Please select your home edition
Vaikobi 2021 FlexForce - LEADERBOARD

Keeping the Vendée Globe as safe as possible

by Vendee Globe 3 Nov 2020 00:22 PST
Vendée Globe Race management team © Jean-Marie Liot / Alea

During the first week at the race dock in the Vendée Globe start village the required safety equipment of all 33 IMOCAs was checked by the scrutineers. After earlier passing their medical examination and their first aid and medical training, the skippers and their IMOCAs are fully checked off and deemed ready to race.

The Race Direction team of four, led by Race Director Jacques Caraes, formerly a round the world ocean racer himself, keep the fleet under constant surveillance all the way through the race. Their tracker is updated every 30 minutes (and if they suspect a problem they can poll a faster update). So all the time Race Direction are monitoring the fleet, looking for unusually slow speeds or odd course angles. If they suspect anything they will often call the skipper to ensure all is OK. Likewise Race Direction have one direct dial phone number which is always manned for skippers to call 24/7.

Over the last months Race Direction compile a closed 'Rescue Website' on which there is all kinds of very detailed information and detailed images related to the skipper and his or her boat. As well as the different tracking beacons details, the rescue website is a one stop information source for any rescue authority to know all they might ever need to know about the boat and the skipper. That will include images of the boat at different angles as well as visual cues. There are images of the skipper and all of his or her detailed medical history and emergency contacts and family contacts.

Assistant Race Director Hubert Lemonnier reveals, "Our objective is to list, check and summarize all the information in a table in order to be sure that each beacon number is associated with the right boat and the right skipper. Once all of that is done, we log it all on the Rescue website. The aim is to provide rescue authorities with the right information around the clock. Each team must therefore provide us with their beacon numbers, safety information, a photo of the skipper in TPS (survival suit), a photo of the boat with sails, one without a sail, one of the boat lying down and one of the overturned boat." explains M. Lemonnier, "Access to this site is limited to each MRCC. Indeed, access codes are validated from the passage of the first IMOCA into the given MRCC area until the departure of the last IMOCA. With the difference in the speed of the boats, several zones are activated at the same time. We hope we don't need to use it. In 2016, for example we did not need to use it very much but in 2008 it was a very useful asset." M. Lemonnier continues.

The big South - an immense area to watch over...

For the huge surveillance zone from South Africa to New Zealand, a specific mechanism has been put in place with the recruitment of a security consultant, Sydney based Alan Nebauer, a former round the world racer. Says Lemonnier: "Alan Neuebauer's mission is to act as a conduit between the MRCCs in the southern hemisphere (South Africa, Australia, New Zealand) because he will be in the same Time Zone as the Vendée Globe competitors. He will be our eyes and our hands during time in the big south".

In the event of damage, the skipper informs the DC and his technical team by telephone. In the more extreme cases where a boat triggers its beacon, the information arrives directly at the MRCC which, thanks to the Rescue site already has access to all the data. If a boat triggers its beacon, the problem is already serious and the skipper no longer has any means of communication. For the sake of verification, the MRCC calls the race director directly in the event of a beacon being triggered. Hubert Lemonnier: "We also notify the MRCC by email if a serious damage occurs to a boat, such as dismasting, in order to ensure their vigilance. However, they will not escalate anything until a beacon is activated."

The CROSS ETEL are the agency covering the start and the Bay of Biscay

CROSSs (Regional Operational Surveillance and Rescue Centers) are part of the MRCC network. There are 5 in France: Gris-Nez, Jobourg, CORSSEN, Etel, Cross Med La Garde.

Explains Frédéric Garnaud, deputy director of CROSS Etel. In the very defined area of the Bay of Biscay, the CROSS Etel is in charge of coordination so if there is a problem arising on November 8 at the start, we will be there. Internationally, the CROSS Griz-Nez is the French agency which is part of the global group of MRCCs. So if a beacon is triggered in the starting area, the Gris-Nez CROSS will also be warned. Vigilance is essential at the start of the race because the concentration of the ship is important.

Established in Etel since 1969, the CROSS is therefore in charge of monitoring the start of the Vendée Globe in addition to its maritime pollution control missions, fishing and information relating to maritime safety. 150 miles off the tip of Penmarc'h on the Spanish border, it covers 8 coastal departments and the entire Bay of Biscay. Behind a gigantic transmitter ram, the 1000 m2 building is a real hive of activity. 71 people of civil or military status are working closely behind 14 VHF stations on standby for any alarms. Almost 3,000 operations per year are processed following distress calls or requests for assistance. The men and women of the CROSS are one group of the many guardian angels who keep the Vendée Globe as safe as possible.

Related Articles

Vendée Globe - Vision 2024
The tenth edition, starting November 2024, is on everyone's mind Almost 6 months after the first skippers crossed the Vendée Globe finish line already the tenth edition, starting November 2024, is on everyone's mind. Posted on 20 Jun
Champions All, Vendée Globe prize-giving
Thirty-one of the 33 skippers muster in Les Sables-d'Olonne Thirty one of the 33 skippers who competed in the 9th Vendée Globe mustered in Les Sables-d'Olonne on Saturday for the official prize-giving and closing ceremony which saw Yannick Bestaven (Maître-CoQ) receive top award as the overall winner. Posted on 23 May
A new Medallia for Pip Hare for 2024 Vendée Globe
The new owners of the IMOCA Bureau Vallée 2 British skipper Pip Hare and her sponsors Medallia have confirmed they are the new owners of the IMOCA Bureau Vallée 2 which Louis Burton sailed to third place on the Vendée Globe. Posted on 16 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
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
2024 Vendée Globe projects already launched
New ideas and solutions will make it possible to have a faster, better race The president of the IMOCA Class was a passionate fan of the ninth edition of the Vendée Globe. And so now looking forwards to 2024 projects are emerging fast as are new ideas and solutions which will make it possible to have a faster, better race. Posted on 11 Apr
Ambitious 2024 targets for DMG MORI Sailing Team
Kojiro Shiraishi is aiming to return for the 2024 Vendée Globe After finishing 16th in the last race Japanese skipper Kojiro Shiraishi is aiming to return for the 2024 Vendée Globe with the objective of finishing eighth or better, and in partnership with main sponsors DMG MORI Posted on 5 Apr
Back to life, back to reality V 2.0
They are among the latest sailors to have sailed around the world However, for Romain Attanasio, Arnaud Boissières, Clément Giraud, Manuel Cousin and Alexia Barrier, the 2024 Vendée Globe has already started with no real break fro them since they finished the 2020-21 race. Posted on 28 Mar
World capital of single-handed ocean racing
Les Sables d'Olonne is now preparing to welcome you for the next great adventures Port Olona, with its high-quality infrastructures, the infamous channel that so many great sailors have sailed through, the South-facing bay and the Atlantic ocean landing its waves to the expansive beach... Posted on 24 Mar
Hella Dual Colour Floodlights - 728 x 90px - 002 gif BottomC-Tech 2020 Tubes 728x90 BOTTOMArmstrong-Suptonic-728x90-2 BOTTOM