No announcement yet.

2016-2017 Vendee Globe

  • Filter
  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts

  • 2016-2017 Vendee Globe

    The magic of the Vendée Globe can begin...

    - 28 out of the 29 competitors are now present in Les Sables d'Olonne
    - Sébastien Destremau is expected around 19th-20th October
    - The Village opens tomorrow (Saturday) at 10 a.m. in Port Olona

    On Friday 14th October, the fleet is almost complete at the Vendée Globe pontoon. 28 IMOCAs out of the 29 (Sébastien Destremau is due to arrive around 19th or 20th October) have been moored up in Les Sables d'Olonne since last night. In the space of less than 24 hours, 23 boats made their way through the harbour entrance channel in Les Sables, with most of the competitors arriving during the day yesterday ((Thursday 13th October). In the middle of the night, Banque Populaire VIII, Le Souffle du Nord pour le Projet Imagine, Safran, 100% Natural Energy and Quéguiner-Leucémie Espoir were the latest boats to moor up. Since yesterday, the crowds have been out to greet the solo sailors and see their boats. There are now three weeks of festivities scheduled in the Vendée Globe Village, which opens its doors tomorrow at 10 a.m. local time.

    "All of the boats are now moored up at the Vendée Globe pontoon, except for one, which received dispensation, Sébastien Destremau's TechnoFirst-faceOcean, which was dismasted and required repairs late on," explained Jacques Caraës, the Race Director, who was present to welcome each sailor arriving at the pontoon. "The last five boats arrived during the night. So, now they're all here. Everything went smoothly and the first briefing for team managers is scheduled for 3 this afternoon. Sébastien Destremau is currently sailing up the coast of Portugal. It's all going perfectly!"

    all images © Olivier BLANCHET / DPPI / Vendée Globe

    You can feel the tension building in Les Sables d'Olonne, as if the countdown had begun to the big day, when the race starts at 1202hrs UTC on Sunday 6th November. Between then and now, the sailors will be juggling with their communications obligations, trying to get some rest, while remaining fully focused on what lies ahead. The crowds will be able to enjoy the atmosphere and let their imagination run wild.

    Opening of the Vendée Globe Village on Saturday at 10 a.m.
    On Saturday, the inauguration ceremony in the Vendée Globe Race Village is scheduled for 10 a.m. in the presence of Yves Auvinet (President of the SAEM Vendée), Bruno Retailleau (President of the Pays de la Loire Region), Didier Gallot (Mayor of Les Sables d'Olonne) and Pascal Cadorel (Sodebo). For the ribbon cutting and the group photo, the official personalities will be joined by the 28 skippers currently present in Les Sables d'Olonne. The sailors will then be able to carry on their work, while there is a procession for the dignitaries through the Village, before they get back with the sailors at 11.30 a.m. for the pontoon visit. The traditional official photo of the skippers will take place an hour later in front of the pontoon in Port Olona.
    As a reminder, the Village will be open every day from 15th October to 6th November from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. local time. Late openings are also planned on Saturdays with doors closing at 10 p.m. (15th October, 22nd October, 29th October, 5th November).


    Fabrice Amedeo (Newrest-Matmut):
    "What a pleasure it is to be here. It's a victory to moor up in Les Sables d'Olonne and to tell ourselves that in just over three weeks, we'll be casting off to set sail around the world. It was highly emotional this afternoon sailing through the harbour entrance channel!"

    Romain Attanasio (Famille Mary-Etamine du Lys):
    "I was feeling stressed out, when I left home, so the delivery trip was a bit of a battle, and we had quite a lot of wind during the night. I'm pleased to have made it to Les Sables."

    Jérémie Beyou (Maître CoQ):
    "The delivery trip went well with ideal conditions. We left Lorient at nine and got here at one this afternoon. Everything is set up for the next three weeks, and I'll be focusing on the start of the race."

    Jean Le Cam (Finistère Mer Vent):
    "Finally! It hasn't been easy getting here. But we're here now and are ready for the start."

    Sébastien Josse (Edmond de Rothschild):
    "The pressure will gradually build, but I'm keeping calm and am ready to deal with everything in the coming days and have included that in my preparation."

    Stéphane Le Diraison (Compagnie du Lit-Boulogne Billancourt):
    "We've carried out the final checks and are really pleased with the boat. For me it's a victory being here. It seems unreal, but the welcome to Les Sables was fantastic."

    Tanguy De Lamotte (Initiatives Cœur):
    "There are more boats on the pontoon than 4 years ago. It's going to be a great race. You can feel that the locals are getting excited. I'm starting to remember everything about my last Vendée Globe."

    Alan Roura (La Fabrique):
    "To be honest, getting here is magic. We worked around the clock to get this far. I don't think there's any pressure on me, but I haven't really grasped what's happening to me."
    " I just found out my nest egg has salmonella" Photo Gallery

  • #2
    3 Weeks And Counting Until Vendee Start


    They all jumped into the atmosphere and excitement in the Vendée Globe Village, and are busy with interviews, autograph sessions, visits from sponsors, while everyone wants to shake their hand. "We're going to have to be careful, as we're going to miss this, when we're out at sea," Kito de Pavant said yesterday on the pontoon. How do the skippers cope during this period? What do they do each day? How do they get any rest? When will they really enter their own little world as an ocean racer? The sailors told us about what their current life is like in amongst the crowds.

    Some are busy dealing with final details, making adjustments, because they struggled to find the time or money. Then there are others, who manage to get away from it all to get some rest, as their boat is fully ready with everything sorted. The Swiss sailor Alan Roura (La Fabrique) is one for whom these final three weeks feel much too short: "We've still got plenty to do to be ready for the start. I won't have much time for anything else. I'm going to be busy working on the boat.". Jean Le Cam (Finistère Mer Vent) also got his funding together late on and is taking advantage of these final days to work on the technical aspects: "There's no time for taking it easy. It's been a year that I haven't had time for that."

    Bringing the crowds and sponsors together
    With a million visitors in the Village in 2012, the Vendée Globe is the only sailing event like this with fans, tourists, the general public getting so close to sailors, boats and teams. The pontoon has been full since the boats arrived last Thursday. The sailors take that into account. "It's a time when we get together with the public and sponsors and we all enjoy it," said Jean-Pierre Dick (StMichel-Virbac). Vincent Riou (PRB) also makes the most of this period: he will be talking to 350 clients of PRB about his passion for racing alone around the world, which he is doing for the fourth time: "This is how our projects work. We want to see everyone here, our supporters, we have to share this passion for the Vendée Globe with them." Each sailor has a carefully drawn up schedule organised by their press attaché or by a member of their family, to allow them to get a little time to breathe. "I have some slots in the morning and evening, so I can go surfing, swimming or jogging. I'm trying to keep to my routine," explained Sébastien Josse (Edmond de Rothschild). Yann Eliès (Quéguiner-Leucémie Espoir) is never without his Figaro or his surfboard either. At 8 on Sunday morning, he was out there surfing and hopes to get in two or three sessions on his Figaro Bénéteau 2 to stay in contact with the sea and the elements.

    Some time off before it gets going
    While Jérémie Beyou (Maître CoQ), Fabrice Amedeo (Newrest-Matmut), Vincent Riou (PRB), and the majority of international skippers, like Rich Wilson (Great American IV), or Kojiro Shiraishi (Spirit of Yukoh) are based in Les Sables d'Olonne for three weeks, many have decided to take a few days off to get away from it all. "During these days off, I'll have some normal days with sport, looking after my son and taking some time out," stressed Thomas Ruyant (Le Souffle du Nord pour le Projet Imagine). Jean-Pierre Dick will be going off for nature walks with his partner to try to forget everything and get some rest. The idea for them all is to reduce the stress. Everyone has their own method, as they look forward to 1202hrs UTC on 6th November.


    Sébastien Josse (France), Edmond de Rothschild:
    "I went through some physical training in Brittany and I'll be continuing in Les Sables d'Olonne. We have to keep at it, as there is a lot to do and it's important to stay in good shape. I'll be running, swimming and surfing if I find the time. I'll sail once a week to remain focused going through everything right up to the start. I want everything to stay in place on board to be ready for the big day."

    Kito de Pavant (France), Bastide Otio:
    "These three weeks in Les Sables are different from the others. We see so many people, while in general sailors tend to be quiet and keep to themselves. We mustn't get used to it, as we'll miss it during the Vendée Globe! I'm taking some time out, but am remaining focused on the race. Sailing around the world is complicated, as there are so many things to think about."

    Vincent Riou (France), PRB:
    "I've a busy schedule right up to 6th November, and I'll be here all the time except for one weekend, when I'll go home. We're seeing 350 clients, so am present every morning in la Mothe-Achard with the firm to answer their questions about the Vendée Globe. I leave them to it at lunchtime, as I want to have a light meal and have a little nap. After that, they visit the boat. That is what allows our projects to work. If we want to interest people and have support, you have to invest beforehand. We have to share our passion for sailing and the Vendée Globe with them."

    Alan Roura (Suisse), La Fabrique:
    "I'm working with a small team and have lots of little details left to deal with to be ready on the big day. I also have to deal with the media, and this is part of my job. My days are full and I'm getting through a lot of coffee. I don't have any time for anything else, but I hope to get three days off to get some rest and forget things."

    Kojiro Shiraishi (Japon), Spirit of Yukoh:
    "I'm making the most of my stay in Les Sables d'Olonne. I'm soaking up the atmosphere with the spectators. The atmosphere on the pontoons is incredible. The boat is more or less ready for the Vendée Globe. I still have a bit of learning to do about the computer. On the week of the start more than a hundred people from Japan (sponsors, friends) will be coming to Les Sables d'Olonne to visit the Vendée Globe Village. They are going to be impressed seeing such excitement."

    Jean Le Cam (France), Finistère Mer Vent:
    "I'll be busy over the next three weeks with media commitments, autograph sessions and the technical work. My project is rather unusual. We got our rig and sails at the last moment. Fortunately, we got a lot of support. There's no time for easing off, but I'll try to get some rest."

    Thomas Ruyant (France), Le Souffle du Nord pour le Projet Imagine:
    "The schedule is very full during the first week with lots of interviews. We were ready, when we got here, so I don't have much to do on the boat. We're enjoying the event and soaking up the atmosphere. I have planned to take a week off with my family in Lorient with some normal days."

    Arnaud Boissières (France), La Mie Câline:
    "We're going out sailing on Tuesday, as we have a few things to see to on the boat, such as setting up the autopilot, for example. The visits from partners are scheduled here in the workshop, which makes it easier than aboard the boat. I became a Dad last week, so I'm getting used to not getting much sleep!"

    Louis Burton (France), Bureau Vallée:
    "I'm really enjoying it here. It's great to attract so many people and see how the public is interested in our project. The boat is almost ready and the family is on their way. I'm trying not to get too stressed and to stay calm. We have decided to set up appointments on the first and last week in general. I'll be taking some time off in the middle. Apart from that, I'm doing some cycling, so I am managing to do some sport..."

    Jean-Pierre Dick (France), StMichel-Virbac:
    "It's never that easy. You have to deal with the situation, but in the end, it's a moment when we get together with the public and our sponsor. We try to be available to them, even if the race is already on our minds. We also need to take some time out, do some sport to sleep well and keep up the exercises. My trainer is here. I'm swimming, cycling, so not doing anything dangerous During my week off, I won't be going home. I'm going abroad with my partner to enjoy the natural world and do some walks together."
    " I just found out my nest egg has salmonella" Photo Gallery


    • #3
      Evolution Revolution

      Over the past thirty years, the boats sailed around the world by solo sailors have gone through several radical design changes, firstly for safety reasons, but also to adapt to more stringent class rules. However, the boats have continued to improve in terms of performance with each edition of the Vendée Globe. In the first non-stop solo round the world race, the winner Titouan Lamazou took 109 days and 8 hours, while François Gabart has held the record since 2013 after completing the voyage in 78 days and two hours, or in other words an improvement of 25% in spite of the race course being around 20% longer.

      Dive into the world of the Vendée Globe Will Britannia one day rule the waves?

      Ocean racing is probably the mechanical sport, which has changed the most over the past thirty years. The first 60-foot boats designed to sail around the world date back to the 1996 BOC Challenge, the second edition of the solo round the world race with stopovers. But since then, when the winner was Crédit Agricole III, a boat built of aluminium and which was heavy and bulky, weighing in at 15 tonnes, designers have tried to find ways to increase power, while reducing weight. So, in the first Vendée Globe (1989-90), there were no real design constraints, apart from the length of the hull, but with each passing edition, the domination of wide “sleds” with a lot of ballast and sail has been thrown into question, particularly after the tragic 1996 race, when three boats capsized (Dinelli, Bullimore, Dubois) and one sailor was lost (Gerry Roufs)…

      Wing mast and canting keel
      While they have tended to become more reasonable with IMOCA class rules, which take into account the stability of the boat and imposes safety gear, the 60-foot boats have continued to include innovations. In 1996, Yves Parlier set sail around the world with the first wing mast. In 2000, Michel Desjoyeaux won with a canting keel, which allowed the boat to be stiffer. Then, there were the asymmetrical daggerboards, more ballast tanks, huge progress in terms of weather forecasting with the use of Grib files and on board routing systems, sails which no longer lost their shape and hulls made of pre-preg carbon…
      IMOCA boats took the time down to under 100 days in 2001, completing the round the world voyage in 90 days in 2005, then in under 85 days in 2009 and in 78 days in 2013. Yet, class rules have become increasingly limiting with a maximum beam today of 5.85m, a maximum draft of 4.5m, an air draft of 29m, a maximum of five appendages, minimum freeboard height and coach roof volume… There have been changes in leadership in terms of the design teams: Finot-Conq, Lombard, Owen-Clarke, Farr, Kouyoumdjian, then VPLP-Verdier with straighter lines and rounder bows to increase lateral stability.

      Foiling crazy
      However innovation costs money and in 2013 the skippers planned to move to a one-design boat to keep costs down. The idea was rejected, but certain elements of the puzzle that makes up a 60-foot IMOCA were standardised (mast, keel) and the volume of the ballast tanks limited. Inspired by the catamarans in the America’s Cup, the designers came up with the idea of adding foils to lift up the hulls and increase the boats’ speed and power. Six new prototypes have been fitted with these new appendages and one older boat modified to include them.
      But because the 2016 rules limit the number of appendages to five (a keel, two rudders and two daggerboards), the designers had to think of a dual function appendage: an anti-drift role to stop the boat from moving sideways when sailing against the wind and with the function of lifting the boat up in addition to the canting keel, which also contributes to that. The tip of this foil is the key element for the former, while the elbow helps raise the boat, and the shaft, which comes out of the hull, is just a way to support the tip. After a number of sea trials, the skippers and designers defined the best adjustment possible, remembering that class rules forbid the modification of the incidence of the foil. They then changed the shape from the initial designs to enhance performance, in particular when sailing upwind.

      Now, all of the foilers are fitted with version 2 (except Hugo Boss following damage to the foil), but each one has gone for a small difference, with the aim of cranking up performance: doing better upwind, more powerful with the wind on the beam, raised up when sailing downwind… There is a significant gain in power thanks to the foils at between 70° and 120° from the real wind. That is when the appendage in conjunction with the canting keel raises the hull up, reducing drag and offering an increase in speed of two knots in comparison to a traditional IMOCA without foils.
      This latest design feature is now better tuned after a year of tests, but there are still questions about the outcome in the non-stop solo round the world race. Which of the boats will survive? Those that fly on the water with their foils or those that are simply lighter. Who will come out on top after two and a half months of sailing around the three oceans, where there is a huge range of weather conditions from Southern storms to equatorial calms? We should get the answer around 20th January 2017 in Les Sables d’Olonne…
      DBo / M&M
      " I just found out my nest egg has salmonella" Photo Gallery


      • #4
        The best race on the planet, IMHO!


        • #5
          A Fighting Spirit

          Just to be in Les Sables d'Olonne preparing for the start of his first Vendée Globe is in itself the realisation of a dream he has held for 30 years. His race will honour the legacy of the remarkable Yukoh Tada his mentor who gave up driving a taxi in Tokyo to race in the first BOC race around the world in 1982-3, winning his class, Class 2 when Philippe Jeantot won the race. They became close friends and Tada sought to take part in the first Vendée Globe but could not raise the funds.
          Tada, a remarkable painter, poet, author and saxophonist took his own life in Sydney during the 1990-1 BOC Challenge, said to be the result of his problems with his 50 footer Koden VII which had capsized three times during the race and lost her keel.

          Shiraishi himself was a key member of Tada's shore team and has carried on his legacy and spirit, taking second place in the 2003 Around Alone in the Open 40 class and then second behind Bernard Stamm in 2006.

          He comes to the Vendée Globe armed with two successful circumnavigation races in his locker and with the well proven Farr designed IMOCA Spirit of Yukoh. The boat had a chequered history to start with, born in Cowes, England as Estrella Damm then becoming Sebastien Josse's BT which retired into Auckland from the 2008-9 race with rudder damage. But by 2011 it was fully optimised and strengthened for Alex Thomson, finishing runner up in the Transat Jacques Vabre in 2011 and then took third in the last race as Hugo Boss then more recently finished second in the Barcelona World Race as Guillermo Altadill and José Munoz Neutrogena. In the summer Shiraishi finished seventh in the New York- Vendée race, his shakedown with the 2007 Farr design.

          In the warm autumn sunshine of Les Sables d'Olonne, the smile that seems permanently affixed to the face of the first Asian soloist ever to compete in the Vendée Globe is even bigger than usual. A mix up from the hardware supplier means he has just had the primary winch drum from François Gabart's 2013 record holding, race winning IMOCA Macif fitted to his Spirit of Yukoh.

          "Now maybe I can sail as fast as François, maybe I will get round in under 80 days!' grins Shiraishi, his infectious enthusiasm spreading to the huge crowds on the dock.

          "I am so happy to be here. This is a dream which I have held for almost 30 years, since I heard about it from my mentor Yukoh Tada. So being here now is just incredible." He explains, "I just kept that dream in my head all of these years. I feel closer to him and I am so happy that my sponsors have allowed me to keep the name of the boat as Spirit of Yukoh in his honour. They understand the story and respect that."

          He has an excellent team of mainly French preparateurs and the boat is in good shape:
          "I am not quite ready at 100% yet. But I will be making adjustments all the time and I am sure that by the time I get back I will be fully ready! There is nothing big to do. It is all good. Since the New York-Vendee race we have had some new ropes and sails. We have five new sails from North Sails, a new main in 3Di which is lighter, and also the J1, J2, J3 and the blast reacher which are all new. Our objective most of all is to get around and so for example the blast reacher is heavier, it is very strong but it is hard because it is heavier. I talked with the sailmakers and the objective is to finish so the sails are all a little bit stronger and heavy."

          By now well proven and successful, changes to the boat since he took it on are relatively minor.
          "There are not many changes (to the boat) since the Vendée Globe and the Barcelona World Race. Alex (Thomson) had all the ropes coming to the cockpit and that was a bit complex for me and so I have some of them lead now to the base of the mast. I am happy going to the mast occasionally because I feel I can see and check more as I go. But I have had lots of input from Alex. The boat is very strong I think, if Alex could not break it then it's good for me."
          He is a firm believer in fate and good fortune:

          "This boat has had some very good luck. I feel strongly about luck. I think in the Vendée Globe and solo sailing the contribution of luck is about 20 per cent of the whole race. But really we don't know what will happen and so you need to have the luck go your way. I am trying not to fight nature as it comes to me but to have the whole universe on my side."
          And his pursuit of the Vendée Globe is breaking into the mainstream Japanese TV media:
          "There is a lot of interest from mainstream media in Japan, NHK and TV Asahi. TV Asahi is going to do at least one live interview all the way through the race. That is huge and they have a massive audience for their nightly news. And NHK is like the BBC and will do a three part documentary after the Vendée Globe. I will shoot in 4K and so they will have ultra high definition output."
          He concludes:
          "It will be amazing to be on the start line. We will have a full Samurai send off on the day. I can't wait to be going."

          And meantime with 12 days until the start will he be taking some time away from the incessant buzz and stress of the race village?
          "No time off. I rest after I am dead."
          " I just found out my nest egg has salmonella"

 Photo Gallery


          • #6
            The foilers look fast, if they don't break or latch onto objects, living and otherwise.

            Can you even sleep onboard in foiling mode?


            • #7
              Master of the School of Hard Knocks

              Triumphant in the summer's warm up New York – Vendée Transatlantic Race and three times winner of La Solitaire du Figaro, the incredibly competitive solo one design classic stage offshore race which is sailed each summer in 32-foot one design Bénéteau Figaro 2s, Jérémie Beyou on Maître CoQ ranks as one of the favourites to win this eighth edition of the Vendée Globe.

              His two previous attempts ended in early abandons. In 2008 his rigging failed on Delta Dore and he retired on the 17th day of racing when approaching the north of Brazil. On the ninth day of the last race he had to turn Maître CoQ round due to keel problems.

              Despite the successive hard knocks dealt him by the uncompromising, often cruel Vendée Globe, the hard driving skipper from Brittany's Bay of Morlaix - who grew up sailing with and against the childhood friends that now also rank among his biggest rivals to win this race, Armel Le Cléac'h and Yann Eliès, Beyou remains eternally pragmatic and grounded.
              As with others who have yet to beat the Vendée Globe, successive failures have only rendered him harder and smarter. His uncompromising strength and fitness programme is, once again, the talk of the dock. Technically he has striven relentlessly to improve and optimise his Maître CoQ, formerly Le Cléac'h's Banque Populaire which finished second in the last edition, he and his team making the decision to retro fit foils last winter and relaunching the boat on 16th April this year.

              As with most of the skippers Beyou has spent the last few days taking time, relaxing away from the race village, cycling and surfing with his young family. He has never been better prepared for a big ocean race.

              "I try not to think about luck." Beyou says, "In the past we were not so well prepared. First time we had not sailed so much with the boat and the mast. And one of the things winning the Figaro and other races tells me more than anything is that you have to prepare absolutely the best you can and you make your luck."

              All of the winning skippers of the last four editions of the Vendée Globe have trained with the elite Pole Finistere Course au Large group at Port-la-Forêt, Desjoyeaux (2000 and 2008), Riou (2004) and Gabart (2012). Beyou has been part of the squad there for 20 years since he started in the Figaro and has embraced the collaborative, open processes which constantly raise the level of the group. Nine skippers have worked together within this set up, Roman Attanasio, Beyou, Jean Pierre Dick, Eliès, Sébastien Josse, Morgan Lagraviere, Le Cléac'h, Paul Meilhat and Riou, all sharing the same goal, to win the Vendée Globe.

              "We are always sailing with the other boats and so you do get to know their relative strengths. We work in turn on every different area, strategy, meteo, medical, through the whole year. And with this group it is an environment which is designed to make it easy to make improvements."
              "When we are working together in a common group it is as open as possible. We start the day with a briefing to discuss common goals, some days will be boat on boat, some offshore, some boat speed, manoeuvres. The coaches work hard to keep it open and the flow of information coming. For example you will report every ten minutes or so on set up and changes. Speed testing you will not discuss sail areas but configurations and what set up you are using. You have to answer but maybe not always people give the right answers. It happens."
              "The differences now, for example since the number of ballast tanks has been reduced, are smaller than before. Generally PRB is still considered to be the fastest all rounder."

              The programme has stepped up significantly since the successes in the last race when Port-la-Forêt programme boats took three of the top four places.

              "We have had more specific, specialised experts in more often, meteo guys like Pascal Bidégorry and Jean Luc Nélias, sail designers and specialists always with a full debrief."

              Béyou will start on Sunday 6th November on the heels of a sound victory in the summer's New York-Vendée race, a bruising race which proved and acid test for boat and skipper. Since the last Vendée Globe he added his record-equalling third Solitaire du Figaro victory, considering the white hot offshore event an essential component of his solo programme.

              "The fact is that the chances to race on the IMOCA are infrequent. The Figaro really sharpens you up. It is the only way to get racing as close over prolonged periods."

              His most consistent and equally successful Figaro rival Eliès returns to the Vendée Globe.
              "I really like Yann and respect him as a competitor. He is very talented. I was reading that he says he does not have the best boat in the fleet but we will see about that. He will be in the match I am sure."

              And of his other childhood pal, Le Cléac'h who has twice finished second in successive Vendée Globes?

              "He is the favourite. He seems very sure of himself. I know him very well. We were very close and used to do everything together but in this world when you are competitors at this level it is inevitable you move apart and have separate lives. This is such a huge challenge but for sure we respect each other."

              Vendée Globe: more than 300,000 visitors in a week

              The Vendée Globe race village remains a popular pilgrimage for hundreds of thousands of visitors who travel to Les Sables d'Olonne to see the 29 strong fleet of IMOCA race boats, the skippers and to enjoy the expansive, interactive displays.
              In the first week since opening (from 15th to 23rd October), more than 300,000 visitors came to Port-Olona. This is more or less the same numbers as visited during the corresponding pre-start week in 2012. The fine weather, school holidays and the fast approaching date of the start means the crowds are increasing by the day.
              " I just found out my nest egg has salmonella"

     Photo Gallery


              • #8
                An Eclectic Edition

                A Vendée Globe of all the extremes

                With competitors from ten countries aged between 23 and 66, boats launched between 1998 and 2015, budgets for some representing ten times that of another, some very different race times can be expected... While the Vendée Globe has always brought solo sailors together on the start line with a wide range of goals, some seeing themselves as adventurers, while others are extremely keen racers, the line-up for this eighth edition seems particularly eclectic, whether we are looking at the men taking part or their boats.

                Throughout its history, the Vendée Globe has brought together sailors with more or less experience and boats capable of varying levels of performance. We didn't have to wait for the new foiling IMOCAs to see a wide range of speeds out on the water. In the first edition of the Vendée Globe in 1989-1990, there was a huge difference between Titouan Lamazou's Ecureuil Aquitaine II and Jean-François Coste's Cacharel (ex Pen Duick III). That was clear to se with their race times. Titouan Lamazou won the race after 109 days, while Jean-François Coste brought up the rear two months later after 163 days at sea...

                In the following six editions, these differences contributed to the appeal of the race. For various reasons, this eighth edition, which starts in ten days from now on 6th November, appears to push this even further. "This Vendée Globe brings together a huge range of boats and skippers. Their backgrounds are very different from each other and there are massive differences in speed between the boats. The spectrum is much wider than in the past. This is the Vendée Globe of all the extremes," explained Jean Le Cam, who has not missed a single edition since 2004.

                43 years difference in age between the eldest and youngest entrant
                This year's Vendée Globe sees the youngest competitor ever taking part and the eldest too. The Swiss sailor Alan Roura is just 23, while the American, Rich Wilson is 66. We can compare that to four years ago, when the youngest competitor was Louis Burton (27) and the eldest, Dominique Wavre (57).
                On the day the Village opened in Les Sables d'Olonne, Alan Roura and Rich Wilson got to know each other and saw that in spite of the age difference of 43 years, they share the same passion for the sea and the same approach to solo ocean racing and more particularly to the Vendée Globe. In this eighth edition, there are two competitors under 30: Alan Roura and Morgan Lagravière (29). There are four, who are over 60: Nandor Fa, Pieter Heerema, Enda O'Coineen and Rich Wilson. The average age of the 29 competitors is 44.

                Rookies and experienced sailors
                Apart from their age, there is a striking difference too in terms of experience. Some have already completed several round the world voyages, while others have only spent a few weeks at sea. No fewer than five skippers will be setting off for the fourth time in the Vendée Globe: Bertrand de Broc, Jean-Pierre Dick, Jean Le Cam, Vincent Riou and Alex Thomson. Six for the third time and four for the second time. The fourteen others are rookies...

                "There are around ten competitors in it to win it, while others are looking for adventure, including some I don't really know yet. But it's nice seeing them in the Vendée Globe. It's what makes our sport so interesting," declared Armel Le Cléac'h. "In the past in the Vendée Globe, around 50 % of the projects were serious contenders and 50% of the sailors were hoping merely to complete the race. This time there is a higher percentage of the second category. I don't know if that is a good thing, but it is very different in any case from previous editions," added Vincent Riou, the only previous winner lining up this year.

                A much more international line-up
                In addition to different career paths, the geographical origins of the sailors are very different this time around. No fewer than ten nationalities are represented, including four represented for the first time: New Zealand (with Conrad Colman), the Netherlands (with Pieter Heerema), Ireland (with Enda O'Coineen) and Japan (with Kojiro Shiraishi, the first Asian competitor).

                Boats launched between 1998 and 2015
                Sébastien Destremau has declared that he is setting off with a microscopic budget of 350,000 euros, while the big teams have more than ten times that to spend... It is true that the 29 IMOCAs moored up in Les Sables d'Olonne are all 60-foot boats. But you just have to stroll along the pontoon to see how different they are. There are some historic monohulls with glorious past histories and others that are brand new and ready for battle. The oldest boats were launched in 1998: Romain Attanasio's Famille Mary-Etamine du Lys (Catherine Chabaud's former Whirlpool) and Sébastien Destremau's TechnoFirst-faceOcean (Josh Hall's former Gartmore). The other vintage boats date back to 2000, Alan Roura's La Fabrique (Bernard Stamm's former Superbigou) and Didac Costa's One Planet One Ocean (Ellen MacArthur's former Kingfisher). Didac Costa is docked next to SMA (the boat that won the last Vendée Globe) and Hugo Boss (a new generation IMOCA with foils launched in 2015 for Alex Thomson). Five other boats were launched last year: StMichel-Virbac (Jean-Pierre Dick), Banque Populaire VIII (Armel Le Cléac'h), Safran (Morgan Lagravière), No Way Back (Pieter Heerema) and Edmond de Rothschild (Sébastien Josse).

                It is not merely in the harbour that the differences are clear. "In terms of performance in some points of sail, there is a huge gulf between the foilers and the older boats. During the delivery trip between Lorient and Les Sables d'Olonne, we overtook La Fabrique doing 13 knots, while we were doing 24!" explained Jérémie Beyou. In 2013, François Gabart won the Vendée Globe in 78 days and Alessandro di Benedetto was the last skipper back to Vendée after 104 days. The arrivals stretched out over 26 days. The gaps may well be much wider this year...
                " I just found out my nest egg has salmonella"

       Photo Gallery


                • #9

                  A Brighter Future

                  Britain's Dee Caffari, the only woman to have sailed non-stop around the world three times, a record which includes a sixth overall in an epic 2008-9 Vendée Globe, returns to the start and finish port of the legendary solo non stop around the world race, Les Sables d'Olonne, next week to share in the unique atmosphere when hundreds of thousands of well wishers line the water's edge to send this edition's 29 brave soloists on their way on Sunday 6th November.

                  Caffari and her French based compatriot Sam Davies, friends and rivals during the 2008-9 race which saw only 12 finishers from 30 starters and crewmates on Team SCA – the all women crew on the last Volvo Ocean Race (crewed stage race around the world) – harbour dreams of competing in the Vendée Globe again. Both miss this Vendée Globe race because the short time available to them after the completion of their Team SCA commitments precluded any kind of competitive Vendée Globe campaign.

                  But Caffari hopes that changes to the crew composition rules for the pinnacle crewed race around the world – the Volvo Ocean Race - might also help more female sailors make the big step up to solo racing around the world.

                  If more women sailors can gain hard experience in the hostile wastes of the Southern Ocean, competing in different roles in the more secure, supported environment of mixed sex or more all female race teams, she feels that women will be better equipped to go it alone and inherently more competitive after learning in the crewed in the environment.
                  For example it should improve the pathway from La Solitaire de Figaro or Class 40 racing, for to solo IMOCA racing and ultimately the Vendée Globe. With five women competing in last summer's La Solitaire du Figaro solo stage race between France and England, Caffari believes that the 2020 Vendée Globe might see women competing again.

                  Caffari explains: "The Volvo Ocean Race is making rule changes to incentivise teams to have females. The GC32 (foiling multihull circuit) is changing the rules to allow an extra crew member if it is a female or a youth team. They are encouraging female participation. But I think it is encouraging that there were five girls in the Figaro and unfortunately for those women who did the last Volvo the timing just does not work. Hopefully there will be a big push for next time."

                  There is no shortage of talent nor likely candidates for the next edition: "I think the Vendée Globe is on women's agendas. Isabelle Joschke had a storming Transat and she is prime to step up to this league, same as Justine Mettraux on the Figaro. Anna Corbella was talking about it. So there are definitely women ready and it is on their radars. I am hopeful that in four years they will all be in Les Sables d'Olonne, and me, and I know Sam Davies would love to be there too."

                  And she has no doubts women can prove as competitive as their male counterparts, under the right conditions: "I think the race is still up for grabs. Everyone doubted Ellen MacArthur, the little petite English girl whupped them. Sam was only just off the podium, I was sixth. Because the Vendée Globe is a law unto itself it really never follows the rankings, you can put people in lines of where you expect them to finish, but it never really follows that. It is such a war of attrition it never materialises like you think. As long as you have a competitive boat, you have sailed the miles, you play the weather well and push hard you will be in amongst it. It is one of the few races where we have shown it makes no difference to be female."

                  And she believes the Volvo Ocean Race can be a transition stage to the Vendée Globe for aspiring females: "Now I am thinking that more women in the Volvo will help bridge the gap from the Figaro to the Vendée Globe. It will give them the Southern Ocean experience with a team around them and then can make the transition to solo easier."

                  If it was one or the other – a perfect Volvo or a perfect Vendée Globe programme what would Caffari choose? "The Vendée Globe. Without doubt. Nobody can take anything away from you. The good bits are you and the bad bits are down to you. You have to put it all together and make it work to get round. It is the Ultimate. In the Volvo you rely on the team around. I like the intensity of the Volvo. It is 100% all the time. When you sleep it is still on at 100%. And living the Volvo at that intensity has made me a better sailor."
                  " I just found out my nest egg has salmonella"

         Photo Gallery


                  • #10
                    Red, Orange, Green

                    French and international race skippers are returning to sun drenched Les Sables d'Olonne after taking a their final rest at home before what is always a frenetic, highly charged last week before the Vendée Globe solo non stop around the world race starts next Sunday, 6th November. The warm weather and summer like temperatures on France's Vendée coast belie what is ahead over the next 70-80 days but continue to draw big crowds to the town.

                    The young French based skipper Conrad Colman, who holds dual nationality of both New Zealand and the USA, would prefer to be spending time with the thousands of interested visitors, discussing his bid to become the first solo skipper to complete the Vendée Globe using only 100% Natural Energy sources. But he still has the final pieces of a complicated financial jigsaw to put in place. Colman will be the first Vendée Globe skipper to use his primary electric motor – in place of a diesel engine - as a power generating source as its turning propeller becomes a hydrogenerator. His programme – relatively late and seeking primarily to validate the natural technologies and deliver a strong message – contrasts with that of Vincent Riou. The only skipper in the race to have won the Vendée Globe before, in 2004, is relaxed, ultra ready and – entering the final countdown to his fourth attempt at the solo round the world race - needs only to concentrate on the new long term weather outlook as it evolves this week.

                    The Whys and Watts of Conrad Colman 100% Natural Energy
                    Conrad Colman is the only skipper planning to push off the dock on Sunday 6th November seeking to become the first soloist to race around the world non stop in the Vendée Globe using only 100% natural energy, that is to say no fossil fuels. On an older boat, launched in 2005, Colman is resigned to the fact his IMOCA 60 does not have a race winning pedigree, but his primary goals come from the heart. "The objective is to have it as a reflection of my philosophies. Growing up in New Zealand I was aware of the hole in the Ozone layer there. Even when I was little I would always clean the beaches with my mum. I still do. And I was always taught to tread lightly," Colman adds. "I converted to become a vegetarian and still am not especially because I care about cute lambs but because I was more concerned about the global impact of the chain, of food production and consumption. And so the project is a reflection of my ideals. Electrification is coming in our infrastructure."

                    At the heart of Colman's energy system is an electric motor. When the boat is moving the prop opens about one third and turns, generating electric power which is stored in nine batteries. Colman has solar panels on his mainsail on the coach roof of 100% Natural Energy. And he is fitting a Watt & Sea hydro generator as back up. Fully charged he has a range of five to seven days depending on how hard the autopilot has to work. As his electric motor is also motive power for the IMOCA a data logger monitors his electronic input and output as the equivalent of an engine 'seal'.

                    And he asserts that alone reduces his stress levels and allows him to focus on sailing efficiently. The biggest downside? With no heating it is going to be chilly in the south for the 34 year old. In Colman's mind getting around and proving it can be done comes ahead of targeting any particular finishing place. In the 2008-9 race Yannick Bestaven, the founder of the Watt & Sea hydrogenerator was an early pioneer for hydro and renewable power but had to retire in the Bay of Biscay. In the 2012-13 race Javier 'Bubi' Sanso came very near to completing the race but lost his keel and had to abandon Acciona 100% Eco Powered capsized 360 miles south of the Azores. Colman takes up the baton with a fierce passion.
                    Colman explains: "I have 350 watts of flexible solar panels on the mainsail either side, just above the second reef. I am installing 400 watts of solar panels on the cabin top and three I am able to use the propulsion battery pack for my service needs. So that was something which Bubi Sanso did not have, he had a hydrogen fuel cell and a huge series of batteries and all that was attached to his (electric) motor which was sealed (he did not use the engine to generate electric power) and so he was carrying a huge capacity which he was not able to use."

                    "Because I have an electronic seal, which is essentially a data logger which captures the status of the system for one minute over each of 90 days, I am allowed to make withdrawals into the propulsion battery pack. Thus for the first time ever in the IMOCA circuit then I can use the propulsion propeller as a generator. In four years we have made such a big step forwards and I am using all of the tools we have on board, not just carrying around static weight.
                    Colman will effectively be the first skipper to be allowed to use his electric engine and its prop as a hydrogenerator. "The drag is negligible. It does not even register a change on the speedo when it is goes on."

                    “Nobody else is doing this. Damien Seguin was using the same electric motor in Class 40 racing but was not allowed to use it as a hydro generator because the class rules do not allow this electric ‘seal’. And it requires someone who has different priorities other than winning the race to develop this technology and adapt it to an ocean racing boat. I knew I was not going to win and so I was looking for something unique, reflection of myself and with this very late entry and with an older boat, my priority is on doing it differently, asking questions of the status quo and trying to build something for the future.”

                    Transatlantics, the back and forth. Depending on the conditions and how hard the pilot is pushing I have between five and days on autonomy and also I am using a prototype brushless motor on my autopilot and so it is a way of increasing reactivity and reducing consumption. It is a prototype which has been put together by Teem in Lorient along with NKE. We pulled off the old motor off the hydraulic ram and now have a programming box and a brushless motor. It is programmed slightly different so that it is super reactive but only makes the gesture when it needs to. That reduces the latency. If the stroke lasts a second then there is still a warm up and a cool down phase at each end of that. For the useful stroke you are therefore energy at the beginning and the end of the stroke which is not useful energy. Hydraulic rams have been going out of favour because they are going out of favour but this is bringing them back. Mechanically they are super reliable, very strong and so if we can economise the movement then overall as a package they are more efficient. “
                    Colman is still trying to find a last minute sponsor or white knight backer to help with his communication budget throughout the race.

                    Riou Two?
                    Some people might rail against the very idea of a bespectacled 44 year old with salt and pepper grey hair riding a skateboard. Hipsters anywhere in the world would not bat an eyelid. But for the discreet, retiring Vincent Riou, it is all part of his physical preparation as he seeks to become the only the second skipper after Michel Desjoyeaux to win the Vendée Globe twice.

                    The meticulous technician prepared Desjoyeaux's winning boat, PRB, in 2000 before stepping up to win in 2004-5 in the colours of the Vendée based building supplier which has a long and proud association with the race dating back 24 years. Quiet and unassuming Riou is a favourite on the crowded dock in Les Sables d'Olonne. He is the housewives' secret crush, as befits a Vendée Globe winner in this region, just as he is also the accessible, smarter mate to the builders' and construction professionals who make the four yearly pilgrimage to Les Sables d'Olonne as guests of PRB. As they leverage their investment PRB host 300 VIPs per day, over 2500 over the course of the 21 day build up.

                    But those in the know also consider Riou their own favourite to win this eighth edition of the Vendée Globe. His highly optimised VPLP-Verdier design is deemed by many of his nearest rivals as the fastest all-rounder. It may not have latest generation hydro foils – a decision Riou says he is content - with but his 2010 launched orange IMOCA has the reliability of miles built in for skipper and boat together. Riou and his team have also succeeded in making incremental speed gains optimising the foils, angles and positioning, keel, ballast and aero package. These have been validated this year with a second place in the Transat Bakerly and last year Riou and co-skipper Sébastien Col won the Transat Jacques Vabre.

                    Riou rides around Port-la-Forêt and elsewhere on his skateboard. In fact it helps him work on his balance. He runs at least twice a week, lifts weights in the gym, cycles and goes stand-up paddle boarding. It is all part of the conditioning programme. When there is enough wind, he enjoys sailing his foiling Moth or going out surfing, if the waves are big enough. He is not one to work with a sports psychologist. He works alone to be able to face up to whatever the Vendée Globe throws at him. He admits he hasn't been able to find the right person to stick with for a long time, as to be effective, there needs to be a close, open relationship. "This is my own personal method working on my mental ability. It may involve books or any other way of learning. What is certain is that I am motivated. Once I decide on something, I give it my all." An attitude, which allows him to put the disappointment of having to abandon the 2012 Vendée Globe when his PRB was badly damaged when it hit a metal buoy in the Atlantic.

                    Riou is relaxed as he considers his fourth Vendée Globe start, enjoying the Mediterranean weather which has rendered the Vendée Globe start more Saint Tropez than Les Sables d'Olonne: "Early next week, we'll be looking at the weather forecasts. It's similar each time, but I have never been so well prepared. I have done a lot of sailing over the past two years. We started the technical preparation well in advance. as there weren't any major modifications this year. That allows us to be here without feeling any stress."
                    Even with all the media hype attached to the question of foils or no foils, Riou remains cool and pragmatic: "Today, I'm happy with my choice. I may not feel the same in two and a half months from now... I think everyone has their chance together, the foilers and a few boats without foils. The weather is going to be key in deciding the outcome. If there's a lot of wind and we have a lot of reaching, it's going to be hard competing against the foilers. But in other conditions, we have a card to play. When I took the decision not to fit foils, I had already been watching the boats with foils for four months. At that point, it was complicated for them. In many conditions, they simply weren't fast."

                    He continues: “Today, they have made progress and things are more or less where I thought they would be. In around 50% of the conditions, they are faster, and 50% of conditions where we are faster. We carried out a little study before coming here to analyse the performance of the foilers and that was the conclusion. If we compare ten years of weather conditions for the foilers and non-foilers, it’s fifty-fifty. But it’s very rare that we see huge differences developing.”
                    He considers the long game an even match: “So I think it’s wide open, as they are also going to have to worry about the reliability of the foils. They are going to have to work hard to find the perfect compromise to finish the race and keep up high speeds, as this race is going to be fast.”

                    On his optimisation programme he says: “I think we have made progress since last year, although the foilers have progressed more. We have continued to work on PRB, even if we haven’t fitted foils. We have worked on the rig and sails. We have gone for different options from the others. We have tried to improve PRB’s performance, where the foilers are fast. We modified the position of the daggerboards and the ballast tanks, lots of little details to balance the boat, to allow her to go that little bit faster.”

                    And of the chatter from the Port- la-Forêt training camps that he is the man to beat? “In the group at Port-la-Forêt, everyone is quick today. But this is the Vendée Globe, which is special. It’s so long that we’ll see who surprises, who disappoints. That’s what is so great about this event. There are about eight boats that can win, but in a fortnight, maybe there will only be four. It all happens very quickly. There are people who do well from the outset, while others struggle.”

                    The race is almost immeasurably different to when Riou – Vincent Le Terrible – won a three cornered battle with ‘King Jean’, Jean Le Cam, and ‘Goldfinger’ Britain’s Mike Golding. In 2008 he was credited with third after rescuing Le Cam when his VM Materiaux capsized off Cape Horn. “Each Vendée Globe is different. That’s why it’s interesting to come back each time. We can be certain that the adventure won’t be the same each time. The course is so long and so many things can happen. Even if you are there as a racer, you can easily find yourself in some sort of adventure. That’s why so many people follow us. Whether you are out in front or at the rear, the Vendée Globe is always difficult. You go through adventures. Sometimes, it works out well. I’ve been through it all in the Vendée Globe. When I picked up Jean Le Cam in 2008, it was an incredible adventure, which in the end worked out well. Whereas last time, it ended badly, when I had a collision.”

                    And of his life in the PRB colours? “I have a very special relationship with PRB. It’s been going for a long time. I think it has lasted, because, we understand each other and what we are aiming for. I have spent a long time with them away from the boat working with the business people and employees, so that everyone comes together around this project. So far, it has worked well, because everyone supports us. 250 people come here each day to see us. It’s well organised and takes me two hours each day. We show them a film, talk to their clients. Everyone seems happy. That’s the main thing. As long as people want to follow us at sea, I think PRB will continue to support us.”
                    And will this be his last? “We must never say never. My Mother taught me that.”
                    Andi Robertson / M&M


                    " I just found out my nest egg has salmonella"

           Photo Gallery


                    • #11

                      Alex and the team headed towards Lands End to get some vital training in prior to the star of the Vendee Globe on November 6th.
                      " I just found out my nest egg has salmonella"

             Photo Gallery


                      • #12
                        Around the sun drenched hunting grounds that the Vendée Globe race dock represents to the huge crowds enjoying a slow promenade round the 29 IMOCA round the world race boats, Armel Le Cléac'h and Alex Thomson are the 'big beasts', The Jackal and the British Lion. The appearance on their race boats today causes long, human traffic jams. Logic alone dictates that they are two of the outstanding favourites to win this eighth edition of the solo non stop round the world race.

                        Le Cléac'h who grew up on the Bay of Morlaix with Jéremie Beyou has been runner up twice, to Michel Desjoyeaux in 2008-2009 on Brit Air, and in 2012-2013 when he finished less than three hours behind François Gabart after a round the world match race. Thomson was third last time.
                        Le Cléac'h, 39, long since known as The Jackal for his proven ability to stay the pace, ready to swoop on the misfortunes, bad luck or bad judgement of those ahead of him, is skipper for Banque Populaire VIII, one of the Vendée Globe programmes with the biggest budget and the most accomplished cutting edge technical programmes, including the optimisation of their hydrofoils and sailplan. Le Cléac'h has come a long way since he finished second in 2008-9 in an epic war of attrition. He is accompanied along the dock by the necessary PR and marketing staff, photographers and videographers and is in high demand from the French media, many of whom consider him heir apparent to the Vendée Globe crown.

                        Blue eyed Brit Thomson, whose early sailing experience was windsurfing in the North Wales surf, has already done a big volume of media in his native England, all the major broadsheet newspapers, the big TV and radio channels want reports when the race is under way, as well as commitments in Germany, Italy and, of course France. His Hugo Boss is the most menacing, threatening IMOCA, the latest and most extreme looking design to be launched. One year ago today his boat was upside down in the Atlantic off Portugal and he was being rescued in a helicopter. But today his boat is substantially rebuilt and reinforced. He may not win a popularity contest in the Vendée Globe host nation but the interest in him and especially his black Hugo Boss and Mercedes branded missile certainly matches that of Le Cléac'h.

                        Thomson showed great speed potential when he led the summer's New York-Vendée warm up before problems with his electrics compromised his attack. This is his fourth Vendée Globe start and he is now well versed in the art and science of staying cool, focused and keeping the balance right in his pre race 'bubble' during the last week before the off. "The main thing this week is to keep the balance right. I have the family here. I have friends coming. We have media. We have sponsors. And we are so lucky to have hundreds of thousands of people on the pontoon. So it is really about trying to remain relaxed," smiled Thomson as he set off out for a final day of light wind sail testing. "It is about trying not to do too much. Do little but do it well. That is my aim this week."

                        Thomson is shy of the preparatory miles he had wanted to do before the start but has added a further 10,000 miles in the Atlantic since the summer. His second iteration of his foiling daggerboards failed almost immediately and he is back on his Version 1, but he is content his boat is sound and significantly faster even than during his Transatlantic race. "The New York –Vendee was a good indication of the speed we have except for the electronic problems which have been fully sorted. So we have a boat which has done 20,000 miles. Now we have to do 28,000 miles round the world, so we can't be 100 per cent sure but we have a lot of experience in this team. We are well set up and have made some conservative choices. And if anything since the New York-Vendée the boat has got faster. I feel pretty confident. We have 10,000 miles since the New York Vendee. We feel very confident."

                        Thomson remains something of an unknown threat to the top French hierarchy. Le Cléac'h considers him a rival capable of winning: "Alex is the one whose boat we know least about," Le Cléac'h said today, "We haven't raced very often against him. He scares us a bit, because the other favourites all know each other from Port-la-Forêt. We know their strengths and weaknesses. We saw at the start of the NY-Vendée that his boat has a huge potential. For me, he's there amongst the favourites."

                        Le Cléac'h learned about sustaining a hard, fast pace around the world when he was narrowly beaten by the younger Gabart: "We've long since turned that page. What happened four years ago is behind us. We got over the grief of coming second and we're facing a new adventure now with a new boat and more preparation. With 29 boats lining up, this is a very different line-up from 4 years ago. It won't be the same story. We've been preparing for this with Banque Populaire and the new boat now for two and a half years. The preparation went well and we're ready to go. It's up to me to get off to a good start and do what I can."

                        He is confident in his choices concerning the foils and their development programme. "The advantage of the foils is that in certain points of sail we get an extra 5 or 10% speed, which is far from being insignificant. Upwind they are less effective. In light conditions, some of the other boats on the pontoon here are lighter and create less drag, so could perform well. We have our advantages and disadvantages, but the key thing is feeling confident about our boat, which is the case for me."

                        He has few concerns about the increase in noise and mental stress which the foils bring: "As soon as the sea is rough, it is stressful, but not so different from my previous boat. I'm not worried about that and deal with the lack of comfort. We sailed as much as possible before the Vendée Globe. It's a fantastic line-up. Around ten boats with a lot of experience on good boats. There are twice as many potential winners as four years ago. I'm here to compete, so that's a good thing for me. In the Vendée Globe, there are always boats forced to retire. One of the older boats could do very well. There are always surprises in this race."

                        If the weather is conducive a new record is possible: "It's possible that the race will be even faster than last time. We put a lot of pressure on each other last time throughout the race. We can imagine that it will be done in 75 days. The boats have the potential, but it is the weather that will decide. The course isn't the same a s there are no longer Ice Gates, but the Exclusion Zone in the Southern Ocean, which will require a different strategy. My goal isn't to get a new record, but to be in front of all the other competitors."

                        Gabart's victory was the product of his secret sail programme as well as his talent, while Le Cléac'h damaged a key reaching sail. "We worked with North on the sails from the design stage. Unlike in the past that was something we considered early on, so that today we are fully ready. We don't have any secret sails like François did four years ago. But the sails are adapted to sailing with foils. We needed to take that into account."
                        " I just found out my nest egg has salmonella"

               Photo Gallery


                        • #13
                          Here's to Alex getting around the course in one piece this time!


                          • #14
                            Mental Preparedness Pays Dividends

                            © VINCENT CURUTCHET / DPPI / MAITRE COQ

                            Because this is such a demanding sport and understanding yourself makes it easier to come to terms with your sport and to perform better, many skippers have used, or are still using, the services of a mental coach or performance assistant. Among those competing in the 2016 Vendée Globe, Jean-Pierre Dick, Alex Thomson, Morgan Lagravière and Eric Bellion all work regularly with a qualified professional. It is impossible to sum up here what is after all a very personal and long-term effort – they often spend several years with the coach – but to put it simply, the methods used tend to be based around mental imagery, neuro-linguistic programming, relaxation or sophrology. Most of the work is based on talking things through and debriefing after what the skipper has been through.

                            Working on independence

                            Jean-Pierre Dick is one that has been convinced by the technique. He explained, “I have always been aware of the importance of mental preparation to remain calm and clear about what we are doing, whether it is artistic, professional or sporting. I work in this area with Jean-Marc Lhabouz. He’s not a sailing expert. He’s a psychoanalyst and mental coach, who puts the problems into a general context of enhancing performance with a very pragmatic approach. What this means is I am closely monitored by Jean-Marc. We work each week on the psychological aspects I have to deal with by myself on board in difficult situations. I am learning a few techniques, and practise them to make sure I use them on the boat. Breathing for example is very important.”

                            We must not forget that each racer is different and that therefore the techniques used vary. To take a very simple example, a calming image won’t be the same for everyone and the stress they feel won’t be experienced in the same way or dealt with using the same techniques. However, the goals are often similar: we have to identify the strengths and weaknesses and work on them and analyse various emotions, which we must not hide, but rather accept and come to terms with, in order to transform them into something positive. Most top class sportsmen and women work on these matters and sailors are no exception to the rule. For a couple of decades now they have been using mental preparation and while most of the skippers don’t have a mental coach for the Vendée Globe, it’s because they have been working with one beforehand. This was the case for those, who have been through an Olympic training programme or if they have sailed in the Figaro class and now believe they no longer require this help.
                            Dealing with strengths and weaknesses

                            Yann Eliès is a good example. He worked for years with Gilles Monier, one of the top coaches, who works at the French Sailing School in Quiberon. “In 2001 I was injured and wanted to continue to work on my weaknesses. I just couldn’t win. I was often close, but got caught out in the last few miles,” explained Yann. He added, “Together we understood that I was looking too far ahead (I was already imagining hugging my friends and family and thinking about what I was going to say to the media) and that’s when I lost track of things. Gradually over the years, we set up techniques, methods, goals… The work with Gilles, largely based on discussions and debriefings looking back at what happened, helped me a lot to remain focused and to be efficient. Today, I have reached the point, where I don’t think I need a mental coach with me, simply because I have learnt how to deal with this matter myself.”

                            Better identify one’s goals

                            Younger and having gone through an Olympic sailing programme, Morgan Lagravière is preparing his first Vendée Globe with another famous coach, Jean-Claude Ménard, “with whom we find tried and tested techniques to work on my attitude.” These are in addition to the excellent advice he gets from Roland Jourdain, who manages the Safran project.

                            The British skipper, Alex Thomson is also a keen supporter of preparing mentally for racing. For him this “mental preparation is as important as the physical preparation with the aim of enhancing my performance as much as possible.” Alex works on that with Ken Way, who has been the coach for many champions in various sports and in particular, surprised everyone by helping Leicester FC take the English Premiership last season. Alex has been practising using mental images with him to try to see how to cope with what is going on or a situation (which is what skiers do too before starting or pole-vaulters before jumping). This is a useful technique to deal with stress and control adrenalin levels. This could come in handy too in helping the skippers get some rest in the tricky conditions they are likely to experience in the Southern Ocean.

                            Mental preparation, as all the skippers we asked told us, also helps you identify your goals, which are bound to be very different, if you aim to win the Vendée Globe or “simply” want to complete the round the world race. Eric Bellion has been working with a coach for three years and says he felt the benefit, particularly in terms of his confidence, when he raced in the double-handed transatlantic race. In his opinion, “the mental aspect is for most people something innate. You have either got it or you haven’t. But really it is something you can work on just as you do with other aspects of your performance.”
                            In fact, sometimes, the difference between physical and mental preparation is not that big. For some, pushing hard physically is also a form of mental preparation. Jérémie Beyou explains that he has been talking things over with a psychologist to be able to set sail “in the Vendée Globe with a clear mind and able to control my own stress levels,” but this has not been a long-term preparation for him. He finds his mental strengths come from his physical performance. That was confirmed by his sporting coach, Stéphane Eliot. “Pushing back your limits is at the heart of the physical preparation I get Jérémie to do. That’s how we do the mental preparation he needs. I push him hard in each session, telling him to keep focused, whatever happens. I get him to do some little exercises, which are very simple at the start of the session, but become increasingly difficult as he gets tired. In this way, he learns how to push hard, while remaining clear-headed.”

                            Bruno Ménard / M&M
                            " I just found out my nest egg has salmonella"

                   Photo Gallery


                            • #15
                              Facts and figures about the 2016 Vendée Globe

                              In five days from now at 1202hrs UTC on Sunday 6th November, 29 skippers will be setting sail from Les Sables d'Olonne for the eighth edition of the Vendée Globe. With more than 680,000 people visiting the VendéeGlobe Village since it opened, and with exceptional media arrangements around the world for the start, the Vendée Globe is truly an exceptional global event. The numbers tell the story.

                              Huge increase in visitor numbers for the Official Village: 380,000 visitors already during the second week

                              With 300,000 visitors to the site in the first week after it opened, visitor numbers for the Official Village for the 8th Vendée Globe were already very impressive. Then the sun came out and since then, numbers grew to reach 380,000 in the second week. The President of the Vendée Globe, Yves Auvinet had a beaming smile on his face, when he announced these figures, which say a lot about the event. "We had prepared ourselves for crowds at the OfficialVillage, but I must admit that the figures for the first two weeks surprised us, particularly with crowds strolling up and down the pontoons and in the aisles in the Village. The Indian Summer in Vendée since the opening, the high standard of the line-up for this eighth edition and the quality of the events and exhibitions in the Village have clearly attracted a lot of visitors. Once again, the magic of the Vendée Globe is working, as it has done with each edition."

                              The Vendée Globe Village
                              300,000: the number of visitors during the first week after the opening of the village
                              380,000: the number of visitors during the second week...

                              The media attending the start
                              22: nationalities represented
                              31: Stations taking up the live coverage (compared with 18 in 2012-2013) broadcast on the website, Dailymotion, Youtube, and the Vendée Globe facebook page from 0745hrs UTC to 1000hrs UTC and from 1130hrs UTC to 1230hrs UTC.
                              45: televisions stations attending
                              80: TV channels involved (compared with 65 channels in 2012-2013), from France, around Europe, North America, Britain, and Asia. Global coverage with teams from CNN, NHK Japan, Swiss national TV and radio, the Belgian station, RTBF... among others.
                              150: foreign media attending the start
                              190: number of countries covered
                              1100: number of accredited journalists

                              The 2016 Vendée Globe

                              1: Previous winner lining up: Vincent Riou (in 2004-2005)
                              2: Number of birthdays to be celebrated at sea before mid-February (Conrad Colman 2nd December, Didac Costa 22nd December)
                              4: Official sponsors:
                              - Vendée the French department: Vendée Council
                              - The town of Les Sables d'Olonne
                              - Sodebo
                              - The Pays de la Loire Region
                              5: Sailors lining up for the fourth time: Bertrand de Broc, Jean-Pierre Dick, Jean Le Cam, Vincent Riou and Alex Thomson
                              7: Boats fitted with foils, including 1 older generation boat: Maitre Coq
                              8: Editions. Launched in 1989, this is the 8th edition of the Vendée Globe, which takes place every four years.
                              10: Nationalities represented with for the first time a Japanese skipper, a Dutchman, a New Zealander and an Irishman.
                              14: the number of rookies lining up for their first Vendée Globe: Didac Costa, Thomas Ruyant, Alan Roura, Morgan Lagravière, Sébastien Destremau, Conrad Colman, Kojiro Shiraishi, Pieter Heerema, Romain Attanasio, Eric Bellion, Fabrice Amedeo, Enda O'Coineen, Paul Meilhat, Stéphane Le Diraison.
                              18.28: The length in metres of the 60-foot IMOCA
                              23: The age of the youngest entrant, the Swiss sailor Alan Roura
                              43: Difference in age in years between Alan Roura (23) and Rich Wilson (66), the youngest and eldest competitor in the Vendée Globe.
                              50: The percentage increase in the number of boats in comparison to 2012
                              78: days, 2 hours and 16 minutes: At the finish of the last race in 2013, François Gabart shattered the Vendée Globe record. The Frenchman improved on the previous reference time set by Michel Desjoyeaux in the 2008-2009 Vendée Globe by six days.
                              80: Days. Only two sailors have completed the Vendée Globe in less than 80 days, the legendary time it took Philéas Fogg: François Gabart and Armel Le Cléac'h in 2013.
                              1998: the year the oldest IMOCAs in the 2016 fleet was built (Romain Attanasio's Famille Mary-Etamine du Lys) and TechnoFirst-faceOcean (Sébastien Destremau).
                              24,020: miles, or 40,075 kilometres – the theoretical distance. Remembering that most of the competitors will sail more, sometimes even more than 52,000km to avoid icebergs and areas of high pressure (where there are light winds).

                              Unfinished business.

                              Sébastien Josse is just one of the favourites to win this edition of the Vendée Globe for whom the race represents unfinished business. He was always among the leading posse in the epic 2008-9 race and spent a time in the lead before he had to retire into Auckland with rudder problems. The skipper of Edmond de Rothschild is starting for the third time and has only one finish on his record so far, 5th in 2005 when he was just 30.

                              "The level is more like 2008-9," Josse opens, "That was the big year. We had the dream team then Michel Desjoyeaux, Jean Le Cam, Roland Jourdain, Loick Peyron, Mike Golding. So we miss some of these guys for this edition but the level is quite high because we have some good young guys with good boats. It should be a good race."

                              His programme is one of the most technically advanced. He returns to the Vendée Globe after multihull success in the Multi 70, Gitana 11, including winning the Transat Jacques Vabre. As a consequence he has become more adept at sailing close to the, just shy of the 'red zone' for long periods. But he considers this race will require careful, precise modulation with the foiling boats.
                              "First we need to sail properly with these boats. We see that with these foiling boats they win the last three races across the Atlantic but we have to finish. We have to manage the boat and not to push too hard. I am sure among the foiling 'membership' if we are in the lead the top four, then we start to manage with each other, to make sure we get to Cape Horn and from there we see how it goes. But it is a long race, three months. Being in first position passing Cape Town is not so important. It is more important to be climbing the Atlantic with the 'full set' two foils, two rudders. Then and only then the 'turbo' effect."

                              "In the 2008-9 race I learned that you have to finish. And so sometimes you have to slow down. That is for you and for the boat." And he points out that foil technology for IMOCAs is in its infancy: "For the rig and keels the development is done, we are all one design. The pilots are done, we go straight. But the foils, we are just at the start. We have developed these foils in less than one year. And so if you look at how long we had to develop wing masts or canting keels, then we are just beginning. We have to keep this revolution going."

                              An all round sportsman his strength and conditioning programme focuses on balance and a strong core. "Mentally it is the same. I have not changed. My opinion is that if you have to work with a psychologist then you are not ready to do the Vendée Globe. If you need someone to tell you you have to do this or that, you have to be motivated. After that prepare well with a coach, not to make you very strong with big muscles lifting heavy weights, but to make sure you do not get injured or hurt. So we work a lot on your core and to have good balance, to be stable."
                              " I just found out my nest egg has salmonella"

                     Photo Gallery