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Ireland’s Joan Mulloy and Pamela Lee were on hand alongside their teammates in The Famous Project to see the launch of their Maxi trimaran IDEC SPORT in front of the Multiplast shipyard in Vannes, France on Friday (31 May).

After five months of work, the legendary sailboat — triple winner of the Route du Rhum and holder of the Jules Verne Trophy since 2017 — has returned to its natural element.

Captain Alexia Barrier will now be able to gradually take command of the 31.5m giant. A busy summer lies ahead, which she and her all-women team will use to fine-tune the boat while continuing the delicate selection of the crew set to attempt the Jules Verne Trophy record in 2025.

The sailboat, launched in June 2006 under the colours of Groupama, needed a thorough and detailed inspection. “We stripped the boat completely bare,” Alexia says.

From left: Laurent Metral, CIC director of HR and communications with Dee Caffari, Marie Riou, Alexia Barrier, Elodie Jane Mettraux, CIC Group chair Patrice Lafargue, Deborah Blair, Joan Mulloy, Pamela Lee and Marie Tabarly | Credit: Jean-Marie Liot/The Famous ProjectFrom left: Laurent Metral, CIC director of HR and communications with Dee Caffari, Marie Riou, Alexia Barrier, Elodie Jane Mettraux, CIC Group chair Patrice Lafargue, Deborah Blair, Joan Mulloy, Pamela Lee and Marie Tabarly | Credit: Jean-Marie Liot/The Famous Project

“Hulls, bulkheads, arms and mast were meticulously inspected for the slightest weakness or signs of aging. All hardware, standing and running rigging were disassembled and checked in the finest detail,” adds Eric Lamy, a former member of the Groupama Sailing Team, who knows the ship perfectly and led the work with eight people.

“Everything that needed to be changed was replaced within our budget limits. With its new design by Jean-Baptiste Epron, the boat seems to have regained a second youth.”

A new era now opens for The Famous Project team and Alexia, just a month after their first all-female Atlantic crossing. Taming the giant and discovering its secrets for will take time and many sails. And finding the right profiles to accompany the boat on the Jules Verne campaign is still the subject of a meticulous recruitment campaign that is not yet complete.

“There is no shortage of female talent in sailing,” Alexia says. “IDEC SPORT is open to the world and to all female sailors who dare to dream. Our project is no limit!”

Published in Women in Sailing

The Famous Project crew have completed on their first all-female ocean passage across the Atlantic on their MOD70 The Famous Project Limosa.

The seven-strong crew — which included Ireland’s own Joan Mulloy — arrived in Portimao, Portugal from Antigua on Wednesday (24 April) to complete one of their main objectives ahead of the Jules Verne Trophy next year.

This Transatlantic passage was co-skippered by project founder Alexia Barrier (FRA) and Dee Caffari (GBR) with a crew comprising Marie Riou (FRA), Deborah Blair (GBR), Annie Lush(GBR), Rebecca Gmuer (NZL), Joan Mulloy (IRL) and media reporter Georgia Schofield (NZL).

Ireland’s Pamela Lee is also involved with the team but did not complete this passage, dedicating herself more recently to the final selection phase of the UpWind by MerConcept project, aimed at building a 100-per-cent female crew on the Ocean Fifty UpWind skippered by Francesca Clapcich.

In part, the Famous Project’s Transat helped in the training and future selection of the 10-strong team which will sail the giant multihull Ultim IDEC SPORT non-stop around the world during the winter of 2025.

For former Vendée Globe solo ocean racer turned team leader Barrier, it was also another big step in her own personal transition from lone single-handed racing to skippering a strong team of women on a high-speed multihull for the first time.

“I discovered myself as a captain,” Barrier said. “Certainly, we have not pushed the boat to its limits. We didn’t look to make it hard for ourselves either. The main idea was to build cohesion and good understanding between us eight women who had very little sailing time together, even if we all knew each other individually.

“As far as I was concerned, it was important for me to prove to myself that I knew how to take on the role of captain and leader. It seems tome that on these two counts, our Transat is a success.

“There was loads of good fun and good humour all the way across. Everyone quickly found their place, and I was able to keep a close eye on the team and assess their reactions, both from a technical review point and on a human level. I appreciated their good humour and their ability to support each other. There was a real kindness onboard which seems essential to me for a successful round-the-world crew.”

The MOD70 The Famous Project Limosa that the all-female crew sailed to Portugal from Antigua | Credit: Joao Costa FerreiraThe MOD70 The Famous Project Limosa that the all-female crew sailed to Portugal from Antigua | Credit: Joao Costa Ferreira

Supported ably by Caffari on the water, and on land by team manager Jonny Malbon, Barrier is giving herself several more months to continue her experiments and trials with other sailors.

“Our doors are open to everyone, whatever their level of excellence or experience,” she said. “We share the belief that everyone can dare and achieve their dreams. The fundamental criteria are an ability to adapt and live in a group in the long term.

“I think I will have to test around ten more girls before deciding on a shortlist of 14 people, for a final crew at the start of the Jules Verne Trophy of eight to 10 teammates. New races against the other MOD70s…are on the programme, in Palma de Mallorca this summer and in Greece with the Aegean 600. And on 31 May the IDEC SPORT trimaran will be launched, ready to go sailing.”

With no time to rest or enjoy a pastel de nata in Portimao, Barrier heads to Lorient for the start of the Transat CIC this weekend before going to Vannes to catch up on progress with the team’s Maxi trimaran at the Multiplast, yard ready to supervise the launching of the famous boat which still holds the Jules Verne Trophy.

Published in Women in Sailing

Fresh from their third-place finish in the RORC Caribbean 600’s multihull class and multiple training laps around the island of Antigua itself, the seven-strong The Famous Project crew — which includes Ireland’s own Pamela Lee and Joan Mulloy — have now embarked on their first all-female ocean passage across the Atlantic, heading to Portimao, Portugal on their MOD70 The Famous Project Limosa.

As they build up towards their 2025 all-female challenge for the Jules Verne Trophy, when they will sail the record-holding Ultim IDEC Sport, this transatlantic passage is an important stage in training up the team, strengthening cohesion and building skills over an extended period on the flighty, fast 70-foot trimaran which needs to be sailed ‘on the edge’ to achieve the best performance.

The seven strong team comprises co-skippers Alexia Barrier (FRA) and Dee Caffari (GBR) along with Pamela Lee and Joan Mulloy (IRL), Annie Lush (GBR), Annemieke Bes (NED) and Deborah Blair (GBR). Media woman is Muriel Vandenbempt.

With a week of recovery, boat work and further training behind them, the debrief from the RORC Caribbean 600 is extremely positive.

The team for the 600-mile race, which passes 11 islands on a 12-leg figure-8 course this time included specialist coaches Jack Bouttell, Miles Seddon and Tom Dawson.

Their elapsed time of 1 day, 10 hours, 16 minutes and 46 seconds for the course was just two hours and two minutes behind Multihull class winner Argo. The Limosa team were in touch for much of the race but lost out towards the end.

The Famous Project Limosa finished third in the Multihull class in the RORC Caribbean 600 in Antigua last week | Credit: RORC/Alex TurnbullThe Famous Project Limosa finished third in the Multihull class in the RORC Caribbean 600 in Antigua last week | Credit: RORC/Alex Turnbull

Co-skipper Dee Caffari enthuses: “What a race! It was intense, it was awesome. In terms of a training platform for what the team wants to do it was perfect, it really was.

“There were lots of corners, lots of sail changes, every point of sail. There was constant action, always something happening. Every hour or couple of hours there was something. And to do all that and end up only a couple of hours behind the other two MOD70s is good. We could see them for most of the race and we know where we with different mistakes we made. But it was nice to finally be in the race with everybody again.”

In terms of the practical, hard-learning gains, Caffari says: “There is now a lot more confidence in the driving and the trimming, and a lot more trust in each other. Also just understanding how dynamic the trim on these boats is in order to just drive in a straight line, because you are literally on the edge all the time. And it costs you so much when you fall off that ‘edge’ and have to rebuild again.

“The boys did a really good job with the training leading up to it. I came off the helm having driven at a constant 30 knots for an hour and I would not have been able to do that without the training we had before the race. So we really moved forwards.”

With the big boat, the Ultim, due for a May launch, the race is on to get a core team up to speed and this transatlantic from the Caribbean to Portugal, followed by a training passage continuing on to their Mediterranean base in La Grande Motte, is an essential keystone in this training and learning block. Until now they have had the likes of Bouttell, Sidney Gavignet and others on board to fast track the learning. Now it is time to go do it themselves.

Figaro veteran Joan Mulloy is one of two Irish women on the all-female crew of The Famous ProjectFigaro veteran Joan Mulloy is one of two Irish women on the all-female crew of The Famous Project

Caffari, who is running the boat while project captain Alexia Barrier takes responsibility for navigating, says: “For the first time we won’t have the safety net of the guys on the boat with all the experience, all the miles they have on the boat with us. So it will be good to be taking that step.

“And also we are moving into that mode now where Alexia and I, having that bit more experience, are bringing more people forwards with confidence, that will really build our confidence as well.”

The main objectives are seeing and sailing with different crew and upskilling them. Caffari says: “It is a little bit of having new people sail the boat with us, it is a little bit of ‘we can do this’ because until now it has been, ‘well they only sail with the guys on board’, and we don’t actually need them to sail the boat but it is good to have them to fast track the learning and keep up the intensity. Now we have to generate that ourselves.”

Caffari and the girls are not really relishing the weather, not least the return to chilly, windy Europe: “The weather looks a lot of upwind sailing. I think that is what it is and it does make it a little bit safer, we are not in that downwind danger zone very often. But finding the right sea state and keeping in the right modes will be the key to keeping the boat going.”

Splitting the roles into the defined responsibilities is also a ‘next step’ in the process.

“Alexia is learning to be a team player asshe is so used to being a solo sailor on her Vendée Globe set up and so I am here helping with that, I have been through that transition, keeping the communication flow going. Clear, concise communication is key, everyone using the same kind of language, especially as we have different nationalities onboard, especially when people are tired,” Caffari says.

Pamela Lee, an experienced transatlantic sailor, will lend her technical expertise to The Famous Project’s Jules Verne Trophy campaignPamela Lee, an experienced transatlantic sailor, will lend her technical expertise to The Famous Project’s Jules Verne Trophy campaign

Along with Joan Mulloy, 35-year-old Pamela Lee is one of the two Irish sailors on board for the Transat. Lee has more than 10 transatlantics under her belt including one on a Ocean 50 multihull, as well as the most recent Transat Jacques Vabre race on a Class 40. She is taking time off from helping prepare the giant Ultim near her base in Lorient and aims to be one of the key technical expert ‘fixers’ on board for the Jules Verne.

Lee sailed the MOD70 during a training week in the Med last spring and is looking forwards to this new oceanic challenge, her first time — she realises — with an all-female crew.

After her first training days in Antigua, she notes: “Day to day everyone is so down to earth, just professional sailors doing a good job, it is amazing we are just all sailors who love sailing and love what we do.

“This feels like such a big opportunity and I just want to make the very most of it. I want to learn as much as I can and bring my best ‘sailorself’ to it every day. Don’t get me wrong, there is no competitive feeling there but there will be a team selection, sometime. But meantime for me it’s be focused, be humble and be myself.”

Lee adds: “And it is the first time I have sailed with an all-girls group. But the funny thing about that is the penny has just kind of dropped. I have not been thinking in those terms at all, we are all sailors doing what we love, it is so natural. But it just feels like going sailing, there is no crusade here, even if it will be the first time an all-female crew have sailed a MOD70 across the Atlantic.”

Published in Women in Sailing

Let’s do that again, but do it better – they are the words of a very determined Pam Lee from Greystones, who came 29th with Tiphaine Ragueneau in the 30th Transat Jacques Vabre yacht race from Le Havre to Martinique.

(Above and below) Rough weather after the start of the Transat Jacques Vabre Yacht Race in Le Havre on the 29th, Photos: Qaptur (Above and below) Rough weather after the start of the Transat Jacques Vabre Yacht Race in Le Havre on the 29th, Photos: Qaptur 

(Above and below) Rough weather after the start of the Transat Jacques Vabre Yacht Race in Le Havre on the 29th, Photos: Qaptur 

Lee and her co-skipper had to undertake so many sail repairs that they almost lost count, and yet still managed to hold their own in the Class 40 fleet. She describes the start at Le Havre and initial leg to Lorient in winds gusting 40 knots as “probably my toughest 48 hours at sea”.

Pam Lee is interviewed on the dock in Le Havre before the Transat Jacques Vabre Yacht RacePam Lee is interviewed on the dock in Le Havre before the Transat Jacques Vabre Yacht Race

Lee is Afloat sailor of the month for November 2023, and she spoke to Wavelengths in Greystones harbour, just after a morning surfing down in Wicklow, about the experience, about learning to sail on a lake, and what’s next. Listen to the interview below: 

Pam Lee with her family dockside in Martinique after completing the Transat Jacques Vabre Yacht Race: My Mum Una, My sister in law Maire, Brother Rob, Nephew Freddie, Niece Síbeal and Dad NormanPam Lee with her family dockside in Martinique after completing the Transat Jacques Vabre Yacht Race: My Mum Una, My sister in law Maire, Brother Rob, Nephew Freddie, Niece Síbeal and Dad Norman 

Published in Wavelength Podcast
Tagged under

The short-handed long-distance offshore racing scene from France is recognised as the world peak in a very specialised area. Design development at all boat sizes is at such a pace that in a hyper-hot division such as Class40, anyone racing a 2018 boat in 2023 was at a real disadvantage. Yet Pamela Lee of Greystones and her co-skipper Tiphaine Raguenau did just that with Engie-DFDS-Brittany Ferries in the Transat Jacques Vabre 2023, and in a mostly more modern fleet of 44 boats, they were recorded at 29th overall at the finish in Martinique, with several much newer male-sailed boats astern.

Not so long ago, it was quite an achievement just to sail the Atlantic. But at this competitive level, Lee & Ragueneau were up against an emergency return to Lorient for sail repairs which were quoted for a three hour delay, but it was six hours and more adrift on completion. Yet despite battling to get back into rhythm with the main peloton of the fleet, and further sail repair challenges while racing, they were very much on the pace at the finish, and increasingly recognised as a force to be reckoned with in a very tough competitive environment.

Published in Sailor of the Month
Tagged under

Pam Lee and Tiphaine Ragueneau, the Irish-French duo, who raced the Atlantic under the Cap pour elles initiative, crossed the finish line of the Transat Jacques Vabre Normandie Le Havre off Fort-de-France, Martinique on a beautiful, sunny Sunday afternoon at 12:24:40hrs local time (16:24:40 hrs) UTC) to complete their race in 29th place from a record fleet of 44 Class40s which started in Le Havre on 29th October. The Class40 race across the Atlantic had a pitstop in Lorient for a week to avoid a huge storm in Biscay.

Their elapsed time is 21d 23h 1m 13s and they finish 3d 10h 39m after the Class40 race winners.

Having to return to Lorient for a quick sail repair cost them around six hours of lost time and meant they were playing catch-up from the second start. Then a series of torn sails slowed the girls. They lost their workhorse A2 spinnaker at the Canary Islands and so progressively dropped out of the group they were racing hard against. After spending more than five days repairing it, after only five or six hours use the sail tore again. And then finally the A6 spinnaker, which had become their substitute downwind sail, also expired last night.

On the dock in Fort-de-France, drenched in Champagne Lee, from Greystones south of Dublin, Ireland, recalled, “At the start we unrolled the J1 to go upwind and basically it started to come apart and so we had to go back in. And so we started six or eight hours after the fleet. We caught up but we have had a succession of torn sails. The thing is the sails come with the boat and they are older and we don’t have a budget to buy new. There was a moment last night when the clew came off the A6 spinnaker and I thought ‘oh well, I can’t trim that any more.’ So we have had the A4 up since the Canaries, that is 15 days. We were in with a good group and we know we could have kept up with them, Nestenn and La Manche, and so we were in our hustle, we had caught up. The A4 thing was hard because we were not able to play with that group at all and that was hard mentally. And then it went and finally the A6. The result is one thing, yes, but our objective was to finish the TJV and we have done that. So all of those things are achieved and so we just have to come back and do it better next time.”

Lorient-based Lee, a pro sailor and technical specialist who had five delivery Transatlantics on cruising yachts and Class 40s under her belt, and ex match racer and veterinarian Ragueneau, went through a rigorous selection process to be chosen for the Transat Jacques Vabre Normandie Le Havre race’s Cap pour elles initiative which aims to support up and coming female sailors who want to go ocean racing.

Their selection was confirmed just over nine months ago and while they have had professional help and support from the likes of Anne Combier - who is team manager for Yannick Bestaven’s Vendée Globe winning Maître CoQ programme - the initiative provides the competitive Lift 40 Class40 boat and some initial funding - and facilitated ENGIE’s support. But ultimately, it was down to the girls to find the final tranche of money, which allowed them to take the start. They brought on board Brittany Ferries and DFDS ferries just a few weeks before the race began.

And so today, having completed the course and overcome all the adversity that has come their way on the Atlantic, as well as on land in the months leading up to the start, they had every good reason to be proud of all their achievements.
Their success was about much more than bringing the boat across the finish line, but of dealing with setbacks and at the same time hopefully inspiring a next generation of female ocean racers who are maybe already thinking of applying for Cap pour Elles 2025!

“Since the start of the project until now, we have had to face many difficulties but we can be proud of ourselves,” Lee told the noisy, partisan crowd on the dock today in perfect French.

“We are very happy to have finished because the last few hours have been trying, physically and mentally,” added Lee’s French counterpart Ragueneau. “We had broken many things on board, we had no more water. It was time for us to get finished.”
“The last few months haven’t been easy, this transatlantic hasn’t been easy but we’re here,” smiled Ragueneau.

The two women shared their special moment on the dock knowing how they have supported each other through some dark hours and come through smiling, having learned so much for the future.

Ragueneau said on the pontoon: “We both have very beautiful images as memories. We've been sailing downwind for about ten days, with incredible speeds, magnificent sunsets and sunrises. The sunrise yesterday morning was particularly beautiful! But what strikes me most is how our sails have been torn apart one by one (laughing)! We had to overcome that while remaining motivated and united. There was always one of us cheering the other one up. Between us this was a real voyage of discovery. We didn’t know each other at all before this Cap pour elles and it so it is even something of a challenge in itself to spend three weeks at sea together. But it worked out well between us!”

Lee said: “We have experienced some magnificent moments and some incredible adventures. We tore up our entire spinnaker, our J1. Overcoming that together is a lifetime memory. We got along very well. Sometimes one of us was a little grumpy but it alternated (laughs). The energy we brought to this throughout the project helped us complete this race. Not everyone could have gotten through all this. The future? I have no idea at all. Maybe do the Transat Jacques Vabre again but with three spinnakers this time! But seriously we both want to continue offshore racing, Tiphaine more in Figaro and me more in Class40. And why not sail together again?”

Published in Class40

Ireland’s Pamela Lee of Greystones, sailing with Tiphaine Rageneau on the Class40 Engie-DFDS-Brittany Ferries, finished 29th in class today (Sunday) at Martinique, having leapt back into the race despite an enforced return to Lorient for an emergency sail repair.

Italian teams have dominated the top places in Class40 crossing the Atlantic, with Alberto Bona and Pablo Santurde del Arco on the Italian Mach 40.5 IBSA crossing the Class 40 finish line in fourth place on Friday (Nov. 24th) in the 16th Transat Jacques Vabre Normandie Le Havre, with their aggregate time of 18 days 21 hours 22 minutes and 47 seconds securing them third place overall.

Ireland’s Pamela Lee of Greystones, sailing with Tiphaine Rageneau on the Class40 Engie-DFDS-Brittany Ferries, finished 29th in class in the 2023 Transat Jacques Vabre Source: Race TrackerIreland’s Pamela Lee of Greystones, sailing with Tiphaine Rageneau on the Class40 Engie-DFDS-Brittany Ferries, finished 29th in class in the 2023 Transat Jacques Vabre Source: Race Tracker

When added to Ambrogio Beccaria's winning Musa 40 Alla Grande PIRELLI, Italian boats take an unprecedented first and third overall, but former Mini-Transat double winner Ian Lipinski of France, did a real Lazarus act by recovering so well from a dismasting in the short sharp initial leg from Le Havre to Lorient that he and Antoine Carpentier (Crédit Mutuel) finished second in the second leg in Class40 when they crossed the finish line in Martinique at 1343hrs local time (1743hrs UTC) on Thursday 23rd November.


Their race time was 19 days, 16 hours, 2 minutes and 36 seconds. They sailed the theoretical route at an average speed of 8.57 knots. Out on the water, they actually sailed 5305.48 miles, averaging 11.24 knots. Although they dismasted on the first leg, their aggregate elapsed time includes an allocated time equivalent to that of the last-placed finisher on the first leg plus six hours.

Lipinski, a double winner of the MiniTransat, said, “When we dismasted, we thought the TJV was over, but they told me there was a possibility. We sailed to make sure the mast would hold up. During the first day, we kept it cool because we wanted to be sure. There was a huge amount of work from the team and the class. Finishing second here is a sort of thanks to all those who helped us. It wasn’t down to much. After dismasting it probably led us to go south. I remember before on this race, it got boring, but here it kept changing. It wasn’t boring. It wasn’t like it was normally. We didn’t understand what our rival was doing unless the weather forecasts were wrong. As for the winners, they won the first and second leg. We couldn’t do anything against them.”

Published in Pamela Lee

Class 40 and Ocean Fifty were back in full race mode some eight days after the initial start from Le Havre a week past Sunday; 46 duos aboard their Class40 monohulls and Ocean Fifty multihulls returned to the Transat Jacques Vabre race course from Lorient yesterday Monday morning heading for Martinique.

The pairs set off in fairly typical late autumn weather with 2.5m high waves and a 20-knot WSW'ly wind. The breeze was peppered with many squalls to deal with, some bringing in heavy rain and gusts of 35-40 knots.

Pamela Lee of Greystones had a setback with damage to her #1 jib on Enngie-DFDS_Brittany Ferries but is expected to re-join the racing after 2-3 hours effecting repairs in Lorient

So, conditions were very much as might be expected at the start of the Coffee Race. The fleets of six trimarans and forty monohulls which crossed their lines at 1030 and 1045hrs local time, respectively, are going to find it very hard work to get to the trade winds.

There was a damp, early start for those who took to the pontoons to bid farewell to their crews.

On the water, conditions were immediately tough and physical as forecast, with a low pressure coming in sharply.

At 1030hrs, the Ocean Fifty multihulls got underway with Viabilis Océan (Quiroga-Treussart) the first to cross the start line, A quarter of an hour later, it was time for the Class40 monohulls to get back into the race via a course that will take them past Porto Santo in Madeira. The wind eased off to 15 knots, but a huge squall on the horizon came blasting through.

Published in Class40

Ireland's Pamela Lee of Greystones, co-skippering with Tiphaine Ragueneau on the Class 40 Engie-DFDS-Brittany Ferries, finished 26th in the fleet of 43 at Lorient this morning (Tuesday) at 05-02-25hrs, with the last stage of the new Transat Jacques Vabre shortened first leg from Le Havre providing a fair wind to speed the mid-fleet group to port.

It has not yet been confirmed precisely when the transoceanic race to Martinique via a turn at the Cape Verde islands will resume, as the imminence in the Bay of Biscay of Storm Ciaran is currently dictating events and timing.

Tracker here

Published in Class40

A record-breaking fleet of 95 boats, which is set to start the 16th edition of the Transat Jacques Vabre Normandie Le Havre double-handed race from Le Havre to Martinique, is set to encounter very robust conditions as they leave the English Channel from Sunday afternoon and on the Bay of Biscay Tuesday and Wednesday.

Included in the fleet is Irishwoman Pamela Lee of Greystones Harbour who makes her debut as skipper with French sailor Tiphaine Ragueneau as Afloat reports here.

A boisterous late autumn passage across the Bay of Biscay has been part and parcel of the race since the first edition in 1993 when a pioneering group of five solo ORMA multihull skippers and eight solo IMOCA sailors raced to Carthagena in Columbia. Now, three big, successive low-pressure systems are set to challenge the 30th-anniversary fleet which races in four classes, 32m Ultim and 50ft Ocean 50 Multihulls and the 60ft IMOCA and 40ft Class 40 monohulls.

Class 40 Engie - DFDS - Brittany Ferries, skippers Pamela Lee before the Transat Jacques Vabre Photo: Team Cap pour EllesClass 40 Engie - DFDS - Brittany Ferries, skippers Pamela Lee before the Transat Jacques Vabre Photo: Team Cap pour Elles

To avoid Biscay and a potentially brutal passage of the notorious Cape Finisterre off the NW tip of Spain, Race Direction have today modified the course only for the 44 strong Class40 into two stages. After their start tomorrow at 1341hrs local time, the fleet will race directly to an intermediate finish line off Lorient where they will wait until the weather improves enough to complete a second stage to Martinique. Their result will be scored on aggregated time over the two legs.

For the record-sized IMOCA fleet of 40 boats, a last-minute announcement due to the bad weather has forced the cancellation of their Sunday start. The race is an essential qualifier which will contribute significantly towards qualification for next year’s 2024-5 Vendée Globe, which has an entry limited to 40 boats when there are presently 44 active projects seeking selection. This two-handed race to Martinique is followed by a return race to France, starting about 10 days later, which carries an even higher points and miles premium.

Due to medical reasons, one of the top hopes, French skipper Charlie Dalin, who won this race in 2017 in the IMOCA, will only start the race on his new Verdier-designed MACIF with his co-skipper Pascal Bidégorry before returning to the port, thereby satisfying a part of the Vendée Globe qualifying process.

From the remaining 39 strong IMOCA field, there are three most frequently tipped favourites. Jéremie Beyou raced the 2022 launched Manuard designed Charal with outstanding French ace Franck Cammas. Allrounder Cammas could extend his number of Transat Jacques Vabre wins to an unprecedented five, most recently triumphing in 2021 with Charles Caudrelier in the Ultim race on Maxi Edmond de Rothschild.

Defending champions on the course are Thomas Ruyant and Morgan Lagravière. They have a new boat in For People, from a new design partnership Koch-Finot Conq, which is relatively untested so far but won the Guyader Bermudes race earlier in the season. Their training time has been compromised as their boat needed time in the yard after additional strengthening was required.

The other dream team partnership, also on a new 2023 launch boat – a sistership to For People – is Yoann Richomme – twice winner of the solo Route du Rhum in Class 40 – who competes with Yann Eliès who is on his ninth Transat Jacques Vabre and who won in 2019 with Dalin. Their new Paprec Arkéa has shown great potential.

British skipper Sam Goodchild tops the IMOCA Globe Series rankings after a string of consistent third places on key races this season, racing has an excellent chance of topping the podium, potentially delivering a first British win in the modern era of the IMOCA class, on For The Planet, the boat which won the race to Martinique last year in the hands of Ruyant and Lagravière.

“I am not thinking about winning.” Goodchild emphasises, “ We will just go out and do our best and see what happens. There are 40 boats and although we have been up there since the start of this year but the new boats with experienced skippers are always at the front.”

Goodchild starts his seventh Transat Jacques Vabre, he highlights “We are well prepared. I want to get a good result and the first part of the year has now put the pressure on a bit because we want to keep on doing what we have been doing but it is obviously all about Vendée Globe qualification. We have to do all that we can. And if we don’t break anything, we will be fine. We do this to race but just because we have a well proven boat nothing is a given. When we turned up at TR Racing to take on the boat the first thing they said was ‘Just because this boat has finished one Vendée Globe it does not mean to say it will finish another!” So we are going to have fun on this Transat but we are not going out saying we have finished third in the races so far, so we have to finish third again. We will just try to sail tidily and not make too many mistakes and see where we are at the line.”

There are nine IMOCAs from outside of France set to compete, including two boats skippered by German sailors, including Boris Herrmann sailing with Brit Will Harris on Team Malizia. Three Swiss IMOCAs are in the fleet, including Justine Mettraux racing with Juilen Villion on Teamwork.Net, Alan Roura and Simon Koster on Hublot and Oliver Heer and Nils Palmieri on Oliver Heer Ocean Racing.

Britain are strongly represented with Sam Davies and Jack Boutell on Initiatives Coeur, a duo well capable of finishing on the podium, whilst Medallia sailed by Pip Hare and Nick Bubb are focused on learning their boat since winter modifications and enhancing Hare’s Vendée Globe qualification standings. Asia are well represented with Jingkun Xu – who lost his left arm at the elbow at the age of 12 – racing with veteran Brit Mike Golding, and Japan’s Kojiro Shiraishi on DMG MORI.

All four classes race different courses with the objective that they should arrive in Martinique around the same time.

The Ultim fleet race down into the South Atlantic to Ascension Island, a total of 7,500 nautical miles. Theirs is expected to be the closest race yet between these foiling giants capable of sustained speeds in excess of 40kts. Although Maxi Edmond de Rothschild, Charles Caudrelier and Erwan Israel, sail the Verdier design, which has been dominant in ocean races for three years, Banque Populaire sailed by Armel le Cléach and Seb Josse have just won a 24-hour offshore and could break the Maxi Edmond do Rothschild monopoly.

The favourite in Class 40 is the Italian-flagged Alla Grande Pirelli.

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