03 November 2020 - 17:26 • 7233 views



Following the positioning of the Antarctic Exclusion Zone, Race Direction of the Vendée Globe have confirmed the course distance for the imminent ninth edition of the race at 24,296 nautical miles, 44,996kms. The theoretical course distance in 2016-17 was 24,394 miles.

In collaboration with CLS, the race partners who monitor the ice zones and movement, Race Direction have now marked out the exclusion zone using 72GPS points. The 33 solo racers must stay north of this limit line at all times.

Jacques Caraës, the Vendée Globe race director, explains: “For the past several months, we have been working with CLS (Collecte Localization Satellites) to monitor the movement of ice in the Antarctic zone, in the Indian Ocean as in the Pacific Ocean. These satellite images are monitored and processed at CLS Brest by a radar specialist. We established an initial zone on October 1 and, last Saturday, we refined the positioning and published the Start Version of the Antarctic Exclusion Zone”.

Overall the present and predicted ice situation has allowed Race Direction to lower the the Antarctic Exclusion Zone by around 1 °. But they have moved the GPS points north by around 1 to 2 ° in the area west of Georgia. The proposed route was initially 24,385 nautical miles as at October 1 and on start day it will be 24,296 miles. Obviously the further south the fleet races the shorter the route.

The position of the ice fields are not the only determinants in positioning the exclusion zone. The Australian Maritime Rescue Coordination Center (MRCC) and the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) request four points which mark their safe rescue limit from their centres, of around 1000 nautical miles. This is agreed between the Australian authorities and Race Direction in particular following the rescue of injured Yann Eliès in 2008. These four points are located at latitude 46 ° 00 South and run from 105 to 120 ° East longitude.

Modifications are possible

The zone can be updated during the race. Caraes explains, “We update the exclusion zone during the race watching to see if the ice moves north. We take pictures before the first ones approach the Kerguelen and, if CLS detects an iceberg or suspects its presence, we issue an “Ice Report” to the fleet. And we can move the GPS points within a defined framework, based on the position of the leader, and which respects their navigation strategy.

There are also key Traffic Separation Scheme zones which are prohibited to keep the fleet way from shipping traffic schemes. The Sailing Instructions determine GPS points to delimit prohibited zones at Cape Finisterre, Cape Roca (the westernmost point of Portugal), Cape St Vincente (southwesternmost point of Portugal), Mauritania, and to the east and west of the Canaries

For this 2020-2021 Vendée Globe Race Direction has also established two additional forbidden zones around TSS areas which previously might not have been considered to be on the usual course to the finish line of the Vendée Globe. But recall that en route to winning in 2016-17 Armel Le Cléach showed that, with the foilers and under certain wind and sea conditions, it was beneficial to go north of France before slanting back down to Les Sables. Thus the Ushant TSS and Scilly Ouest have become prohibited zones.

In order to make the tracking more accurate and easier to read Race Direction will run a moving waypoint in front of the leader. This position, on the great circle route, is the mark from which the classifications will be computed.


* The Sailing Instructions authorize the DC to modify the course as follows: "... before the first boat reaches longitude 30 ° west of the first point (of the zone) and / or before the first boat reaches latitude 15 ° north of the latitude of the point (of the zone)".