Twenty-five skippers are now heading towards Plymouth, Great Britain in preparation for the start of The Artemis Transat on Sunday 11 May.
The entire race fleet must be berthed inside Sutton Harbour, Plymouth by Sunday evening, 4 May. Once at Sutton Harbour the skippers and their shore teams will continue with their final preparations as the Race Committee carry out final boat inspections to check the boats comply with the racing rules. Then the fleet are confined to their pontoons on Friday, 9 May at 11:00 until the start.
Michel DESJOYEAUX (FRA), skipper of IMOCA 60 Foncia, and winner of the ORMA 60 Class in the 2004 edition of the race observed: "The North Atlantic in May is a very demanding playground, but it will be a bit more relaxed for me this time since I'm now racing a monohull, which is less stressful, but it certainly won't be an easy ride. The Artemis Transat will be a good round of observation as far as our future Vendée Globe rivals are concerned, but given the specificities of the course, it will be important not to jump to conclusions."
Yvan NOBLET (FRA), skipper of Class40 Appart City, had this to say: "I've heard the accounts of the oldest of all transatlantic races ever since I was a child, and for me it really is a reference - its course on the North Atlantic is certainly the toughest given the extreme conditions that are likely to be encountered. I'm very confident as far as my boat is concerned, and am looking forward to going back to solo racing, which I have not done since the last Route du Rhum."
Ten boats to compete in Prologue
Following on from the Grand Prix Petit Navire in France, up to ten of The Artemis Transat race fleet plan to take part in the official prologue from Douarnenez to Plymouth. The IMOCA 60s include Akena Vérandas (Arnaud BOISSIERES), Brit Air (Armel LE CLEAC'H), Foncia (Michel DESJOYEAUX), Generali (Yann ELIES) and PRB (Vincent RIOU). The Class40 players are Appart' City (Yvan NOBLET), Beluga Shipping (Boris HERRMANN), Custo Pol (Halvard MABIRE), Prévoir VIE (Benoit PARNEAUDEAU) and Telecom Italia (Giovanni SOLDINI).
Yann ELIÈS (FRA) who has been racing Generali at the Grand Prix Petit Navire reported: "We've been facing our rivals for the past ten days, either in solo mode during the recent Port la Forêt training sessions or fully crewed in Douarnenez, where we really pushed the boat to a 100% of her potential. The level of performance and reliability she displayed allows me to leave knowing I have a boat that is capable of winning The Artemis Transat, yet I know that it will be like tackling a summit by its North face! Having worked extensively with Jean-Yves BERNOT [renowned weather specialist] on the course analysis, I'm fully aware of the difficulties that lie ahead. I'll be leaving Brittany on Saturday night, hoping to deliver the boat to Plymouth with good breeze - I have a new small spinnaker designed for heavy weather I'd like to test!"
The prologue race is approximately 160 miles and the ten-boat fleet are expected to head off on Saturday night although the final decision on the start time will not be made until Friday once the weather scenario can be more accurately forecasted. The skippers will be racing with a crew but, undoubtedly, the prologue will sharpen their race instincts with only ten days to go until the start of the 'big one'!
Artemis Transat - www.theartemistransat.com