©Ville de Nantes
Around 8 pm on Sunday, the Big Parade, led by the famous three masted Belem arrived in Saint-Nazaire. Eleven Class 40 and 22 skippers are ready to sail from Saint-Nazaire to Yucatan in Mexico on the cocoa road. Departure on March 11.
This famous three masted ship has a long history. In December 1895, Fernand Crouan, placed with the Dubigeon shipyards in nearby Chantenay sur Loire (where, coincidentally, the famous writer Jules Verne used to spend his childhood holidays) an order for a three masted barque with a steel hull destined to join his fleet of similar merchant ships. The ship was put to sea in 1896. She was named the Belem, after the Brazilian port where the Crouan family had founded a trading post a few generations earlier.
As a merchant vessel, she crossed the Atlantic 33 times from 1896 to 1913. In those days, her single deck covered 153 square metres of hold containing up to 650 tons of goods and merchandise, mainly cocoa from Brazil, rum and sugar from the French West Indies.
More information on the sailing race Solidaire du chocolat website.