Please select your home edition
Edition
Doyle Sails 2020 - Redefining Boundaries 728x90 TOP

Vendée-Arctique-Les Sables d'Olonne Race starts tomorrow

by Ed Gorman (preview video by Matthew Sheahan) 2 Jul 2020 23:00 PDT 4 July 2020
The IMOCA fleet is set for the Vendée-Arctique-Les Sables d'Olonne Race © Eloi Stichelbaut / IMOCA

After the unprecedented interruption of the IMOCA racing season because of the Covid-19 pandemic, the action on the water is finally about to start with the innovative new 'Arctique' race, starting on 4th of July, 3.30pm CET.

The Vendée-Arctique-Les Sables d'Olonne race, with a unique course, a modified race organisation to meet the requirements of public safety and a new bespoke communications plan, has been devised to make up for the loss of The Transat CIC Race and the New York-Vendée-Les Sables d'Olonne race.

The 3,566-mile "warm-up" for this year's Vendée Globe solo round-the-world race, starts on Saturday afternoon from outside Les Sables and will feature 20 skippers from five nations, among them four female skippers.

The IMOCA Class regards this brand new race as an important step towards not just preparation and qualification for the Vendée Globe for the skippers, but helping their commercial partners get ready for the Vendée Globe later this year.

IMOCA describes the Vendée-Arctique-Les Sables d'Olonne race as "a powerful symbol to boost the confidence of the 125 partners committing to the Vendée Globe." The race will also provide an opportunity to implement all of the on-board systems and processes that will be in place during the Vendée Globe.

The race features almost all the Vendée Globe top guns with the notable exception of Britain's Alex Thomson on board Hugo Boss who has decided not to take part and focus instead on his own build-up strategy to his fifth entry in the world's greatest solo ocean race.

The race will provide the opportunity for five skippers to formally complete their qualification for the Vendée Globe - Clément Giraud (Vers Un Monde Sans Sida), Isabelle Joschke (MACSF), Kojiro Shiraishi (DMG MORI GLOBAL ONE), Sébastien Simon (Arkéa Paprec) and Armel Tripon (L'Occitaine En Provence).

Because of the Covid-19 pandemic there will be no race village at Les Sables d'Olonne. Instead skippers - sailing solo - will arrive at the start area outside the town by 13.00 hours local time on Saturday, ready to take the start at 15.30. They will use the same start zone that will be used for the Vendée Globe on November 8th. The race is expected to take 10-12 days, with the first finishers due on July 14th.

Most of the skippers will be intent on just trying to complete the course and make sure their boat does so in one piece. The course takes them north to a virtual waypoint - the 'IOC-UNESCO' Waypoint, named in honor of the IMOCA Class 'science and ocean' partner - about 200 miles southwest of the southwest tip of Iceland, before then turning south to the 'Gallimard Editions' Waypoint off the Azores and from there to the finish at Les Sables d'Olonne.

This race will take the IMOCA fleet farther north than ever before. The skippers are likely to face tough conditions in the opening phase, including strong headwinds in big seas off Rockall in an area where there are also plenty of commercial fishing boats.

While the first half looks pretty tough - and is dominated by the effects of a classic North Atlantic low pressure system - the second half could be dominated by light winds. The race director may yet move the Gallimard Waypoint if there is a danger that the fleet will become trapped in light airs around the Azores.

At the front of the fleet this will be an exciting opportunity to see how the new foilers perform going upwind with the latest boats expected to produce consistently faster boatspeed on this point of sail than before. The top performers are likely to include Jérémie Beyou on Charal, Charlie Dalin on Apivia, Thomas Ruyant on LinkedOut, Kevin Escoffier on PRB and Boris Herrmann on SeaExplorer-Yacht Club de Monaco.

Armchair racers will be able to follow the action on the official tracker which will be updated every 30 minutes, all day and all night. At the start, the position updates will be posted every five minutes. There will also be coverage on French, German and Italian television.

The official timekeeper for the Vendée-Arctique-Les Sables d'Olonne race is watchmaker Ulysse Nardin which is also the official timekeeper for the Vendée Globe. The first skipper to reach the turning mark south of Iceland will receive a timepiece from Ulysse Nardin, as will the winner at the finish.

Several of the skippers will be using the race to help study the health of the Atlantic Ocean. Six of them will deploy weather buoys during the race which will gather meteorological and oceanographic data and two boats - that of Fabrice Amadeo (Newrest-Art & Fenêtres) and Boris Herrmann - will carry on-board sensors measuring ocean salinity, CO2 levels, temperature and micro-plastics in the water. Boris will also deploy an Argo Profiling Float which will measure salinity and temperature.

Yves Auvinet President of the Council of the Vendée Department, said the Vendée is underlining its status as the centre for sailing in France with its hosting of this new race.

"The primary partner of the Vendée-Arctique-Les Sables d'Olonne race, the Vendée department is asserting itself more than ever as THE department for sailing," he said.

"Indeed, with its 255 kilometres of coastline, the Vendée is naturally geared towards the sea, which forms an integral part of its identity and promotes the intrinsic values of the people of the Vendée: namely the zest for a collective adventure and a passion for setting oneself new targets. As a result, we are delighted that the Vendée is playing host to this race organised by the IMOCA Class," he added.

The town of Les Sables d'Olonne is also delighted to be hosting this race which is now a vital part of the build-up to the Vendée Globe from Les Sables in November.

"Celebrated as the start venue for the Vendée Globe, Les Sables d'Olonne has also been the finish venue for the summer's final preparatory race since 2016.

"As soon as the COVID-19 crisis made the race start in New York impossible, the town of Les Sables d'Olonne immediately agreed to pull out all the stops to host all the sailors at the start of this race with its new formula.

In this way, the 4 July kick-off will serve as the ideal dress rehearsal on the same start zone as the Vendée Globe this coming November," the town said in an official statement.

Key Dates: (French Time)

  • Friday 3rd July
    All boats depart to make the delivery trip to the start line in Les Sables d'Olonne
    15:00hrs: Press briefing with Race Management

  • Saturday 4th July
    13:00hrs: Deadline for competitors to arrive at the start zone
    15:30hrs (LIVE TV): Start of the Vendée-Arctique-Les Sables d'Olonne

  • From 14th July to 18th July
    Boats finish in Les Sables d'Olonne
Find out more at www.imoca.org/en/races/imoca-globe-series/vendee-arctique-les-sables-d-olonne

Related Articles

European Commission Patron of Ocean Race Europe
Sustainability is integrated into The Ocean Race's DNA Virginijus Sinkevicius, the European Commissioner with responsibility for Environment, Oceans and Fisheries, has been announced as the Patron of the inaugural edition of The Ocean Race Europe. Posted today at 1:18 pm
The Ocean Race launches Relay4Nature
Shining a spotlight on ocean leaders, innovators and advocates An initiative of The Ocean Race, Relay4Nature will involve a baton passing from team to team, shining a spotlight on ocean leaders, innovators and advocates. Posted on 7 May
All you need to know about the new IMOCA rules
A limit on foil size, measures to reduce environmental impact and contain costs The updated IMOCA rule seeks to limit foil size and limit environmental impact and to contain costs. The new rules which are in force until 2025 were unveiled by the IMOCA Class last week. Posted on 7 May
The Ocean Race announces communications partner
Inmarsat to power The Ocean Race with its cutting-edge technology Exclusive agreement will deliver advanced digital content capabilities, safety services and onboard connectivity for The Ocean Race Europe 2021 and The Ocean Race 2022-23 Posted on 5 May
Vendée Globe - On course for 2024
A starter for 10... they have done it before and already said 'yes' The huge wave of enthusiasm for the Vendée Globe during and after the last edition means there are more and more solo skippers intimating their plans to do the next race which will start November 2024. Posted on 4 May
Interview with Catherine Chabaud MEP
First female Vendée skipper now cares for ocean health Back In 1997 Catherine Chabaud became the first female sailor to complete the Vendée Globe, taking sixth place and in so doing becoming the first woman to race solo non stop around the world without assistance. Posted on 28 Apr
SailGP news, TOR goes green, and new IMOCA rules
Latest newsletter from Sail-World's David Schmidt in the USA The weather may have been cold and rainy for the Seattle Yacht Club's Protection Island Race this past Saturday on Puget Sound, but things were fortunately warmer in Bermuda, where sailing unfurled for the first event in the 2021 SailGP season. Posted on 27 Apr
New IMOCA rules for 2021-25
Geared towards more sustainable performance Over the winter, the Vendée Globe sailors treated us to a thrilling competition and their ability to share the values of solidarity really appealed to the public. Posted on 26 Apr
The Ocean Race announces climate change initiative
Aiming to make its next round-the-world race in 2022-23 climate positive The sailing event, known as the greatest test of a team in sport, is announcing the move as part of an ambitious climate change initiative and a key part of its work to protect and restore the seas. Posted on 22 Apr
Team Childhood I to enter The Ocean Race Europe
Swedish - Dutch joint venture sets sail to keep children safe from violence and sexual abuse With a star ensemble of Dutch pro-sailors and young talents Team Childhood I will enter The Ocean Race Europe. The Swedish - Dutch joint venture sets sail to raise awareness for and keep children safe from violence and sexual abuse. Posted on 21 Apr
Sea Sure 2021 - Transom Fittings - FOOTERSelden 2020 - FOOTERReverso Air 2021 FOOTER