On 10 November 2024, the Vendée Globe skippers will set off on the 10th edition of the non-stop, non-assisted, single-handed round-the-world race. They will sail down the legendary Les Sables d'Olonne channel, cheered on enthusiastically by the public in Vendée, before setting off across the seas of the globe and attempting to beat Armel Le Cleac'h's record, by completing the 45,000-kilometre course in less than 74 days, 3 hours and 35 minutes.
The toughest sailing race
Nicknamed the Everest of the seas, the Vendée Globe is the most demanding of all sailing races. Kojiro Shiraishi, the Japanese skipper who has already finished the circumnavigation in the 2020 edition, can testify to this: "There is no safe place on the Vendée Globe course. The southern seas are the most hostile, but from start to finish, there is danger everywhere." But its toughness is also its beauty: "it's the most extreme and the most beautiful race" confides Arnaud Boissières, who is about to take part in his 5th Vendée Globe. Benjamin Ferré, a young rookie, adds: "It's the greatest race of all, the one that most people dream about, and it has incredible symbolism: it's one man, alone on his boat, sailing around the planet. It's the most poetic thing in the world and that's why it brings people together so much." He continues: "We come here to find the value of deprivation: we leave what we love most in the world so that we can be even more aware of it when we find it again". While the skippers come to learn about their own limits, above all they learn to go beyond them. In the most remote corners of the planet, on the most hostile seas, they seek to apprehend the unknown: "it's this unknown that makes this race so unique" adds Arnaud Boissières.
An eagerly awaited popular event
During a Vendée Globe, the skippers forge very close links with the public, who are always in ever greater numbers in the village of Les Sables d'Olonne and on the sides of the channel for the start and for all the finishes. Paul Meilhat - forced to retire in 2016 and returning in 2024 - remembers: "the descent of the channel in Les Sables d'Olonne, in terms of emotions, is one of the most powerful moments I have ever lived through". As well as being a sporting competition and an extraordinary adventure, the Vendée Globe is also one of the biggest popular sporting events in France. The event is becoming increasingly international every edition: in 2024, 1/3 of the candidates are international.
Strong enthusiasm for this 10th edition
Alain Leboeuf, President of the Vendée Globe: "We are extremely enthusiastic about the idea of celebrating the 10th edition of the Vendée Globe in 2024. Never before has the event generated such enthusiasm. This anniversary edition promises to leave a lasting impression". The first record for 2024 is the number of candidates: 44 for 40 places at the start.
There will be plenty of festivities for the public during the 3 weeks of the village in Les Sables d'Olonne, but also in Paris with a very fine exhibition at the Musée National de la Marine from October 2024 until the end of the round the world race.
*And yes, the year 2024 is a leap year, so 10 November 2024 is 366 days away and not 365 like the usual countdown one year before an event!