The Transat Jacques Vabre oceanic regatta
A travel that allows you to connect with nature, an itinerary that follows the oceanic routes of coffee, a challenge for the best sailors in the world; the Transat Jacques Vabre is more than a simple regatta. This is an epic competition full of pathos across the Atlantic Ocean, a 4.250 nautical miles journey from Le Havre to Fort-de-France (Martinique) – not only the longest Transat, but also one of the most challenging regattas in the world.
Starting from the 29th of October, this majestic competition made its own debut thirty years ago, and this year marks its 16th edition. A biennial legendary regatta that always takes place in odd years. The itinerary connects Northern France to the New World following the ancient route of coffee across the Atlantic Ocean. The concept of this regatta is to retrace the historical Route du Café: the itinerary was conceived in 1993 by following the wave that used to guide those rich sailing ships that brought both Arabica and Robusta coffee beans from Brazil to France. This is the reason why the Transat Jacques Vabre not only is a sports competition, but also a mix of tastes, smells, stories, and amazing landscapes.
In the last thirty years, 534 sailors have faced the challenging waves of the Transat Jacques Vabre. In the beginnings, this used to be a regatta for lone sailors – the first winner was Paul Vitine -, yet since 1995 it has become a competition in a pair. This year more than a hundred ships will compete in the categories of IMOCA, Ocean Fifty, and Class 40. “Alla Grande – Pirelli” belongs to the last one, with Ambrogio Beccaria facing an exciting new challenge.
Once again, the organisation has chosen Normandy as the starting point, followed by a mandatory stop at Cape Verde Islands, and eventually the finish line in Martinique, the country of origin of coffee in America that will await sailors in the half of November.
Le Havre will witness again the start of the competition, in a cloudy scenario that seldom let the sunshine come out and show the light-blue sky. With both its three coastal departments and its widening onto the sea, Normandy is the perfect place to host nautical sports – not to mention its previous experience in organising great events. The Bay de Sein, where the homonymous river flows into the sea, is situated in the English Channel: an ideal scenario for the start of the regatta, as well as a traditional and mild navigation.
Once the ships leave those waters behind, after turning the first buoy they will sail to the Atlantic Ocean, where things get serious with the difficulty coefficient increases mile by mile. Only then the Transat Jacques Vabre will open its curtain on the stage – this regatta not only will challenge sailors' technical skills, but also their own heart, head, and spirit.
The waters that will hug the competitors during the Transat Jacques Vabre are a never-ending mystery. The Atlantic Ocean is both brightness and unpredictability – a kaleidoscope of shapes, from crystal turquoise to cobalt blue, those waters became acquainted with loads of stories that tell of adventure, brave, and commitment. Each sailor knows that they must give their best to both control and exploit the power of winds – and make them an omnipresent fellow that sometimes may be either auspicious or gusting. This is a constant dance between man and nature scanned by these invisible powers. The Transat is going to be a crucial appointment to Ambrogio Beccaria – who will sail with Nicolas Andrieu, a 36-year-old Frenchman born in Paris and raised at La Rochelle – that is fresh from the 40' Malouine LAMOTTE (21st – 24th September): a regatta that Beccaria chose to test the last adjustment that “Alla Grande – Pirelli” has undergone recently.
During the Transat Jacques Vabre, Ambrogio and Nicolas will face the elements of nature – a journey across a wild and majestic realm that will put them to the test. More than in the 40' Malouine LAMOTTE, as the Transat Jacques Vabre is very demanding, they will need all the experiences they developed in the last months together. In particular, the Rolex Fastnet Race – a different story as it took place in different waters – embodied a hard challenge to “Alla Grande – Pirelli” due to hostile weather conditions in the first part of the regatta.
The Atlantic Ocean will be a different challenge. Another waters, another conditions, another story, but the previous experience will be always by his side. The destination is 4.250 miles away. The aim is Martinique, also known not only for its sugar cane and rhum cultivations, but also for being the cradle of coffee in the Americas: a strong bond between land and coffee since the 18th century, when three types of precious Arabic plants arrived on the island to be cultivated there before getting to South America.
Fort-de-France Bay, one of the most beautiful places in the world for its colours, landscapes, and biodiversity, will show its natural wonders to the incoming sailors. In addition, it will also host both the final stretch of the regattas – shared by each category – and the award ceremony before the sailing enthusiasts.