Longtime Seahorse associate Miranda Merron finished a brilliant sixth in the Class40 division in last year’s singlehanded transatlantic classic…
The legendary Route du Rhum comes but once every four years. In recent times the size of the fleet has increased considerably, as has the obstacle course that entry involves. I would love to say that it is all about focusing on training for the race, but just getting to the startline is a challenge in itself.
For the past three editions Class40s have represented by far the largest fleet (43 of the 91 entries in the 2014 Route du Rhum) and therefore a lot of competition for boats, as well as the most competition on the water. The class attracts a mix of Corinthian and professional sailors, thanks to its manageable size and relative affordability – not beyond the means of a reasonably successful individual nor beyond the means of small to medium sized companies wanting to sponsor or part-sponsor a boat.
For many sailors finding at least some level of sponsorship has to come before chartering or buying a boat, which then also needs to be insured for solo racing. At least active Class40s have the advantage of spending most of their time on the water and not in the shed, which is not always the case with the bigger, more expensive shorthanded designs.
The Rhum Notice of Race stipulates that entry is by invitation, to ensure that competitors have a sufficient level of experience to race solo across the Atlantic. This should not put off potential competitors who are unknown to the race organisers, as long as they can provide proof of eligibility in terms of experience. In any case, all competitors are required to complete a solo qualifying passage, usually 1,000 nautical miles. The course to be sailed must be agreed with the race organisation at least a week in advance, and each boat must be tracked by Sat C. Last June, 18 Class40s competed in the solo Qualif which counted as a qualifier for the Route du Rhum, and provided a more entertaining and useful way to qualify than sailing alone.
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