The Transat Québec-Saint-Malo is a sailing transatlantic race taking place every four years, from Québec City, Canada, to Saint-Malo, France. The first edition was in 1984, organized to celebrate the 450th anniversary of Jacques Cartier’s first voyage, navigator of Saint-Malo, in the Gulf of St. Lawrence in 1534, that took place the first transat. A great classic among offshore sailing races, the Transat Québec Saint-Malo is the oldest west-to-east, nonstop, trans-Atlantic, crewed race.
This race is opened to crewed monohulls and multihulls of 50 and 60 feet. It has two peculiarities: it is the only west-to-east transatlantic at this level and it starts by going down the St. Lawrence River for one-third of its length. The regulations stipulate a passage between the islands of Saint-Pierre to starboard and Langlade to port to make direct route then on the corsair city of Saint-Malo.
The record of the event was set by Fujicolor II in 1996. This time beats the previous course record held by Loïck Peyron in a time of 7 days, 20 hours and 24 minutes.
For the first five editions, from 1984 to 2000, there were two classes: multihulls and monohulls. In 2004, the classes were identified as Multihulls, Multihulls Class 2 and Monohulls Class 2. In 2008, the 7th Transat comprised three categories: 50 Open, Class 40 and FICO (the Fédération Internationale de la Course Océanique). Only Class40 and Open are present in 2012, while the 2016 race offers the Class40, Multi50, Ultime and Open classes.
The boats and their skippers travel a 2,897-nautical mile (5,365 kilometer). Multihulls have a different course than monohulls. Being faster and in order to have a grouped fleet arrival, in addition to the 4 marks on the St. Lawrence, they will have to bypass the Îles-de-la-Madeleine and the Rock of Fastnet in the south of Ireland, before entering Saint-Malo. For the monohulls, they will cross the 4 marks of passage of the St. Lawrence, as well as Saint-Pierre and Miquelon, before undertaking the crossing of the Atlantic and make their entry in Saint-Malo.
The river portion includes marker buoys. These buoys become races within the race, as prize money is awarded to the first boats that pass them.
Next comes the wide, open ocean. The ocean stretches out before the racers, and the sporting challenge begins. The nonstop crossing of the North Atlantic, to the battlements of the port city of Saint-Malo.
The shores of Québec City and Lévis offer a spectacular viewpoint for an offshore start. No other offshore race offers a natural amphitheater allowing such a close proximity with the boats and their crews. During the first day of the race, the public can follow the sailing ships by moving along the banks of the river and follow their progress.