Out there all alone… sort of

Published on October 30th, 2020

Pierre Massé, Co-Managing Director of Harken France, describes how the most famous solo race has 2,000,000 people hanging on every gybe:


The Vendée Globe is a single-handed, non-stop, and unassisted sailing race around the world on 60-foot IMOCA monohulls. Based on an original idea by Titouan Lamazou, the race was created by Philippe Jeantot, with the help of Philippe de Villiers, President of the General Council of the French Vendée region. The first edition took place in 1989.

Only one sailor, Michel Desjoyeaux, managed to win the race twice, in 2001 and in 2009. The circumnavigation record in this event is held by Armel Le Cléac’h, winner of the 2016-2017 edition in 74 days, 3 hours 35 minutes and 46 seconds.

There’s nothing like following this race in France. The start line and the finish line are located off Sables-d’Olonne. The route consists of circling the Antarctic, leaving the three capes of the Cape of Good Hope, Cape Leeuwin, and Cape Horn on the port side. During the various editions, passage buoys or virtual gates have been placed to create a coastal course in front of Les Sables-d’Olonne to prevent the competitors from descending too far south in their turn around Antarctica with the risk of hitting ice. The distance is estimated at 40,075 kilometers or 21,638 miles. In reality, during the seven previous editions of the race, competitors have sometimes covered more than 52,000 kilometers (28,000 miles)!

The Vendée responds to a particular craze in France that began the 1960s around the solitary feat and the “spectacle sailing” with large, expensive, open-rule, purpose-built boats. This type of sporting event is more suited to media coverage and sponsorship, unlike the most famous international races, the Olympics, America’s Cup, etc. Full report.

Race detailsSkippersFacebook

The Vendée Globe is the only sailing race round the world that’s solo, non-stop, and without assistance, and it is all systems go for the 9th edition on November 8, 2020. Beginning in 1989 with 13 entries, the start line on November 8th has 33 skippers set to take off from Les Sables d’Olonne, France.

The development of the IMOCA Class toward foiling will see these boats hurl themselves around the world, teetering on carbon skates through inhospitable regions, chasing the record set in 2016-17 by Armel le Cléac’h of 74:03:35:46.

Participation history:
1989-90: 13 boats at the start
1992-93: 15 boats
1996-97: 15 boats
2000-01: 24 boats
2004-05: 20 boats
2008-2009: 30 boats
2012-2013: 20 boats
2016-2017: 29 boats
2020-2021: 33 boats

2020-21 Entries
Fabrice AMEDEO (FRA): NEWREST – ART & FENÊTRES
Romain ATTANASIO (FRA): PURE – BEST WESTERN
Alexia BARRIER (FRA): TSE – 4MYPLANET
Yannick BESTAVEN (FRA): MAÎTRE COQ IV
Jérémie BEYOU (FRA): CHARAL
Arnaud BOISSIÈRES (FRA): LA MIE CÂLINE – ARTISANS ARTIPÔLE
Louis BURTON (FRA): BUREAU VALLÉE 2
Didac COSTA (ESP): ONE PLANET ONE OCEAN
Manuel COUSIN (FRA): GROUPE SÉTIN
Clarisse CREMER (FRA): BANQUE POPULAIRE X
Charlie DALIN (FRA): APIVIA
Samantha DAVIES (GBR): INITIATIVES-CŒUR
Sébastien DESTREMAU (AUS/FRA): MERCI
Benjamin DUTREUX (FRA): OMIA – WATER FAMILY
Kevin ESCOFFIER (FRA): PRB
Clément GIRAUD (FRA): COMPAGNIE DU LIT / JILITI
Pip HARE (GBR): MEDALLIA
Boris HERRMANN (GER): SEA EXPLORER – YACHT CLUB DE MONACO
Ari HUUSELA (FIN): STARK
Isabelle JOSCHKE (FRA/FRA): MACSF
Jean LE CAM (FRA): YES WE CAM !
Stéphane LE DIRAISON (FRA): TIME FOR OCEANS
Miranda MERRON (GBR): CAMPAGNE DE FRANCE
Giancarlo PEDOTE (ITA): PRYSMIAN GROUP
Alan ROURA (SUI): LA FABRIQUE
Thomas RUYANT (FRA): LINKEDOUT
Damien SEGUIN (FRA): GROUPE APICIL
Kojiro SHIRAISHI (JPN): DMG MORI
Sébastien SIMON (FRA): ARKEA – PAPREC
Maxime SOREL (FRA): V AND B – MAYENNE
Alex THOMSON (GBR): HUGO BOSS
Armel TRIPON (FRA): L’OCCITANE EN PROVENCE
Nicolas TROUSSEL (FRA): CORUM L’ÉPARGNE

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