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Young British Sailor Aiming to Break Records in Vendée Globe

31st March 2022
British sailor James Harayda
British sailor James Harayda Credit: Felix Diemer

Gentoo Sailing Team has launched its campaign to compete in the 2024 Vendée Globe, led by Skipper James Harayda, who is aiming to be the youngest sailor to compete in the 2024 edition of the race.

The Vendée Globe is considered the pinnacle of ocean racing, and one of the toughest sporting challenges available. The race is a solo, non-stop, and unassisted circumnavigation of the planet.

The next edition of the race, commencing in November 2024, will be limited to only 40 entrants. To be considered for entry in the Vendée Globe, Skippers must qualify themselves by competing in several pre-determined races, taking place between 2022 and the start of the Vendée Globe in 2024.

Gentoo Sailing Team was founded two years ago by British sailor James Harayda, who has competed in high-level offshore racing around the world, has twice been crowned as British Champion in the Doublehanded Class and represented the country in the Doublehanded Offshore European Championships.

Ahead of the push for Vendée Globe, Gentoo Sailing Team has unveiled their new IMOCA 60 racing yacht, a 60-foot, hydro foiling boat that previously broke the record as the first IMOCA to cover 500 nautical miles in 24 hours, set by fellow Brit Alex Thompson.

Dee Caffari and James HaraydaDee Caffari (left) and James Harayda

Gentoo Sailing is committed to the environment, with sustainability at its core. At the 2024 Vendée Globe race, the team will be carbon neutral, and when it aims to compete in the 2028 edition, it’s striving to be able to do so carbon negative.

During the race, Harayda will be utilising data to support his challenge and give a performance advantage while racing. He will utilise data across three key areas; The Boat (speed, position, load, power usage etc.), The Environment (wind speed, direction, air and water temperature, salinity and pollution levels), The Man (heart rate, sleep patterns, calorie intake and exertion etc.).

In 2020 the 24-year-old teamed up with Dee Caffari MBE, who in 2006 became the first woman to sail solo non-stop around the world, westwards, against prevailing winds and currents. The offshore sailing icon also completed the Vendée Globe in 2009, becoming the first woman to sail solo around the world in both directions. Caffari and Harayda initially teamed up and raced successfully together in the Mixed Doublehanded Offshore class with an aim to win a gold medal for Great Britain in the 2024 Paris Olympics. On the cancellation of the class by the IOC, the pair refocused and developed this Vendée Globe campaign.

James Harayda said: "The Vendée Globe has always been the pinnacle of ocean racing, just finishing this race is an incredible feat, winning it is simply heroic. There is also so much more to this event than the race itself. The journey to the start line is considered one of the hardest parts of the race - the funding required, racing calendar, preparation needed, technical know-how, and just the sheer scale of the project is unbelievable and cannot be underestimated.

“For me, this race is about achieving something that very few people ever have. Less people have done this than been into space or climbed to the top of Everest. It is also about using this platform to show the world that being sustainable, in all uses of the word, does not come at a cost to performance.

“Our aim as a team is build our skills, knowledge, and partnerships through 2024 with an aim to win the Vendée Globe in 2028, making me the youngest and first-ever Brit to do so. I have a fantastic team around me which will be growing as we progress and I am confident that given the right resources, we can win this race in 2028.”

In addition to the Vendée Globe campaign, Gentoo Sailing Team has this year launched its Youth Development Program, with Caffari as the Trustee, and backed by the Ian Atkins Keelboat Award (IAKA). The program has selected 10 male and 10 female sailors, aged 16-23, and from all different backgrounds to race on its youth boat in the UK JOG and RORC offshore racing season.

The programme's aim is to offer a clear, achievable, and timebound pathway for the young sailors involved. All the sailors have different ambitions within the sport and Gentoo Sailing Team is working with each of the young sailors in order to open as many relevant doors as possible to help them realise these ambitions. The sailors will benefit from mentoring, on and off-the-water coaching, technical workshops, and offshore racing. The sailors will also gain skills in teamwork, communication, and leadership and play a role in the team’s wider sustainability projects.

Dee Caffari MBE, a veteran of the race, concluded: “The Vendée Globe takes talent and ability as well as resilience and tenacity. Having sailed with James for the last 18 months I have seen these qualities in him. He is a young, ambitious sailor who is keen to learn and improve. He is open to new ideas and willing to hear feedback, and these characteristics have made him a pleasure to sail with and I am keen to help him realise his dream of a Vendée Globe entry.”

Published in Vendee Globe Team

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The 2020/2021 Vendée Globe Race

A record-sized fleet of 33 skippers will start the ninth edition of the Vendée Globe: the 24,296 nautical miles solo non-stop round-the-world race from Les Sables d’Olonne in France, on Sunday, November 8 at 1302hrs French time/1202hrs TU and will be expected back in mid-January 2021.

Vendée Globe Race FAQs

Six women (Alexia Barrier, Clarisse Cremer, Isabelle Joschke, Sam Davies, Miranda Merron, Pip Hare).

Nine nations (France, Germany, Japan, Finland, Spain, Switzerland, Australia, and Great Britain)

After much speculation following Galway man Enda O’Coineen’s 2016 race debut for Ireland, there were as many as four campaigns proposed at one point, but unfortunately, none have reached the start line.

The Vendée Globe is a sailing race round the world, solo, non-stop and without assistance. It takes place every four years and it is regarded as the Everest of sailing. The event followed in the wake of the Golden Globe which had initiated the first circumnavigation of this type via the three capes (Good Hope, Leeuwin and Horn) in 1968.

The record to beat is Armel Le Cléac’h 74 days 3h 35 minutes 46s set in 2017. Some pundits are saying the boats could beat a sub-60 day time.

The number of theoretical miles to cover is 24,296 miles (45,000 km).

The IMOCA 60 ("Open 60"), is a development class monohull sailing yacht run by the International Monohull Open Class Association (IMOCA). The class pinnacle events are single or two-person ocean races, such as the Route du Rhum and the Vendée Globe.

Zero past winners are competing but two podiums 2017: Alex Thomson second, Jérémie Beyou third. It is also the fifth participation for Jean Le Cam and Alex Thomson, fourth for Arnaud Boissières and Jérémie Beyou.

The youngest on this ninth edition of the race is Alan Roura, 27 years old.

The oldest on this ninth edition is Jean Le Cam, 61 years old.

Over half the fleet are debutantes, totalling 18 first-timers.

The start procedure begins 8 minutes before the gun fires with the warning signal. At 4 minutes before, for the preparatory signal, the skipper must be alone on board, follow the countdown and take the line at the start signal at 13:02hrs local time. If an IMOCA crosses the line too early, it incurs a penalty of 5 hours which they will have to complete on the course before the latitude 38 ° 40 N (just north of Lisbon latitude). For safety reasons, there is no opportunity to turn back and recross the line. A competitor who has not crossed the starting line 60 minutes after the signal will be considered as not starting. They will have to wait until a time indicated by the race committee to start again. No departure will be given after November 18, 2020, at 1:02 p.m when the line closes.

The first boat could be home in sixty days. Expect the leaders from January 7th 2021 but to beat the 2017 race record they need to finish by January 19 2021.

Today, building a brand new IMOCA generally costs between 4.2 and €4.7million, without the sails but second-hand boats that are in short supply can be got for around €1m.

©Afloat 2020