Wednesday, May 7th

A special situation

Four days from the start of The Artemis Transat, Michel Desjoyeaux observes that weather conditions are unusual across the North Atlantic, which will make this thirteenth edition of the race all the more exciting, with thirteen 60 foot monohulls taking the start on Sunday 11th May at 1400 hours local time.

After three day’s training at the Ocean Racing Centre in Port-la-Forêt, NW France, followed by a few speed runs (consisting of a three mile drag race) and some coastal courses during the Grand Prix Petit Navire in Douarnenez, FONCIA has arrived at the English port of Plymouth and is now alongside the eleven other Imoca monohulls preparing for The Artemis Transat (ex-Ostar). Originally created in 1960 by British colonel Blondie Hasler, this was the very first solo oceanic event and THE reference in terms of ocean racing as it is the harde st and the most demanding of all the Atlantic competitions.

Michel Desjoyeaux, title holder in the multihull category in 2004 explains: “
The Artemis Transat is a more difficult event than the Route du Rhum: I haven’t raced the Rhum in a monohull but I'm well aware of what it represents, as I've done it twice in a trimaran, and The Transat is a race I've sailed on both a monohull and a multihull… It’s an important race in terms of the outcome on a sporting level, the severity and the difficulty. It contains all the ingredients of a concentrated round the world: we go directly from the Bay of Biscay (English Channel) to the Indian Ocean (Newfoundland)! The water around the Labrador current is between just 2° and 5°C… These are the same conditions as in the Southern Ocean! The transition is more brutal too than on an Atlantic descent.

A reduced but top-class line-up

With thirteen Imoca monohulls and eleven Class 40s, the fleet in The Artemis Transat has been concentrated, providing both a homogenous and honed line-up. Unfortunately several teams weren’t able to be ready in time including Jean Le Cam, Roland Jourdain, Mike Golding (winner in the monohull category in 2004), Brian Thompson, Jonny Malbon… but the yachts present in Sutton Harbour are particularly well prepared after last winter's racing and a considerable amount of optimising. As a result there’s everything to play for amongst the competition with some very different skippers from Michel Desjoyeaux such as Loïck Peyron, Samantha Davies, Sébastien Josse and Vincent Riou on boats designed by the same design office (Bruce Farr), together with some very distinctive yachts like those of Marc Guillemot, Dee Caffari, Yann Eliès and Armel Le Cléac’h as well as some monohulls with a massive track record such as those belonging to Arnaud Boissière s, Yannick Bestaven and Unaï Basarko.

Cold up front!

As regards the 2,745 miles course between Plymouth and Boston, uncertainty still reigns about the approach to the banks off Newfoundland. Indeed the solo sailors will have to pass through gates (obligatory points of passage), a zone where ice floes represent a huge danger! Already four years ago, the skippers set themselves a waypoint to avoid the icebergs and growlers and for this thirteenth edition they have already been spotted to the South of the banks of Newfoundland (41°30 North)! Before the fleet reach them however, the thirteen skippers of the Imoca monohulls will have to negotiate light conditions, a N'ly air flow and shifty winds prior to attempting to round to the north of a fairly inactive low… No gales are forecast but there will be a lot of work on deck and at the chart table! “
Four days from the start, the forecast seems to be indicating light c onditions: gentle winds to exit the English Channel, wind on the beam after Ireland and downwind conditions as they pass to the north of a low, which will be situated in the middle of the Atlantic next Wednesday… As a result it will be a rather calm start to the race: I’m not upset about that as it will enable us to break into the rhythm gently.

A one and a half day curfew
One of the original aspects of this thirteenth edition of The Transat is a 36 hour black-out, which has been announced by the organisers of The Artemis Transat; providing a period where positions are not transmitted by the solo sailors. This has been introduced to leave the way clear for tactical initiative to open up the competition at a point where the weather conditions won't be the easiest to predict: “
There will be a 36 hour black-out period which the Race Management will announce shortly beforehand. It’s an interesting additio n to the proceedings, especially if the moment chosen is strategically crucial. Nobody at sea will know the positions of their rivals unless we ourselves broadcast our true or false… A bit like in the eighties! It’s an amusing idea…

In short, with four days until 'kick-off', Michel Desjoyeaux and his FONCIA are ready to go and concentrated on this course, which will be difficult to negotiate, hard to face up to and technical to anticipate. As is the case for his twelve rivals, now is the time to hunt down the grib files to set the routers in motion and begin estimating how much time, which trajectory and what particularities this legendary transatlantic race will identify!

Team FONCIA Press Service
Agence Blanco Negro +33 (0)1 47 72 81 41
Stéphanie André Mob : +33 (0)6 34 18 66 54 / Laurence Dacoury Mob : +33 (0)6 18 41 30 28

© Yvan Zedda





Michel Desjoyeaux
© Yvan Zedda





© Yvan Zedda





Michel Desjoyeaux
© Yvan Zedda