Paris (AFP)

A classic in offshore racing: the Transat Jacques Vabre launches its 14th edition with an impressive fleet of 60 boats on the starting line on Sunday 27 October in Le Havre, one year away from the legendary Vendée Globe.

All the skippers were gathered Tuesday at two steps from the Eiffel Tower for a presentation of this double biannual race to Salvador de Bahia (Brazil), which was full of committed.

On the front line, 30 Imoca (monohulls of 18 m), these starship boats of the Vendée Globe, the solo world tour whose next edition will start on November 8, 2020 des Sables d'Olonne.

In 2017, there were only 13 Imoca to have launched from Le Havre. This year, they are twice more, with especially six new generation boats, launched in 2018 and 2019: those of Jérémie Beyou (Charal), Charlie Dalin (Apivia), Thomas Ruyant (Advens for cybersecurity), the Japanese Kojiro Shiraishi, Sebastien Simon (Arkea Paprec) and the Brit Alex Thomson (Hugo Boss).

Equipped with foils, appendages that allow them to "fly" over water, these new cars could stick to the fastest boats in the fleet, the Multi50 (multihull 15 m), expected in Brazil around 7 or November 8th.

"The arrival is estimated at ten days, the Imoca are flying, they could also be very powerful," said race director Sylvie Viant, who announced the first difficulties out of the Channel before uncertainty in the Gulf of Biscay.

Only three Multi50 will be at the end of October.

In Class40 (monohull of 12 m), they will be 27 starting boats, including that of the experienced Kito de Pavant (Made in France) who, for his 10th Transat Jacques Vabre, has teamed up with the young Achille Nebout.

It is in this class that the race records the youngest sailor ever to take part in the Transat Jacques Vabre, with Basile Bourgnon, who at 17 years and 5 months, follows in the footsteps of his famous father, Laurent Bourgnon.

© 2019 AFP