Whether you’re a sailor or a normal this race should excite you, even if you’re not French. Yes, it is named after a French region, it starts and finishes in France AND most of the sailors are French…but hold on…It originates, like many sports, from the mighty British Isles and formed historical figures such as Sir Robin Knox-Johnston and Dame Ellen McArthur. AND the race course is planet earth, which is quite big. If you’re still wanting more then perhaps the 60-foot foiling yachts will tickle your fancy.
In short it’s an epic race, so big it is only attempted every 4 years. On November 6th 29 sailors will depart, hopefully, to successfully spend 3 months racing the world’s oceans solo. I say hopefully because this race is filled with drama, in all the previous 7 editions about half the fleet didn’t make it round. The dreams of sailors are often dashed. Collisions, dismasting and lost keels are common outcomes as the boats battle the elements. It’s carnage. With the amount of junk in the sea to hit, sailors play a very expensive game of dodgeball with shipping containers and icebergs.
It’s a non-stop, solo, around the world adventure with no assistance. The race is designed to be the most challenging a person could do; sailors have been seriously injured and some lost at sea. Every entrant is aware of the risks and difficulties of being alone, often days from help. So, it takes a particularly special type of person to attempt the Vendée Globe and a lot more to win. I would say there are 9 with a good chance of winning, with the elements of the unknown and luck in this race, it’s near impossible to place a solid bet. Like the Grand National. The rest will attempt a respectable position or just to get around unharmed.
So, we have a crazy race, with some crazy sailors, now for some crazy boats. This edition will exhibit the first foiling monohulls to race around the world and into the rough Southern Ocean. At some angles they have proven to be 10% faster than boats without foils, however reliability and comfort has been compromised. There is no doubt that the new boats look incredible and showcase sailing in the modern world, but to win…foiling or non-foiling? This question will be answered very soon.
Now you need to go to www.vendeeglobe.org/en and add it to your favourites. Look at the images, watch the videos, read the articles and pick your favourites. As the sailors race they will be writing and videoing their own blogs, posting them for us to follow. We can track all the boats live via their GPS, seeing them jostle for position as they pass countries and continents. There isn’t much sport out there this winter except this, you’ll be emotionally invested before you know it. And if you’re nerdy like me then visit www.virtualregatta.com and race in real time wherever you are, preferably in the warm and dry.