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Transat CIC parade of sail and the race village inaugurated

by The Transat CIC 23 Apr 19:06 BST 28 April 2024
The Transat CIC © Alexis Courcoux

The 15th edition of The Transat CIC, the famous solo race from France across the North Atlantic to New York which will start this Sunday from Lorient La Base took real shape and form today with the parade of the 34 IMOCAs and 13 Class 40s out around the Groix islands before Lorient's race village was inaugurated in the beautiful early evening Spring sunshine.

It was a magnificent spectacle on the water allowing the solo racers an ideal opportunity to take sponsors, friends and family afloat in advance of Sunday's start as well as giving the passionate local sailing fraternity a chance to see the fleet up close and personal. Throughout the day many visitors flocked to the La Base oceanic and offshore sailing centre to see the fleet and the skippers. And the opening day of The Transat CIC was a key moment to introduce and acknowledge the support of the corporate and institutional partners which make this historic race possible.

A beautiful parade around the island of Groix for the IMOCAs and the Class40s

The Start Village of the 15th edition of The Transat CIC was inaugurated at 1800hrs local time. in the presence, among others, of Mireille Haby, General Director of CIC Ouest; Fabrice Loher, Mayor of Lorient and president of Lorient Agglomération; Delphine Alexandre, Vice-President of Health, Water and Distribution of the Brittany Region; Edouard Coudurier, President of the Télégramme Group and Joseph Bizard, Managing Director OC Sport Pen Duick. After the traditional ribbon cutting, all the private and institutional partners of the race will stroll through the Start Village of The Transat CIC before taking part in speeches on stage.

They said:

Mireille Haby, General Director CIC Ouest: " CIC is proud to be a partner of The Transat CIC and to meet all ocean racing enthusiasts for the opening of the village on Lorient La Base. This village perfectly reflects the values of the CIC, a mission-driven company, by highlighting its strong commitments: supporting the territories, the decarbonization of transport with a focus on sailing transport, without forgetting support for all entrepreneurs. Starting with the 48 skippers engaged in this difficult route and to whom we wish good luck! "

Fabrice Loher, Mayor of Lorient and President of Lorient Agglomération: "By welcoming the start of The Transat CIC, our objective is to associate the region with a major offshore race. It has historical legitimacy when we remember the double-handed Transat, in the 1980s, which saw the participation of great sailing figures such as Éric Tabarly, Marc Pajot, Florence Arthaud, Philippe Poupon and Bruno Peyron. and the Volvo Ocean Race won in 2012 by Franck Cammas, a local skipper. But above all it has the technical and economic legitimacy with the exceptional infrastructure of the offshore racing center and the presence of the biggest teams at Lorient La Base."

Loïg Chesnais-Girard, President of the Brittany Region: "A monument to the single-handed ocean race, The Transat CIC was marked by the exploits of exceptional sailors - particularly Breton - who, over the years, contributed to forging its legend. It is therefore with great pride that the Brittany Region is joining, as a main partner, in the event starting from Lorient. Beyond its sporting, popular and festive character, this event, hosted in the heart of Brittany Sailing Valley®, is an opportunity to highlight the economic ecosystem of competitive sailing in Brittany. This sector, which innovates for many sectors, constitutes a formidable laboratory for exploring the mobility of the future, more respectful of the environment. With the support of the Brittany Region, those involved in competitive sailing are committed and play a major role in supporting accelerator in the ecological transition by mobilizing their innovation capacities, particularly in the development of propulsion technologies for sailing ships."

Joseph Bizard, General Director OC Sport Pen Duick: "The inauguration of the Departure Village of the 15th edition of The Transat CIC marks the start of the festivities, which will enliven Lorient La Base for six days. This will highlight the new home port of the race, where many offshore racing teams have taken up residence. We are happy to organize the start of the race in the Brittany Region and more particularly here in Lorient La Base, and to give a nod to history. The boats are in fact moored in front of the Cité de la Voile Éric Tabarly, not far from Pen-Duick. It's moving because the 48 competitors will set off on Sunday on a transatlantic race won by Éric Tabarly, whose victories in 1964 and 1976 largely contributed to the democratization of sailing, a sport that fascinates us so much today. The superb images of the boats circumnavigating the island of Groix this afternoon portend a magnificent departure on Sunday, when they will set off towards New York. We are already looking forward to and await the numerous visitors to the Race Village."

Japan's Kojiro Shiraishi looking to build new memories and a strong result on The Transat CIC

For the Japanese skipper of DMG MORI GLOBAL ONE, Kojiro Shiraishi, the Transat CIC solo race from Lorient across the North Atlantic to New York which starts on Sunday is not only an essential IMOCA Globe Series race en route to qualification for his third Vendée Globe.

More especially it represents a long awaited chance to reconnect with some of the formative moments of his very early career and revisit fond memories of his apprenticeship with his legendary mentor Yukoh Tada, the Tokyo taxi driver turned ocean racer who became the first Japanese sailor to win a round the world race. After triumphing in Class 2 on the 1983 BOC Challenge round the world race Tada sadly took his own life during the 1991 Around Alone. Since losing his 'master' Koji has dedicated all of his races on his boats 'Spirit of Yukoh' to Tada.

But more pragmatically the Transat CIC sees 'Koji' seeking to deliver a solid solo race result, finishing up among the 2019 foiling boats of DMG MORI GLOBAL ONE's design. He finds himself still seeking qualifying miles after having to retire early from the 2022 Route du Rhum after a collision not long after the start.

And while he made a good job of last year's RETOUR À LA BASE solo from Martinique back to Lorient he suffered from the debilitating symptoms of Dengue fever all the way through the Transatlantic passage which certainly compromised his ability to attack in the robust, high speed conditions.

Now aged 56, second oldest skipper on the circuit after 64 year old Jean Le Cam, Koji is in excellent physical and mental shape with a well prepared boat which has a full new set of sails designed and spec'd for the Vendée Globe. Looking back at his connections with The Transat he recalls,

"When the start was in Plymouth and I was based in Gosport in 2006 I went to the start looking to buy a 60 footer he could be and these were the first modern Open 60s I had seen and I was hooked and so in many respects my history with the Open/IMOCA 60 started there." He recalls. He acknowledges he is in a stronger position than last year in terms of securing a definite place on the Vendée Globe start line but he explains, "This race is very much about finishing. We need to start both races to 'tick the boxes' and we are behind on miles and so we need to focus on finishing both races, the Transat CIC and the New York Vendée. We have upgraded the boat since last year with a new bow and foils and now have all brand new sails which we need to test but I am going to push hard on both races. I will sail safe but I am also lucky enough to have two nearly identical masts so I can afford to push hard."

Similarly there are very worthwhile commercial reasons to do Transat CIC, "The USA is important to us from a commercial point of view, DMG Mori USA is big there and they have clients they are bringing to us, which is nice as that is different to, say, Martinique or Guadeloupe. And we have a sponsor in Hakkaisan, a Japanese sake which is brewed in New York. But as well New York itself is very special to me as the Around Alone started there in 2002. That was just after 9/11 and the race started very near to Ground Zero. So it is a special place in my heart as does Newport RI, we will go there. We have so many friends there as I spent a lot of time there. The first time was with Yuko Tada in 1990 when I was shore crew with Kukoh Tada."

He outlines his early history which is often overlooked as he started long before ocean racing mushroomed in France, " I started with Kukoh Tada built boat in Japan, sailed across the Pacific to San Francisco and then I arrived in San Francisco to deliver the boat with him through the Panama Canal to Newport. That was his first long ocean passage at the age of 20. That was when Augin, Jeantot and Gautier were all competing and Yukoh Tada wanted to play his sax in the Newport Jazz Festival but they did not consider him good enough and said no. And also in 2002 the finish of the Around Alone was into Newport so the USA is very special."

Shiraishi is not long back in France from his winter at home in Japan, "It was good to be back home...not least because everyone understands me!" he laughs, "But I live in two very different worlds. In France it is only sailing and work, focusing only on the project. And at home it is all about doing sponsor relations work because most of the sponsors are there and Japanese. So the only time I am able to meet them is when I am at home. It is very hard to maintain a good relationship with your sponsors when the boat is not close by."

And more than ever he works hard at his strength and conditioning along with Jérémie Beyou's fitness coach Stéphane Eliot, "I train hard and look after myself carefully but at my age recovery time is longer. I am trying to build a body which does not break, that is the objective!"

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