France is not that far by boat!!

Saint Pierre Chantal Briand

 

May 10, 2018

credit: – © Chantal Briand

2018 ROUTE Halifax – Saint Pierre Ocean Race

Every two years since 2002 yachts have gathered in Halifax to begin a 350-mile race to the French islands of Saint-Pierre and Miquelon. Known as the ROUTE Halifax Saint Pierre the race has grown into one of the most popular offshore races on the East Coast. The competition attracts both amateur and professional racers who complete on “First to Finish” and handicap classes. The race is open to double-handed and fully crewed mono-hulls and attracts boats from Atlantic Canada, Quebec, the US and Europe.

There are strong connections between Nova Scotia and the islands, including the somewhat dodgy comings and goings during the heyday of rum running in the 1920s. Nova Scotian skippers would load their schooners with alcohol and head south to help quench the thirst of millions of Americans.

Henri Thibaut credit: © Henri Thibaut

The roots of ocean racing in Saint Pierre date from the first Transat Quebec Saint-Malo in 1984 when the islands were a stopping place. The participation of famous sailors such as Eric Tabarly helped to raise the profile of the islands. In the 1990s Phillipe Paturel skippered the “Saint Pierre et Miquelon” in the Sailing Tour de France, winning the event in 1994. Sailing is a national sport in France and widely televised. The 6,000 inhabitants of the archipelago followed the events closely.

Jean Christophe LEspagnol

credit: © Jean-Christophe L’Espagnol

A few years later, Philippe Paturel and Hal Davies met while competing in a Nova Scotian regatta. Hal was a retired Naval Officer and an active racer out of the Royal Nova Scotia Yacht Squadron (RNSYS). One day, while enjoying a drink and a chat after a day on the water in Halifax, the two were joking about their next opportunity for some offshore competition. How about the first to arrive in Saint Pierre? The Halifax/Saint Pierre was born. 20 yachts started the first race in 2002 and this year more than 40 are expected. While Hal Davies passed away in 2011, he is remembered as a great friend of Saint Pierre and Miquelon.

Lighthouse Patrick Allain credit: © Patrick Allain

This year the race start in Halifax will be more fun than ever with the “Saint Pierre et Miquelon des Isles d’Exception” Festival taking place on the waterfront. Beginning on June 22nd there will be four days of live music and French food leading up to the race start on June 26th. The finish in Saint Pierre is always a huge celebration with the population welcoming the sailors with gallic flare and pride.

To learn more about the race, check out www.routespm.com

Learn more about the Saint Pierre and Miquelon at: www.spm-tourisme.fr

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