Panerai Transat Classique 2012

The Atlantic fleet of the Panerai Transat Classique 2012 will soon be leaving Douarnenez and setting a course for Cascais, Portugal. So it’s high time to find out about the boats, the sailors and all the important details of the race! The crews are ready and motivated, the first leg is almost underway, and the excitement is mounting. Who will be the first to cross the finishing line and lift the Transat Classique cup?


winner of the Panerai Transat Classique 2012. Discover who will be the conqueror of this exceptional event around Christmas.

Transat Classique. The 2012 race is sponsored by the Italian watchmaker Panerai. Fleets from Douarnenez and Saint-Tropez will rally in Cascais, Portugal, to prepare for the ultimate leg across the Atlantic Ocean to Barbados in the West Indies.

yachts were built by the Dutch yard Maas. Cipango and Laetitia II belong to the Taillefer series which was developed in the 1960s by Frans Maas and imported into France by Lucien Vaneck. Persephone is a Dick Carter “Tina” of which only 35 were built.

vessels were built by Abeking & Rasmussen. Two of them were also designed at their respected Bremen yard in Germany. Samarkand was born on the drawing board of Olin Stephens in 1958 for Thomas J. Watson Jr., the then boss of IBM. The 15-metre beauty La Gaillarde came off the yard’s slip in 1939. After a spell in the USSR she was bought by “Tonton Hervé”, the celebrated head of the La Rochelle yard which bears his name. The third is Sea Lion, a 21 metre yawl built in 1953.

is the number of foreign flags taking up the challenge. Italy is represented by Emeraude, a two-times champion of the Panerai Classic Yachts Challenge; Samarkand flies the colours of Germany; the British ensign flutters on the stern of The Blue Peter; while Portugal is contributing two competitors: Pirata Azul and Sea Lion.

boats were designed by one of the all-time greats of naval architecture, Olin Stephens, who passed away in 2008 at the ripe old age of 100. The American made his name in the 1930s with Dorade which he sailed to transatlantic victory with his brother Rod. There followed several America’s Cup winners. Stephens designs taking part in the Panerai Transat Classique 2012 are Amazon, Samarkand, Chamade and two yachts built by the Nautor’s Swan yard: Gweneven and Lianda. And let’s not forget that Stiren, the winner of the first Transat Classique, was also designed by Olin Stephens.

is the length overall in metres of the fleet’s smallest yacht, Pirata Azul. Lovingly crafted in the Albin yard in Sweden, Pirata Azul is a “Ballad” designed by the Swede Rolf Magnussen. She will be racing under the Portuguese flag, which means she has already done the first leg… but in the opposite direction, sailing from Portugal to Douarnenez.

yachts from the Atlantic and Mediterranean seaboards have signed up for the race. In two weeks the first leg gets underway, from Douarnenez to Cascais.

is the length overall in metres of the fleet’s largest yacht, Germania Nova. This superb schooner is the 2011 replica of the Krupp’s family yacht, Germania. Max Oerst designed her in 1908 to carry up to 2,300 square metres of canvas. A truly magnificent spread of sail.

crew members will be taking part in the various legs. For the last few months they have been thinking of nothing else but the race, taking great care to prepare not only the vessels but also themselves. Many of them have followed an ISAF training course. This compulsory procedure ensures the crews comply with the strict safety regulations that apply to ocean racing.

was the year Moonbeam IV, the doyen of the fleet, was launched. Built for the son of Queen Victoria’s personal doctor, this elegant gaff cutter has won numerous regattas including the famous King’s Cup in 1920 and 1923. Prince Rainier of Monaco bought her in the 1950s and took his young wife, the Hollywood star Grace Kelly, for cruises on her. For several years Moonbeam IV has been a regular competitor on the Mediterranean circuit and, in particular, the Panerai Classic Yachts Challenge.

was the year Eric Tabarly sailed Pen Duick II to victory in the second single-handed transatlantic race. This magnificent yacht was designed and built by Gilles Costantini of La Trinité-sur-Mer and was one of the first yachts to be made specifically for single-handed transatlantic racing. When he sailed that black ketch across the finishing all those years ago, Eric Tabarly created a yachting legend that would become known the world over. Pen Duick II took part in last year’s Atlantic Trophée which ran from Douarnenez to Horta on Faial Island in the Azores. The race was organized by the Atlantic Yacht Club and Comet.

nautical miles is the distance from Douarnenez and Saint-Tropez to Barbados, via Cascais. In fact the vessels setting out from Brittany will sail slightly less than those coming from the Mediterranean, 3,900 and 4,300 miles respectively.

miles is the total distance the Gran Schpountz topsail schooner Marie des Isles will have run by the end of the Panerai Transat Classique 2012. Why? Because this Daniel Z. Bombigher design will be sailing the course twice! Based in Martinique, she first has to cross the Atlantic just to get to the starting line…

bronze bolts fasten Moonbeam IV’s planking to her frames. This graceful cutter, designed by the Scottish architect William Fife III, has been modified several times during the course of her career. She recently underwent a major rebuild in 2003–2006. The purpose of the works, carried out in Myanmar (formerly Burma), was to return her to her original design. Her current owner and captain, Mikael Créac’h, intends to maintain her in the spirit of those who built her, without comprising safety.

is the distance sailed by Pierre Follenfant, a crewman on the Tina-series Persephone. An exceptional mariner, Pierre has immense experience in offshore racing and a list of trophies as long as Persephone’s forestay! A regular competitor in the Figaro (known as the Aurore in his day), Pierre’s initial successes were aboard the big catamaran Charente Maritime with sailing partner Jean-François Fountaine. Together they won La Rochelle–New Orleans, La Baule–Dakar, Transat en double, and Lorient–Bermuda–Lorient. He has taken part in the Route du Rhum several times, has made three attempts at breaking the Atlantic crossing record and sailed in the first Vendée Globe. With a sailor of his calibre aboard, Persephone has got to be a serious contender for the title.

∞ (infinite)
pleasure for all the participants as they sail the rolling Atlantic swell, enjoy the spiritual solitude of the night watches and pit themselves against the powerful elements of the open sea. Infinite, too, are the happy memories shared by the crews and their competitors, as they exchange advice and stories about their passion for sailing. And infinite will be the joy in seeing the coast of Barbados rise above the horizon after many days at sea. Infinite…

Key dates of the Panerai Transat Classique 2012:
22 July: Atlantic fleet leaves the French port of Douarnenez for Cascais in Portugal.
25 October: Mediterranean fleet leaves the French port of Saint-Tropez for Cascais in Portugal.
2 December: Both fleets leave Cascais for the Caribbean island of Barbados.

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