Route Du Rhum – Observations – Why it matters

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Almost half of the skippers have completed the 10th version of the Route Du Rhum. The big trimarans are all safely moored in the harbor at Pointe-a-Pitre, the IMOCA fleet has a couple of outstanding yachts yet to finish and the Class 40 Peloton is quickly approaching. The Rhum class and the Golden Oldie Multihulls are making their way down the trades and will be in Guadaloupe in the next week or so. At the time of this writing there are approximately 50 of 91 yachts still racing across the Atlantic. Regardless of whether the skipper is a seasoned professional or a rank amateur, their achievement is spectacular.

Francois Gabart (winner Macif IMOCA 60) announced that Macif has agreed to fund the construction of a 30+ meter super-trimaran for him to skipper in various to-be-announced record attempts. This yacht will join Spindrift 2, Sodebo, Banque Populaire VII as one of the truly ultimate trimarans. IDEC and Prince de Bretagne have been overshadowed by the monsters and we should watch to see if they are taken into the sheds at Multiplast for lengthening and updating. Which leaves many questions regarding the MOD70 fleet. How will their nascent circuit move forward after this race? They are not able to keep up with the monsters, but Oman’s record in the Round Britain race shows they are certainly capable of scintillating performance offshore. A MOD70 race circuit would be a joy to follow, even while the Ultimes set new records on ocean routes world wide.

The French offshore trimaran racing scene is certainly full of conjecture and possibility!


The top nine yachts to finish the Route Du Rhum were trimarans. Seven Ultimate trimarans were sailed by intrepid athletes guided by weather and sailing wizards ashore. Two speedy, well sailed 50 footers defeated the worlds top offshore monohulls (IMOCA). Can we now say that the trimaran is the superior offshore sailing platform? Does this race prove that a big powerful trimaran is the best option for speed and sea-keeping ability? Speed is essential in passage making. Shouldn’t we now expect to sail comfortably and safely at 18 to 20 knots enroute to minimize hazardous time spent subject to the whims of the ocean?

Lets not forget too…..a trimaran is a hell of a lot of fun.

Sailing a trimaran is not like any other sailing. The width, stability and unbelievable speed of the thing gives a new perspective – it is as though you have wings. The windward float flys high, the leeward slices the waves and the main hull skims the surface – she is a magic carpet come to life. A trimaran in full flight, lee bow smoking, sails fully powered is sailing perfection.

Might a modern, strong, lightweight trimaran be the most suitable offshore sailing platform yet devised?


Does any of this matter? Why should we care about solitary Frenchmen launching themselves in fabulous machines across the trackless ocean?

It matters because they inspire us. Their intelligence, courage, spirit, and camaraderie;in the face of the monumental and eternally wild ocean speak to us. They adventure in the most primitive wilderness on earth. We need their stories as antidotes to the constant mindless cacophony of  our frenzied ultra-modern techno-babbling world. We marvel at the audacity of one who would set out alone across an ocean on a powerful sailing machine – knowing the ocean has the power to destroy – yet they go anyway. They do not conquer the ocean, they survive it – and in their faces at the end of the race is written their story – exhaustion, relief, joy and satisfaction. We can only hope to live as intensely.

They are the heirs of Tabarly and Moitessier – they are keepers of the flame. They show us a different way.


One Comment:

  1. Yes, yes, yes! Believed this to be true from late sixties. Is there any doubt! now.

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