The Transat moves to France

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As the first and oldest single-handed transatlantic race, the 60th anniversary of the Transat will carve out a new path in May 2020 as the city of Brest in northern Brittany will host the start of the four-yearly classic. The 3,500nm course across the North Atlantic to the USA had historically started from Plymouth in the UK.

Owned and organised by OC Sport Pen Duick, the French subsidiary of international event organiser OC Sport, the change was brought about to seek innovative ways to secure the future of The Transat, a race dominated by the progression of low pressure systems that produce the headwinds that define this classic race.

“We have seen from races such as the Route du Rhum-Destination Guadeloupe just how engaged the French public are with offshore sailing where we had over 2-million visitors to the race village,” explains OC Sport CEO Hervé Favre. “Staging the start from Brest is a real opportunity for our sponsors and the teams to capitalize on this captive audience and we expect it to open up many new commercial opportunities which are essential to guarantee the longevity of the race.”

A port city with a strong maritime background, Brest’s infrastructure, port capacity, and geographical location as the last port in Brittany before North America made it an obvious choice for the organizers who will be taking the event into the undisputed heart of offshore sailing.

The race village is expected to attract tens of thousands of visitors and well-wishers to send off the fleet, which is expected to include four different classes, in style.

The race is the successor, for professional sailors, to the original solo race across the North Atlantic that was born as the OSTAR in 1960 and which featured legends like Blondie Hasler and Sir Francis Chichester. It is also the race that served as the launch pad for one of France’s most influential figures, Eric Tabarly, when he won the second edition of the race in 1964 aboard the famous Pen Duick II, which proved instrumental in popularizing the sport in France.

While the race was born in the UK, it has always attracted the French elite of offshore sailing, who in recent years have dominated the race. Last staged in 2016, The Transat showcased some fascinating match-races between some of the best sailors in the world, including between Francois Gabart and Thomas Coville in the Ultime class, Armel Le Cleac’h against Vincent Riou at the head of the IMOCA fleet, and a three-way battle for victory in the Class40 between Thibaut Vauchel-Camus, Isabelle Joschke, and Phil Sharp.

OC Sport Pen Duick also owns and organizes the Route du Rhum-Destination Guadeloupe, which together with The Transat, offers professional single-handed sailors an alternating and complimentary pair of classic races every two years.

Télégramme Group, a major French media, sports and entertainment conglomerate, are the majority shareholders of OC Sport. President of the Télégramme Group Edouard Coudurier commented:

“We have long wanted to create a major ocean event in Brest, the Telegrammes home town. The Transat will give us the opportunity to do so and The Telegramme Group, with all its subsidiaries including OC Sports Pen Duick, Rivacom, Viamedia, TV Channel Tebeo, Planet Sailing and Sea Events, will strive to to make the race a sporting, economic, regional and international success, by applying the know-how already implemented for the Route du Rhum-Destination Guadeloupe, the main event organised by OC Sport Pen Duick.”

The host city for the USA finish of The Transat will be announced in the coming weeks.

Source: The Transat / sailingscuttlebutt

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