More Class 40 yachts enter the Artemis Transat

10 Class 40s confirmed but 13 are possible and after two decades in ocean racing, Simon Clarke is fulfilling a lifelong ambition of competing in the world of short-handed sailing. This week Clarke confirmed his Class 40 entry in The Artemis Transat that starts in just over six weeks on Sunday, 11th May.

And it might not end there, as there is the potential for three more Class 40s to enter the fray. British female sailor Miranda Merron completed a very wet and windy 1000-mile race qualifier yesterday after six days to ensure she can officially enter The Artemis Transat once the all-important sponsor has been secured. Experienced French skipper, Patrice Carpentier, and German Boris Hermann (German) are also looking for sponsors to facilitate their participation in the race, although both have paid the necessary 'pre-inscription' to keep the possibility of entry alive.

Class 40 confirmed entries
Appart'City/ Yvan Noblet (FRA)
Custo Pol/ Halvard Mabire (FRA)
Fujifilm/ Alex Bennett (UK)
Groupe Partouche/ Christophe Coatnoan (FRA)
Leclerc Ville la Grande/ Jean-Philippe Saliou (FRA)
Louis Duc (FRA)
Mistral Loisirs-Elior/ Thierry Bouchard (FRA)
Prevoir VIE/ Benoit Parnaudeau (FRA)
Telecom Italia/ Giovani Soldini (ITA)
Clarke Offshore Racing / Simon Clarke (GBR)

Plans for the Race Village at Sutton Harbour, Plymouth are taking shape. For the thousands of visitors coming to Sutton Harbour, Plymouth for the build-up to the start of The Artemis Transat there will be no shortage of things to do and see, not least the impressive fleet of IMOCA 60s and Class 40s. The race village will open on Saturday, 3rd May until Sunday, 11th May and will include exhibitors, a tall ship, an education programme, VIP hospitality suite, media centre and a wide selection of entertainment from the inaugural Barbican Jazz and Blues Festival to street entertainers. The full scale and details of the race village will be unveiled shortly.

An historic look athe the 1968 and 1972 races
1968 : the invention of weather routing and one big ferocious storm The race became truly international with a total of 35 competitors from as far a field as Sweden, Germany, USA and South Africa to add to the usual British and French entries. It was this edition of the race that proved what a tough proposition it can be. During this race the North Atlantic was swept by a massive depression bringing with it 60 knot, storm force winds.

Many competitors hoved to, dropping all but a storm jib to sit out the terrible conditions. Only one competitor made a significant gain by taking advantage of the rules, which had not outlawed weather routing (at that time, it was not considered viable for solo skippers). Before satellite communications, on board internet access or web-based weather sites,

Geoffrey Williams racing the monohull Sir Thomas Lipton was the first to use weather routing. Via a hefty high-frequency radio, Williams would communicate with meteorologists at Bracknell who were running weather models using a very early computer and who would provide him with forecasts.

Warned of the storm, Williams sailed north missing the brunt of it and gained an estimated 300 miles over his competitors in the process. Williams went on to win the race despite some controversy at the end when he sailed the wrong course - Williams missed a vital part of the skippers briefing when an amendment to the sailing instructions was issued to round the Nantucket Light Vessel on approach to finish.

As the Race Committee had not published the amendment in writing, grounds for any protest were weak. In a display of great sportsmanship, no other skipper protested him.

Pen Duick IV

1972 : the onset of the multihull age After 1968 a 500-mile qualification passage became obligatory, 55 boats qualified for the fourth edition of the race. Eric Tabarly's Pen Duick IV had retired from the 1968 race, but in the intervening years prior to the 1972 race she had been tested and developed and then sold to former crewman Alain Colas, another icon of early French single-handed sailing.

In contrast to the 1968 race the North Atlantic threw up only one brief gale and it was perhaps due to the light conditions and skill of her skipper that Colas was able to steer his 67ft trimaran across the line first in the remarkable time of 20 days and 13 hours - five days faster than Geoffrey Williams' four years earlier. In the process, Colas beat the giant monohull Jean-Yves Terlain's 128ft Vendredi 13 by 16 hours. With Colas' victory and other multihulls taking third, fifth and sixth places, the future of ocean-going racing catamarans and trimarans was sealed.

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