roland Jourdain – both favourites for a monohull win in The Transat. The boats are an evolution of Jourdain’s previous Sill and feature a rotating wingmast with deck spreaders, a canting keel and twin asymmetric daggerboards, a unique chine in the aft quarters of their hull, transom hung rudders and a much modified cockpit layout.

After a race-long battle with Mike Golding’s team on Ecover, it was the bright yellow form of le Cam’s Bonduelle that arrived first in Calais – an excellent result for her first race. Sill, launched just 12 days before the start, was less fortunate and retired with keel problems. As with the results from the ORMA grand prix the weekend before, little can be read into these results because the race was fully crewed whereas the Transat is single-handed.