The countdown to the 2016 Vendee Globe is now underway with the aim of displaying the best of what ocean racing has to offer while promoting the colours of its partners. The projects that are currently underway were presented to the media in Les Sables d'Olonne on Monday.
Thirty six sailors are currently working on a strategy to be there at the start of the race in less than 1000 days. Twenty-two of them presented their projects in Les Sables-d’Olonne at a media briefing organised by the SAEM Vendée, the company behind the Vendée Globe. Among them, Alex Thomson, third in the last race, and who will be lining up on Hugo Boss with his usual sense of humour declared, 'With the most competitive budget, at least we’re the best looking team.' Jérémie Beyou (Maître Coq) and Morgan Lagravière (Safran) will also be out there. Tanguy de Lamotte will be competing agin in the colours of Initiatives-Cœur, with his new boat (built for the 2008 race and returning after the last Vendée Globe). Armel Tripon, who has just got his hands on Kito de Pavant’s former Groupe Bel is about to see his dream come true. The same goes for the German, Jörg Riechers, sponsored by Mare, who are the current owners of Jérémie Beyou’s former Maître Coq.
Among those hoping to line up for the next race, Alessandro di Benedetto, Arnaud Boissières, Pascal Bidegorry, Corentin Douguet, Marc Guillemot, Alex Pella and Christopher Pratt took advantage of the opportunity to announce their intention of being at the start in 2016. The presence of Guo Chuan, the first Chinese racer to have sailed solo around the world (in 2013 on a Class40) confirmed how attractive the Vendée Globe is internationally. The aeronautical engineer travelled all the way to les Sables to present his IMOCA construction project: 'Sailing has been developing in China since the Olympics,' he explained. 'The film 'En Solitaire' was also shown in our country.'
'With all the major sailors and various projects that make it what it is, the line-up for the Vendée Globe looks like being exceptional,' declared the President Bruno Retailleau while stressing the amazing successes of all the skippers who were present, before talking about an 'impressive concentration of talent.' In order to support these candidates as they go about looking for partners, the organisers have decided to publish the Notice of Race (fixing the race rules) by next June. With this in mind, the 2016 Vendée Globe Race Director was confirmed as being Denis Horeau, who said that he was 'particularly happy to take up the reins as Race Director for the Vendée Globe for the fifth time, with a team that would be even stronger.' The experienced sailor and former race director for the Solitaire du Figaro, Jacques Caraes, will indeed be assisting Denis Horeau in his role. Vendee Globe website