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Vaikobi 2024 LEADERBOARD

Vendée Liberty Speed Trials

by Vendée Globe media 24 May 21:37 PDT 24 May 2024
IMOCA New Europe, Malizia - Seaexplorer, Paprec Arkea and Singchain Team Haikou with the Statue of Liberty during the Liberty Race in New York, USA, on May 24 © Mark Loyd / Alea / Vendée Globe

The wind gods only partially delivered for the NY-Vendee fleet competing in the Vendee Liberty exhibition speed trials on upper New York Harbor today with puffs of breeze deciding the fortunes of the fleet.

Battling north and south winds gave the 60-foot IMOCA sailboats some opportunities to lay down their rails and charge along the one-mile course in front of the Governor's Island audience while others ran out of luck and slid along at sometimes pedestrian speeds.

Romain Attanasio, Fortinet/Best Western, from the first heat of the day sailed up towards the Statue of Liberty then foamed off in a big blast of breeze to capture the fastest run of five minutes and 55 seconds.

Even though the sailors are preparing for next Wednesday's NY-Vendee transatlantic race, and are maxed-out with sponsor obligations and boat repairs, they see this day with friends and VIPs as a time to enjoy this moment in their careers and bathe in the Big Apple atmosphere.

"It's like a dream, you take a five minute ferry here and just a dinghy ride from madame Liberty," said Louis Burton of Bureau Vallee who's daughter was trotting at his side today, a big smile peaking from beneath the brim of a familiar dark blue baseball cap with the curvy "NY" logo of the New York Yankees baseball team. "This time in my life to do that, I don't know if will ever come back here like this. To live that with my team, partners and family, that's incredible."

The IMOCA class is building on the success of transatlantic and other ocean races originating from the U.S. East Coast by inviting the latest American talent to join the NY-Vendee. Rising ocean sailing star and social media phenom Cole Brauer, the first American woman to complete a solo around the world race this year. Brauer teamed up this week with Malizia skipper Boris Hermann. Her efforts to do the 2028 Vendee Globe is expected to raise the profile of this sailing discipline in the States.

"Bringing these sailors to the U.S. exposes American sailors to the structure and culture of French solo sailing," said Leah Sweet, boat captain for Swiss sailorJustine Mettraux's Team Work-Snef. "Those sailors move up a ladder in the Mini, Figaro and Class 40. The sailors, the technical teams, everyone gets excited. It gives something to aim for."

The speed trials were also a reason to bring people from around the world together to share their cultures and ideas, and showcase these racing machines and the Vendee Globe that, through the stories of each sailor, inspires people to achieve their dreams.

The celebration of these boats and sailors preparing for next week's transatlantic race back to Les Sables d'Olonne was in full swing on historic Governors Island as string music filled the air, cassoulet with duck confit satisfied appetites and panel discussions addressed the issues of our times.

Topics during the three round table discussions included partnerships in preserving our oceans, the intersection of art and offshore racing, and connecting the cultures and businesses of France and America.

Some of the top French chefs of New York were serving savory crepes and other cuisine, while famed music instructor William Christie who has worked with Baroque orchestras throughout Europe including in Vendee, France, conducted the incredible student musicians representing The Julliard School of New York City.

Today was a day to take stock of the fleet's readiness for future races as it was the last gathering of the fleet of around the world sailors before next week's NY-Vendee start.

"The level of our preparation is very high," said Sweet. "She has a high performance background and she wants to embody that in her team."

Mettraux will be sailing in her first Vendee Globe in November but after several Volvo Ocean Races and a win in the last Ocean Race, she is considered one of the top oceans sailors of her generation.

The sailors arrived at the awards shining in the sun as the breathless sight of the Statue of Liberty stole the show behind them. This was truly the last moment of relaxation as the sailors' family and supporters enjoyed their time with them. Tomorrow and every day until Wednesday's transit start, they will have their heads down, focused on details needed to make it back across the Atlantic alone. And a spot in November's Vendee Globe is at stake for many.

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