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The incomparable Vendée Globe - Sail-World.com USA Newsletter

26/10/2020


The incomparable Vendée Globe

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Cyclops Marine 2020 - LEADERBOARD

Eve of the Vendée Globe 2016/17 start - photo © Vincent Curutchet / DPPI / Vendee Globe


Dear Recipient Name

For a race that only started in 1989, the Vendée Globe has reached iconic status in the intervening time. Taking place every four years, this is ocean racing in its purest form; single-handed, non-stop around the world in 60-foot monohulls conforming to the IMOCA box rule.

The 2020-21 edition start is now under two weeks away, on Sunday 8th November at just after midday GMT, and the excitement is immense. This is sailing's chance to steal the sporting limelight around the world.

Fleet at start of the Vendee Globe, in Les Sables d'Olonne, France, on November 6th, 2016 - photo © Jean-Marie Liot / DPPI / Vendee Globe
Fleet at start of the Vendee Globe, in Les Sables d'Olonne, France, on November 6th, 2016 - photo © Jean-Marie Liot / DPPI / Vendee Globe

 
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For the French, the race has always been massive, not just amongst sailors, but the general public as well. In normal years, the start venue of Les Sables-d'Olonne welcomes up to two million visitors to the town and race village, but of course 2020 is not a normal year...

The race itself has grown massively and the technology involved in the boats has continually pushed the boundaries of offshore sailing. Inaugural winner Titouan Lamazou completed the course in 109 days and 8 hours, whereas Armel Le Cléac'h took just 74 days and 3 hours to finish in the 2016-17 edition.

Armel Le Cleac'h on Banque Populaire VIII wins the Vendée Globe 2016-17 - photo © Vincent Curutchet / DPPI / Vendee Globe
Armel Le Cleac'h on Banque Populaire VIII wins the Vendée Globe 2016-17 - photo © Vincent Curutchet / DPPI / Vendee Globe

The fleet size has also steadily increased. The inaugural race had thirteen entries, of which eight finished, although American Mike Plant disqualified himself after receiving minor assistance near New Zealand, making the official finishers count as seven. The 2016-17 race saw 29 skippers from ten countries with a record eighteen finishers, and this year there are 33 skippers lining up to take part.

Famously the race has only been won by Frenchmen with Alain Gautier, Michel Desjoyeaux (the only person to win the race twice), Vincent Riou, François Gabart and most recently Armel Le Cléac'h becoming sailing legends. The closest anyone has come to toppling the French domination is Alex Thomson finishing just 16 hours behind Le Cléac'h in the last edition, and Ellen MacArthur finishing second in the 2000-21 edition, a day behind Desjoyeaux.

Michel Desjoyeaux on Foncia wins the 2008-09 Vendée Globe - photo © Th. Martinez / Sea&Co / www.thmartinez.com
Michel Desjoyeaux on Foncia wins the 2008-09 Vendée Globe - photo © Th. Martinez / Sea&Co / www.thmartinez.com

 
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When it comes to the technology involved in the boats, probably the most visible and marked change in recent years has been the addition of foils designed to lift the hull clear of the water. There is a key difference in the IMOCA class rule from what we see with the America's Cup AC75s or foiling dinghies such as the International Moth, in that the rudders aren't allowed any kind of T-foil, effectively restricting the foiling to reducing the wetted surface area of the boat with the stern usually in the water. Yes, we see occasional photos of boats fully 'launched', but this isn't their usual mode.

Life on board these boats has always been uncomfortable, but the latest generation of IMOCAs take this to a new level. In heavy seas the sailors are literally thrown around as the boat negotiates the waves. The open cockpits of previous years have moved steadily towards fully-enclosed designs, protecting the sailors from the elements. This is entirely necessary with speeds of up 40 knots now possible. Being hit by a cascade of water at these speeds is beyond dangerous.

Autopilots revolutionising solo racing - photo © Lloyd Images
Autopilots revolutionising solo racing - photo © Lloyd Images

An area which has seen a step-change in technology is autopilots. Gone are the days of a device simply keeping a constant heading. Modern autopilots manage how an IMOCA yacht navigates each wave, trying to maintain speeds at their optimum through day and night. These devices outperform humans and don't suffer from tiredness. They relentlessly push the boats to the limit as Sam Davies, skipper of Intitiatives Coeur describes in this excellent article on the subject by Matt Sheahan: "The pilot systems maintain an apparent wind angle and speeds that I hadn't dreamed of trying if I was steering - It makes for quite a violent ride at times."

Initiatives Coeur - photo © Eloi Stichelbaut / PolaRYSE / Initiatives Coeur
Initiatives Coeur - photo © Eloi Stichelbaut / PolaRYSE / Initiatives Coeur

 
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As the apparent wind moves forward, sail design has changed considerably. Headsail options on roller-furlers limit the time sailors have to spend 'on deck' and mean most manoeuvres can be completed from inside the cockpit. The sails have to be designed to perform through a wide range of wind angles as constantly trimming the sails simply isn't an option single-handed in such powerful craft.

So, who will win the 2020-21 edition? The Vendée-Arctique-Les Sables d'Olonne provided a few pointers with Jérémie Beyou's Charal taking victory after a nip-and-tuck battle with Charlie Dalin on Apivia and Thomas Ruyant on LinkedOut. There's no doubt that this trio will be in the reckoning to win overall.

Charal leads the Vendée-Arctique-Les Sables d'Olonne Race - photo © Gauthier Lebec / Charal
Charal leads the Vendée-Arctique-Les Sables d'Olonne Race - photo © Gauthier Lebec / Charal

The next group in this race included Samantha Davies (Initiatives Coeur), Kevin Escoffier (PRB), Yannick Bestaven (Maitre CoQ IV) and Boris Herrmann (SeaExplorer-Yacht Club of Monaco) who also have fast, albeit older, designs.

Of those that suffered damage in the Vendée-Arctique, Sébastien Simon on Arkéa-Paprec, who broke his starboard foil, and Armel Tripon on L'Occitane en Provence are known to be fast.

The big unknown is Alex Thomson on Hugo Boss. Third in the 2012-13 edition and second in the 2016-17 race, will this finally be his chance to top the podium and finally end the domination of the French in this race? The boat itself looks the part, but actual racing time for Alex has been lacking. He certainly has the experience, and has overcome obstacles in the past, such as sailing almost the entire previous race with a broken foil, so maybe, just maybe, this will be his time.

British yachtsman Alex Thomson, skipper of 'HugoBoss' leaves Gosport for the start of the Vendée Globe  - photo © Mark Lloyd / www.lloydimages.com
British yachtsman Alex Thomson, skipper of 'HugoBoss' leaves Gosport for the start of the Vendée Globe - photo © Mark Lloyd / www.lloydimages.com

The Vendée Globe has all the ingredients to be an absolute classic: incredibly fast and eye-catching yachts with the ability to transmit the experience of the sailors directly to us armchair sailors at a time when many of us are restricted in what we can do with our own sailing. On Sail-World.com and YachtsandYachting.com we will be bringing you updates in words, pictures and videos throughout the entire race and we're incredibly excited about how it unfolds!

Mark Jardine
Sail-World.com and YachtsandYachting.com Managing Editor

 
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Clarisse Cremer: "There is still a lot unknown to me on this Vendée Globe"
In what is actually a very short time Clarisse Cremer has gone from the Mini Transat in 2017 to the IMOCA and the Vendée Globe in 2020. But at the age of 30 years old, nothing seems to distub her chirpy demeanour and her unquenchable thirst for learning.

70th Bermuda Gold Cup, 2020 Open Match Racing Worlds set for competition
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Full time career airline pilot Ari Huusela will return to his job flying long haul with FinnAir after his Vendée Globe. The solo racer from Finland is putting his desire to finish as his top priority as he seeks to realise a dream of more than 20 years.

2020 Optimist European Championship at Portorož, Slovenia - Great success despite challenges
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Kojiro Shiraishi: "This is not a one time shot"
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iQFoil International Games at Campione, Lake Garda - Overall
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Lush believes Olympic offshore event will educate sailing fans worldwide
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2020 Rolex Middle Sea Race: Inspiring performance
The Rolex Middle Sea Race always demands the highest standards in sailors of all generations, both professional and Corinthian. This year, the 41st edition, demonstrated profoundly the human endeavour required to succeed.

Situation almost normal - 15 days to the start of the Vendée Globe
If the capacity has been limited due to the health situation, and face masks and careful monitoring are the order of the day, the level of interest and excitement is every bit as great as ever before.

 
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Updated race management resources for IRC race organisers
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Yannick Bestaven: "There is a lot of pressure in what we do"
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Rolex Middle Sea Race 2020: The results are in
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David Barnes, triple 470 world champion and Big Boat skipper, dies at 62
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BRITANNIA takes flight in Auckland
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D-18 Vendee Globe: Kojiro Shiraishi – Dream of being first Asian skipper to complete Vendée Globe
I asked Kojiro Shiraishi what his biggest fear is, as a solo sailor setting out to take on the world alone in the Vendée Globe, and he gave me an answer that I was not expecting - one that indicates the mental strength required of a true single-hander.

Rolex Middle Sea Race 2020: Elusive Two
It is the year that just keeps on giving. By midnight on Wednesday, 15 of the 50-boat fleet had completed the course. Ten of those were competing under IRC for the overall Rolex Middle Sea Race trophy

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Dinghy Racing Channel: How to rig an RS Aero
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Intro to Short-handed Racing - J/99 JEDI
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Two of the principal parties in the 36th America's Cup have issued conflicting media statements tonight over correspondence and agreements relating to the course area allocations for the Prada Cup, or Challenger Selection Series.

Thomas Ruyant, unfinished Vendée Globe business and among the favourites
On the 2016 race Thomas Ruyant was lying eighth when his IMOCA60 memorably hit a floating object hard while he was west of New Zealand.

America's Cup: Challenger of Record disappointed to learn of secret letter
The Challenger of Record for the 36th America's Cup has issued the following statement following decision of the Arbitration Panel, today. CoR36 claim that they only learned in September about a letter written by Ports of Auckland back in January.

America's Cup: Defender outraged by Arbitration Panel decision
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America's Cup: Mayor calls for rethink on controversial course decision
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America's Cup: C-Tech from Cup sail battens to superyachts and high-profile aerospace projects
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America's Cup Rialto: October 21 - American Magic's Patriot's hull does the trick
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Miranda Merron: "The South? I tell you what it is just not a place for mankind"
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I Love Poland takes monohull line honours in the 2020 Rolex Middle Sea Race
I Love Poland (POL), skippered by Grzegorz Baranowski crossed the finish line of the 2020 Rolex Middle Sea Race at the Royal Malta Yacht Club to take Monohull Line Honours at 11:58:05 CEST on Wednesday 21st October.

AC36 challengers launched, Key West racing returns, Vendee Globe race village opens
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Oman Sail to host 2021 49er, 49erFX, and Nacra 17 World Championships
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WASZP appoint global class manager
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America's Cup Rialto: October 20 - Luna Rossa design team steers a steady course
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IMA Mediterranean Maxi Offshore Challenge 2020-21 announced
The prime role of the International Maxi Association, as endorsed by World Sailing, is to encourage and support all forms of maxi racing internationally.

Maserati takes line honours in the 2020 Rolex Middle Sea Race
Maserati Multi70 (ITA), skippered by Giovanni Soldini, crossed the finish line of the 2020 Rolex Middle Sea Race at the Royal Malta Yacht Club to take Multihull Line Honours at 20:41:31 CEST on Monday 19th October.

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