1992 1993

Alain Gautier joins the hall of fame

In the second edition of the Vendée Globe, victory went to Alain Gautier, who finished first aboard his Bagages Superior. A huge sporting success. However, the race was marred by its first major dramas.

Philippe Jeantot hung up his wet weather gear to become the organiser. Media interest really took off. The hulls on some boats were no longer made of aluminium, but made of composites. That was the case for Alain Gautier’s Bagages Superior, a magnificent ketch (with two masts) designed by Pascal Conq and built at CDK. Fourteen sailors entered the race, but even before the starting gun was fired, the second Vendée Globe took a dramatic turn. The American, Mike Plant, who had already taken part in the first edition, would not make it to Les Sables d’Olonne. He was lost at sea during the delivery trip to the harbour in Vendée. It was the first major drama in the Everest of the seas.

In memoriam of Mike Plant and Nigel Burgess

On 22nd November, the excitement was tangible when they lined up to set sail around the world. A ray of sunshine beamed down on the boats abandoning all those crowds ashore or on the fleet of accompanying boats and helicopters… and they were off. Ahead, a crossing of the Bay of Biscay, which would live up to its boat-breaking reputation. Huge waves hit the continental shelf with 45 knot winds and the first damage was reported. Vittorio Mallingri returned to the harbour followed by Thierry Arnaud. Philippe Poupon feared structural damage to keel and it was worse for Yves Parlier’s boat, one of the favourites, which was dismasted. They would all set off again, including Parlier with a new spar. But that was just material damage, all part of the race and the adventure. Unfortunately, on 26th November, another disaster hit the race. Nigel Burgess triggered his distress beacons. His body was found after drowning off Cape Finisterre. He was in his survival suit with his two beacons. His boat would be recovered with no significant damage. A complete mystery.

As for the race itself, another favourite was knocked out. Loïck Peyron’s Fujicolor III was delaminating, forcing him to retire. The same decision was taken by the brilliant amateur, Thierry Arnaud, who returned to Les Sables. At the front, there was an epic battle between Alain Gautier and Bertrand de Broc, who had extended their lead as they went down through the Atlantic. But Alain Gautier’s Bagages Superior was faster than Bertrand de Broc’s Groupe LG and he made his getaway. He had a lead of 300 miles, when he entered the Roaring Forties. Philippe Poupon was catching VDH and the Hungarian, Nandor Fa, whom he would overtake on New Year’s Eve.

Rambo de Broc

On 8th January, an episode happened that would remain part of the legend of the Vendée Globe. Bertrand de Broc was seriously injured and sliced his tongue open. What could he do, alone on the open seas? He had no choice but to sew it back together himself… Bertrand did this, guided from ashore by the Race Doctor, Jean-Yves Chauve. De Broc was given the nickname Rambo and built himself a reputation of being indestructible. The general public could see for themselves how demanding the non-stop solo round the world race was. The slightest problem could quickly become a mountainous hurdle. Sickness or injury had to be dealt with by the sailor himself. The episode was to become part of the mythical aura around this event. Unfortunately for Bertrand de Broc, his bad luck was not over yet. Imagine his distress, when the designers of his boat informed him that he risked losing his keel at any moment, due to the wrong size of bolt being used. He had no other choice but to retire and head for New Zealand.

Many other sailors had to deal with serious damage. Vittorio Malingri lost his rudder, Bernard Galay suffered autopilot and rudder damage, before his rig was damaged. Jose Luis de Ugarte discovered an ingress of water. The worst situation, as it involved physical suffering, concerned the British sailor, Alan Wynne-Thomas. He was to spend twenty days in the Southern Ocean with six broken ribs. “He used up his stock of morphine in two days,” Jean-Yves Chauve would later explain.

A deserved triumph

Meanwhile, out in front, the leader, Alain Gautier was not spared either. He discovered some water entering on the port side filling the stern compartment at a worrying rate. Then, as he approached Cape Horn, his radio gave up the ghost and he was no longer able to receive the weather info. On top of that, Philippe Poupon’s Fleury Michon was catching him. Bagages Supérior rounded the Horn on 6th February with a lead of 36 hours, but nothing had been decided yet. He had to fight hard each day to maintain or extend his lead on the way back up the North and South Atlantic. It was not easy getting around the St. Helena high, get back across the Doldrums and find the right wind to make it back to Les Sables d’Olonne. But Alain resisted and found his way home sailing so well that he could not be caught. On 11th March, there was one final upset. Unless there was a major surprise, the race had already been won by Alain Gautier, who was some 900 miles ahead… when Philippe Poupon announced that he had lost his mast. Bagages Superior entered the harbour entrance channel the next day after 110 days, 02 hours and 22 minutes. Titouan Lamazou’s record was not beaten, but Alain Gautier was clearly a giant and was celebrated as such. Poupon logically lost his place as runner-up to VDH, who came in second after 116 days. By setting up a jury rig, Philou managed to make it to Les Sables d’Olonne and finish in third place. Yves Parlier, Nandor Fa, Jose Luis de Ugarte and Jean-Yves Hasselin, ranked 4th to 7th were the other heroes in this second edition of the Vendée Globe. We let the winner have the final say. For Alain Gautier, it was clear. “The Vendée Globe is without doubt the race, which gave me the most in life in general, and taught me the most about myself.”

Edition's rankings

  1. Alain Gautier (Fra, Bagages Superior): 110 days 02 hours 22 minutes and 35 sec
  2. Jean-Luc Van Den Heede (Fra, Groupe Sofap-Helvim): 116d 15h 01'11''
  3. Philippe Poupon (Fra, Fleury-Michon X): 117d 03h 34'24''
  4. Yves Parlier (Fra, Cacolac d'Aquitaine): 125d 02h 42'24''
  5. Nandor Fa (Hungary, K&H Banque Matav): 128d 16h 05'04''
  6. José de Ugarte (Spain, Euskadi Europ 93 BBK): 134d 05h 04'00''
  7. Jean-Yves Hasselin (Fra, PRB/Solo Nantes): 153d 05h14'00''


  • Bernard Gallay (Switzerland, Vuarnet Watches), two stopovers after autopilot and structural problems to his rig


  • Vittorio Mallingri (Ita, Everlast/Neil Pryde Sails), loss of a rudder
  • Bertrand de Broc (Fra, Groupe LG), keel problem (New Zealand)
  • Alan Wynne-Thomas (G.B, Cardiff Discovery), medical reason (Hobart)
  • Loïck Peyron (Fra, Fujicolor III), delamination (Les Sables d'Olonne)
  • Thierry Arnaud (Fra, Maître Coq/Le Monde de l'Informatique), lack of preparation (Les Sables d'Olonne)

Lost at sea

  • Nigel Burgess (G.B, Nigel Burgess Yacht Brokers), found drowned in the Bay of Biscay
  • Mike Plant (USA, Duracell), lost at sea during the delivery trip of his boat before the start

Best of

Affiche Vendee Globe 1992
Vendée Globe 1992 - 1993
Arrival of Alain Gautier, skipper Bagages Superior, winner of the Vendee Globe 1992-1993, in Les Sables d'Olonne, France, on march 12, 1993
Arrival of Alain Gautier, skipper Bagages Superior, winner of the Vendee Globe 1992-1993, in Les Sables d'Olonne, France, on march 12, 1993
Start for Alan Wynne-Thomas, skipper Cardiff Discovery, DNF, during the Vendee Globe 1992-1993, in Les Sables d'Olonne, France, on november 22, 1992
Arrival of Alain Gautier, skipper Bagages Superior, winner of the Vendee Globe 1992-1993, in Les Sables d'Olonne, France, on march 12, 1993
10 Galerie 1992