Transquadra: between a drop in participation and a return to basics

The first leg of the Transquadra Madeira Martinique sets off from Marseilles on 3 July for the Mediterranean fleet, and from La Turballe on 7 July for the Atlantic fleet. This eleventh edition brings together 49 boats – some in the new cruiser category – and 84 sailors (70% of whom are rookies), representing a marked drop in participation compared with previous editions. Tip & Shaft talks to Mico Bolo, the event organiser, and some of the participants. 

“Since 1993, the Transquadra hasn’t changed, the spirit remains festive and friendly and it’s still aimed at sailors over 40, non-professionals, single-handed or double-handed“, begins Mico Bolo, who founded the event with friends from the Club Nautique Hoëdicais. But while there were 87 boats in 2014, 81 in 2017 and 75 in 2021, the number has fallen to 49 this year. What are the reasons for this? Mico Bolo answers, The Cap Martinique, which generally has the same boats racing the same course, albeit with just one leg, has been a bit of a disadvantage for us. But we’re not worried, it’s just a temporary situation! As the Cap Martinique is held every two years and the Transquadra every three, I think the situation will be back to normal for the 2027 edition.”

While 44 boats will set off on 7 July from La Turballe – hosting the event for the first time – only 5 will leave Marseille four days earlier. “It’s not many,” laments the organiser, “and it’s rather strange, given that we had up to 30 boats in the Mediterranean when we set off from Barcelona. So we don’t really understand why there’s a lack of interest in the Mediterranean these days.”

While the Transquadra “has given birth to a whole series of planning boats”, according to Mico Bolo, the organiser has decided to split the fleet in two, to avoid a race for weapons and budgets, with a performance classification for JPK, Sun Fast and Pogo type yachts, and a second classification for the heavier racing-cruising yachts. “It’s also a way of getting back to basics by targeting the boats that were competing in the first editions of the race.” 

Back to basics
with the cruiser classification 

For Ann-Pascale Roelandts, this new initiative was the “trigger” to take the plunge. “I thought the initiative was great, it’s a return to basics that allows people with smaller budgets to take part. In the performance category, the boats are hyper-optimised, it’s all about performance at all costs, and that really didn’t appeal to me”, explains the woman who will be sailing on the First 31.7 La Fauvette and will be only… the third woman to take part in the Transquadra! For her, this will be a solo adventure, but also a family one, as her husband, Pascal Pic, is racing double-handed with Philippe Berquin on their family boat, the Gib Sea 414 Vega Prima.

To distinguish cruising boats from performance boats, the organisation takes into account the DLR (displacement/length ratio)“In the IRC measurement certificate, this is the ratio between the boat’s length at the waterline and its displacement, and therefore its ability to glide,” explains Mico Bolo. “All boats weighing less than 4.5 tonnes and with a DLR of less than 180 are listed in the performance category. In addition to these objective values, there is a more subjective judgement that takes into account the boat’s interior layout.”

With only three double-handed entries and four single-handed entries in this new cruiser ranking, Ann-Pascale Roelandts deplores the fact that there are “not many of them”, a regret shared by Mico Bolo. However, he adds: “The announcement, made barely a year ago, was late. But this is the beginning of the formula and I have no doubt that it will develop. For the Course des Îles, organised at the end of May by the Club nautique hoëdicais, there were 50% cruisers, compared with 20% last year.”

A format adapted
to professional life

This year’s Transquadra includes 70% rookies, such as Pierre-Yves Fouché and Luc de Camas, competing on their JPK 10.10 Moïse, on which they have been racing for three years. “We were looking for adventure and a fairly lofty goal,” explains Luc de Camas. “We trained for this with Orlabay, the training centre in La Trinité-sur-Mer and we’re lucky to have Louis Duc (Imoca skipper) as the boat’s godfather, who helps us a lot.” They were also convinced by the format of the race, which, with its two legs, “is compatible with our work – we’re both company directors – and our family life.” 

The formula is also appreciated by Alexandre Ozon, winner of the last two editions on his Bepox 990 Team 2 Choc, who finds the race “well suited” to his professional calendar. As for his goals, the sailor from La Rochelle adds: “If the first one is to finish, especially as I had to abandon the Cap Martinique this year after damage to the masthead, I’m definitely going back there to fight for a podium finish.”

The organisation of this event relies on a budget of 800,000 euros, largely covered by the entry fees – 3,500 euros for single-handed entries, 4,000 for double-handed – with the remainder coming from a number of small private sponsors, as well as logistical support from the local authorities, with berths offered in Madeira and La Turballe in particular.

As far as the participants are concerned, “the budget is substantial, stresses Luc de Camas. “Between the entry fees, insurance, preparation of the boat, safety, electronics and the dry docking in Madeira, it’s around 75,000 euros”. Ann-Pascale de Roelandts confirms: “Even if I have to have the smallest budget in the fleet – around 85,000 euros, including the purchase of the boat for 40,000 – that’s more than I had planned. And yet, I’ve done all the refit myself and I plan to bring the boat back by sea.” Alexandre Ozon, who will not be able to make the return trip for professional reasons, points out that the return cargo trip “has gone up quite a bit in three years” and costs him 13,000 euros.

The boats are due to arrive in Madeira in mid-July, before a second leg to Martinique at the end of January.

Photo: Alain Roupie

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