The Défi Atlantique, the new West - East transatlantic for Open 60 IMOCA class monohulls will set off at 1500hrs GMT on the 30 November from Salvador, Brazil to La Rochelle, France (ETA first boat from 18th December 03).
Organised by the Grand Pavois Organisation, along with the region of Poitou-Charentes, the department of the Charente-Maritime and Government of Bahia, the Défi Atlantique is a qualification race for the next Vendée Globe. To date, 10 skippers are officially engaged in this 4,100 mile race, including two last minute entries from France during this week:
· Jean-Pierre Dick (Virbac / FRA)
· Alex Thomson (AT Racing / GBR)
· Mike Golding (Ecover / GBR)
· Vincent Riou (PRB / FRA)
· Sébastien Josse (V.M.I. / FRA)
· Nick Moloney (Team Cowes / AUS)
· Benoît Parnaudeau (Colibri - Charente-Maritime / FRA)
· Joë Seeten (Arcelor - Dunkerque / FRA)
· Benoît Lequin (Wel.network / FRA)
· Anne Liardet (Gonna Gitcha / FRA)
The Start will be given on Sunday 30th November at 1200hrs local time (1500hrs GMT) off the breakwater of the CENAB in the Bay of All Saints, Salvador. After a short coastal course off the start for the spectators and media, the monohulls will all pass through a gate off the Barra lighthouse and then head offshore, bows pointing towards La Rochelle, France. The course has only one mark on it: to leave the Archipelago of Fernando de Norhona (Brazil) to the East.
Objective : Vendée Globe 2004
Every skipper is equal when faced with the rules of the Vendée Globe: in the next year before the start of the race, each competitor must have completed one solo transatlantic race. The Défi Atlantique provides this opportunity with enough time in hand to thoroughly prepare for the Vendée Globe over the ensuing months. This new race will be run under the same rules as the Vendée Globe: for Open 60 monohulls only, non-stop, with no routing, no outside assistance, and of course single-handed.
To date, 10 skippers are officially taking part in this first West to East transatlantic race which crosses the 2 hemispheres of this planet. The Defi Atlantique is the longest single-handed race in the calendar with 4,100 miles on the direct route from start to finish line. This is the first opportunity for each skipper to gauge each other's performance in solo mode with 20 days of competition against their future rivals.
Le Défi Atlantique : a unique and complex course
The distance of just under 4,100 miles is the longest ever for a solo event, and also the predominant point of sail will be upwind right from the Southern Hemisphere starting port of Salvador facing head on the prevailing winds and currents. With obstacles such as the Doldrums, Azores High, South and North East Trades, Atlantic storms and choppy cross seas of the Bay of Biscay, the boats which get to the finish will be one step further towards the Vendée Globe. Note that this will be exactly the same route and weather conditions that they will face during the final phase of the Vendée Globe itself, and therefore no better test of form for both skipper and boat.
Follow the race on the event website at the address below.