The Race Around, Class40’s official round-the-world offshore yacht race, has named La Rochelle as host city for its inaugural event in 2023.
A location steeped in offshore sailing history, La Rochelle will become the home of The Race Around for the event’s start in September next year, and the return location for the 35 solo and double Class40 competitors in the early months of 2024.
In the build-up to the race, the city will also open a world class race village for skippers, teams, sponsors, management and fans alike – creating a unique 10-day celebration in the heart of one of offshore sailing’s most historic locations.
The city’s collaboration with The Race Around reinforces the La Rochelle Agglomeration and Charente Maritime Department’s commitment to further strengthening the city’s sailing presence, growing the maritime industry and hosting international sporting events with a strong focus on genuine sustainability.
Sam Holliday, Co-founder of The Race Around, said: “We couldn’t be more excited that The Race Around will be starting and finishing in La Rochelle. In the city, wider department and region we have found a community that we will be proud to call home for our first edition and beyond.
“The city is one with sailing at its heart, from the days of Isabelle Autissier to that of Vendée Globe winner Yannick Bestaven, we’re excited to add to its rich history and our world class competitors cannot wait to start and finish the race of their lives from this forward thinking, sustainability driven and innovate part of the world.
“With the building of a world class, free to enter ‘Race Village’ around the Bassin des Chalutiers we’re excited to welcome the Rochalaise people to experience first-hand the world of Class40 alongside entertainment for all ages. The city offers us everything we could dream of to build a long term event alongside our new private and institutional partners!”
Jean-François Fountaine, Mayor of La Rochelle and President of the La Rochelle Agglomeration, said: “We are very pleased to be hosting the first edition of The Race Around in 2023 in La Rochelle. Our bay and its exceptional stretch of water are wonderfully suited to this type of major yacht race. All year round, we live to the rhythm of sporting events, which positions our beautiful maritime city “La Rochelle Force Océan” as a major venue for international sailing competitions.
“As our Agglomeration is strongly committed to the environment, The Race Around will be an eco-responsible event with the objective of achieving a zero carbon footprint. This race is a great opportunity to promote and animate our region and to support our entire nautical industry.”
Sylvie Marcilly, President of the Charente-Maritime Department, said: “I am delighted that the beautiful city of La Rochelle has been chosen to host a brand new international nautical event in 2023 in Charente-Maritime.
“Events such as these reinforce the attractiveness and dynamism of our region, they also offer a formidable showcase for our nautical industry and thus contribute to its economic development and the many jobs that depend on it. The values of sport and adventure that an ocean race leaves in its wake are also a source of pride and inspiration for all the people of Charente-Maritime. For all these reasons, and because it is innovative and eco-responsible, I am delighted to welcome “The Race Around” to the Charente-Maritime next year!”
A sailing hot-spot
La Rochelle is a port of call and a starting point for ocean races and hosts more than 120 nautical events per year, covering a wide range of disciplines and events. The arrival of The Race Around in La Rochelle is fully in line with the local authorities’ desire to once again turn towards the sea and ocean racing: a new Pôle nautique Rochelais is under construction and will enable everyone from amateurs to seasoned professionals to practice the sport they love.
Since 2020, the Communauté d’Agglomération de La Rochelle, in partnership with the Atlantic Cluster (professionals in the nautical sector in the Nouvelle-Aquitaine Region), the city of La Rochelle, the Charente-Maritime department, the Charente-Maritime Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the Syndicat Mixte du Port de Chef-de-Baie, have been considering the establishment of an offshore racing base, and more specifically a permanent pontoon, which would double the current capacity of the site. This will make it possible to satisfy the increasing demand of offshore racers for pontoons whilst allowing them access to the sea at any time.
La Rochelle is also a city that has always been at the forefront of ecology and environmental preservation for over 25 years. No other city could be more in tune with The Race Around and its values.
Land of adventurers and sailors
Hosting The Race Around is part of the department’s strategy to promote the development of ocean racing and will contribute to the development of the Charente-Maritime region. It is part of a dynamic process of supporting the nautical industry and major events such as the Solitaire du Figaro, the Tour Voile and the Tour de la Charente-Maritime à la voile.
The local authority, a long-standing partner of the Charente-Maritime sailing world, also supports the Pôle France Voile in La Rochelle, which enables top-level athletes such as Charline Picon and Yannick Bestaven to fly the department’s colours. The department has also initiated the “itinerant sailing” operation, which offers schools far from the coastline the opportunity to include sailing activities in their educational projects in navigable sites far from the Charente-Maritime coastline (Montendre, Jonzac, Saintes, Saint-Jean d’Angély, Thors, Chaniers and Port d’Envaux).
Finally, with the departmental committees, the department also participates in the acquisition of nautical equipment to help sports associations.
All of these initiatives will be highlighted through The Race Around before the start, during the race and long after the finish of this round the world race.