In the stormy waters of the Transat CIC, the mother of Atlantic regattas | Pirelli

In the stormy waters of the Transat CIC, the mother of Atlantic regattas


In the world of ocean sailing, few challenges are as fascinating as a solo race from Europe to the United States, a transatlantic crossing through a maze of unpredictable winds, rough seas and treacherous currents. The Transat CIC is the mother of all Atlantic races, a legendary race that takes place every four years between the two shores of the western world. It starts in Lorient - one of the great hubs of ocean sailing in France - and finishes in New York, in an epic test of endurance and technique along three thousand five hundred nautical miles in the middle of the ocean.

For the 15th edition, the starting date is set for Sunday 28 April: a particularly eagerly awaited moment since the previous edition, that of 2020, was skipped due to the pandemic. Ambrogio Beccaria will also be there, on board his 'Alla Grande Pirelli', ready to take centre stage in the Class40 category. "I am very excited to take part in The Transat CIC, because it is a historical regatta linked to the dawn of ocean sailing, and therefore in a way a regatta that should be respected," says the Milanese sailor. "It has always been considered the toughest of crossings: first of all because it is solo, but also because you don't sail in the trade winds. For me from this point of view it is a new regatta and very different from the ones I am used to doing. I know that the winning course will be very far north, we will try to sail as little as possible, we will pass over the Azores anticyclone. The weather will be much harsher, compared to the other transatlantic I have done, the wind more unstable and the waves... high. I can't wait to see what this North Atlantic looks like. I'm very keen to explore new routes: the idea of getting close to the edge of the ice with "Alla Grande Pirelli", reaching the Newfoundland shoals, and then arriving in New York is a great challenge in itself".

What is certain is that it will not be a smooth sail across the North Atlantic - the most northerly of the regattas starting in France. Firstly, it will not be easy because the Transat CIC takes sailors against the prevailing currents and winds. There are few certainties and there are no waypoints in the route, so each skipper plots the course as he or she sees fit, adding a number of variables that are difficult for anyone to weigh up.

In April, the waters of the North Atlantic can be unpredictable, changeable, with high and irregular waves. And the sky more often than not does not cooperate. Sailors must be prepared for frigid temperatures and adverse weather conditions all along the way.

It starts in Lorient, and will also start from there in the 2028 edition, but historically the starting city has always been Plymouth, in the United Kingdom, to which the name 'Transat Anglaise' (English Transat) is given. While the finish has been moved several times, from Newport to Boston to the current New York.

The Transat CIC is the direct successor of the legendary Ostar that was conceived in 1959 by British Colonel Blondie Hasler and was initially sponsored by the British newspaper The Observer - hence the acronym (Ostar, Observer Single-handed Trans-Atlantic Race). Then for sponsorship reasons it changed several names: it became Carlsberg Star in 1988, Europe 1 Star in 1992, then Europe 1 New Man Star in 2000, then 1 Star and today it is simply known as The Transat. At the beginning of the 2000s, the Royal Western Yacht Club, which organises the race, decided to split the event into two separate events: a professional edition, the Transat, with arrival in Boston; a classic edition event in 2005 called the Faraday Mill Ostar following a change of sponsor.

The first edition was won by Sir Francis Chichester on “Gipsy Moth III”, who completed the course in forty days and twelve hours. With time and the extraordinary performances of some sailors, the Transat has gone down in history as one of the most exciting in the world of sailing, a race with mythopoetic power that has linked its name to some of the legends of the sport, from Sir Francis Chichester to Philippe Poupon, from Michel Desjoyeaux to Loïck Peyron, from Francis Joyon to François Gabart and Giovanni Soldini. Above all, it is the race that has consecrated many French sailors: Éric Tabarly, for example, in 1964 - when he was still a young naval officer - completed the race in just twenty-seven days aboard “Pen Duick II”, a thirteen-metre ketch that he had built for the occasion.

Once again the competition will be open to different classes of boat, with a total of forty-eight competitors competing: thirty-three Imoca, thirteen Class40 and then two Vintage Sailboats. For the sailors, engaged in the open sea, technical stops will be authorised in agreement with the race direction and there will be very few possible stopping places along the route. As mentioned, there will be no waypoints, but there will be some cetacean protection zones. "My main expectation from this The Transat CIC is to confirm that I am very comfortable on board alone, which has usually been one of my strong points. By the way, apart from the Route du Rhum which I tackled with a completely new boat, it's been a long time since I've sailed solo... and I'm looking forward to it. It will certainly be a tough regatta for me, the worst I have ever done solo," says Ambrogio Beccaria again.