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Postponed from 1302hrs (local) today (Sunday) due to forecasted stormy winds and huge seas expected in the English Channel, the re-scheduled start for the 12th edition of the Route du Rhum-Destination Guadeloupe - the solo ocean race from Saint-Malo to Guadeloupe - will now be on Wednesday 9th November at 1415hrs (local) with favourable weather forecast for the record 138 boat fleet.

Now, given the new start time, the skippers can plan ahead for the rescheduled start. At 1000hrs this morning (Sunday) at a press conference in Saint-Malo, the organiser OC Sport Pen Duick and the Race Director, Francis Le Goff officially announced that the 12th edition would start on Wednesday afternoon at 1415hrs. “At that point, the weather should be easier to deal with as there will be a 15-knot westerly wind,” explained Le Goff. “The situation will be favourable and allow the boats to make their way out of the English Channel. The forecasts seem very reliable, with a probability of more than 90%. The start of the race should be much less hazardous than if the start had gone ahead on Sunday.”

The skippers taking part will attend a weather briefing on the day before the start. The 38 IMOCAs and eight Ocean Fifty boats will leave the docks in Saint-Malo on Tuesday afternoon (times to be announced). The Class40 and Rhum Mono and Rhum Multi categories will make their way through the locks on Wednesday morning. The arrangements will be similar to those in place on Friday for the Ultim 32/23, with stands in place allowing the public to watch the event.

As planned, today will be the final day that the Village will be open, with closing time at 1700hrs. This will allow visitors to Saint-Malo to come and admire the boats still present in the docks before they race across the Atlantic.

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The most recent weather models are fairly clear about the start of the Route du Rhum race this Sunday. It’s going to be tough and sometimes very hard. With a low-pressure system out in the Atlantic, a series of fronts will be moving in. This means upwind sailing in strong winds from the outset, and the Bay of Biscay looks like living up to its reputation, with the situation likely to worsen on Monday with the deep low generating an active cold front. There is the threat of “50 to 55 knots of wind to the north of the system with 18-21 foot high waves out at sea on Monday,” explained Cyrille Duschene from Meteo Consult in today’s forecast. “This is set to be tough for the sailors,” added the forecaster.

“Once they get to Ushant and even before, the sea state and winds will be typical for November. The Route du Rhum - Destination Guadeloupe is used to these sorts of conditions,” says Race Director Francis Le Goff.

“From the first night, we’ll be facing stormy conditions. I’m ready for that and looking forward to seeing what options we will have to avoid damage to the boat.” explained Ocean Fifty skipper Éric Peron (Komilfo), who added that his Ocean50 boat was one of the best in this sort of situation. “She’s a 4x4 with a large volume to her hulls. In heavy seas that is a clear advantage.”

‘I’m scared, but I’ll be at 200% on Sunday to get off to a good start. There will be all the sailors I love around me. I’m here for that,” declared Arthur Le Vaillant (Mieux), taking the plunge for the first time aboard his Ultim 32/23 .

The Route du Rhum - Destination Guadeloupe only comes around every four years and has long since become a classic challenge for solo racers of all levels, from the big stars of French ocean racing on their Ultims 32/23s to committed hobby sailors living out their dreams.

The course across the Atlantic is between Saint-Malo and Guadeloupe, a distance of 3542 miles on the Great Circle Route. They usually leave in the autumn storms which pepper the Bay of Biscay but the reward comes with the warmth of the tropics and, usually, a long spell of trade winds sailing. The classic course has just three marks – the CIC buoy off Cape Fréhel, the Tête-à-l’anglais (a small island north of Guadeloupe), and the Basse-Terre buoy at the entrance to the Saintes Channel. Otherwise the solo skippers are completely free to determine their route across the Atlantic.

“This is a legendary course, but it is also highly technical and can be very complicated. Firstly, you have to get out of the English Channel. At this time of year, low-pressure systems move in regularly, as is the case at the moment. We have to find a balance between taking risks depending on the wind and sea state to head south with as little damage as possible,” explains Italian solo IMOCA racer Giancarlo Pedote (Prysmian Group).

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Three days before the opening of the village in Saint-Malo (Tuesday, October 25 at 2:00 p.m.), Race Direction has released the final list of ratified entries. There will be 138 solo skippers setting off on Sunday, November 6, on this 12th edition of the most famous French single-handed transatlantic race.

Candidates for La Route du Rhum - Destination Guadeloupe had until midnight on Friday, 21 October to complete validation of their entry and complete the qualification course (1,200 miles including 120 miles upwind) as well as completing the technical and administrative formalities (medical file, measurement certificate, ratification by the respective Classes and fulfilling World Sailing criteria).

Most skippers had already completed this task ahead of the date, but as usual, a small number had to go to the wire to finalise their files. Indeed two sailors only finished their qualification on Thursday and Friday.

“In extremis but in the end, on time.” confirmed race director, Francis Le Goff. In reality, the list has changed little over the past month other than the entries announced a little over 15 days ago, of the Hungarian IMOCA racer Weöres Szabolcs (SZABI RACING) and young Thomas Lurton (Moxie Bâti-Armor) in the Rhum Multi and the withdrawal, due to injury, of Saint Malo’s Julien Reemers (Fédération du Commerce du Pays de Saint-Malo) for the Rhum Mono category”.

Reviewing the fleet

Those 138 sailors are divided into 4 Classes: Ultim 32/23, Ocean Fifty, Imoca, Class40 and 2 categories: Rhum Mono and Rhum Multi. There are seven women and 131 men, i.e. 5% of the fleet, there are 24 non-French sailors (17% of the fleet) representing 13 nationalities. And so it a very strong and typically diverse mix of experienced skippers, many renowned emblematic figures of offshore racing, many returning for another go, former winners, there are four defending champions, and as usual on the ‘Rhum’ there are professional sailors, seasoned amateurs and hardy adventurers.

In terms of actual composition, there is no change for the Ultim 32/23 class, the most impressive category in terms of the size of the boats, which will have eight starters. So too the Ocean Fifty also have eight due to start. There will be 38 Imoca and 55 Class40, the biggest class and finally, 17 Rhum Multi and 12 Rhum Mono.

Competitors depart the pontoons at Saint-Malo, in a previous edition of La Route Du Rhum Photo: Yvan ZeddaCompetitors depart the pontoons at Saint-Malo, in a previous edition of La Route Du Rhum Photo: Yvan Zedda

A great mix

It is a truly exceptional fleet. The Route du Rhum - Destination Guadeloupe, an emblematic transatlantic race, clearly still fuels the dreams of sailors and grows their ambitions.

“The extremely even level in the Ultim 32/23, Ocean Fifty, Imoca and Class40 classes is outstanding,” adds Francis Le Goff, “The best in each class, the favourites of each class are present, which bodes well for some very good battles on the water. The Rum Mono and Rum Multi categories are very open and promise to be just as exciting to follow.”

From legendary sailboats to high-tech boats, benefiting from the latest innovations, there will be something for everyone on the pontoons of the City of Saint-Malo; an eclecticism characteristic of La Route du Rhum - Destination Guadeloupe which will not fail to delight the fervent public.

The boats have already started to moor at the foot of the Cité Corsaire before the first parades scheduled for Tuesday, October 25, the opening day of the race village. Ten days will be left for these 138 sailors to fine-tune their preparation for the big start on Sunday, November 6th, at 1:02 p.m.

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There have never been so many IMOCA class entries in the La Route du Rhum – Destination Guadeloupe in the IMOCA class. With 37 boats set to take the start line, there are certainly more contenders for the podium than in any previous edition and there is strength and depth all the way through the field.

For the top IMOCA skippers, winning this mythical solo race is the obvious goal. It is very much an extended sprint. It is contested at a unique, high-level intensity with very little time to rest. The transition between what is often a tough Bay of Biscay crossing to the foot to the floor, relentless high speeds of the trade winds is often key. For many, the race lasts around two weeks, whilst the course record for the IMOCAs was set in 2014 by François Gabart, then 31-years-old, who completed the race in 12 days, 4 hours and 38 minutes.

The 2018 edition saw a dramatic finish, with Paul Meilhat taking the IMOCA title. He returns with a new boat in the colours of his new sponsor Biotherm. He is just one of seven new IMOCAs launched over the last four months. There are four pairs of sisterships now. Maxime Sorel V and B – Monbana – Mayenne is a Verdier sistership of the current APIVIA. Meilhat’s Biotherm is a Verdier sistership of LinkedOut. Yannick Bestaven’s new Maitre Coq V is a Verdier sistership of 11th Hour Racing-Mâlama and Sam Davies’ new Initiatives Coeur 4 is a sistership of the Sam Manuard designed L'Occitane en Provence.

Holcim – PRB by Kevin EscoffierHolcim – PRB by Kevin Escoffier

Three boats come from completely new moulds. There is the Verdier Holcim – PRB by Kevin Escoffier, Manuard’s Charal2 by Jérémie Beyou and the VPLP-designed new Malizia – Sea Explorer of Boris Herrmann ). All these new boats are expected to be on starting line on November 6 off Saint-Malo.

Like others in the class, Kévin Escoffier (Holcim - PRB) believes that the "new boats will not be favourites; it is will be the boats of the 2020 generation that are more reliable that will have the advantage". Four new boats were among the 'top 10' of the Azimut Challenge flagship event in mid-September.

Charlie Dalin (APIVIA) Charlie Dalin (APIVIA)

Among these boats and skippers are of course, the dominant Charlie Dalin (APIVIA) and Thomas Ruyant (LinkedOut). Both have new IMOCAs in build, and this will be their last race with their current monohulls. Dalin, second in the Vendée Globe, is the recent winner of the Guyader Bermudes 1000 Race and June’s Vendée Arctic race and remains undefeated this season. But he has never competed in the Route du Rhum – Destination Guadeloupe, whilst Thomas Ruyant, who won the Transat Jacques Vabre last year, is also a contender for the win. 

A big jump for 13 rookies

But the weather conditions in November on the Bay of Biscay are frequently an acid test for the new boats, exposing early weaknesses. Proven reliability is often the most important attribute. There are certain weather scenarios – especially a lot of upwind sailing - which could prove good for the non-foiling straight daggerboard boats, especially early in the race. Among them, Conrad Colman (Imagine), Benjamin Ferré (Monnoyeur – Duo for a Job), Guirec Soudée ( and Éric Bellion (Commeunseulhomme powered by Altavia), who showed well last June during the Vendée Arctique.

Guirec Soudée ( Soudée (

And there will be 13 rookies racing on the Route du Rhum – Destination Guadeloupe taking on a major solo race for the first time. Among them in the IMOCA class are the experienced Swiss sailors Justine Mettraux ( and Oliver Heer (Oliver Heer Ocean Racing), the Chinese Jingkun Xu (China Dream-Haikou), and Britain’s James Harayda (Gentoo) will discover for the first time this mythical transatlantic.

All of the IMOCA skippers are expected in Saint Malo on October 26, including Louis Burton (Bureau Vallée), who is based in the Corsair city. All will take part in a parade under sail for visiting spectators who maybe can’t get to the start to see the IMOCAs in their glory. Those lucky enough to be around in Guadeloupe for the finish can expect the first boats around November 18th.

They said :

Charlie Dalin (APIVIA) : “I feel like I have known this race, the Route du Rhum – Destination Guadeloupe since I was very young. And this race has always made me dream. However, I I have never taken part and now is the time to give it a go. The competition promises to be tough. There is quantity and quality with six new latest-generation boats. The challenge will be to find the right tempo because it's neither fast like a stage of La Solitaire du Figaro, nor as long as a Vendée Globe. It's somewhere between the 100 meters and the marathon: you will always have to set your cursor in the right place ! ".

Kevin Escoffier (Holcim – PRB) : “The Route du Rhum – Destination Guadeloupe is the race of my childhood. I have memories of going round the locks and going out to sea with my father on the fishing boats. It was the 'Rhum' that made me want to go offshore racing. My objective will be to continue learning, to make the boat more reliable, to optimize and to get to know my boat better. We know that the start of the race will be very important, especially the passage through the Bay of Biscay. I aim to race to get to the finish line and do everything to I possibly can get to the finish. "

Isabelle Joschke (MACSFIsabelle Joschke MACSF

Isabelle Joschke (MACSF) : “I am so excited about the idea of ​​competing in this Route du Rhum – Destination Guadeloupe. It's a mythical race and it's also a course that I really like. Leaving France in the Autumn and crossing the Atlantic, sometimes facing great difficulties and having this great reward at the end with the finish in Pointe-à-Pitre. My objective will be to finish, to have fun. The icing on the cake would be to finish in the 'top 10'. It's nice to have so many IMOCAs on the starting line. This means that there will be a match everywhere, in front, in the middle and at the back of the fleet. It looks exciting! 

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Past winners of the La Route du Rhum – Destination Guadeloupe highlight their love for the race at six months before the start of the 12th edition

In exactly six months and one day 138 sailors will line up off Saint Malo at the start of the twelfth edition of the Route du Rhum – Destination Guadeloupe. Already the 2022 edition has broken records for the size of the entry, attracting the biggest number of single-handed Transatlantic racers ever gathered for a race. And, as ever, the emotions are already starting to build as the intrepid solo racers contemplate their date with destiny, the start of the legendary race from Saint Malo to Guadeloupe. Among them, seven past class winners express their enduring passion for the Route du Rhum Destination Guadeloupe.

It is actually on Friday May 6 that the ‘six months to the start’ timeline is passed. In many respects it is a key marker for solo racers and their teams. On the one hand there is a certain impatience to be returning to the Corsair City and to be enjoying the build up before the race start but on the other this date is a salutary reminder that preparation time is running out and the clock is ticking down fast.

And while any participation in the Route du Rhum Destination Guadeloupe, especially the first one, is a career milestone, winning a division is usually life altering, for the better. On this upcoming edition there will be four class winners back to defend their titles: Francis Joyon (IDEC Sport) in the Ultim 32/23, Paul Meilhat (Biotherm) in the Imoca, Armel Tripon (Les P'tits Doudous) in the Ocean Fifty fleet and Yoann Richomme (Paprec Arkea) in Class40. And then also there are three other past winners in Erwan Le Roux (Koesio) winner in 2014 in Ocean Fifty, Roland Jourdain (We Explore) winner in both 2006 and 2010 in the Imoca and Philippe Poupon (Flo) winner in 1986. All will be on the start line on Sunday 6 November 2022.

Joyon, Meilhat, Tripon, Richomme, Poupon, Jourdain and Gavignet all are addicted to the Rhum.

Whether they have already won it once and in some rare, rare cases twice, all these winners have their own special history with the "Rhum". At six months before the start of the 2022 edition seven former winners describe what makes this race unique.

Francis Joyon (IDEC Sport), winner in Ultim 32/23 in 2018, is putting his title on the line this year at the helm of the same boat as 4 years ago; an Ultim maxi-trimaran which has the unique record of having already won 3 editions of La Route du Rhum – Destination Guadeloupe (2010 – 2014 – 2018): “The Route du Rhum is the most beautiful of transats, a dream for any multihull sailor. No two editions are the same. We always head off into the unknown, and I like this whole element of uncertainty. I am aware that it is becoming more and more difficult to win this race. In all of the divisions all the classes have become more professional. With my little team we err on the amateur side but the Rhum allows me to rub shoulders with some unusual sailors in the Rhum Class in particular. This race has enough unknown and challenging aspects to retain a really adventurous aspect. In multihulls all these races are dangerous and from that point of view in my opinion this race still holds a big element of suspense. The Route du Rhum is unique in being tough, the autumn depressions kick up big seas but overall the route towards the trade winds is always enjoyable on these multihulls. I am not satisfied. I still have a huge appetite for this incredible game. I feel good, I still want to do it and I believe in my luck. 

Paul Meilhat, skipper de l Imoca SMAPaul Meilhat, skipper de l Imoca SMA

Paul Meilhat (Biotherm), winner of the 2018 edition in the Imoca after that incredible finish when he overhauled the penalised Alex Thomson. Meilhat returns this year with a brand new boat, eager to get out there: "La Route du Rum is a big part of my childhood memories and particularly the wins of Philippe Poupon and Laurent Bourgnon. Then there was (Roland Jourdain) Bilou's double in the Imoca, a little later, at the age when I was starting to compete in dinghies. Personally, I have a special relationship with La Route du Rhum because when I saw the Imoca "Macif" leave at the start of François Gabart's victory in this class in 2014. I knew then that I would pick up this boat after it finished for a four year programme that led me to victory in 2018. Since then, I have been looking for partners for 4 years and my story starts again with this race.”

Armel Tripon (Le P'tits Doudous), title holder in Ocean Fifty is back this year to defend his title after an unforgettable victory in 2018: " Winning the Rhum is above all the success of a team and of a sponsor who believed in you. When I won in 2018 it was magical to feel this huge element of positive energy that it all generated. I had the feeling of having been able to execute this race thanks to a serene and well-managed preparation. I will always remember the passage around the island and the completely crazy finish. It was my first big win! And, so, yes I would like to win it again, but it's always harder to win once again. This is what makes the challenges exciting, what makes us surpass ourselves and what makes the alchemy work”.

Yoann Richomme, skipper du Class40 Veedol-AICYoann Richomme, skipper du Class40 Veedol-AIC

Yoann Richomme, winner of the 2018 edition in Class40, is back in the running for this year in the same category aboard "Paprec Arkea" before the launching of his new Imoca built for him due to be launched next season: "Beyond the mythical event that everyone knows, La Route du Rhum – Destination Guadeloupe is a race that motivated me to move on to circuits other than La Solitaire du Figaro. It is also an event that changed my career as a sailor when I won it four years ago. It gave me a different twist to my sports project. It is an exceptional event, one of those that made me dream big. I'm really looking forward to going back. It really was just unthinkable for me not to participate in this 2022 edition. I am delighted to be back to defend my title”.

Philippe Poupon (Flo) is one of those pioneering sailors who have marked the history of ocean racing and paved the way for generations of offshore racers. For this 2022 edition, the legendary solo racer who won in 1986 returns with a legendary boat, in the Rhum Multi category: Florence Arthaud's Pierre 1er, whose images of victory in 1990 are etched forever in people's minds: "Winning the Route du Rhum is a great moment. Winning a race that only takes place every four years makes victory even more important. After four participations, a victory and a second place, here I am coming back 32 years later. This time it is a bit about the making of a film on Florence Arthaud by my wife Géraldine Danon and the purchase of the boat Pierre 1er. It is a great opportunity to pay homage to Florence”.

Roland Jourdain (We Explore) is one of the very rare double winners of La Route du Rhum – Destination Guadeloupe. Triumphant in the Imoca in 2006 and in 2010, "Bilou" looks back on this race. On November 6 he will be at the helm of a catamaran built in flax fibers and registered in Rhum Multi, which he will take the start: "My first victory was a real emotional whirlwind, on the one hand because it was a dream that was coming true, but also because this first place was all the more beautiful because 'it was the end point of a very good fight with my competitors. I had lost my keel a few months earlier in the Vendée Globe and this arrival in Guadeloupe, as the winner, was a great way to exorcise those memories. For my second victory, the race was also very intense. I remember a complete state of grace, which happens very rarely. Everything happened as if I was in suspended animation. I was 14 years old at the start of the first Route du Rhum. The finish of Mike Birch was a very strong moment, an image that still remains with me. This race is a postcard of the evolution of boats over time and that's why I really wanted to come back this year, with my linen boat! ".

Sidney Gavignet, skipper du Rhum Mono Cafe JoyeuxSidney Gavignet, skipper du Rhum Mono Cafe Joyeux

Sidney Gavignet took victory in Rhum Mono aboard "Café Joyeux" in 2018. Gavignet is not on the list of entrants this year but the navigator turned coach will nevertheless be present in Saint-Malo, alongside Alberto Bona ( Ibsa), of which he will be the replacement skipper, and of Oren Nataf (Rayon Vert) supporting both in their preparation: “For a sailor, winning the Route du Rhum – Destination Guadeloupe is a great opportunity a landmark event a bit like rounding Cape Horn for the first time! I am deeply grateful for the event itself. What I like the most about this race are the ten days before the start. I think I could do it again just for that! There is something unique about this period; a pressure that takes hold of everyone, starting with your loved ones, your partners and your team. If we manage to master it, to do this work on ourselves which allows us to live it without it getting on top of you whilst all the time remaining a ‘fan’ it's a delight ".

See you in 6 months… and a few days, to find out the names of the sailors who will also mark the history of La Route du Rhum – Destination Guadeloupe with their victory !

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