Last year January 19, 2017 marked the 'start of the finish' of the last Vendée Globe, that day witnessing the triumphant arrival of Armel Le Cléac'h. Now, nearly a year later, after a series of positive reviews, the SAEM Vendée is already hard at work on the 9th edition that is scheduled for 2020.
The transition from one race to the next is nearly seamless, carrying forwards the learnings to ensure the event improves in every area possible.
"The Vendée Globe is a hugely popular event which engenders very strong emotions and an incredible power and passion. It requires as much organisation to be done as early as possible, laying firm foundations to build on, "explains the Director General of SAEM Vendée Laura Le Goff who has been in post since May 16, 2016.
Le Goff can rely on a very close and motivated team and continuity from one event to the next has been recognised as essential.
"There is a fundamental osmosis that contributes to the success of the Vendée Globe," she says. Now in the preparatory phase of the next event, SAEM Vendée will soon launch its 'calls for tenders' for the delivery of the Events and Organization part of the Village. As with each new Vendée Globe there is presently a high level of activity searching for new partnerships.
"And we must continue to innovate," Laura Le Goff contends.
The Notice of Race Is Expected at the end of March
The SAEM Vendée wanted to be as early as possible in the presentation of the rules and regulatory aspects of the race. To this end it was decided as early as last October that race direction would again be Jacques Caraës, renowned race director and a well known former ocean racer. After a successful 2016-2017 race Caraës returns with the team of Hubert Lemonnier, Guillaume Evrard and newcomer Pierre Hayes, who will be the quartet at the core of the smooth running of the next Vendée Globe. Again continuity and positive learnings are seen as an essential asset.
At a time when the vast majority of sailors are active in the search for partners the appointment of the Race Direction was made a full year ahead of previous editions.
"The objective is to have the Notice of Race (the fundamental set of rules which will govern the race) published late March or early April. " says Laura Le Goff.
There are numerous potential skippers, maybe even too many. At most the number of entries will be thirty at the start of the Vendée Globe 2020 and not one more.
For the first time selection in the form of a championship (The Globe Series) will be put in place by the race management.
"In a way we are the victims of our success. It will be necessary to select. Unfortunately that means there will be some who will be disappointed," Le Goff explains, "The figure of 30 boats is related to the capacity of the port of Les Sables d'Olonne and the safe management of the event. It is inherently a high-risk race format. And so we prioritise safety, looking to ensure- for example - that there is no skipper trailing way behind and that the competing sailors have the necessary experince of crossing oceans."
"To realise his or her Vendée Globe project each skipper sells communication and a level of profile. But, naturally, the more skippers compete the more their media messages are diluted. This is perhaps a lesser reason than skipper safety but it is still important. "
The Notice of Race will be particularly important and highly scrutinised.
"There is a qualifying, selection circuit for what is, after all the pinnacle event, the Everest of the Seas," smiles Le Goff. It represents the challenge for the summit of Everest in every sense in terms of the challenges both on land and sea. The Director General adds:
"In collaboration with the IMOCA association with which we are in a solid relationship, my goal is to work even closer with the skippers, to be a supportive, proactive force to help them realise their projects. I hope that we will maintain the diversity of projects which has made the race so avidly followed all around the globe, embracing those whose approach is more competitive and also the adventurers looking to fulfil their lifetime dreams."
She concludes: " The Vendée Globe is about sports and adventure. And much more. "
SAEM Vendée Budget : €12.4M including more than €5M from the Département (Vendée area) around €4M from Sodebo who are the historical and exclusive partner of the race and originate from the town of Les Sables d'Olonne.
SAEM Vendée is the majority shareholder at 56%, Les Sables d'Olonne at 17%, the Region at 12% and some 30 private shareholders at 15%.