Owners of classic yachts are to have their own yacht race across the Atlantic

Between November and January we will see the annual migration of yachts across the Atlantic from Europe to the Caribbean, and besides several rallies such as the pre-eminent ARC rally, Jimmy Cornell’s Atlantic Odyssey and the Christmas Caribbean Rally, there are two races at opposite ends of the spectrum: the inaugural RORC Transatlantic Race in mid-November; and the Panerai Transat Classique in January. The Transat Classique is, for the first time, a transatlantic race to be run specially for classic yachts

The Panerai Classique will be a showcase of classic yachts, including some of the most beautiful and lovingly maintained in existence. The photo above shows the glorious 130ft Altair, one of the 14 entries in this crossing in company from Lanzarote to Martinique. Altair is a superb gaff schooner, designed by William Fife III and launched from Fairlie in Scotland in 1931.

Stephane Benfield, her skipper for the last nine years, says that taking part in the Panerai Transat Classique 2015 will be a real challenge. “We’re not here just to take part. Our objective is to get the best out of a boat that was designed for this kind of event.”

To help get the most from Altair, Stephane is calling on a large crew: in addition to the usual crew of seven, the line-up will include the current owner’s two daughters and six other hands who are familiar with handling a gaffer. “I want to be able to fly the spinnaker and the gollywobbler [square sail set between the main mast and the foremast of a schooner] so we need an experienced crew. A big crew is good for safety—which is my priority—and it will allow us to fetch Martinique safe and sound.”

After completing this race, Altair will do several other big Caribbean regattas, including the St Barth’s Bucket, Antigua Classics and the Caribbean 600.

Other entries in the race include classic yachts such as , as well as more modern ‘spirit of tradition’ yachts such as Faiaoahe, a Guy Ribadeau-Dumas design from 2006, owned by Rémy Gérin and The Blue Peter, a 1930s Alfred Mylne design.