Near Record fleet to attempt Everest of the Seas
Published on September 6th, 2016
After the Euro football tournament and the Rio Olympics, the next big international sporting event in 2016 will be the eighth Vendée Globe, which will begin from Les Sables d’Olonne in two months November 6.
Never has the non-stop solo round the world race brought together such an eclectic line-up, with 29 skippers of 23 to 66 years representing four continents and ten nations. With just 20 skippers in the last race four years ago, the fleet nearly equals the record of 30 entrants in 2008-9 edition.
For the first time in the history of the event, seven skippers will set sail on IMOCA 60s fitted with foils, which allow the boat to reduce displacement for speed gains in certain conditions. It will be a test to see if the gains can topple the traditional daggerboard configuration during the long and demanding race
François Gabart, who won the 2012-13 Vendée Globe in record time of 78 days, 2 hours and 16 minutes, will not be back to defend his title. But with a large fleet of well-prepared teams, the record is at risk, with as many as 10 competitors able to reach the podium. Nearly half the fleet will be rookies, with 14 new skippers and 15 repeat entries.
Five skippers will be joining Marc Thiercelin, Mike Golding, and Dominique Wavre in the small group of those who have taken part in the non-stop solo round the world race four times. Among them, the only previous winner lining up this year, Vincent Riou. Two others have already made it to the podium: Jean Le Cam (2nd in 2004-2005) and Alex Thomson (3rd in 2012-2013). Jean-Pierre Dick and Bertrand de Broc will also be competing in their fourth Vendée Globe.
Six sailors will set sail from Les Sables d’Olonne for the third time, including Armel Le Cléac’h and Arnaud Boissières, who could become the first sailors to complete three Vendée Globes in a row. Four will be setting sail for the second time (see the list below). We should note too that this 2016-2017 vintage brings together the youngest competitor in the history of the race (the Swiss sailor Alan Roura, 23) as well as the oldest (the American, Rich Wilson, 66), with the average age being 44.
The fleets is comprised of 20 Frenchmen, one from New Zealand, a Spaniard, a Hungarian, a Dutchman, an Irishman, one skipper from Switzerland, one from Japan, a British skipper and an American. Among the nine non-French skippers, three are returning to the Vendée Globe: the Hungarian, Nandor Fa, the British sailor, Alex Thomson and the American, Rich Wilson.
Two rookies continue the Vendée Globe tradition in their respective countries: Didac Costa will become the fourth Spaniard to take part in the Vendée Globe since the event was created in 1989, while Alan Roura will take up the torch in Switzerland after Bernard Gallay, Bernard Stamm and Dominique Wavre. The other foreign skippers that are registered are the first to do so in their countries: Conrad Colman for New Zealand, Pieter Heerema for the Netherlands, Enda O’Coineen for Ireland and Kojiro Shiraishi for Japan. Two continents are taking part for the first time, Asia and Australasia.
The line-up for the 2016-2017 Vendée Globe:
4th attempt (5)
– Bertrand de Broc (France – retired in 1992-1993 and 1996-1997, 9th in 2012-2013)
– Jean-Pierre Dick (France – 6th in 2004-2005, retired in 2008-2009, 4th in 2012-2013)
– Jean Le Cam (France – 2nd in 2004-2005, retired in 2008-2009, 5th in 2012-2013
– Vincent Riou (France – winner in 2004-2005, 3rd equal in 2008-2009, retired in 2012-2013)
– Alex Thomson (Great Britain – retired in 2004-2005 and 2008-2009, 3rd in 2012-2013)
3rd attempt (6)
– Jérémie Beyou (France – retired in 2008-2009 and 2012-2013)
– Arnaud Boissières (France – 7th in 2008-2009 and 8th in 2012-2013)
– Kito de Pavant (France – retired in 2008-2009 and 2012-2013)
– Nandor Fa (Hungary – 5th in 1992-1993, retired in 1996-1997)
– Sébastien Josse (France – 5th in 2004-2005, retired in 2008-2009)
– Armel Le Cléac’h (France – 2nd in 2008-2009 and 2nd in 2012-2013)
2nd attempt (4)
– Louis Burton (France – retired in 2012-2013)
– Tanguy de Lamotte (France – 10th in 2012-2013)
– Yann Eliès (France – retired in 2008-2009)
– Rich Wilson (USA – 10th in 2008-2009)
1st attempt (14)
– Fabrice Amedeo (France)
– Romain Attanasio (France)
– Eric Bellion (France)
– Conrad Colman (New Zealand)
– Didac Costa (Spain)
– Sébastien Destremau (France)
– Pieter Heerema (Netherlands)
– Morgan Lagravière (France)
– Stéphane Le Diraison (France)
– Paul Meilhat (France)
– Enda O’Coineen (Ireland)
– Alan Roura (Switzerland)
– Thomas Ruyant (France)
– Kojiro Shiraishi (Japan)
* French skipper Jean-François Pellet has not yet qualified.
Race details: www.vendeeglobe.org/en
Source: Vendee Globe