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2022 Route du Rhum Destination Guadeloupe - Class40: battles at all levels

by Route du Rhum-Destination Guadeloupe 17 Oct 2022 03:13 PDT 6 November 2022
Class 40 fleet © Christophe Breschi

With no fewer than 55 entries Class40 is the biggest fleet of the 12th Route du Rhum Destination Guadeloupe.

And within this big, competitive fleet there are a group of brand new, latest generation boats from renowned designers sailed by some of the best, up and coming stars of the future and established former Figaro racers. Most keen observers consider that there are a dozen skippers and boats with the potential to win the division. For sure this will be a hard fought, close race of high intensity right to the finish line.

Class40s, as a fleet, have grown on each edition. In 2006 25 boats took part in a contest which included renowned British offshore racer Phil Sharp who won Class40 ahead of French Figarist ace Gildas Morvan. And the class has continued to serve as something of a proving ground leading into the IMOCA fleet. In 2014 it was Thomas Ruyant who triumphed ahead of Nicolas Troussel - both going on to compete on the last Vendée Globe - whilst 2018's Class40 winner Yoann Richomme has a brand new IMOCA in build for the next Vendée Globe and indeed returns to defend his title with a new boat.

The Class40 rules are simple as well as rigorous which continues to keep budgets but still leaving designers ample freedom to express their ideas. "The class has found the right balance in terms of budget to be able to compete on circuit races on the circuit but also the most prestigious oceanic races such as the Route du Rhum-Destination Guadeloupe", highlights Corentin Douguet (Queguiner - Innoveo).

In 2018, on the last edition 52 Class40s took the start. This year, there will be three more. The defending champion Richomme (Paprec Arkéa), is out to defend the class title with a new Lombard design which he launched last June. He said last summer, "The sensations are particularly great aboard these boats, these are monohulls are sea kindly and the sailing techniques are quite similar to the IMOCA".

Several favourites

Richomme with his Paprec Arkéa has been reminded just how hotly contested each circuit race is. In May, during the CIC Normandy Channel Race, the first 10 were finished within eight hours. At the Dhream Cup this summer, the top 13 crossed the line in the space of four hours. "These are very good sailors armed with very good boats: all those who have done well on the circuit - and there are many of them - are pretty much the favorites on the Route du Rhum - Destination Guadeloupe", Douguet continues.

Douguet, winner of the the 1000 Milles des Sables last April, expects to be in the mix but alongside he and Richomme are Ian Lipinski (Crédit Mutuel), winner of the 2019 Transat Jacques-Vabre and the CIC Normandy Channel Race this year, Xavier Macaire (Groupe SNEF, winner of the Dhream Cup), Amélie Grassi (La Boulangère Bio), Luke Berry (Lamotte Module Création), Axel Trehin (Project Rescue Ocean), Simon Koster (Banque du Leman) and Ambrogio Beccaria (Allagrande Pirelli).

St Malo skippers and a Guadeloupean also on the starting line

Koster and Ambrogio, Swiss and Italian, are not the only ones coming from outside of France. There is also the Australian Rupert Henry (Eora), the Americans Greg Leonard (Kite) and Alex Mehran (Polka Dot), South African Donald Alexander (Conscious Planet) returns, the Croatian world cup and Olympic ski champion Ivica Kostelic (ACI), the Belgian Jonas Gerkens (Volvo) and the Italians Alberto Bona (IBSA) and Andrea Fornaro (In Fluence). Eyes will also be on Guadeloupean Keni Piperol (Captain Alternance) who is trained by Lalou Roucayrol.

There are nine Class 40 skippers from Saint-Malo skippers who will set off " from home": Luc Berry (Lamotte Module Création), Baptiste Hulin (Rennes Saint-Malo / Parenthèses de Vies), Emmanuel Hamez (Viranga), Maxime Cauwe (Wisper), Florian Gueguen (Dopamine Sailing Team), Geoffrey Mataczynksi (Fortissimo), Jules Bonnier (Nestenn - Entrepreneurs for the Planet), Morgane Ursault-Poupon (Médecins du monde) and Hervé Thomas (Bleu Blanc).


Amélie Grassi (La Boulangère Bio): " When I started the project, I did not expect there to be so many participants. It shows how accessible the class is with attractive projects, great sailors and powerful boats. It's a crazy group that promises this to be a very high level edition. I have the impression of doing the Solitaire du Figaro but on the Route du Rhum - Destination Guadeloupe ocean course. Personally, I train in order to be able to win. And I will do everything to be thorough from start to finish! "

Keni Piperol (Captain Alternance): " I have been waiting to do this Route de Rhum - Destination Guadeloupe for a long time. I've been preparing for it for 6 years and I'm proud to be one of the exceptional sailors going to do this race. There is bound to be a particular emotion at the idea of returning home, to feel the fervor and energy of Guadeloupeans. I left Guadeloupe to progress and grow, I can't wait to show the progress I have made. The objective is above all to have fun, to be as comfortable as possible at sea and to give everything to have no regrets. If I succeed, I'm sure the result will follow behind! Being 55 on the starting line, there is necessarily a little pressure: we know that this will be the class where there will be the most fight. "

Corentin Douguet (Queguiner - Innoveo): " We have all been preparing for this legendary race for months. The class is doing very well, it is probably the best entry point on the Route du Rhum-Destination Guadleoupe with a reasonable budgets. If there had been even more places, there would be even more of us! I think there are more than ten skippers who can be on the podium. The preparation has allowed everyone to raise their level and it promises an intense fight on the water. With the management of the boat, the equipment and the strategic choices to be made, everything is conducive to major developments. All the way to the Saintes channel and the finish line, anything can happen! "

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