Around the world via the three capes
The course for the Vendée Globe illustrates the straightforward nature and simplicity of the idea behind this major event. You sail around the world from west to east via the three major capes of Good Hope, Leeuwin and the Horn. There is a long slide down the Atlantic, the perilous voyage across the Southern Ocean with firstly the Indian Ocean and its crossed seas, then the Pacific Ocean, the world’s biggest ocean. Finally, there is the climb back up the Atlantic to head back to Les Sables d’Olonne, which marks the start and finish of the Everest of the seas. We take a look at each section of the round the world race course...
The traps of the Bay of Biscay
Watch out for south-westerly storms between Les Sables d’Olonne and Cape Finisterre! Any ocean racer will tell you that the Bay of Biscay has the reputation of being a tough one. Between the shallows of the continental shelf and the strengthening winds off the Cantabrian Mountains, the way out into the Atlantic can be particularly cruel for sailors and their boats. On the other hand, if there is a northerly flow, it means a quick slide down towards the western tip of Spain, then off to Madeira and the Canaries. Then, you need to pick up the trades as quickly as possible, make your way through the Cape Verde Islands to get in place to make your way through the Doldrums. While speed is favoured, the sailing sometimes allows tactical options to come into play, which can mean the loss or gain of a hundred miles or so in a few hours.
From the Doldrums to Saint Helena, strategy comes into play
At the southern limits of the northern hemisphere, the inter-tropical convergence zone, better known as the Doldrums, is the nightmare facing yachtsmen: erratic winds, violent thunderstorms, sometimes torrential rain, going through the Doldrums is a bit like getting a lottery ticket. In other words, the Vendée Globe sailors will have spent a lot of time preparing for this before getting there: studying the weather charts, analysing in detail each sector. Once they have passed the Equator, the puzzle has still not been solved, as they have to find their way around the St. Helena high, before turning east and picking up the winds allowing them to sail downwind towards the Indian Ocean. The island of St. Helena is found in the middle of the Gulf of Guinea, but the high, which bears its name can generate light winds right across to just off the Brazilian and Argentinean coast.
The Indian Ocean, the shadowy zone
That was how Titouan Lamazou, the winner of the first Vendée Globe, nicknamed this huge wilderness between the Cape of Good Hope and Tasmania to the south east of Australia. Crossing the Indian Ocean means the yachtsmen will be diving down into another world. Low light, dangerous seas, violent winds, a cold, wet environment, in just a few days the Vendée Globe sailors find themselves completely alone… Ahead of their bow, several thousand miles during which they will have to make a compromise between the shortest route, which is the furthest south, while at the same time avoiding the ice limit. The change is a shock and can weigh heavily on their feelings. Once again, it is a question of getting the right mixture: knowing how to sail quickly without pushing the boat too hard. And above all knowing how to survive…
The Pacific Ocean, heading for the way out
To reach the Horn takes around twenty days on average. The atmosphere gradually changes. The sailors say: the swell is more regular, longer, and the sea state cleaner. Once they have passed the International Date Line, the return journey begins. However, the voyage down to Cape Horn also has its share of dangers in store. The first one is the presence of icebergs reaching fairly northerly latitudes. This means a stressful watch for the yachtsmen, who although able to detect the larger icebergs on the radar, cannot spot growlers, small blocks of drifting ice, which are sometimes less than a metre above the surface of the water, but which can weigh thirty or forty tonnes. There is a permanent risk of collision and the hours spent on deck trying to detect the danger add to the tiredness, which has built up. Rounding the Horn marks the way out...
South Atlantic, a daunting climb
Let us not forget that a large number of boats have been forced to retire from the Vendée Globe in the South Atlantic. The boats have been through a lot, the vigilance that has been kept up for several weeks begins to fade. Moreover, the South Atlantic can offer its share of nasty shocks to those, who think they have got away with it. The pamperos, the gales, which blow off the Argentinean coast, can be exceptionally violent. The stretch is often a difficult one to sail and upwind sailing common, which contributes to the fragility of the boats and the men. Then, there are the Doldrums to get through, even if further west they are statistically narrower!
North Atlantic, the fast track
Gradually, the single-handed yachtsmen in the Vendée Globe make their way back into the cold. Time to put the fleeces back on and they start to count the miles to the finish. They have to decide how to deal with how to finish back in Les Sables d’Olonne. Very often they need to pick up the westerlies to sail directly towards the port on France’s West Coast. Little by little, the first signs of civilisation start to appear: they come across a cargo ship, a few trawlers on the edge of the continental shelf. Then, they catch a glimpse of a few lights on the coast, which guide them in to the finish, before entering the harbour entrance in Les Sables d’Olonne...
THE CONCEPT OF THE VENDÉE GLOBE IS SIMPLE AND EASY TO UNDERSTAND: YOU HAVE TO SAIL AROUND THE WORLD ALONE WITHOUT STOPPING AND WITHOUT ASSISTANCE. THESE THREE PARAMETERS MAKE THE RACE WHAT IT IS BY ESTABLISHING ITS DNA. THEY ARE CLEARLY LAID OUT IN THE RACE INSTRUCTIONS.
Solo : One man or one woman, the world and a boat. It is very clear. This is a solo race and no one apart from the skipper is allowed aboard the boat during the round the world voyage (unlike in the French film, En Solitaire starring François Cluzet). The notable exception is, of course, when a fellow competitor is rescued and that has happened. For example, in the third edition, when Pete Goss arrived to save Raphaël Dinelli and dropped him off in New Zealand and again in 2009, when Vincent Riou rescued Jean Le Cam when the latter capsized near Cape Horn.
Non-stop : The only pit stop that a competitor in the Vendée Globe is allowed involves returning to Les Sables d’Olonne, within ten days of the start. That is exactly what Michel Desjoyeaux did in 2008: he set off again 40 hours after the start, but went on to win the race in the end. The skippers are allowed to stop – by anchoring in a creek for example, but are not allowed to step ashore beyond the high tide mark. Yves Parlier took advantage of that possibility in a repair that became very famous in the 2000 race. Many others dropped anchor without going ashore, for example to climb the mast, as Marc Guillemot did in 2008/2009.
Without assistance : In the Vendée Globe, the sailor is well and truly alone. Once again, the only assistance allowed is when the sailor returns to Les Sables d’Olonne, just after the start, meaning he would lose a lot of time. Apart from this exception, everyone has to rely on what they can do during the round the world voyage. Routing is strictly prohibited. The sailors have to find their own way around, carry out any repairs following on from damage, which is likely to happen… and they have to take care of themselves when injured or ill. In this particular case, they do have the right to seek advice from the Race Doctor, Jean-Yves Chauve. As for technical assistance, it’s very simple: they are strictly forbidden to go alongside another boat or to allow a third party aboard. The sailors may consult the designers or their technical team to get information about how best to carry out a repair, but it is up to them alone to carry out this work with the means they have on board, while continuing to sail as best they can. Yes, the Vendée Globe is an extreme race.
The Vendée Globe boats all measure 18.28 m (60 foot) with a draught of 4.50 m (14.75 feet). Carrying a lot of sail, they are the most powerful monohulls in the world skippered by a solo sailor. They can exceed thirty knots downwind. The class rules are determined by the IMOCA class (International Monohull Open Class Association), founded in 1991 and recognised by the International Sailing Federation (ISAF). The rules were indeed recently updated. They now impose a standardised keel, the choice between two masts, a traditional one or a wing mast, with the number of appendages and ballast tanks limited. The rest is down to the designers. The big news this year is that the latest generation of boat is equipped with foils. These appendages lift the hull of the boat up. This reduces the drag and enhances performance. The 2016-2017 Vendée Globe will be the first round the world race for these new machines. But the boats from the previous generation have been fine-tuned and developed and are more reliable for the moment, meaning they are in with a good chance too. It is in fact the older boats that have won all the major races since the last edition.
24 inches high (60cm) and with a circumference of 12 inches (30cm) and weighing in at 10 kg, the impressive Vendée Globe Trophy is a work of art in silver plated bronze designed by Philippe Macheret. Everything about it is a reference to the circumnavigation. It includes an elegant sailing ship surrounded by the Earth and it rests on a base shaped like a winch. Worked on by the Ateliers du Prisme and manufactured by the Macheret Foundry in the Sarthe, it is the trophy that solo sailors want to get above all others. For a few months more, the Trophy is in the hands of the title-holder, François Gabart. Who will be the next sailor to lift it above their head?
Highlights, skippers, rankings...
Relive some of the finest moments in the history of the Vendée Globe!
1989-1990 : A great race is born
Titouan Lamazou : « For three or four years, the Vendée Globe has been all my life; for ten years, it has been a part of it. »
Les Sables d'Olonne, 26th November 1989. Thirteen skippers, all overcome by some powerful emotions, a subtle mixture of apprehension and excitement, are busy on their boats. The final checks before starting out on the single-handed trip around the oceans of the world... with no stopovers allowed. Among them, some regular competitors, some foreigners and some hopefuls on this Great Maritime Adventure. "A marvellous range of mad yachtsman aboard their strange craft", is how Titouan Lamazou described them. Lamazou, who was to leave his mark on this first edition open to pioneers and experienced ocean racers. One hundred and nine days and 24,000 miles later- at the helm of "Ecureuil d'Aquitaine II", a modern Bouvet-Petit design - the yachtsman from Béarn, who was sometimes a painter, sometimes a sailor and voyager, was the first to cross the finishing line as the final winner. From the third day of the race on, from Cape Finisterre, he led the way. His determination to win never left him. The oceans were responsible for eliminating or slowing down his rivals, such as Philippe Jeantot, one by one. Having problems with his broken gooseneck, the man behind this first Vendée Globe lost ground. He then got bogged down in the weather system in the Doldrums.
Following in the wake of the first winner, back in Les Sables d'Olonne, came Loïck Peyron's Lada-Poch III. The yachtsman from La Baule, the multihull genius, finished his exemplary round the world trip thirty hours later, having rescued Philippe Poupon, whose ketch, "Fleury Michon X", turned over on her side in the forties. It would not have taken much for Loïck - with an additional bonus for coming to the aid of "Seafaring Phil" - to upset the victory plans of the "hazelnut nibbler" and his "Ecureuil (Squirrel ) d'Aquitaine II". Right up until they were making their way up the Atlantic, Loïck stuck to the heels of the leader, threatening him until the very end. Third: Jean-Luc Van den Heede, at the helm of "36.15 MET", a Harlé design in aluminium. Spartan in appearance, this monohull corresponded to the budget of this old sea dog, who won the admiration of everyone down in the sixties. In these extreme latitudes, the tough bearded guy had to chop his way through the ice in amongst the icebergs. The Maths and Physics teacher from Lorient, an amateur yachtsman, achieved something quite extraordinary on this race around the three capes. The label "VDH" was to become famous.
Two months later, Jean-François Coste, on board "Cacharel", completed his first Vendée Globe. For him, this was a victory. He experienced his adventure getting to know Eric Tabarly's "Pen Duick III". He was the seventh man home out of the thirteen contenders. The remaining six had some bad luck and bad seas, from the Bay of Biscay to the Deep South. But that year, for this first great race, the oceans were rather kind to these single-handed pioneers. No irreparable dramas occurred on the high seas.
« On the morning of the start, there were thirteen of us not really knowing where we were going. Among them there was a winner, some runners up, some lucky ones and some unlucky ones, and someone had to finish last. We all knew that, and everyone had done their utmost to fulfil their dreams. Some succeeded, some will manage it next time.
What we did not know was what no one dared mention.
But the sea did not take anyone, it simply gave.
So everything turned out fine...
A very good story with a happy end »
Jean-François Coste-Extract from the preface of "Vendée Globe" published by Denoël
- Titouan Lamazou (Fra, Ecureuil d'Aquitaine II) : 109j8h48'50''
- Loïck Peyron (Fra, Lada Poch) : 110j01h18'06''
- Jean-Luc Van den Heede (Fra, 36.15 MET) : 112j01h14'00''
- Philippe Jeantot (Fra, Crédit Agricole IV) : 113j23h47'47''
- Pierre Follenfant (Fra, TBS-Charente Maritime) : 114j21h09'06''
- Alain Gautier (Fra, Generali Concorde) : 132j13h01'48''
- Jean-François Coste (Fra, Cacharel) : 163j01h19'20''
- Patrice Carpentier (Fra, Le Nouvel Observateur), damage to automatic pilot (Falklands)
- Mike Plant (E.U, Duracell), received help on Campbell Island (New Zealand)
- Guy Bernardin (Fra, O-Kay), suffered from toothache
- Bertie Reed (AFS, Grinaker), damaged rudder
- Jean-Yves Terlain (Fra, UAP), lost his mast
- Philippe Poupon (Fra, Fleury Michon X), turned over
1992-1993 : The race where dramas first happened
Alain Gautier: « A singlehander's life brings its share of problems, tensions, but also emotions and satisfactions, which cannot be shared, and yet are so beautiful. The Vendée Globe is certainly the race which has taught me the most, about life in general and especially about myself. »
Following the first edition, the Vendée Globe was up and running again with a lot of media coverage. In Les Sables d'Olonne, which had become the homeland for top single-handed yachtsmen, those, who were keen to enter for a second time, became the race favourites: Alain Gautier, Loïck Peyron, Philippe Poupon and Jean-Luc Van den Heede. Alongside them, some new pretenders - especially Yves Parlier and Bertrand de Broc - turned up full of passion and faith to face a fine selection of foreigners, including several veterans from the Boc Challenge. On land, it became a popular event, and Philippe Jeantot decided to exchange his waterproofs for the jacket of chief organiser of this incredible dream event, which marked the frontier between a great adventure and extreme sport. The planet race could begin. Unfortunately one American failed to turn up. Mike Plant, back for a second trip, was lost at sea, as he was making his way to Les Sables d'Olonne. The hull of his capsized Coyote was found on the day the second race started, when 14 impetuous skippers tackled the seas. Was it a bad omen ?
The first few miles, fought out in an exceptionally angry Bay of Biscay, were to show no mercy. More and more were forced back to the harbour in Vendée, the only stopover allowed in the rules. Loïck Peyron was unable to take to the seas again, his monohull was leaking everywhere. Yves Parlier returned with his mast down, and had to put up with ten days delay, before he could start out again on the race course. But the worst was to happen four days after the starting gun was fired, when the British sailor, Nigel Burgess was found drowned off Cape Finisterre, probably after being knocked out and thrown overboard.
With this long list of sea disasters, only two competitors got into the swing of things and managed to break away. Alain Gautier and Bertrand de Broc fought out a close race in the lead as they raced down the Atlantic. The former, well looked after by his " Bagages Superior " - his brand new racer and the first in a long line of composites signed Finot-Conq - finally took the lead. Later, De Broc, who had some difficulties in the forties, sewed up his tongue by himself following the medical advice that was offered from a distance by the race doctor, Jean-Yves Chauve.
His troubles, however, were far from over, as he had to make for New Zealand and was unable to continue. His boat's designers warned him that the keel of his " Groupe LG " (the first Vendée Globe winner) was in serious danger of collapsing: he had to give up, completely demoralised. Alain Gautier was able to continue ahead alone. He rounded the Horn 36 hours ahead of Philippe Poupon. The latter lost his mast a few days from the finish and handed the second place over to VDH. Only half of these single-handed racers were to complete the round the world trip successfully, a trip that is an endurance race, but this time also harsh and unyielding.
- Alain Gautier (Fra, Bagages Superior) : 110j02h22'35''
- Jean-Luc Van Den Heede (Fra, Groupe Sofap-Helvim) : 116j15h01'11''
- Philippe Poupon (Fra, Fleury-Michon X) : 117j03h34'24''
- Yves Parlier (Fra, Cacolac d'Aquitaine) : 125j02h42'24''
- Nandor Fa (Hon, K&H Banque Matav) : 128j16h05'04''
- José de Ugarte (Esp, Euskadi Europ 93 BBK) : 134j05h04'00''
- Jean-Yves Hasselin (Fra, PRB/Solo Nantes) : 153j05h14'00''
- Bernard Gallay (C-H, Vuarnet Watches), two stopovers following a problem with the pilot and the rigging
- Vittorio Mallingri (Ita, Everlast/Neil Pryde Sails), lost rudder
- Bertrand de Broc (Fra, Groupe LG), keel problem (New Zealand)
- Alan Wynne-Thomas (G.B, Cardiff Discovery), medical reasons (Hobart)
- Loïck Peyron (Fra, Fujicolor III), strips coming off the hull (Les Sables d'Olonne)
- Thierry Arnaud (Fra, Maître Coq/Le Monde de l'Informatique), lack of preparation (Les Sables d'Olonne)
- Nigel Burgess (G.B, Nigel Burgess Yacht Brockers), found drowned in the Bay of Biscay
1996-1997 : The Globe spinning out of control
Christophe Auguin: « One cannot come home from a Vendée Globe without bearing any marks. Several months will undoubtedly be necessary for me to come back to my normal life ashore. The Deep South let me through this time. The real enemy in this epic voyage is firstly the sea itself ... »
Quinze concurrents - plus le " pirate " Raphaël Dinelli qualifié trop tard - composent les troupes au départ de la troisième édition. Sur les rangs se côtoient d'abord de grands favoris : le Normand Christophe Auguin double vainqueur du BOC Challenge, son ami Québécois Gerry Roufs ou encore l'Aquitain Yves Parlier qui débarque à la barre d'un 60 pieds futuriste, le premier monocoque construit en carbone et doté d'un mât aile pivotant. Deux femmes, Isabelle Autissier et Catherine Chabaud, viennent ajouter leur touche féminine parmi de nombreux postulants aux places d'honneurs, à l'image d'Eric Dumont ou du récidiviste Bertrand de Broc.
Une fois encore en novembre et au départ du grand tour de piste, le Golfe grogne. Il cogne même et procède à une première et impitoyable sélection dès les premiers milles. Le Hongrois Nandor Fa et l'amateur basque Didier Munduteguy, victimes d'avaries, sont les premiers à renoncer à la Grande Aventure. D'autres rebroussent aussi rapidement chemin, pour s'élancer lestés de plusieurs jours de retard sur les quatre premiers mercenaires des mers. Yves Parlier, Isabelle Autissier, Christophe Auguin et Gerry Roufs sont partis, eux, de la plus belle manière à la conquête du Sud. Jusqu'à ce que la course par élimination reprenne ses droits, à mesure que ces leaders se rapprochent des latitudes plus hostiles. Aux portes de l'Indien, Christophe Auguin mène la flotte devant Isabelle Autissier, qui va vite se dérouter pour réparer son safran tribord. Quant à Yves Parlier, il a d'abord cassé son étai avant de percuter un growler, puis de briser un safran… Et ses espoirs de victoire. Le scénario type du Vendée Globe se répète au moment de planter les étraves dans les eaux mal famées du Grand Sud : un solitaire seul devant, et un groupe de poursuivants plus loin derrière.
At the bottom of the world, in the middle of nowhere, the single-handed yachtsmen have to cope with fierce winds and gigantic seas. Raphaël Dinelli was the first to turn over, and was rescued just in time by the British sailor Pete Goss in his fifty footer. Later and only a few hours apart, Thierry Dubois and the Englishman Tony Bullimore faced the same fate. They would be rescued from these fateful waters by the Australian rescue team. These difficult conditions gave a good idea of the force of the unending violence from the elements, as the single-handed sailors made their way through the largest liquid desert.
The saddest news from this dark region as Titouan Lamazou called it, came when the race HQ in Paris realised that Gerry Roufs was no longer answering. Although four of his fellow competitors were to plough up and down the zone, try as they might, the secret to the mystery was only revealed six months later, when the wreck of his Finot-Conq design was found on the coast of Chile. The Big Bad South had really taken its toll. After 105 days at sea, Christophe Auguin, won the race in fine style and a week ahead of the two chasing him, Marc Thiercelin and Hervé Laurent. The 6th and final competitor to be placed was Catherine Chabaud, who was to become the first woman to complete this extremely difficult race, a race, which on this occasion led to calls for greater safety.
- Christophe Auguin (Fra, Geodis) : 105j20h31'
- Marc Thiercelin (Fra, Crédit Immobilier de France) : 113j8h26'
- Hervé Laurent (Fra, Groupe LG-Traitmat) : 114j16h43'
- Eric Dumont (Fra, Café Legal-Le Goût) : 116j16h43'
- Pete Goss (G.B, Aqua Quorum) : 126j21h25'
- Catherine Chabaud (Fra, Whirlpool-Europe 2) : 140j04h38'
- Isabelle Autissier (Fra, PRB), safran cassé (Cape Town)
- Yves Parlier (Fra, Aquitaine Innovations), safran cassé (Perth)
- Bertrand de Broc (Fra, Votre nom autour du monde/Pommes Rhône Alpes), structural problem and capsized
- Tony Bullimore (G.B, Exide Challenge), capsized
- Thierry Dubois (Fra, Pour Amnesty International), capsized
- Nandor Fa (Hon, Budapest), damaged keel and collision with a cargo ship
- Didier Munduteguy (Fra, Club 60è Sud), broken mast and structural problems
- Raphaël Dinelli (Fra, Algimouss), capsized (SW Australia)
- Patrick de Radiguès (Bel, Afibel), beached after a stopover
- Gerry Roufs (Can, Groupe LG2)
2000-2001 : The Express Globe
Michel Desjoyeaux: « More than 90 days on that route teaches you a lot of things. There are some very tough moments, and some great ones too. This single-handed trip around the world, is an incredible page in your life history: it adds years to your age, it makes you more mature and throws things into perspective. »
In November 2000, in Les Sables d'Olonne, sailors and landlubbers all had the tragic memory of the previous edition of the non-stop single-handed round the world trip on their minds. While over the last four years the low-pressure areas had continued to swirl around with the same power in the Deep South, some water had gone under the bridge concerning 60-foot Open boats. Designers and sailors had had a good think and put the plans back on the table to modify or improve the stability of the monohulls, so it would be less dangerous to face up to the heavy swell around the world. Safer, but also better adapted and made to measure for this type of event with all its hurdles, its flat calm periods and violent storms. In 2000, the Vendée Globe turned a page in its history: it was time for competition racing on a global scale. As proof of this, among others: the Yves Parlier team's " Aquitaine Innovations ", the pair of Michel Desjoyeaux and his " PRB " or Roland Jourdain and his " Sill Matines La Potagère ". Then, you have to add to that the British contingent, with in particular little (but tenacious) Ellen Mac Arthur well accompanied by her Kingfisher and the great round the world yachtsman Mike Golding (Team Group 4)… All of these famous names made a great list of entrants, with 24 people from all sorts of background and from the four corners of the planet (from Russia, Spain and Italy…). A planet, which the winner would round at an incredible speed - in 93 days and 4 hours - smashing the record established four years earlier by Christophe Auguin.
Among the leaders fighting it out to the finish against each other until Yves Parlier, the Aquitaine yachtsman, lost his mast only Roland Jourdain in the Deep South and then Ellen Mac Arthur in the final Atlantic stretch managed to put any pressure on Michel Desjoyeaux. There is no mystery. The expert single-handed yachtsman, and virtuoso solo racer, made no mistakes, and his motto rang true: " To win, the first thing is to finish". Finding the right mixture of speed and caution was his recipe to win the honours in an edition, which was marked by clement conditions down in the fifties. In spite of that, the Vendée Globe once again showed itself to be an unwavering race of endurance, without mercy for some (Golding, Stamm, Dubois, Chabaud…), who were forced to put in to port, or to give up. But just as in the very first edition, the magic was there and could be seen, since all of the boats made it home - positioned or not . The seas took no prisoners this time. Moreover, beyond the competition itself, which was fought out at a very high standard, the human aspects created one of the finest pages in sea history and offered us some heroes.
There was " ET " Yves Parlier, who metamorphosed into Robinson Crusoe (or maybe " EM " the Extraordinary Mariner) having fitted a makeshift mast, and then there was little Ellen Mac Arthur, talented and heart-warming in second place in the wake of Michel Desjoyeaux. The non-stop, single-handed round the world race raised the curtain on some of today's finest ocean racers. Sport, adventure, an ocean of emotion, the 2000-2001 edition lacked nothing. It all finished happily and we could hardly wait for the next one.
- Michel Desjoyeaux (Fra, PRB) : 93j3h57'32''
- Ellen Mac Arthur (G.B, Kingfisher) : 94j4h25'40''
- Roland Jourdain (Fra, Sill Matines La Potagère) : 96j1h2'33''
- Marc Thiercelin (Fra, Active Wear) : 102j20h37'49''
- Dominique Wavre (Sui, Union bancaire Privée) : 105j2h45'12''
- Thomas Coville (Fra, Sodebo) : 10j7h24'
- Mike Golding (G.B, Team Group 4) : 110j16h22'
- Bernard Gallay (Fra-Sui, Voilà.fr) : 111j16h7'11''
- Josh Hall (G.B, Gartmore) : 111j19h48'2''
- Joé Seeten (Fra, Nord-pas-de-Calais/chocolats du Monde) : 115j16h46'50''
- Patrice Carpentier (Fra, VM Matériaux) : 116j00h32'48''
- Simone Bianchetti (Ita, Aquarelle.com) : 121j1h28'
- Yves Parlier (Fra, Aquitaine Innovations) : 126j23h36'
- Didier Munduteguy (Fra, DDP/60è Sud) : 135j15h17'55''
- Pasquale de Gregorio (Ita, Wind Telecommunicazioni) : 158j2h37'25''
- Catherine Chabaud (Fra, Whirlpool), sur démâtage
- Thierry Dubois (Fra, Solidaires), problèmes électroniques
- Raphaël Dinelli (Fra, Sogal Extenso), avarie de safran
- Fedor Konioukhov (Rus, Modern University for The Humanities)
- Javier Sansó (Esp, Old Spice)
- Eric Dumont ( (Fra, Euroka Un univers de Services), avarie de safran
- Richard Tolkien (GB), avarie de gréement
- Bernard Stamm (Sui, Armor-Lux/foies Gras Bizac), avarie de barre et de pilote automatique
- Patrick de Radiguès (Bel, Libre Belgique), échouage sur les côtes portugaises
2004-2005 : A breathtaking finish
The Vendée Globe racers sail their machines at an incredible pace and the rhythm was set from the first few miles. It was no longer the case that they were managing the long term, but ensuring they got one over on their challengers from the outset sailing aboard monohulls that had made further gains in potential… The winner Vincent Riou never had a moment's rest with Jean Le Cam in particular being particularly threatening: less than seven hours separated them after 87 days of racing!
There were still men (and two women) for whom the non-stop solo round the world race was an adventure, but it was clear to them that they were no longer on the same level as the skippers, who had trained in close-contact sailing and tactical battles… While the emotions were higher at the rear of the pack rather than at the front, the match resembled something of a sprint with in particular a kind Bay of Biscay: light downwind sailing, with just a quick low off Cape Finisterre, and some fine trade winds off Portugal to enable them to get around the Canaries after four days, then the Equator after only just ten days! However the collateral effects were quite something: only six solo yachtsmen got quickly out of the Doldrums and made their getaway… Even for this pack of leaders, Saint Helena was to wield a powerful blow: the high-pressure area created a scar that would take thousands of miles to heal.
Thus, as they approached the Cape of Good Hope, Vincent Riou and Jean Le Cam were sailing in sight of each other after 6000 miles of racing! The two sailors widened the gap to more than 300 miles over the duo of Roland Jourdain and Sébastien Josse, with Mike Golding relegated one and a half days behind… while the pack lost more than four days. The punishment was all the more painful, when the leaders entered the roaring forties: the only option for those chasing from behind was to put their foot down to close the gap and that meant success or failure… Alex Thomson was the first to retire in Cape Town, Roland Jourdain pushed his machine so hard her keel failed, forcing him to head for New Zealand… Only Mike Golding managed to catch Sébastien Josse, but the Pacific offered some icy seascapes, which cooled the ardours of the young skipper: he hit a growler and broke his bowsprit, which was to punish him all the way to the finish. In the lead, the duo played a game of yo-yo in the rankings and throughout their voyage, until Cape Horn, which is supposed to open the mind and free the spirit…
The South Atlantic was not going to let that happen, when it grabbed hold of Jean Le Cam in its high-pressure area, while Vincent Riou had to keep an eye on the mirror with Mike Golding coming up towards him! The fleet was more spread out than ever, as when the leading trio crossed the Doldrums for the second time, Karen Leibovici had not completed half of the Pacific crossing! Then, it was disaster with the keels, as after Roland Jourdain stopped in Hobart, Tasmania, Nick Moloney headed to Brazil and Mike Golding finished in Les Sables without his ballast... The finish for the leaders was all the more exciting, but PRB achieved victory for the second time, this time with Vincent Riou, smashing the race record by almost six days! Jules Verne had already been shaken up by the crewed multihulls, and now was to be stirred by the solo monohulls: An average of 12.73 knots over 26,714 miles...
- Vincent Riou (Fra, PRB) : 87j 10h 47’
- Jean Le Cam (Fra, Bonduelle) : 87j 17h 20’
- Mike Golding (GB., Ecover 2) : 88j 15h 15’
- Dominique Wavre (Sui, Temenos) : 92j 17h 13’
- Sébastien Josse (Fra, VMI) : 93j 17h 13’
- Jean-Pierre Dick (Fra, Virbac-Paprec) : 98j 03h 49’
- Conrad Humphreys (G.B, Hellomoto) : 104j 14h 32’
- Joé Seeten (Fra, Arcelor-Dunkerque) : 104j 23h 02’
- Bruce Schwab (USA, Ocean Planet) : 109j 19h 58’
- Benoît Parnaudeau (Fra, Max Havelaar-Best Western) : 116j 01h 06’
- Anne Liardet (Fra, Roxy) : 119j 09h 28
- Raphaël Dinelli (Fra, Akena Vérandas) : 125j 04h 07’
- Karen Leibovici (Fra, Benefic) : 126j 08h 02’
- Marc Thiercelin (Fra, Pro-Form), technical problems, stopped in New Zealand
- Patrice Carpentier (Fra, VM Matériaux), broken boom, stopped in New Zealand
- Roland Jourdain (Fra, Sill & Veolia), keel problems, stopped in Hobart Tasmania, Australia
- Alex Thomson (Hugo Boss), hole in the deck, stopped in Cape Town
- Nick Moloney (Skandia), lost his keel, stopped in Brazil
- Hervé Laurent (UUDS), rudder problem, stopped in Cape Town
- Norbert Sedlacek (Brother), keel problems, stopped in Cape Town
2008-2009 : A record-breaking Vendée Globe
The sixth « Vendée » saw the pinnacle of human achievement, bringing together dreams, emotions, courage, self-sacrifice and determination in an event, which took on epic proportions. This 2008-2009 race will be remembered for the spectacular rescue of Jean Le Cam at Cape Horn and of Yann Eliès right in the middle of the Indian Ocean. If we are looking for amazing feats, we need look no further than Michel Desjoyeaux, who at the end of a breathtaking race and indeed after returning to the start to begin again, went on to win his second Vendée Globe, and in so doing smashed the race record by completing the race in 84 days.
A lot of people forecast before the start that it would be like that: this edition of the Vendée Globe was to be exceptional. Thirty skippers including thirteen from outside of France and many of the greatest names of ocean racing were present. Among them, two previous winners: Vincent Riou and Michel Desjoyeaux. Never before had a single-handed ocean race brought together such an exceptional line-up. From the very first few hours of racing, the race lived up to expectations and the competitors taking part encountered the real stuff head on, as bad weather hit the Bay of Biscay. The fleet took a battering and there was a long list of damage: Alex Thomson, Kito de Pavant and Yannick Bestaven were forced to retire on the second day of the race, while Marc Thiercelin lost his mast the next day. A selection process was underway from the start of this Vendée Globe. On top of that five other skippers had to return to port to carry out repairs. Among them, Michel Desjoyeaux, who set off again with a handicap of 41 hours. It was then that his amazing climb back up through the fleet was to begin…
Loïck Peyron proved that he was rightly considered to be one of the favourites by becoming the first to cross the Equator. Behind him in that feared zone of the Doldrums, Sébastien Josse, Jean-Pierre Dick, Armel Le Cléac’h, Vincent Riou and Yann Eliès were the other frontrunners. The leading pack moved into the South Atlantic, where the St. Helena high was to shake up the positions. Seb Josse took the lead, but the gaps between the competitors were very small and as they entered the Roaring Forties they were sailing within sight of each other. The skippers and their boats would not get a moment’s rest with strong winds and boat-breaking seas. In the Southern Ocean, the conditions were once again difficult. Peyron and Josse extended their lead slightly and the latter entered the Indian Ocean in the lead. Michel Desjoyeaux was then back in sixth place having made it back to a mere 100 miles from the leader.
The month of December was horrible. The solo sailors still at sea found themselves facing some hellish conditions in the Indian Ocean. One skipper was to retire after another: Loïck Peyron and Mike Golding’s boats were both dismasted. Bernard Stamm run aground on rock in the Kerguelens, Dominique Wavre suffered from keel problems... On 18th December, a drama started to unfold. Yann Eliès, at that point up with the frontrunners, broke his femur 800 miles south of Australia. Marc Guillemot changed course while awaiting the Australian rescue team, who managed to evacuate the skipper of Generali, after 48 hours of suffering. The sailor was rescued, but his boat was lost. The episode led to a wave of unprecedented media coverage and emotions ran high. At the same time as this was going on, Michel Desjoyeaux took the lead in the race, a position he would keep right up to the finish. In the Pacific, which far from deserved its name, he led the way, while Seb Josse was also forced to throw in the towel, after his BT was battered by a huge breaker. 16 skippers were still in the race, but only Roland Jourdain and Jean Le Cam were clinging on to the leader. On 31st December, Jean-Pierre Dick hit a growler (a block of submerged ice that had broken off from an iceberg) and he too was out of the race. After 56 days of sailing, Desjoyeaux rounded Cape Horn, followed by Roland Jourdain a few hours later. The duel between the two men was at its climax, when another drama was about to unfold. Jean Le Cam, in third place capsized 200 miles from the Horn. Vincent Riou was the first to reach the area and found the upturned hull of VM Matériaux. He managed to rescue Jean, but damaged his own boat in the process. In spite of emergency repairs, his boat was dismasted the following night. Riou would in the end be awarded equal third place.
The leaders began their climb back up towards les Sables-d’Olonne, but the St. Helena high was blocking their path once again. Desjoyeaux held out and warded off the attacks from Roland Jourdain, who hit a whale, but continued to race. On the 81st day of racing, another blow: Jourdain lost the keel bulb from his boat bringing his race to an end. Michel Desjoyeaux sped away to victory and crossed the line after 84 days, 03 hours, 09 minutes and 08 seconds of racing. He covered 28,303 miles at an average speed of 14 knots. Vincent Riou’s record was beaten by more than three days.
Armel Le Cléac’h, always up there with the frontrunners, ended in a great second place. Marc Guillemot took the remaining spot on the podium. The Austrian sailor, Norbert Sedlacek brought up the rear after 126 days of sailing. Out of the 30 skippers that had set off, there were only eleven that managed to complete the race, including the two women taking part, Samantha Davies and Dee Caffari. During four thrilling months, enthusiastic crowds gathered along the coast of Vendée even in the dark of night to await the return of each of the sailors, from the first to last. They would go away with some unforgettable emotional memories. Around the world on all five continents, hundreds of millions of internet users, TV viewers, listeners and readers experienced the excitement of these remarkable feats, the pain of the incidents and moments of ill fortune experienced by those attempting to conquer the impossible. The Vendée Globe had never before so fully deserved the nickname of the Everest of the Seas.
- Michel Desjoyeaux (Fra, Foncia), 84 j 03h 09’
- Armel Le Cléac’h (Fra, Brit Air), 89j, 09h 35’
- Marc Guillemot (Fra, Safran), 95j 03h 19’
Vincent Riou (Fra, PRB), réparation donnée
- Samantha Davies (GB, Roxy), 95j 04h 39’
- Brian Thompson (GB, Bahrain Team Pindar), 98j 20h 29’
- Dee Caffari (GB, Aviva), 99j 01h 10’
- Arnaud Boissières (Fra, Akena Vérandas), 105j 02h 33’
- Steve White (GB, Toe in the Water), 109j 00h 36’
- Rich Wilson (USA, Great American III), 121j 00h 41’
- Raphael Dinelli (Fra, Fondation Océan Vital), 125j 02h 32’
- Norbert Sedlacek (Aut, Nauticsport-Kapsch), 126j 05h 31’
- Roland Jourdain (Fra, Veolia environnement), loss of keel bulb
- Jean Le Cam (Fra, VM Matériaux), capsized
- Jonny Malbon (GB, Artemis), mainsail problem
- Jean-Pierre Dick (Fra, Paprec-Virbac 2), collided with a growler
- Derek Hatfield (Can, Algimouss Spirit of Canada), capsized
- Sébastien Josse (Fra, BT), boat damaged by a breaker
- Yann Eliès (Fra, Generali), physical accident
- Mike Golding (GB, Ecover), dismasted
- Jean-Baptiste Dejeanty (Fra, Maisonneuve), various elements damaged
- Loïck Peyron (Fra, Gitana Eighty), dismasted
- Bernard Stamm (Sui, Cheminées Poujoulat), boat ran aground in the Kerguelens
- Dominique Wavre (Sui, Temenos II), keel problems
- Unai Basurko (Esp, Pakea Bizkaia), rudder problems
- Jérémie Beyou (Fra, Delta Dore), mast problems
- Alex Thomson (GB, Hugo Boss), various elements damaged
- Yannick Bestaven (Fra, Aquarelle.com), dismasted
- Marc Thiercelin (Fra, DCNS), dismasted
- Kito de Pavant (Fra, Groupe Bel), dismasted
2012-2013 : An unforgettable duel around the planet
The seventh edition of the Vendée Globe was one for the history books. For the first time, two sailors completed the voyage in less than 80 days. François Gabart and Armel Le Cléac'h fought a relentless and unforgettable duel around the planet. The adventure came to an end after 78 days of sailing… with just three tiny hours between them at the finish in Les Sables d'Olonne. Along with the eighteen other competitors that set out, each with their own goals, they allowed millions of fans to dream of wide open spaces, adventure and freedom. We look back at some of the greatest moments in the 2012-2013 Vendée Globe...
Twenty skippers, including eight foreigners lined up at the start on 10th November 2012. More than a million people turned up to wish them luck as the starting gun was fired in Les Sables d’Olonne. The only woman competing in the race, the British sailor, Samantha Davies was in great demand on the pontoons. But there was also considerable interest in the former winner, Vincent Riou and those, who had already made it to the podium like Marc Guillemot, Armel Le Cléac'h, Jean Le Cam and Mike Golding… The outcome was certainly wide open, as half of those taking part could be said to have been in with every chance of winning. At that point, not many were betting on a certain François Gabart...
From the outset, the race was to be cruel for some. Bertrand de Broc returned to port for repairs after colliding in the start area. He would set off again. That unfortunately was not to be the case for Marc Guillemot: his "Safran" lost her titanium keel after just five hours of racing. At the front, they were already sailing at high speed in the Bay of Biscay with François Gabart, Armel Le Cléac'h, Jean-Pierre Dick and Bernard Stamm leading the way. More damage was to follow soon afterwards. After ten days of racing, Kito de Pavant was hit by a trawler and forced out of the race. Two days later, for the same reason, the youngest competitor, Louis Burton, suffered the same fate. On 15th November, it was the turn of Samantha Davies and her Saveol, which was dismasted 100 miles from Madeira. On 18th, Jérémie Beyou had to head for the Cape VerdeIslands and then retired as the top of his keel ram had broken. After just one week at sea, five boats were already out of the contest.
Twenty at the start, eleven at the finish
It was a cruel blow of fate, but for a quarter of the fleet, everything was just fine at the front. Off the Canaries, the Azores high was bulging out in front of the leaders. With their skill and the ability of the newer boats, a group of six frontrunners soon became established, including Armel Le Cléac'h, François Gabart, Jean-Pierre Dick, Vincent Riou, Bernard Stamm and Alex Thomson, who was hanging on to them. As for Mike Golding, he was more than 300 miles further back. At the Equator, Armel Le Cléac'h was five hours ahead of François Gabart, Jean-Pierre Dick and Vincent Riou. On 21st November, the Polish skipper, "Gutek" Gutkoswki was forced to throw in the towel after a series of problems with his autopilot. Ten days after the start, there were now only fourteen left in the race.
The Doldrums and the fresh winds in the Southern Hemisphere had already led to two groups forming at the front. The six aforementioned and an international trio some 300 miles back, composed of the French sailor, Jean Le Cam, the Swiss competitor, Dominique Wavre and the British racer, Mike Golding. They seemed to be making good progress to the west of the St. Helena high, when the race was marred by another incident. On 24th November off Brazil, PRB hit a mooring buoy, which was drifting in the middle of the ocean. An incredible piece of bad luck, which was to force Vincent Riou to retire.
Record days and races within the race
The leaders were going wild at the front clocking up 450 miles, then 500 miles and more in one day. There were already three races within the race, between the five frontrunners, the three chasing boats and the five at the rear (who were nevertheless getting a lot of interest from the media), comprising Arnaud Boissières, Javier Sanso, Bertrand de Broc, Tanguy de Lamotte and the jovial Sicilian, Alessandro di Benedetto, whose joy was highly contagious.
At the Cape of Good Hope, Armel Le Cléac'h achieved a new intermediate record of 22 days and 23 hours with a very slight lead over his three closest rivals: three hours ahead of Jean-Pierre Dick, four ahead of François Gabart and six ahead of Bernard Stamm. So now they were in the Southern Ocean, the Indian, the land of shadows. At high speed, often between 20 and 22 knots, there was an incredible battle at the front between each Ice Gate. On 10th December, François Gabart sailed an incredible 534 miles in one day, while still managing to grab some sleep. He thus got back to within reach of Armel Le Cléac'h. Above all, we were getting to a turning point in their relentless duel with the two former Figaro racers getting that little bit ahead of Jean-Pierre Dick, and a little bit more ahead of Bernard Stamm and Alex Thomson.
What happened was that Armel and François managed to hop onto a slightly more favourable weather system… and they were the only ones to pull that off. Over the next four days, their lead would continue to grow to an amazing distance. On 14th December, Virbac was 300 miles back from the leaders. Down below Australia, we saw an incredible duel between François and Armel, battling it out neck and neck. Behind them the gap widened. At the longitude of New Zealand, Jean-Pierre Dick was still in third place, but 600 miles from the leaders, while the duo formed by Stamm-Thomson were now 900 miles back. That was when another incident occurred. Bernard Stamm had to put in for a pit stop in the AucklandIslands to moor up and try to repair his hydrogenerators. But the stopover was to turn into a nightmare for the Swiss sailor. Cheminées Poujoulat dragged her anchor and Bernard was forced to moor up alongside a Russian scientific vessel in order to avoid running aground. A fatal mistake. Without asking for permission, a sailor jumped aboard Cheminées Poujoulat to help him carry out the manoeuvre. The Jury therefore considered he had been helped. Bernard was disqualified. He would make two more stops, in Dunedin, then after the Horn, but managed to complete his voyage home outside of the race.
But by the end of the Pacific, the first four spots had more or less been decided. On 1st January 2013, François Gabart rounded Cape Horn as the leader, just 80 minutes before Armel Le Cléac'h. He had a lead of one and a half days over Jean-Pierre Dick in third place and two days over fourth-placed Alex Thomson. Looking at the charts at that moment in the race, it was quite unreal. As Armel and François climbed back up the South Atlantic, six boats were still in the middle of the Pacific, with two others just passing the New Zealand gate and with Alessandro di Benedetto bringing up the rear at the longitude of Australia. An ocean away.
The deciding moment comes in the South Atlantic
It was during the first week of 2013 that the outcome was more or less decided. First of all, there was a technical incident with the gennaker, which led to Armel Le Cléac'h losing a few miles. "The Jackal" was forced to go on the attack by no longer remaining close to his rival, but by attempting an option to the West… But ahead, François Gabart was not going to panic and kept control. Gradually, he managed to extend his lead off the coast of Brazil. François Gabart was not to make any mistake and was sailing fast. Very fast. His lead went from 100 to 250 miles. But he still had to deal with the Azores high. And right in the middle of the zone, Armel got back to within 90 miles.
Fate was to strike again on 22nd January: already suffering from damage, which had forced him to climb his mast seven times, Jean-Pierre Dick announced that he had lost his keel and with it hopes of making it to the podium. Alex Thomson, then in fourth place, changed course to get closer to him. Just in case. "Thanks Alex, take care of your third place" the skipper of Virbac-Paprec told him.
At the front, the final thousand miles saw the battle continuing, in spite of victory looking increasingly certain for Macif. On 27th January, overcome by emotion, François Gabart entered the harbour channel with a huge crowd applauding him. The young skipper on Macif was to become the youngest winner of the Vendée Globe and the first to complete the voyage in less than eighty days: 78 days, 2 hours, 16 minutes and 40 seconds. Michel Desjoyeaux’s record was smashed by almost six days. Three hours later, Armel Le Cléac'h was also cheered on by the crowds on this magnificent occasion. He completed the Everest of the Seas in second place for the second time in a row.
Alex Thomson took third place on the podium, 2 days and 17 hours later. Jean-Pierre Dick, without his keel managed to finish fourth, while, meanwhile Javier Sanso had capsized off the Azores. Jean Le Cam finished fifth on 6th February, 9 days and 21 hours behind the winner.
In all, eleven sailors would be ranked. Mike Golding, 6th, completed the voyage in 88 days and 6 hours; Dominique Wavre, 7th in 90 days; Arnaud Boissières, 8th, in 91 days; Bertrand de Broc, 9th in 92 days; Tanguy de Lamotte, 10th in 98 days. Alessandro di Benedetto, who had won over the general public with his charm would return home to a fantastic welcome on 22nd February after 104 days of sailing. For him too, 26 days after François Gabart finished, this moment would also be a huge achievement.
- François Gabart (Fra, Macif), 78j 02h 16’
- Armel Le Cléac’h (Fra, Banque Populaire), 78j 05h 33’
- Alex Thomson (GB, Hugo Boss), 80j 19h 23’
- Jean-Pierre Dick (Fra, Virbac Papre 3), 86j 03h 03’
- Jean Le Cam (Fra, Synerciel), 88j 00h 12’
- Mike Golding (GB, Gamesa), 88j 06h 36’
- Dominique Wavre (Fra, Mirabaud), 90j 03h 14’
- Arnaud Boissières (Fra, Akéna Vérandas), 91j 02h 09’
- Bertrand De Broc (Fra, Votre Nom autour du Monde avec EDM Projet), 92j 17h 10’
- Tanguy De Lamotte (Fra, Initiatives Coeur), 98j 21h 56’
- Alessandro Di Benedetto (Fra, Team Plastique), 104j 02h 34’
- Bernard Stamm (CH, Cheminées Poujoulat)
- Javier Sansó (Esp, Acciona 100% EcoPowered)
- Vincent Riou (Fra, PRB)
- Zbigniew Gutkowski (Pol, Energa)
- Jérémie Beyou (Fra, Maître Coq)
- Samantha Davies (GB, Savéol)
- Louis Burton (Fra, Bureau Vallée)
- Kito De Pavant (Fra, Groupe Bel)
- Marc Guillemot (Fra, Safran)