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The Rhum Line - USA newsletter


The Rhum Line

Cyclops 2022 May LEADERBOARD

McConaghy 2022 - MC63p & MC75 LEADERBOARD

Route du Rhum 2018 race start - photo © Jean-Marie Liot / Alea

Dear Recipient Name

Rhum. The French word for rum, the traditional sailors' drink, and the name of the route for the second most famous solo offshore race held every four years in-between each edition of the Vendée Globe.

Though this is not a rhumb line, which is the path with constant bearing as measured relative to true north. My, do we like to have confusing terminology in sailing...

September 2022 MPU   Marskeel 2019 600x500

Route du Rhum-La Banque Postale start - photo © Mark Lloyd /
Route du Rhum-La Banque Postale start - photo © Mark Lloyd /

The massive transatlantic single-handed yacht race takes place between Saint Malo, Brittany, France and Pointe-à-Pitre, Guadeloupe, with a multitude of competitors in a vast array of craft. This is the Route du Rhum-Destination Guadeloupe.

From its inception in 1978 it was popular and provided excitement. 38 yachts took part and the finish saw Canadian Michael Birch win by just 98 seconds over Frenchman Michel Malinovsky in a true David versus Goliath battle.

Mike Birch - photo © Jean-Pierre PREVEL / AFP
Mike Birch - photo © Jean-Pierre PREVEL / AFP

Mike Birch passed away peacefully on the night of the 25th October at the age of 90 at his home in North West France, and all those preparing for this year's Route du Rhum observed a minute's silence for the legendary sailor. The offshore racing community recognise his achievements and how these shaped the future of the race.

There are just five days to the start of the 2022 edition of the Route du Rhum-Destination Guadeloupe on 6th November, and yet again this will be a record-breaking edition. 138 solo sailors, fourteen nations represented, seven of the leviathan Ultim trimarans, 37 IMOCAs with many building up their campaigns to the Vendée Globe 2024-25, eight OCEAN 50 trimarans, an incredible 53 Class 40 monohulls, and then an assortment of 'Rhum' monohulls and multihulls make up the rest of the fleet.

Zhik 2022 Choice of Champions MPU   Barton Marine 2019 600x500

Spectacular scenes off Saint Malo as the Route du Rhum-Destination Guadeloupe gets underway in perfect conditions - photo © Alexis Courcoux
Spectacular scenes off Saint Malo as the Route du Rhum-Destination Guadeloupe gets underway in perfect conditions - photo © Alexis Courcoux

The start of this race is extraordinary as the entire fleet, regardless of size or type, set off at the same time. It's an extraordinary sight, and thousands of fans and well-wishers gather at Cap Fréhel to see the sailors off.

Thousands watch the Route du Rhum Destination Guadeloupe get underway from Cap Fréhel - photo © Yvan Zedda
Thousands watch the Route du Rhum Destination Guadeloupe get underway from Cap Fréhel - photo © Yvan Zedda

In the week building up to the start the sailors have to balance final preparations with media obligations, interviews, and book signings; even getting to their yacht can be hard as the docks are packed with race fans.

IMOCA sailor Romain Attanasio, the skipper of Fortinet-Best Western, sums it up well, "The day just before the start is the worst moment because there is a lot of stress and your soul is already in the race, but you are still here doing lots of different things.

"For me, the best moment is just after the start when you've crossed the line and you can say to yourself: 'so OK, I am a sailor and I will do my best, just sailing and head to Guadeloupe.'"

Selden 2020 - SMF - MPU   MPU E6 question mark static

IMOCA skippers must cope with the Saint-Malo - photo © Eloi Stichelbaut / polaRYSE / IMOCA
IMOCA skippers must cope with the Saint-Malo - photo © Eloi Stichelbaut / polaRYSE / IMOCA

The Race Village is huge, and the sailors are treated like rock stars, presented on stage to the watching world. In France this is headline news, and the top sailors, such as François Gabart, Armel Le Cléac'h, Thomas Coville, Charles Caudrelier, Charlie Dalin, Yannick Bestaven and Jérémie Beyou (to name but a few) are amongst the biggest sports stars in the country.

Route du Rhum-Destination Guadeloupe presentation - photo © Alexis Courcoux / RDR22
Route du Rhum-Destination Guadeloupe presentation - photo © Alexis Courcoux / RDR22

At 3,542 nautical miles this is a true offshore test. If conditions are favourable, we could see the latest generation of foiling Ultim trimarans demolish the course in previously unheard-of times. To beat the record, they're going to have to average more than 500 miles a day, but that's not even cruising speed nowadays. Don't forget Banque Populaire V still holds the outright 24-hour record at 907.9 nautical miles, set in 2009, and François Gabart on Macif holds the singlehanded 24-hour record at 850.68 miles, set in 2017. These machines fly... literally, now that they're foiling.

Race Yachts 2022 v2   Allen 2022 - TiiTAN MPU

Francis Joyon took line honours and set a new record time for the 3,542-nautical mile Route du Rhum-Destination Guadeloupe solo transatlantic race from Saint Malo in Brittany to Pointe-à-Pitre in Guadeloupe - photo © Yvan Zedda
Francis Joyon took line honours and set a new record time for the 3,542-nautical mile Route du Rhum-Destination Guadeloupe solo transatlantic race from Saint Malo in Brittany to Pointe-à-Pitre in Guadeloupe - photo © Yvan Zedda

The current Route du Rhum record is held by Francis Joyon at 7 days, 14 hours, 21 minutes and 47 seconds in the last edition of the race held in 2018, after yet another classic. The 62-year-old Joyon on his Ultim IDEC Sport glided across the finish line on a clammy Caribbean night to pip the poster boy of French sailing, François Gabart on MACIF, by just 7 minutes and 8 seconds.

At the finish, Joyon, who was competing in his eighth Route du Rhum, said: "The rum of Guadeloupe is symbolic of the Route du Rhum - what a taste! After so many attempts the taste is all the better for it.

"It was only one-and-a-half minutes before the finish that I realised I could win. Before the last gybe François was faster than me with his Code Zero (sail) and practically all the way to the finish line I had a vision of him steaming in and passing me again because he was going two or three knots quicker."

Epic battle between the two French skippers, François Gabart (MACIF) and Francis Joyon (IDEC Sport) in the Route du Rhum-Destination Guadeloupe - photo © Yvan Zedda
Epic battle between the two French skippers, François Gabart (MACIF) and Francis Joyon (IDEC Sport) in the Route du Rhum-Destination Guadeloupe - photo © Yvan Zedda

McConaghy 2022 - MC63p & MC75 MPU   Vaikobi 2021 Boots - MPU

I am particularly looking forward to the battle in the IMOCA class. There are some superb and outlandish new designs, as I wrote about in IMOCA extremes, which are as close to full-foiling as the class rules lets them be. There are a range of differing approaches taken, so seeing them go head-to-head will be revealing. Will Charal 2's radically angled rudders lift the boat fully out of the water? Will Charlie Dalin's Apivia continue to rule the roost, despite being launched in 2019 and now of a 'previous generation'? I can't wait to find out.

Charlie Dalin on Apivia - photo © Jean-Marie Liot / Alea
Charlie Dalin on Apivia - photo © Jean-Marie Liot / Alea

Here in the UK with the nights drawing in, especially now the clocks have gone back an hour, following the Route du Rhum-Destination Guadeloupe will be a highlight. Wherever you are in the world, you can follow all the news from the race, in the build-up, during the start on November 6th, and during the race itself, right on and

Let's hope this edition provides the excitement that this race is known for, and that all the sailors, amateur and professional alike, have a safe Atlantic passage.

Mark Jardine and Managing Editor

RS Sailing 2021 - MPU   Aquaventures2022-MPU

Before they set sail the IMOCA skippers must cope with the craziness of Saint-Malo
Could it be that the hardest part of the Route du Rhum-Destination Guadeloupe for the solo skippers on this 3,500-mile transatlantic classic is not the sailing - or the feared first week - but the challenge of the 10-day build-up in Saint-Malo?

Melges 24 U.S. National Championship takes center stage in Pensacola
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Colligo Marine 2022 - Seahorse MPU   Henri-Lloyd 2022 September - Sailing Sale - SW MPU
J/24 North American Championship at Severn Sailing Association, Annapolis, Maryland - Overall
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Gulf Coast team take first place at 2022 U.S. Adult Sailing Championships
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2022 Sir Thomas Lipton Challenge Cup at San Diego Yacht Club - Overall
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Upffront 2020 Foredeck Club SW MPU   J Composites 2022 - J99 MPU
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Registration open for WingFoil Racing World Cup Final Brazil
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18ft Skiff Spring Championship on Sydney Harbour - Race 3
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Rooster 2020 - Impact BA - MPU   Sea Sure 2021 - RED - MPU
Cup Spy: Swiss show new development.. Italians hit 28kts before falling over
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52 Super Series Barcelona Sailing Week - Overall
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Colligo Marine Lifelines
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Cyclops 2022 May MPU   North Sails 2021 Innovation - MPU
J/Fest Southwest Regatta 2022 at Lakewood Yacht Club
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Globe40: From Auckland to French Polynesia - Bound for Bora Bora and Tahiti
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470 World Championship at Sdot Yam Sailing Club, Israel - Overall
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Lennon Thermalite 300x250 1   Hyde Sails 2022 One Design SALE MPU
World Sailing family unites to approve historic governance reform proposal
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Honor Roll crowned J/35 North American Champions at Annapolis Yacht Club
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Cup Spy: Kiwis expected to begin on the water design testing
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Race Yachts 2022 JPK 11.80   KZRaceFurlers
A fully refitted Translated 9 has set sail for the Southern Ocean
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120 boats locked in for 2022 Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race
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2022 Rolex Middle Sea Race: Class acts on display
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Armstrong-FG-5 300x250   SOUTHERNSPARS_MAST-&-BOOMS_SW_300X250-MISSY
John Navarro Appointed Chief Operating Officer at Barton US
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Seldén CXe45 – an electric Code 0 furling system
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Historic offshore yacht marks 40th entry in the 2023 Transpac
Solomon Ka'ne's Leglus, a 1986-built Ohashi 52, is the 40th entry to next year's 52nd edition of the 2225-mile Los Angeles-Honolulu Transpac Race.

Yacht Racing Forum 2002 MPU   Doyle Sails 2020 - Built for Adventure 300x250
US Sailing releases report for crew-overboard incident
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Weymouth Speed Week 2022 - 50 years on, and one of the best ever
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2022 Rolex Middle Sea Race: Passion and Precision Perfectly Deployed
his year, charged with untangling a complex and highly changeable weather scenario, scoring the best time after IRC time correction across a fleet of 98 eligible yachts required both passion and precision.

Lloyd Stevenson - Equilibrium 300x250px 250 - 2014
Cyclops Shortlisted for DAME Design Award 2022
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INEOS Britannia launch ‘T6' LEQ12 test boat in Mallorca
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A tale of three rookies in the Route du Rhum-Destination Guadeloupe - Dalin, Mettraux and Harayda
It is hard to believe that Charlie Dalin has never raced in the Route du Rhum-Destination Guadeloupe, but it is true.

C-Tech 2021 SnuffAir 300x250   Mackay 250
New: Allen High Roller Blocks
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Golden Globe Race windvane safety and GGR 2026 open for entries
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Cup Spy: ETNZ looks for a roughing up - chases bigger waves to test the AC40
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Coast Guard Foundation MPU 2   Hella Dual Colour Floodlights - 300x250px - 4 jpg
Eric de Turckheim's Teasing Machine wins the 2022 Rolex Middle Sea Race
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Farewell and thank you Mike Birch
Legendary Canadian ocean racer Mike Birch who won the first edition of the Route du Rhum by just 98 seconds passed his final finish line when he died peacefully at the age of 90 during the night of Tuesday into Wednesday at his home in NW France.

An interview with Drew Mouacdie on the The 45th Annual Conch Cup Charity Race 2022
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Cup Spy: Recon images reveal Luna Rossa design innovations
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Italian duo sweep the 2022 Rolex World Sailor of the Year at World Sailing Awards
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Para World Sailing Championship 2022 at Hiroshima, Japan
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Selden 2020 - FOOTER

Vaikobi 2021 Boots - FOOTER

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