Scent of the ocean and coffee: the Transat J. V.

The smell of the ocean, of the salt and the wind blowing through your hair; the scent of coffee and adventure, ever recalling the historic maritime trade route.

Text: ©Elena Giolai/SLAM

Photo credits: Lorenzo Sironi, Gauthier Lebec, Vincent Olivaud, Martin Viezzer


“The sea, once it casts its spell, holds one in its net of wonder forever”

The smell of the ocean, of the salt and the wind blowing through your hair; the scent of coffee and adventure, ever recalling the historic maritime trade route. All of this is at the heart of the only transoceanic crossing to touch both hemispheres, four hands on deck, four classes: the IMOCA, the CLASS 40, the Ocean Fifty and the ULTIM trimarans; at 4,250 miles(7,000 for the Ultim), this is the longest Transat there is. In a word, the "Transat Jacques Vabre" or the "Route de café", an achievement carried out every two years since 1993, in which coffee mingles with the open air of the Atlantic Ocean. Setting sail from le Havre in Normandy, the Transat will reach Caribbean Martinique, where Creole music enchants feet, legs, arms and body to move to the rhythm of its drums.

SLAM will be crossing the Ocean six times, worn aboard six teams, including three CLASS 40s, two IMOCAs and an Ocean Fifty: Alberto Riva, Alex Tréhin, Erwan Le Draoulec, Sebastien Simon, Arnaud Boissieres, Luke Berry will be the skipper ambassadors, with whom SLAM is proud to cross the Atlantic, supporting the ambitious goals of all sailors taking part, who will finally set sail after years spent planning, working and experimenting.

Wind, salt, rain and sea water will always be the first challenge to tackle, especially in terms of their violent and damaging effects on technical garments. First to take the brunt of it all will be the sailors’ oilskins, which we have designed to defend sailors from the harshest of elements

Departure and arrival locations

Le Havre, Normandy-France: a starting point overlooking the English Channel, its city centre is a Unesco World Heritage Site. The location encapsulates in its name its tradition, history and DNA: in Norman it means 'port' with all its sea stories brimming with centuries of life, transport and trade, including cotton, spices, exotic woods and, of course, coffee.

Our skin, however, requires warmth when in close contact with garments and it is for this reason that we must ensure those garments provide the highest standards of comfort, even when the weather and sea conditions are the doing their worst.

At 1:10 pm on 29th October, ULTIM trimarans will set sail, followed by the classes Ocean Fifty, IMOCA, and CLASS 40, one after the other, every 10 minutes; all 95 participants will chart their courses for that "Route de Café", which connects the first French port for coffee trade with the lush lands producing that very same black gold, a route that will take the skippers across the Bay of Biscay, towards the equator and the equatorial calm (low-wind phenomena referred to as "Doldrum" by the English and "Pot au Noir" by the French); after the island of Sal (Cape Verde archipelago), each class will follow a different route in order to arrive at the same time in Forte de France, Martinique (around 12th November). The faster ULTIM class catamarans will sail 7000 miles: they will leave St. Peter Paul Island to port, before heading towards a buoy located north of Ascension Island, in the middle of the Atlantic, and then reach Martinique, thanks to the trade winds of the southern hemisphere, crossing the equator and the Doldrums for the second time. A challenge within a challenge.

Fort de France, the capital of Martinique, thusly renamed by Napoleon Bonaparte after the previous names 'Cul de Sac du Fort Royal' and 'Fort Royal' is the best equipped port in the Antilles, a strategic point of great importance between the two Americas and the largest city in the French Antilles. The most authentic part of the city can be experienced by visiting the four bustling main markets: Grand Marchè, Marché aux Épices, Mearché aux Legumes and the Marché aux Poissons.

The Teams wearing SLAM

Alberto Riva (ITA), CLASS 40, Acrobatica

Alberto's challenge is Ligurian, specifically Genoese, as are the roots of the SLAM brand: to build his new Imoca 40 he chose a yard situated in Genoa, with young local designers, and even his main sponsor, after whom the 'Acrobatica' boat is named, is from the historic Ligurian capital. And, of course, the launch could only have been organised at the Italian Yacht Club, in its Genoa headquarters! Alberto qualified for the Transat Jacques Vabre after completing 1,000 miles as required by the regulations, 120 of which were sailed upwind, fighting against at least 20 knots.

Erwan Le Draoulec, CLASS 40, Everial Sailing Team

Winner of the Fastnet 2023 event in the CLASS 40 with a notably young crew on board, Erwan even beat the race record by 5 minutes and 23 seconds, breaking the 2021 record with a total time of 3 days, 10 hours, 22 minutes and 2 seconds. In 2022, he had won the Mini Transat with the same Pogo S4.

Axel Tréhin, CLASS 40, Project Rescue Ocean

In 2013 and again in 2015 (in which he came 4th , Axel managed to take part in the Mini Transat after restoring a half-destroyed boat, which he single-handedly brought back to life. Second in the 2019 Mini Transat and the 2021 Les Sables Horta, he finished 12th in the previous edition of the Transat Jacques Vabre.

In addition to his sporting exploits, Axel is respected for his civic commitment: since 2019 with Project Rescue Ocean, after which the boat is named, he has been engaged in the fight against illegal waste disposal: an issue of environmental protection and respect to which SLAM is particularly sensitive and on which the company has defined a programme of impactful initiatives aimed at helping develop the social responsibility needed to guarantee a future for the planet and our children.

Sebastien Simon, IMOCA, Groupe Dubreuil Sailing Team

A French sailor who went from the Figaro (having won in 2018) to the Vendée Globe (then withdrawing due to boat damage), and from the Ocean Race (GUYOT environnement - Team Europe) to his first Transat Jacque Vabre, which he will tackle with the same IMOCA 11th hour, winner of the last Ocean Race. He loves extreme challenges over long distances, so much so that he has even become an 'iron man' athlete!

Arnaud Boissieres, IMOCA, La Mie Caline

By now a veteran of ocean crossings and World Tours, Arnaud Boissieres, called Cali, has so far participated in four Vendee Globe and almost 30 transatlantic regattas including the Mini, the Transat AGR2 and the Transat Jaques Vabre. He is a French sailor who has become synonymous with ocean sailing, a true legend SLAM supports with great pride. In 2009 he achieved his best result at the Transat Jacques Vabre with a seventh-place finish. The desire for ocean racing started as a child, when he was ill with leukaemia and his father took him to Les Sables d'Olonne to watch the start of the first Vendée Globe.
From there, the overwhelming desire to sail was born with the firm conviction that sailing and ocean racing would become his life.

Luke Berry, OCEAN FIFTY, Le Rire Medicin Lamotte

Winner of the Fastnet event in 2019, runner-up in the Mini Transat in 2015 and fifth place in the Transat Jacques Vabre in 2021, Luke, in addition to being a highly regarded young sailor, has also been going beyond the horizons of the vast ocean since 2021, working with the Rire Médecin Association, engaged in clown therapy in health care for children.

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