19 January 2024

It will be an epic season, with a critical ingredient: courage. The third year of competitions for the Class40 IBSA features two monumental tests, scheduled between April and July. As holder of the top position in the international Class40 circuit, conquered at the end of last season, Alberto Bona is getting ready for two transatlantic races at much more northerly latitudes than those he has accustomed us to in previous years. In concrete terms: cold, often contrary winds, the chance to run into fog and icebergs, whales and plenty of commercial traffic.

The start is on April 28, with the Transat CIC, a new name for the oldest transoceanic regatta, whose first edition took place in 1960: at that time it was called Ostar; later its name changed into 1 Star and today the race is simply known as The Transat. Legendary names in ocean sailing won it, from Sir Francis Chichester to Eric Tabarly. The transatlantic regatta also gave the world the opportunity to discover the great talent of Ellen MacArthur, who made her debut at the age of just 23 in this extremely difficult race, where countless dismastings, sinkings and capsizes occurred over the course of its 14 editions (one every four years). The expectation has been building up after the 2020 edition was cancelled due to the pandemic; indeed, this very popular race will celebrate its 15th edition eight years after the previous one. This year the start is scheduled from Lorient, in Brittany (France), on April 28; the arrival is in New York, after over 3 thousand miles of solo navigation. No more than 80 boats will be at the start: 25 Class40s, 35 IMOCAs, 10 Ocean Fiftys and 10 classic sailing vessels.

Sailing under the Statue of Liberty will certainly be a great emotion, but the adventure will not end in New York: an equally great emotion will be bringing the Class40 IBSA even further north, up to Canada. An unforgettable journey of 1,200 miles, which will lead to the second and equally legendary challenge: the Transat Quebec Saint-Malo, one of the few Atlantic regattas “in reverse”, i.e. from West to East, going through Northern waters and sailing for over 300 miles down the St. Lawrence River in Canada. Now in its 10th edition, also the Transat Quebec Saint-Malo was not held four years ago, due to COVID. This regatta takes place with crews of three, and is dedicated to the classes Ultim, Class40, IMOCA, Ocean Fifty and Mono and multi-hulls between 45 and 65 feet. The sailors will leave on June 30 from Québec City (Canada) to cross the waters of the North Atlantic and to then arrive in Saint-Malo (France), where three years ago everything began for the Class40 IBSA, with the start of the Route du Rhum. 

The Class40 IBSA is now in the shipyard for some works aimed at setting up the 2024 season. In the second half of the year, in September, the Class 40 IBSA will also participate in the Normandy Channel Race, now a classic along the English Channel and the Celtic Sea. While waiting for the first race of 2024, it is important to summarize the highlights of an exciting 2023 season: six regattas,with two victories and three podiums; the record for the greatest number of miles covered in 24 hours by a Class40; and over 15,000 miles sailed, which allowed IBSA to conquer the first place overall in the Class40 international championship.

Alberto Bona’s 2023 began with a victory in the RORC Caribbean 600, the 600-mile “slalom” between the Caribbean islands, followed in April with a third place in the first transoceanic race of the season, the Défi Atlantique (“Atlantic Challenge”), held in two stages between Guadeloupe and La Rochelle. After coming back to Europe, in June the Class40 IBSA participated in the Normandy Channel Race, arriving in sixth place. Then back to the Atlantic for the Les Sables-Horta-Les Sables and the second victory: “our best achievement”, commented Alberto.

Only seven days went by between the Les Sables and the Rolex Fastnet Race; fresh from her victory in the crewed round-the-world race, Francesca Clapcich joined Bona’s crew. An unlucky start relegated the team to the eighth position, but the experience is still to be remembered.

Then, once the summer was over, it was time to focus body and soul on the Transat Jacques Vabre, which the Class40 IBSA closed at the end of November with a very nice third place.

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