To take part in the Vendée Globe, the investment is between 2.2 and 2.5 million euros, half of which can be written off as depreciation and that is without taking into account the sum obtained on reselling the boat after the race. That is what it would cost a firm taking the plunge now, remembering that most of the skippers have given themselves until the month of March to find a partner. We can certainly understand what Christophe Chabot, the boss of Akena Vérandas, when he recently stated at a meeting in Nantes: "The risk is so limited and the return on investment so big that not taking part would be a mistake." He knows what he is talking about: his company’s turnover has tripled since he first took part with Arnaud Boissières in 2008, “and I’d even go as far as to say, as Jean-Jacques Laurent of PRB explained that at least a third of this is down to the development of our image thanks to the Vendée Globe.”
Four times cheaper
There are around half a dozen good boats from the last generation but one that are still available for between 700,000 and 1 million euros. We can compare this figure to the 3.5 million euros or more that boats in the latest generation cost. In other words, the cost of purchasing a boat – to do the same race – can be a quarter of the price of a boat developed specially for the race over the past four years. On top of that, you only need to budget for 12-18 months of running costs instead of the four years involved in a project launched at the end of the last race. And that is without taking into account those sailors-adventurers, whose goal is quite differnt from the racers, as they intend to share their experience of a very differnt round the world race.
To buy or to charter?
In practical terms, the possibility of chartering a boat can be considered in some cases, but the difference in cost from buying a boat that is on the market is relatively small (particularly when we must remember that there is always the possibility of continuing after the Vendée Globe). In fact chartering a boat will cost between 600,000 and 800,000 euros and there can be various problems in terms of insurance and liability. That is any case what Yann Eliès believes as he is talking about a budget of "2.5 million euros for 18 months including everything,” from 1st January 2012. "In general it’s going to be about that amount, remembering that the boat and all the parts and sails that are bought can be written off for depreciation, which represent around the half budget. I really think this is affordable. Particularly as the boats on the market have been tried and tested and that is without taking into account the resale cost of the boat after the Vendée."
“Things are clearly starting to move”
As for Bertrand de Broc, he recently told us that he was looking at a budget of 2.2 million euros. He can remember that way back in 1993, the media coverage value for him was estimated to be around 10 million. It is this same figure of 2.2 million (without taking into account the resale price) that Jérémie Beyou, another big name in ocean racing, has come up with. He can boast some amazing success this year with wins in the Solitaire du Figaro and the Transat Jacques Vabre). "It would seem wiser to go for a purchase. Firstly, that would mean you can continue afterwards, but also simply because in the end it works out costing less, for example, if we include the residual value of the boat after the Vendée Globe, which should in my opinion be somewhere between 400 to 500,000 euros."
Little difference in terms of speed
All of this with a very good chance of reaching the podium, as we saw in the Transat Jacques Vabre that the speed differential between the last two generations of boat is fairly small. A valid argument indeed, particularly if we look at the media frenzy around the Everest of sailing. Jean Le Cam, Jérémie Beyou, Bertrand de Broc, Yann Eliès – just to give a few of the more familiar names – are right to keep believing. "Things are clearly starting to move and I remain optimistic", Jérémie Beyou went as far as to say. “Now is the time to hurry things up to sign with a partner and buy the best boat. Which do I prefer? The former Foncia, Brit Air, Aviva, Estrella Damm, but there is also the former Hugo Boss and DCNS... nothing has been done as yet, but I remain hopeful that I can be there at the start." We certainly wish him luck in his venture.