Start of the 2018 Route du Rhum

A typically busy Route du Rhum start. Photo: ALEXIS COURCOUX

The Route du Rhum – officially La Route du Rhum-Destination Guadeloupe – is one of the most famous offshore races in the world and has seen sailors taking on the challenge of a singlehanded race from Saint-Malo in France to Pointe-à-Pitre in Guadeloupe since its inception in 1978.

The transatlantic Ropute du Rhum 2022 course covers a total of 3542 miles, though typically the distance sailed is much higher than this as sailors try to find the most favourable weather conditions.

The Route du Rhum can also lay claim to the biggest ocean racing fleet all setting off from the same startline, with more than 100 offshore racers taking part in recent editions.

When does the Route du Rhum start?

As with many of the biggest offshore races, the Route du Rhum takes place every four years, with this four-year-cycle sitting opposite the best known offshore race, the Vendée Globe.

As such for the many IMOCA 60 skippers who take part in the race it usually represents the true start of their campaign towards the next Vendée Globe.

The Route du Rhum always takes place in early November, which means that sailors take on the autumnal Atlantic, often providing very windy weather as they boats leave France in the north Atlantic and dive south to try to pick up the favourable trade wind conditions.

The Route du Rhum 2022 will start from Saint Malo at 12:00 (GMT) on Sunday 6 November.

What boats compete in the Route du Rhum 2022?

Six classes take place in the 2022 Route du Rhum, including the four big offshore solo racing classes:

The Ultime class will usually be the first to complete the course. These giant trimarans (several of which are now fully foiling) are the stars of the show whenever they compete as the 32 metre tend to dazzle with their speed and complexity.

Although the Ultimes impress with their size, many eyes will be on the IMOCA 60 fleet. These semi-foiling monohulls are used in the Vendee Globe and, as such, are seen by many as the premier solo offshore racing fleet on the planet.

Recent years have seen impressive growth in the Class40 fleet. These smaller sisters of the IMOCA 60s may not feature any hydrofoils but the boats are just as complex to sail single handed and no less technologically advanced.

The Ocean 50 trimarans will also compete as their own fleet and these impressive 50ft multihulls can be incredibly difficult to sail alone.

Two more classes round out the six competing fleets. The Rhum Multi class allows multihulls smaller than 64ft (and which are not Multi 50s) to race in their own class.

The Rhum Mono class allows monohulls over 39ft (and which are not Class40s or IMOCA 60s) to compete in their own class.

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