The Transat Jacques Vabre Normandie Le Havre 2021: Heading for Martinique!
In 28 years of existence, the Coffee Route has explored iconic coffee lands of South and Central America such as Colombia, Brazil and Costa Rica.
For its 15th edition and on the eve of its 30th anniversary, the Transat Jacques Vabre Normandie Le Havre is giving itself new transatlantic momentum towards Martinique, for a festive and colorful arrival. For the first time in its history, the race is coming to the West Indies. This new destination will offer 3 demanding and technical courses, for all classes, respecting the sporting and historical markers of the Route du Café.
Three routes from Le Havre to Fort de France, from Normandy to Martinique
The 2021 fleet made up of Class40s, Multi 50s, Imoca and Ultimes will set off from the Paul Vatine basin in Le Havre, in Normandy, on Sunday November 7, 2021, for an unprecedented crossing and then ascent of the Atlantic, before reach the bay of Fort de France. It is not one, but three courses which were designed by Francis Le Goff, race director. He has been committed to retaining the sporting markers of the longest and most demanding transatlantic duet race. On the menu: the Bay of Biscay, the Doldrums and the equator.
This identical course for all classes in its first part, then differentiated afterwards, will allow the arrivals to be grouped together and offer the winners grandiose celebrations with the Martinican public. Completely exceptional: the finish line will be close to the port, so the public will be able to admire the boats as they cross it.
The Class40s will depart from Le Havre to reach the island of Sal, in Cape Verde. Although the competitors do not have to face the Doldrums, they will first have to contend with the winds of the Cape Verde Islands which stretch for tens of kilometers. They will face squalls that can accompany the deep trade winds, before heading east towards Martinique! Distance of 4,600 nautical miles.
The Multi 50 and Imoca will travel together. After a descent towards Brazil, the competitors will cross the Doldrums and the Equator, before winding the Fernando de Noronha Island in Brazil: a course well known to sailors who have taken part in previous Coffee Routes. They will then go up to Martinique, passing the Doldrums a second time, but much further to the west. Distance: 5,400 nautical miles
The Ultimes, back for the 2021 edition, will sail south where, after crossing the Doldrums and the Equator, they will have to reach the Trindade and Martin Vaz archipelago, off Rio de Janeiro. Once this archipelago has been bypassed, the competitors will then have to set sail for Martinique, taking advantage of the trade winds in the southern hemisphere while skirting the Brazilian coast, then cross the equator and the Doldrums a second time. Distance: 7,500 nautical miles
Find the interview with Francis Le Goff, sports director, on this link
A return to the origins of coffee
Since its creation in 1993, the Transat Jacques Vabre traces the famous maritime coffee route taken by 17th century merchant sailing ships. In 2021, head for Martinique, the original cradle of coffee production, on the other side of the Atlantic.
Arabica Typica coffee plants were imported by Captain Gabriel-Mathieu de Clieu to the island of Martinique in 1720, during an epic crossing. This rare and jealously guarded coffee came from Louis XIV’s personal plant gardens. Arabica Typica was then cultivated in Martinique from 1723 before being, a few years later, exported throughout South America and the West Indies. It was not until 1800 that coffee production was replaced by sugar cane. In 2015, after 4 years of intense research, the descendant of the original coffee tree was found! This is an Arabica coffee, of the Typica Libérica variety. From then on, nothing stands in the way of the reintroduction of an exceptional coffee growing sector in Martinique. Today, around ten Martinique producers cultivate this original coffee, with the aim of launching labeled production very soon.
The Bay of Fort-de-France, land of sailing
Sailing and regattas are real passions for Martinicans, whose hearts swing between the gum tree and the famous skiff, now listed (since December 2020) on the Register of good practices for safeguarding the intangible cultural heritage of humanity (UNESCO ).
The Bay of Fort-de-France, in the center of the island and open to the Caribbean Sea, is an ideal location. It offers natural protection and generous drafts for all sailors. The arrival of the Transat Jacques Vabre Normandie Le Havre 2021 fleet, from the South, will be via the west of the island near the Diamond Rock. The skippers will then sail to the Fort-de-France seafront, before reaching the Pointe Simon pontoons, at the foot of the Lumina Tower, where their boats can be admired by all!