Two years after the resounding success of the French stopover in the 2015 Volvo Ocean Race, Lorient Agglomération is bringing back the mythical transatlantic Lorient-Bermuda-Lorient race.
Organised by Lorient Grand Large, the association responsible for managing Lorient La Base, (the only port devoted to offshore racing in the world), the race departure is planned for the spring of 2019 in a crewed sprint equivalent to two transatlantic races. Open to the Ultima multihulls who have already put the event their diaries, other classes will also be welcome.
It was entirely legitimate that Lorient Agglomération would organise a race for the Ultims, the fastest wind machines on the planet, with their 32 metres of high-tech prowess and innovation. Mono and multihull yachts from other classes will also showcase the diversity and richness that is specific to offshore racing. Most of the boats were designed in the heart of the “Sailing Valley”; a region boasting 80 % of the technical and sporting skill in French offshore racing, stretching from Brest to Vannes and of which Lorient is the epicentre. Eleven of the competitors in the last Vendée Globe were berthed in Lorient and three Ultim multihulls have already set up their headquarters here.
What could be more emblematic than bringing back one of the races that marked the development of offshore racing in France, as did the Route du Rhum, to highlight all the savoir-faire and skill of the Morbihan department and Brittany, that will now enable these racing boats, packed full of leading-edge technologies and innovations, to fly over the oceans.
In 1979, the first edition of Lorient-Bermuda-Lorient was a huge popular success. It was marked by a breathtaking final battle, when Eugène Riguidel/Gilles Gahinet on VSD beat Eric Tabarly/Marc Pajot and their foiler PAUL RICARD, the ancester of our century’s flying boats. The victory was snatched in the last few miles, at the entrance to the bay of Lorient, with 5 minutes and 42 seconds to spare after more than 34 days at sea.
In 2019, the fastest boats should complete the 5 780 miles of the course in ten or so days.
The race notice will be posted next December during the Paris Boat Show. Four decades on, all the ingredients that contributed to the success of the Lorient-Bermuda-Lorient Transat will be reunited for this new edition.
LORIENT LA BASE : THE CAPITAL OF OFFSHORE RACING
Lorient La Base hosts a world-renowned offshore racing cluster comprising 12 international teams and a hundred or so skippers, including the much-titled Franck Cammas, Armel Le Cléac’h, Thomas Coville and Jean-Pierre Dick. The site welcomes prestigious races including the Volvo Ocean Race and the Solitaire du Figaro. In 2016, one third of the competitors in the Vendée Globe prepared in Lorient. It boasts a concentration of the best equipment providers and racing companies, and the race organiser, Lorient Grand Large, who manages the cluster and offers custom support to competitors. The port has been developed to berth all types of racing boats on one kilometre of pontoons. From onboard electronics to carbon masts, sail manufacturers and architects, training and outfitting - everything can be done on site.
To bolster the site’s dynamism, Lorient Agglomération has just started the work required to welcome new offshore racing teams and their ULTIM projects. The first two hangars for the Gitana and Banque Populaire teams are currently under construction. At the end of the year, construction of the Sodebo hangar will start for delivery during the summer of 2018.
“At each sailing event, the expertise available in Lorient La Base is brought to light. At each sailing event, the town’s inhabitants answer the call of the sea.
4 years after the Volvo Ocean Race stopover, the association Lorient Grand Large suggested that we bring back a mythical “double crossing” and anchor it lastingly in Lorient.
This is an opportunity for everyone to experience unique moments with the Ultim yachts and other intermediary classes, the presence of an exceptional race village on the Lorient La Base site and a festive programme of popular events.
We hope that this nautical adventure will become a feature: the Lorient Grand Large team has our full trust. It’s a great opportunity for our region, for the Lorient La Base site and for our competitors!
“Lorient-Bermuda-Lorient” will become one of our traditional races, our region will reassert its status as an international sailing cluster and showcase the know-how of the companies located here which attract a rich pool of talent.”
Norbert Métairie, president of Lorient Agglomération, mayor of Lorient
“We are building this event as we would a race: with determination, will and a good dose of humility. I know that the coming months won’t necessarily be easy, but I also know that we will meet a lot of quality professionals and volunteers. Nothing would be possible without the considerable public will of the inhabitants of Lorient and the Morbihan, who have been waiting 40 years for such an event to return - this event is for them, it is their project and it will be their success. The beating heart of the “Sailing Valley” deserves a top-notch nautical event where the best boats can compete, right where they were built and prepared and where they will offer a fantastic spectacle.”
Bernard Bocquet, president of Lorient Grand Large
“When we created the Collectif Ultim, several issues needed to be dealt with rapidly, including the race programme. We quickly contacted the organisers and the regional authorities to test their willingness to put on new events that could run alongside the “major classics” of offshore racing. Lorient and its region were the first to respond positively to this goal. The renaissance of Lorient - Bermuda - Lorient is excellent news. All the more so as it will be open to other classes. We are delighted. I hope that many people will sign up for this project supported by the town. This will be the last race before the major Round the World race that will bring the first full 4-year programme to a close and which has fully met the objectives that we fixed in December 2015 at the Nautic.”
Patricia Brochard, co-president of Sodebo and president of the Collectif Ultim
“I am thrilled that this race is back on the calendar, especially since it is crewed. This race already has a great history - I am delighted that a new page will be written. The course is very interesting with a tough outward journey and a potentially very fast return. There should be a good fight in the Atlantic.”
Armel Le Cléac'h, Banque Populaire skipper
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