This year, the race will finish just outside St Malo; the medieval walled port will have well over 200,000 residents and visitors this weekend. RORC Racing manager Ian Loffhagen explained why the race will finish in the heart of the ancient town.
"After careful discussions with the French authorities and local experts, it was decided that we would bring the race to the French public. Yacht racing is incredibly popular in France and as the race will finish at the weekend and during peak holiday time, the competitors should receive a fantastic welcome. The route into the finish has been designed to avoid cross-tidal influences and has been used for the Quebec St Malo race, which involved large multihulls, so there should be no cause for concern with the RORC fleet. The St. Malo race should provide a real spectacle for thousands of people. We also hope that more of the competitors will come ashore and enjoy St Malo."
In IRC Zero Harm Prins' Volvo 60, Pleomax, is the highest rated boat and is in a three-way tussle with Derek Saunders' CM 60, Venomous, and Franck Noel's TP52 Near Miss. The wind may go light towards the end of the race and this would suit Near Miss's lighter displacement.
Twenty four yachts are entered for IRC One, including Piet Vroon's Ker 46, Tonnerre de Breskens, which is the current leader overall in the RORC Season's Points Championship. The St Malo race will see another interesting match with Jonathan Goring's Ker 40, Keronimo. Chaz Ivill's Grand Soleil 54, John B, and Mike Greville's Ker 39, Erivale III, are both having an excellent season and are also entered for the race.
In IRC Two 48 yachts are entered in what could be one of the most competitive divisions. Niall Dowling's J/111, Arabella, leads the class for the season but RORC Commodore Andrew McIrvine racing his First 40, La Réponse, is very much in contention. Ross Applebey's Oyster 48, Scarlet Oyster, has been very competitive in heavy airs racing this year; it will be interesting to see how they fair if the conditions are lighter.
Another hotly contested class racing to St Malo is IRC Three. Nick Martin's J/105, Diablo-J, currently leads the class for the RORC Season's Points Championship but Noel Racine's Foggy Dew is also competing and is always hard to beat.
Diablo-J's success so far is even more remarkable as the yacht is also sailed Two-Handed. In all 23 yachts will be racing to St Malo in the Two-Handed Class and the other contenders for the class are all competing.
IRC Four also boasts a large entry of 48 yachts. Matthias Kracht's Ultreia!, which is also a Two-Handed contender, is leading the class but most of the class contenders are also doing this race.
RORC Commodore, Andrew McIrvine has special reasons for racing to St Malo.
"It is probably my favourite race, it was the first offshore race I ever did and I have won various trophies on different boats but it is always difficult to fight off the very strong French challenge. This weekend on La Réponse, I will be sailing with friends who have also done the race many times. My good friend, Roger Raven has flown back from Greece, just for the race. Besides winning, our other goal will be to beat the tide and get through the lock for dinner in the Duchesse Anne, in the heart of this fascinating port."