The Route du Rhum sailing race reaches far beyond the competition itself.
The high-profile race from St Malo to Point-a-Pitre in Guadeloupe has been used by local authorities to encourage children to take a keener interest in sailing and other activities related to the ocean.
The Mayor of Sainte-Anne and vice-president of the regional council Christian Baptiste said: “It is here that Philippe Fiston was trained and today thanks to that he sails across the oceans. You have schools, colleges that come here and the state provides all the equipment. So we define a program to ensure the strategic goal is achieved. We want to encourage many young kids from Guadeloupe and Saint-Anne who can practice water sports.’‘
Manu Paumier, head of the Sainte-Anne water sports centre said: “You can feel the enthusiasm of young people is very strong. The motivation is there all the time, but right now , it’s really exciting , there is a real desire to sail. Young people say “ the route du rhum sailors are still struggling in the middle of the Atlantic, so if they can do it we will also get on with it.”
Jocelyn Philibert, a monitor at the Sainte-Anne water sports centre said: ‘‘We play the game with them because, in principle, when they start, they put several in a small boat called the optimist. But very quickly, they want to be alone on it to match the optimist great navigators who sail the Route du Rhum.”