The next few weeks will see some serious sailing taking place to qualify for the Transat. At present, only 10 of the 39 official entries so far have completed the single-handed qualification passage
While the sole new boat in the ORMA 60ft multihull class in the forthcoming Transat is Yves Parlier’s radical catamaran, Médiatis Région Aquitaine, visitors to Plymouth prior to the 31 May race start will have more new hardware to see among the IMOCA monohulls.
Last week Jean le Cam’s new Bonduelle was launched. One of only two people to have ever won the Solitaire du Figaro three times, le Cam has been campaigning a trimaran under the colours of his French tinned food manufacturer sponsor for the last three seasons. As a break from this he is competing in the Vendée Globe this November.
The new Bonduelle is one of two Open 60 sisterships to be constructed at JMV Industries in Cherbourg, the birthplace of other boats in The Transat such as Conrad Humphreys’ HELLOMOTO and Charles Hedrich’s Objectif 3. Bonduelle’s sistership is to the new Sill of Roland Jourdain.
Designed by Marc Lombard the boats are an evolution of Jourdain’s previous Sill (now Alex Thomson’s AT Racing) and look dramatically different. Like the old Sill, they are fitted with a canting keel and a rotating wingmast but have a number of new features such as a chine along the aft quarters of the hull and along the entirety of the deck. The deck design shows a marked difference with a smaller cockpit located further aft and a smaller cabintop. Their twin rudders are hung off the transom so that in the event of one being broken during a collision, it can be replaced with relative ease. Bonduelle will make her maiden voyage next week while the new Sill is due for launch within in the next two weeks. Both boats are due to take part in the 1,000 Milles de Calais race starting on 9 May.
Another brand-new boat in The Transat will be Artforms, the Owen Clarke-designed Open 50 of American Kip Stone, a smaller version of Mike Golding’s new Ecover and Mike Sanderson’s Pindar AlphaGraphics. This will also have a canting keel, but a more conservative classic mast set-up. Currently Stone is delivering his boat back from Australia and is currently just to the south of the Azores. Stone’s main competition and fellow American, Joe Harris, has announced this week that his boat is to be sponsored by commercial real estate group Wells Fargo.
Meanwhile, the qualifications continue. At present, only 10 of the 39 official entries so far have completed the single-handed qualification passage they must sail before they become an official entry in The Transat (1,000 miles for the ORMA boats and 750 for other classes). This week Sergio Tacchini, Geant and Banque Covefi completed their 1,000 mile qualifiers while Marc Guillemot on Gitana X, Mike Golding on Ecover and Roger Langevin on Branec III are due to depart imminently. The qualification deadline is end of April, excluding boats that competed in the 2003 Defi Atlantique or Transat Jacques Vabre who have the deadline extended to 15 May.