The first ever Monaco Globe Series, a Vendée Globe qualifying event is being run under the flag of the prestigious Yacht Club de Monaco which are the main sponsor too. The principality has strong ties with the class now, not least after Prince Albert sent the last Vendée Globe race off by firing the start gun.
Women setting sail
After the last race had no women skippers at all it is encouraging to have three competing in the first Monaco Globe Series. Alexia Barrier (4myplanet2) is a member of the Yacht Club de Monaco will be supported by co-skipper Pierre Quiroga, one of the rising stars of Mediterranean sailing. Their 1998 Lombard plan already has three Vendée Globe races to its credit, in the hands of Catherine Chabaud, Tanguy de Lamotte and most recently Romain Attanasio at the last edition.
Isabelle Joschke (Monin) will sail in double with her project manager, the experienced Alain Gautier, winner of the Vendée Globe in 1992. Isabelle is getting to know her boat which was the first Verdier - VPLP ever, the design built for Marc Guillemot for the Vendée Globe 2008 and sailed by Yann Eliès in 2016.
Finally, the young Irish sailor Joan Mulloy (Kilcullen Team Ireland) will be able to benefit from all the experience of Thomas Ruyant who skippered his Verdier - VPLP design during the Vendée Globe 2016.
Foilers against strong performers
There will be three foilers setting off, all designed by the teaming of Verdier and VPLP designers. Malizia 2 sailed by the duo formed by Pierre Casiraghi et Boris Herrmann is quite simply Sébastien Josse’s former boat, which was particularly well built and has already shown her speed potential.
Louis Burton and Arthur Hubert (Bureau Vallée 2) will be taking up a challenge while enjoying the honour of sailing the boat that won the Vendée Globe in the hands of Armel Le Cléac’h. Louis has decided to spend a a lot of time on the water to learn how to handle his new IMOCA.
Finally, Fabrice Amedeo (Newrest – Art & Fenêtres) intends to move up a step after his qualification for the Route du Rhum, which he obtained in the Bermuda 1000 Race. To achieve this goal, he has called upon the services of the strong all-rounder, Eric Péron, who has shown he is quite capable of moving from Figaros to IMOCAs via Volvo Ocean Race monohulls. A precious talent with a wide range of skills.
These three duos will be facing Paul Meilhat’s strong performing SMA. Paul will be back with his old friend, Gwénolé Gahinet with whom he has already obtained some positive results: winner of the Transat AG2R in the Figaro class, second in the 2017 Transat Jacques Vabre. The duo is certainly clear that they will be giving it their all.
Taking into account the quality of their boat, they know it is going to be hard for them to think about winning. But the Monaco Globe Series is an opportunity for many to build up some more experience and ensure everything comes naturally as the season leading up to the Route du Rhum Destination Guadeloupe gets underway.
Stéphane Le Diraison (Boulogne - Billancourt) has already taken part in one edition of the Vendée Globe aboard his boat, the Finot – Conq designed monohull aboard which Alex Thomson finished third in the 2012 Vendée Globe. After a big refit this winter, this race will be a chance to check over all the modifications that have been made. This time, he will be taking aboard Stan Maslard, like him, a former Mini-Transat racer.
Finally, Manuel Cousin (Groupe Setin) has invited the Swiss sailor Alan Roura to join him aboard the Farr designed boat he first discovered in the 2017 Transat Jacques Vabre when alongside Arnaud Boissières, her previous owner. For Alan, this is above all an opportunity to sail before work is completed on modifying his Finot – Conq boat that is soon to be fitted with foils.
A course which promises surprises
The 2400-mile course looks likely to offer an exciting race. From Monaco, the IMOCAs will dive down to the south of Corsica and the Strait of Bonifacio. Statistically, this is the windiest area in Europe, which could well mean that there will be plenty to watch when they pass through these narrow straits between Corsica and Sardinia.
They will then head to the Aeolian Islands and pass by the foot of the volcanoes, Stromboli and Vulcano. While the name looks exciting, the Aeolians very often suffer from light and extremely variable winds. They will need to be alert and skilful to avoid getting trapped.
The final course mark, the Balearics off Catalonia is another area, where they will have to be wary of of coastal effects downwind of the islands before they cross the Gulf of Lion to make their way towards Monaco and the finish of this race.
Apart from offering many of the teams and partners an opportunity to carry out promotional campaigns in the Mediterranean, the Monaco Globe Series will also see a winning duo crowned, who will have to be able to push hard throughout a race, where there are likely to be many changes of pace. A promising programme to start the long journey leading up to the start of the Vendée Globe from Les Sables d’Olonne in November 2020.