17 starters, 17 finishers
Having 17 skippers fully prepped and ready to race so early in the season was already good news. Many were discovering their boat or new elements of their boat. Six had never made a solo IMOCA race - Sébastien Simon, Maxime Sorel, Giancarlo Pedote (ITA), Clement Giraud, Pip Hare (GBR) and Denis Van Weynbergh ( BEL).
"They sailed in various conditions without anything really tough (up to 35 knots of wind), all of them had a hard time but all of them came through to the line and finished," notes Guillaume Evrard. "And they got caught up in the real tight racing game. We had an incredible finish with four boats crossing in six minutes. "
And it creates a Vendée Globe Community
A year and a half from the start of the solo non-stop race round the world without assistance, it proved very useful for Race Direction is to be able to actually evaluate the qualities of the solo skippers.
"But that is not all,” says Evrard, who is also General Delegate of the IMOCA class. "We want to build and embrace a real Vendée Globe community, to develop the bonds between the skippers and ourselves and to really build a mutual trust with them as early as possible. We share the stories and experiences of these guys and girls. It is good for everyone to have this sense of unity, of family. It's important for the future.”
For 14 of the 17 sailors departing from Douarnenez *, one of the goals was to start or to start out or to continue the selection process to qualify to be on the start line in Les Sables d'Olonne on November 8, 2020, qualifying as per the notice of race.
The race for miles: towards a homogeneous, evenly matched fleet
The Bermudes 1000 Race allowed finishers to add 2000 miles to their qualifying aggregate, to become Vendée Globe starters. From now on, until the departure there are another 9500 nautical miles to accumulate, 3000 in 2019 with the Rolex Fastnet Race (608 miles two handed, or 300 miles per sailor) and the Transat Jacques Vabre (5400 two handed miles or 2700 per sailor). And about 6,500 in 2020 with the two solo transatlantics, The Transat (3500 miles) and the New York Vendée (3100 miles). (NB: the two races in 2020 are subject to course changes that could affect the number of miles).
Sixteen skippers seem likely to be selected automatically, that is those with new boat and those who have completed the Vendée Globe in 2016-17. So there will be just 14 places available in what amounts to accumulate racing miles.
The advantage of this method of selection is that skippers will be much better prepared and the overall level should be more even and competitive, hopefully ensuring that sailors are more closely matched therefore sailing in closer contact and there being less propensity to have stragglers racing on their own, out of contact with the main body of the fleet. That produces a better and safer race.
* All except Sébastien Simon (new boat), Fabrice Amedeo and Arnaud Boissières (Vendée finishers 2016 with their boats) already eligible.
Ranking Bermudes 1000 Race