Transat Québec Saint-Malo

Transat Québec Saint-Malo: a legendary race returns

After the cancellation of the 2020 edition because of Covid, the Transat Québec Saint-Malo (TQSM) is back this year to celebrate its 40th anniversary. Since its first edition in 1984, the race, which takes place every four years, has seen some of the biggest names in sailing triumph, from Loïc Caradec, winner in 1984 on Royale, to Halvard Mabire, double winner in Class40 (2008 and 2012), via Titouan Lamazou (1988), Laurent Bourgnon (1992), Loïck Peyron (1996) and Franck Cammas (2000).

Team-mate of Mike Birch in 1984 and winner eight years later at the helm of Fujicolor II, Loïck Peyron considers the race to be “one of the finest crewed events”, while Karine Fauconnier, a two-time winner, in 2004 as skipper of the Orma Sergio Tacchini, then in 2016 alongside Lalou Roucayrol on the Arkema Multi50, agrees: “The welcome in Quebec and Saint-Malo is extraordinary. And the whole stretch on the Saint Lawrence is incredibly beautiful.”

The Transat Québec Saint-Malo is “three races in one”, sums up its director, Richard Samson: the trip down the Saint Lawrence, the crossing of the North Atlantic and the finish in Europe. As Karine Fauconnier confirms: “On the Saint Lawrence, it’s quite technical, with currents, tides and whales. As soon as you leave it, you go from summer to winter, into a world of mist and cold. And at the end, it often happens that your pursuers come back from behind, so we switch into tactical mode.” For Loïck Peyron, who has held the record since 1996 (7 days, 20 hours and 24 minutes), this transatlantic race is a sprint, a short and dense race, you have to preserve the machine, but not too much.”

For this 10th edition, “around sixty boats are expected to take part, a record number, with a strong French presence”, announces Richard Samson. Among this fleet, the Class40s now represent “the star class”, continues the organiser, who estimates around thirty of them on the start line on 30 June. The skippers entered include Vincent Riou (Pierreval-Goodplanet Foundattion), the Italian Alberto Bona (IBSA), the Belgian Jonas Gerckens (Volvo Curium), Amélie Grassi (La Boulangère Bio), Nicolas d’Estais (Café Joyeux), Aurélien Ducroz (Crosscall), Axel Tréhin (Project Rescue Ocean) or Ian Lipinski, for what will be his last race on n°158 Crédit Mutuel, the first scow to be launched, in the summer of 2019 – the skipper will then have a new boat at his disposal.

The Open Multi category will feature Loïc Escoffier (Lodigroup), winner of the 2022 Route du Rhum in the Rhum Multi class, and Yann Mariley (No Limit). They will cover almost 1,000 miles more than the rest of the fleet before Saint-Pierre-et-Miquelon to ensure that all the boats finish quite in the same time in Brittany. In tribute to Canadians Mike Birch (five participations to date) and Gerry Roufs, two categories will bear their names, the first made up of vintage multihulls (five to six crews expected), the second of monohulls from 45 to 70 feet (around ten in all).

To celebrate its 40th anniversary, the TQSM will be celebrating the cultural links between France and Quebec, with a programme called Horizon Saint-Laurent in the start (20-30 June) and finish (9-17 July) villages. “The programme will highlight the history of the transatlantic race and Quebec’s rich maritime heritageexplains Richard Samson. A large delegation from Quebec will also be in Saint-Malo, including the First Nations of Quebec, who for a long time sailed the St. Lawrence River in canoes – it was their highway!”

On both sides of the Atlantic, a “cinema of the sea” will be showing films on ocean racing, while several Quebecois music groups will be performing in the corsair city. “At the height of summer, we’re expecting thousands of visitors in Québec and Saint-Malo, so we’re delighted to be back,” smiles the race director.

Photo : Marie-France L’Ecuyer

Content provided by   Transat Québec Saint Malo 

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