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Registration is open for Retour à La Base, IMOCA's new transatlantic race

by IMOCA Globe Series 16 Jun 2023 11:14 PDT
Retour à La Base © Eloi Stichelbaut / polaRYSE / IMOCA

With less than six months until the start of its first edition, IMOCA's new transatlantic race, Retour à La Base launched its registration process on Thursday 15 June.

Whilst more than 30 skippers on a quest to compete in the Vendée Globe 2024 will likely be on the start line, the race organisers are already working feverishly to make a success of Lorient's brand-new event on both a sporting and public level.

There are less than 200 days until the start and 77 until registration files must be completed. Skippers wishing to participate in the Retour à La Base will have until 31 August to validate their entry ticket. Already set to feature over 30 skippers, Lorient's new offshore race meet promises to gather together an exceptional line-up. Indeed, with the race being a welcome alternative to delivering the IMOCAs home or having them shipped back to Europe after the Transat Jacques Vabre, it comes with the added appeal of being part of a fair-trade programme thanks to a scheme to transport goods to the other side of the Atlantic under sail.

Totally in keeping with the values of IMOCA and its racers, the Retour à La Base features two other key benefits: serving as a qualifier for the Vendée Globe 2024 whilst making the skipper-boat pairing more reliable, as well as counting towards a mile-based selection tally to validate its participation in the next 'Everest of the Seas'.

The only singlehanded event on the 2023 schedule and the last opportunity to qualify for those sailors who failed to do so in 2022*, this new singlehanded transatlantic race is a real godsend for the skippers of new boats, or those who only have a few miles to their credit and are keen to make up their 'mileage deficit'. It will also attract the vast majority of the circuit's familiar faces, keen to make the most of any opportunity to clash swords and flesh out their track record.

"We've worked with Class IMOCA to create a race that fulfils their needs, explains Jean-Philippe Cau, President of Lorient Grand Large, the association responsible for managing the Breton port devoted to offshore racing and the event's organising authority. With Lorient Agglomération being keen to make more of a niche for itself as a unique and unmissable offshore racing hub, the idea of a transatlantic race quickly won favour.

"Positioned as a 'Transat Jacques Vabre return sprint' finishing in Lorient, the annual base for a number of the skippers, it made even more sense."

Large audience at the finish, both on land and at sea

Also keen to attract a wider public and transform the La Base site into a spectacular event hub in the Lorient region, the race truly fulfils the brief by sharing and seeking out this connection between land and sea. As such, from early December, the public will be invited to explore the very special playing field of Sailing Valley, at the heart of a unique ecosystem, with the opportunity to admire the skippers in action and take part in a wealth of activities.

"We aim to adorn the whole site in the race's colours so the local inhabitants and the surrounding authorities can soak up the atmosphere of the event, reports Pauline Le Goulven, Lorient Grand Large's coordination manager. Several plans have already been validated, whilst others are still under consideration, according to the final operating budget to which we have access."

Part funded by the Agglomeration, the Morbihan department and the Breton region, the organiser is still in search of private funding, with a place as Title Partner notably still available. "We are in talks with various structures and we already have support from a variety of sources, but we haven't yet balanced our optimal budget," she continues.

With exciting festivities and some fantastic headline acts, the Retour à La Base unquestionably has what it takes to quickly attract fresh support.

* NB: To qualify for the Vendée Globe 2024, each skipper-boat pairing must have taken the start of a minimum of two singlehanded races (including one before 2024 and one in 2024) and have completed at least one of these two races with a ranking inside the allotted time.

The races concerned are:

  • 2022: Vendée Arctique les Sables d'Olonne and Route du Rhum - Destination Guadeloupe
  • 2023: Retour à la Base
  • 2024: The Transat CIC and New-York - Vendée - Les Sables

In 2023, the Retour à la Base will be one and only race enabling the completion of the first phase of qualification for the Vendée Globe

Further info about the process for participating in the Vendée Globe 2024 is at www.vendeeglobe.org

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