The ‘Transat des Passionnes’ is the only cruising yacht race that crosses the Atlantic [other than the ARC]. Linking the Mediterranean coast (Marseille) with the Caribbean (Fort de France in Martinique), passing through Madeira, it brings together amateur cruisers on all sorts of boats. The race takes place every two years and celebrated its 9th edition in December 2007. The mood is friendly, without losing the competitive edge as the yachts cross the ‘Big Blue’.
Marseille: south of France on the 28th October, 2007: This city, situated in the Mediterranean, with the port in the center of town and the formidable Baie du Frioul, allows participants to find themselves in a beautiful setting. The breeze was there: 5 to 7 knots, with a depression on the sailors’ route.
After a beautiful parade in the old port, 16 boats launched themselves towards the open sea. Participants knew that with the wind, they would have to confront a lumpy sea, but were reassured by the fact that their friends and family could follow their progress on the Internet on www.advanced-tracking.fr, which logged positions and provided an indispensable element of security for those on land.
Soon, it was time for the arrival in Madeira (32°44’50 N ET 16°43’17 W) at the Marina Quinta Do Lorde. The stopover was joyous, with eight days spent in the marina and three days of organized festivities and outings.
In good weather, boats left Madeira on the 15th November, but on the first night, Force 7 winds made sailing difficult as far as the Canaries, with several boats suffering torn sails which necessitated repairs.
Every day from the 30th of November onwards, Jean-Marc Rutin welcomed everyone as they arrived to the Yacht Club de Fort de France with a smile and a bottle of St. Etienne Rum.
The arrival of the first boat ‘No Limit’ was on Friday 30th November at 16h40. Skippered by Michel Beaume, with eight crew on board, of which two were women, the boat arrived in the magnificent Fort de France Bay. Next it was the turn of the first monohull, ‘Twinckle’ on the 4th December 20h25; a Dufour 44 from the Ecole des Guides de Haute Mer, Marc Linski. A succession of boats came in up to the 14th December: Maxandre, La Croix du Sud, Bernik.
On the 14th December, there was a good closing ceremony at the Yacht Club de Fort de France where all boats were rewarded. Worthy of particular mention was the strong performance of the yacht ‘Serenade’ captained by J.F. Morel, who received the prize for the ‘most worthy boat’, seeing that five crew set out on the crossing, but only two completed the crossing: those who were ill had to disembark.
Tanned and exuding wonderful energy, organizer Rutin has put himself at the service of the Transat, and following the success of the first eight Transats, he has followed the same formula with a few innovations. He looks back nostalgically to the beginning of the Club des Passionnes which he created with his wife Annie in 1990. The club has been organizing, for the last 18 years, several Mediterranean rallies including the Transmediteranee des Passinnes and the Bordee Maltaise. Since then the Club Transcaraibes has been organizing the Transcaraibes from Cuba to Guadeloupe in March/April, and the route of the Tepuys (in July) from Martinique to Venezuela, and the Route du Carnaval in February to Trinidad.
Rutin will be passing the baton to Marie-Odile de Dreuille (an ex quad champion), and Patrick and Bernard, two experienced Atlantic crossers. “Sailing has always been a great pleasure: what also interests me is the social interaction and the intellectual challenge to participants who are all motivated by a sole passion: the sea. The organization of this race has been down to ordinary people throughout, but also down to politicians, press, sailors, industry chiefs and the boatyards,” said Rutin.
The fleet was scattered after the arrival in Fort de France, because some boats had to dock on the Cruise Ship Quay, but the dockage was not suitable for boats from 10 to 20 tons. A heavy swell meant that some boats left for other anchorages on the island.
Deserving thanks are The City of Fort de France, who supplied the Cruise Ship pier, with security, St Etienne Rhum, Carib Beer, The Martinique Tourism Office, and Radio from Arirelle Kassim from the 10th to 15th December, live from the Yacht Club.
Club Transcaraibes : 0590 84 53 10