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Welsh Solo offshore Alex Thomson, who has ties to Cork Harbour in Ireland, has bought Banque Populaire’s IMOCA 60 following the team’s withdrawal from the next Vendée Globe in 2024 due to the controversial circumstances over dropping female skipper Clarisse Crémer.

5 West Ltd, represented by British four-time Vendée Globe competitor Alex Thomson, announced it had reached an agreement with Team Banque Populaire on its social media channels earlier this week (21 March 2023).

Banque Populaire posted a similar message via its social channels, stating: Team Banque Populaire has concluded an agreement for the sale of its IMOCA with the company 5 West Ltd represented by A. Thomson, for a project which will allow a future skipper to participate in the Vendée Globe. [Banque Populaire] wishes them success in this new challenge.

The skipper has not yet been announced, although some fans are hoping that Clarisse Crémer might return to the helm of the boat for the 2024 event.

Crémer came 12th overall in 2020/2021 Vendée Globe and was the first woman to complete that iteration, becoming a record holder. She was shockingly dropped by her sponsor Banque Populaire in February (2023) after she gave birth to a baby girl in November 2022.

In October 2021, new rules were implemented to qualify for the Vendée Globe. Previously, finishers automatically qualified for the next edition. Now skippers must gain points by participating in intermediate races with only the first 40 qualifying. Crémer’s maternity leaves meant she couldn’t accumulate enough points.

Published in Vendee Globe
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Jacques Caraës, race director for the 2016 and 2020 Vendée Globe, is handing over to Hubert Lemonnier and becoming his deputy for next year's solo on stop round the world race.

The announcement was made as the Race Direction team for the 2024 Vendée Globe was announced.

The 2024 team is: Hubert Lemonnier, Jacques Caraës, Claire Renou, Pierre Hays and Yann Eliès.

Born in La Rochelle and aged 42, Lemonnier joined the world of offshore racing more than fifteen years ago. After working in various roles in various international teams, he turned to race management. In 2010, he joined the Barcelona World Race team, followed by 2012, 2016 and 2020 Vendée Globe and several other IMOCA races

Race control is an important part of the Vendée Globe organisation. It ensures the safety of the sailors at sea directly with the French Sailing Federation, the Race Committee, the Technical Committee, the International Jury and the Medical Commission.

The tenth edition of the Vendée Globe starts on 10th November 2024.

Published in Vendee Globe
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Vendée Globe competitor Clarisse Crémer says she is “in shock” after being dropped by her main sponsor just weeks after having a baby.

According to Marine Industry News, the record-setter was let go by Banque Populaire in the wake of a rule change in late 2021 that means finishers no longer automatically qualify for the next edition, and must be within the first 40 to secure enough points in intermediate races.

This left Crémer out of contention as she had taken time off from racing to become a mother; she gave birth to her first child in November 2022.

Banque Populaire claims that it proposed alternatives to Vendée organisers “so that the regulations take into account the situation of women in the Vendée Globe and the question of maternity” but that these were rejected.

Crémer, for her part, has blasted both the race organisers and her former sponsor for their failure to support her in motherhood.

“The rules of a competition are supposed to ensure fairness and sportsmanship. Today, the rules chosen by the Vendée Globe prohibit a woman from having a child,” she said, adding that “Banque Populaire decides that it represents for them a ‘risk’ that they ultimately do not want to take … They’re willing to take on the risk of a giant trimaran, and all the natural, technical and human hazards of racing offshore, but obviously not motherhood.”

What’s more, Crémer has the backing of some of the world’s top women sailors, with fellow Vendée competitor Pip Hare saying she is “shocked and ashamed” at the French woman’s treatment and Sam Davies, also a mother, branding the rule change’s failure to account for maternity leave from racing as a “terrible decision”.

Marine Industry News has more on the story HERE.

Published in Vendee Globe

Boris Herrmann’s offshore sailing team launched their new IMOCA race yacht as scheduled today, Tuesday 19 July in Lorient, Race some 18 months after design began.

Designed by VPLP, Malizia - Seaexplorer was built at Multiplast in nearby Vannes over the past 12 months, using “advanced” engineering technology and craftsmanship. The yacht will get its first big test in the Route du Rhum this November, ahead of the next edition of The Ocean Race in the new year.

“Learning from our experience in the past four years and in particular the Vendée Globe 2020-21, we wanted a boat that can maintain high average speeds even in rough sea conditions,” skipper Herrmann said at today’s launch event.

“Therefore, together with the architects from VPLP, we chose softer and rounder hull lines and a curved bow. We also made the boat even more solid than the previous one and completely redesigned the [ergonomics] and living space.”

Malizia - Seaexplorer carries the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals wheel and its hull features the team’s slogan, “A Race We Must Win - Climate Action Now”, with the aim of creating awareness and inspiring ambitious climate action.

Herrmann will skipper the boat in the Route du Rhum this November across the Atlantic from Saint-Malo to Guadeloupe, and his first single-handed regatta since the Vendée Globe.

Then from January, he will join co-skippers Will Harris and Rosalin Kuiper on Malizia - Seaexplorer for the round-the-world challenge of The Ocean Race — another test of the new boat, this time in the rough conditions of the Southern Ocean — with the ultimate goal of the Vendée Globe 2024-25 in sight.

Team Malizia is one of 14 IMOCA teams registered for The Ocean Race, which starts from Alicante in Spain on 15 January.

A notable feature of the new yacht is its mini-laboratory, the Ocean Pack, that will allow the team to continue to collect ocean data such as sea surface CO2 levels in remote regions like the Southern Ocean.

The boat, which sails under the flag of Monaco, will be christened during the Malizia Ocean Festival on 6-7 September in its home port Hamburg, where skipper Boris Herrmann lives and Team Malizia is based.

Published in Offshore

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
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Marcus Hutchinson of Howth and Kinsale is leaving France's TR Racing, where he was team manager for Thomas Ruyant during the last Vendée Globe campaign.

Hutchinson took on the role in January 2018 and is credited by solo skipper Ruyant as being one of the linchpins of the team's performance.

As regular Afloat readers will know, the Hutchinson-managed Vendee Globe-entered IMOCA 60 provided major publicity for the not-for-profit social organisation LinkedOut. 

Of his TR departure, Hutchinson said (in a post translated from French) "We started from scratch in January 2018. We didn't even have a screwdriver in our name when Thomas and Laurent Bourguès asked me to join them,"  “Thomas had a very clear vision and great motivation to set up a successful project off the beaten track. Together, in "start-up" mode, we have put together a great team and we have built a beautiful boat with the support of Advens. We did quite well in sporting terms with fine podiums, successful competitions and a landslide victory in the Transat Jacques Vabre. We can also be proud to have generated enormous media value around our project, directly broadcast to a very important societal cause, and all this in a difficult context linked to the health crisis.

“I would like to thank Thomas and his entourage for giving me this opportunity, for having confidence in my choices and for having shared this adventure with so much class. I wish the TR Racing team all the best for the future. I know they will continue to do great things on the water and on land. Thanks again and keep doing better and better". 

Ruyant said “For many years, Marcus has done a lot of good for French sailing, bringing his vision to our community and encouraging foreign sailors to join our circuits, particularly on the Solitaire du Figaro. I met him when he was in charge of the Figaro Artemis. He joined TR Racing at the start of our 2020 Vendée Globe campaign. We are starting a new cycle in our operation with the rise of our team, our coming season aboard our LinkedOut sailboat, the construction of Advens 2 for the next World Tour. I wish good luck to Marcus for the rest of his great journey". 

Hutchinson has worked on five America's Cup events during his career, and has been coach and mentor for major solo ocean racing campaigns including the Figaro and Vendée Globe and spoke to Afloat's Lorna Siggins in a podcast here in 2021 about Ireland's prospects of hosting the America's Cup.

Published in Vendee Globe

The President of SAEM Vendée, the organisers of the Vendée Arctique and the Vendée Globe, publish the Notice of Race detailing the rules for participation in the Vendée Arctique - the first qualifying race for the Vendée Globe 2024.

The Vendée Arctique is a non-stop solo offshore race with no outside assistance allowed following in the pure tradition of the Vendée Globe. Now approaching its second edition it is a very unique and demanding event, an extreme adventure very much in keeping with the ethos of the Vendée Globe and the IMOCA class. The solo racers set off northwards the direction of the Arctic Circle, circumnavigating Iceland, before returning to Les Sables d'Olonne, following a demanding 3,500-mile course.

As organisers, the primary duty of SAEM Vendée, is to ensure the safety of sailors, to provide fair racing and to optimise conditions so that as many starters can finish the race and advance their knowledge, experience and their qualification requirements for the 2024 Vendée Globe.

To ensure the skippers are best prepared to face the hostile, icy northern waters Race Direction of the organisation, led by Francis Le Goff, has defined the rules for participation in the Vendée Arctique – Les Sables d’Olonne.

Each skipper must qualify solo on the boat that will do the Vendée Arctique, finishing before May 14, 2022, choosing between

  • The Guyader – Bermudes 1000 Race (1,200 nautical miles)
  • A qualification course of at least 800 nautical miles
  • Two qualifying courses, the sum of which will be greater than 1,000 nautical miles
  • In the event that the skipper elects to do a qualifying course rather than the race, at least one of the two must enable them to sail at least 100 miles in wind and sea conditions of at least force 5 on the Beaufort scale.

Notice of Race available for download below

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Applications for the 10th edition of the Vendée Globe are officially open with 1,000 days to go until the start on 10th November 2024

Applications will close on 2nd October 2023.

Since the end of the conclusion of the last edition, the SAEM Vendée has been observing a huge amount of interest from skippers and their sponsors, who are already keen to be at the start of the Vendée Globe on 10th November 2024.

As announced last October by Alain Leboeuf - President of the SAEM Vendée and the Vendée Department - when the Notice of Race was published, the applications for the 2024 Vendée Globe officially open on 14th February 2022, Saint Valentine's Day. A nod to the many sailing and ocean racing lovers.

With 1000 days to go until the start, the adventure towards the tenth edition officially begins with this first stage of the entry process.

In the previous edition, 37 candidates had officially declared themselves. This record will likely be broken again by 2 October 2023, the closing date for applications.

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The first qualifying stage for the Vendée Globe 2024 solo round the world race will come close to the southwest coast of Ireland when it sets sail this summer. 

The "Vendée Arctic - Les Sables d'Olonne" race will leave from Port Olona, France on June 12, 2022.

This 3,500 nautical miles race is the first qualifying race for the next Vendée Globe and so it will be an opportunity for the skippers of the Vendée Globe 2024 to take on the challenging waters of the northern latitudes. For many of the solo skippers this will be the time they will have crossed the Arctic Circle and circumnavigated Iceland.

To underpin the high level sporting aspects of this very demanding race the SAEM Vendée has appointed Francis Le Goff to act as Race Director.

The President of the SAEM Vendée Alain LEBOEUF, beside him is the Mayor of Les Sables d'Olonne Yannick MOREAU; Laura LE GOFF, the General Manager of the SAEM Vendée and Francis LE GOFF, Race Director of the Vendée Arctic - Les Sables d'Olonne null An experienced Race Direction team is appointed for a race with an extreme, innovative courseThe President of the SAEM Vendée Alain LEBOEUF, beside him is the Mayor of Les Sables d'Olonne Yannick MOREAU; Laura LE GOFF, the General Manager of the SAEM Vendée and Francis LE GOFF, Race Director of the Vendée Arctic - Les Sables d'Olonne null An experienced Race Direction team is appointed for a race with an extreme, innovative course

Francis Le Goff has been involved in race management teams for more than 20 years and has built up a very solid experience of major offshore and ocean racing events. From watch leader to coach, to Regional League Sailing Director to Race Director, Le Goff has built his marine skillsets over the years through a very multi-faceted approach to the sea.

He has been Race Director on the Solitaire du Figaro from 2017 to 2021 on the Transat en Double Concarneau-Saint-Barthélemy in 2019 and 2021, on the Route du Rhum Destination Guadeloupe 2018 and most recently on the double handed Transat Jacques Vabre Normandie Le Havre 2021. Overall he has accumulated a significant and varied experience.

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48-year-old Yannick Bestaven, the winner of this year's ninth edition of the Vendée Globe has won the French Sailor of the Year Award in Paris.

Before his title of Sailor of the Year presentation, Bestaven was awarded the Legion of Honor by the President of the Republic of France for his victory in the non-stop solo round-the-world race, 

Yannick is respected in France for his 'availability', his commitment and his ability to share his passion beyond sports performance.

Yannick was born in Saint Nazaire, then spent his childhood in Arcachon. He was introduced to sailing from an early age. Barely finished his engineering studies, Yannick took an interest in competition and more particularly in ocean racing. It was during a decisive meeting with the navigator Yves Parlier in 2000, that Yannick embarked on transoceanic competition by entering the 2001 mini-transat (6.50m monohull) which he won conclusively.

On winning the award, Bestaven, Sailor of the Year 2021, said:  “There are quite a few beautiful names on this trophy. It is an honour for me to be on this list of great sailors. My victory in the Vendée Globe means a lot of work, time spent on the water and preparation. We race alone but we don't do anything alone. This trophy, I dedicate it to my partners, my team, my family and my loved ones. "

Published in Vendee Globe
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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