Gathered in Les Sables-d’Olonne this Thursday 3 October, the skippers signed up for the next Vendée Globe got together with the team responsible for organising the event. Delighted to meet up with one another, they discussed a number of practical matters with a view to the upcoming edition and, notably, the number of competitors permitted to take the start, initially 30 to 34. This morning, 31 sailors were there.
The Vendée Globe 2020 is fast approaching… Indeed, with a little over a year until the start, all the teams are bending over backwards to ensure they make the cut: fine-tuning of the boats, preparation of the next races with the Transat Jacques Vabre in their immediate line of sight and fleshing out of the teams. For its part, the SAEM Vendée is also gradually raising its game to ensure it’s ready for action within the allotted time.
An expected modification of the Notice of Race
It was a joint wish on the part of the organiser and the IMOCA class to issue the Notice of Race much earlier on than in previous editions, in a bid to enable the teams to better structure their projects and rack up the miles with a view to the Vendée Globe.
This first version of the Notice of Race outlined the various steps in the qualification process. In this way, competitors with a new boat and those who had completed the Vendée Globe 2016 had privileged access to one of the thirty places on offer, subject to the completion of a qualifying passage. Meantime, the other competitors were guided towards the Globe Series access route. Those with the most miles covered in the Globe Series would be granted priority access. It’s a win-win principle since it encourages each team to clock up as much time on the water as possible, getting everyone fired up for the competition. Today, 34 applicants have already voiced an interest and three further projects are still awaited.
Therefore, in light of this influx of applications the SAEM Vendée, in agreement with the IMOCA class, has modified the Notice of Race to state that the number of applicants permitted at the start will be 30, plus four wild cards agreed by the organiser.
A very welcome decision
In order to accommodate the fleet in favourable conditions, the Vendée department, with the participation of the port of Les Sables-d’Olonne, has undertaken significant development work within Port Olona. This includes rock excavation in the basins to increase the depth, construction of a wooden landing stage measuring 2,200m2 and development of the pontoons to accommodate monohulls kitted with foils…
All these measures inevitably come as a great relief to the skippers gearing up to earn the right to be on the start line in November 2020. They also highlight the fact that the SAEM Vendée is making every effort to ensure that the show is complete and that they are working closely with the racers. The Vendée Globe is, after all, a collective adventure…© Christophe Favreau
Yves Auvinet, President of the Council of the Vendée department
“This matter of opening up the registration to a greater number of applicants couldn’t wait any longer. I sensed that it was becoming a crucial point for a number of teams. For my part, I’ve consulted various protagonists and paid close attention to their reasoning: Race Management, the IMOCA class, the FFVoile and the partners of the SAEM Vendée. It seemed obvious that we needed to provide a little more equanimity and enable sports projects which are already very committed to this project, to go all the way with this adventure. The work undertaken in Port Olona will enable us to accommodate all the entries in favourable conditions.”
Kevin Escoffier (PRB)
“This decision obviously comes as a great relief to us. Even though I was confident and believed I would qualify, this will enable us to work with a little more composure. The upcoming race programme is dense and the previous Notice of Race didn’t leave a lot of room for error. Now we’ll be able to race without too many reservations.”
Armel Tripon (L‘Occitane)
“As I have a new boat, this makes no difference to me. However, it’s a very good thing that there will be more competitors at the start. On top of that, you get the sense that the organiser is pulling out all the stops to do things right and to accommodate us as best it can, which is really nice.”
Sam Davies (Initiatives Cœur)
“I wasn’t particularly stressed. I was sure a solution would be found. It won’t make any difference to the way I conduct my project. To be ready, I need to get in as much sailing as possible. You need to find the right balance between competitive goals and the desire to finish races. I have a high-performance boat and the perfect co-skipper for the Transat Jacques Vabre in Paul Meilhat. We’ll do the best we can, in the knowledge that to get a result, first you have to finish.”
“Having finished the last Vendée Globe, I automatically have the right to be at the start (subject to qualification). However, I think it’s a good decision: it’s important that the Vendée Globe remains open to as many skippers as possible.”
Miranda Merron (Campagne de France)
“It’s a very wise decision, given the number of serious projects signed up. Behind every racer is a team, partners and economic challenges. It’s reassuring to know that a reliable project has every chance of succeeding. My objective right now is to continue making the boat reliable and sailing with confidence before raising my game competitively.”