The Artemis TRANSAT

On Sunday, Peggy and I sailed (and motored a fair bit) out of Plymouth with the fleet to watch the start of the Artemis Transat.  

The wind was light, the sea was calm and the sun shone. Perfect for the watchers – not so good for sailors in a hurry.

We stayed back, sailing gently to and fro a mile or so out from Penlee Point at the western end of Plymouth Sound. As we weren’t going anywhere, it was a chance to try the smaller/taller jib (as opposed to the shorter/wider jib) in light conditions – (good result).

Most of the watching boats seem to get in close but I reckoned if we stood back we would see more of the spectacle and not get caught up in the start, dropping back through a fleet that would be moving much faster than us.


 We had been rewarded by one or two of the IMOCO 60s coming over in our direction as they prepared for the start. This was Cervin EnR – Yannick Bestaven


 BritAir – Armel Le Cleac’h, tacked early, presumably to avoid the heavy boat wash that the main fleet were experiencing. Despite little wind, these powerful yachts sped gracefully across the water.


This is the race that started in 1960 with Hasler and Chichester. It’s a perfect example, of which there are many in modern sport, of how the “higher, faster, stronger” ethic eventually changes the original premise of the competition so that it becomes a completely different event.

One man/woman and his/her boat is no longer an option – it is now sponsorship and shore teams and pre-race villages and television and online race viewers and much tactical analysis. I am currently following the competitors as they make their way across my screen. I can see the weather they are experiencing and read their reports from a few hours ago. I can even watch them on videos and listen to those reports as they are made. I admire the sailors for their skill, their courage, their persistence.  I am fascinated, of course, and completely hooked.

However, this is not single-handed sailing in the sense I have always understood it. For that, I look towards the Jester Challenge and the Azores race at the end of the month.