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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

British sailor Alex Thomson has announced he won't compete as a skipper in the 2024 Vendee Globe, the solo, non-stop race around the world, but doesn't rule out returning to the race in 2028. Thomson has competed in the IMOCA circuit for 19 years including five successive Vendee Globes with two podium finishes and numerous world records.

"I have had the privilege to compete and race IMOCA 60s for almost 20 years. I love the sport but it's now time for me to spend more time on land, with my young family. My wife Kate has single-handedly raised our children for the last 10 years whilst I have pursued my dream. Now I want to support Kate and allow her the same opportunity that she has given me. This doesn't mean that I am retiring, just changing my role, from spending most of my time at sea, to spending more of it on land."

Thomson and his team 5 West Ltd will remain together, "The goal has always been to win the Vendee Globe, which to me remains the toughest sporting challenge left in the world today, and we haven't accomplished that yet. This is the start of a new chapter, with a new skipper, and we will provide him or her with all the tools, knowledge, experience and environment to win."

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The rules of participation have been put in place three years before the start of the next Vendee Globe Race, the single-handed non-stop race around the world.

Since the finish of the last edition, the SAEM Vendée has observed unprecedented enthusiasm from the skippers and their sponsors, many of whom are known to want to take the Start of the next edition.

The Notice of Race is unveiled today,  six months in advance of the previous edition’s NoR publication and some three years before the start, in order to provide visibility and transparency on the rules of participation to all contenders.

Applications open at D - 1000 before Departure

Applications for the 10th Vendée Globe will open on February 14, 2022, so at D - 1000 from the Start which is set for November 10, 2024.

In the previous edition, 37 candidates officially applied. This record might well be broken again by October 2, 2023 which is the closing date for applications.

A reinforced qualification pathway

There is no race more demanding than the Vendée Globe and the first duty of the SAEM Vendée, as organiser, is to ensure the safety of the sailors but also to allow as many people as possible to finish the race.

The Vendée Globe is once again fully involved in the IMOCA Globe Series Championship, the primary objective of which is to allow skippers to accumulate experience and increase the reliability of their boats by completing miles in the various races of the Championship.

2020 was the first success in that direction, with three-quarters of the fleet arriving at the finish, compared to the ‘normal’ of around half, an historic first.
In order to maintain this impetus it is important to strengthen the qualifying criteria for the race:

  • Qualify the boat that will do the Vendée Globe
  • Start 2 solo qualifying races for the Globe Series Championship, including one before the end of 2023 and one in 2024.
  • Finish one of these qualifying races within the allotted time (race time less than or equal to that of the first finisher in the race plus 50%).

Maximum of 40 racers will be selected for the 10th edition

If there are many candidates, places at the start of the next edition will be limited. Selection criteria have been laid down in order to be able to decide between the projects which will take the start of this 10th edition.

The selection based on Miles established during the previous edition and in line with the Globe Series Championship is renewed. The selected skippers will therefore be those who have covered the most Miles during the Championship selection rounds, the first of which, the Transat Jacques Vabre 2021, starts in less than a month.

It should be noted that the two-handed races - such as the Transat Jacques Vabre - will count half of the miles covered by the skipper.

In an effort to internationalize and open opportunities to female skippers in offshore racing, The Ocean Race 2022 is part of the Championship selection programme, with each skipper then scoring a quarter of the miles sailed within a limit of 5,000 miles.

In order to promote technological innovation and not penalize new boat projects, the first 13 skippers with a new boat taking the start of a qualifying race will be directly selected.

Finally, the SAEM Vendée gives itself the opportunity, as organiser, to invite up to 1 additional skipper from among the registrants, bringing the maximum number of starters to 40.

Download the full Notice of Race #VG2024 below

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After 24 months of research, development, and construction, 11th Hour Racing Team has unveiled its new IMOCA 60, the first of a new era of boats designed to compete in fully crewed, short-handed and solo offshore sailboat races. There has been Irish input too, with County Kerry round the World sailor Damian Foxall, Sustainability Program Manager at 11th Hour Racing Team, providing a full 'Life Cycle assessment' over the course of the build.

A product of Guillaume Verdier’s design studio and built at CDK Technologies in the home of offshore yacht racing in Brittany, France, the new IMOCA 60 blends sporting performance with sustainable construction practices, and state-of-the-art boat building technology.

The hull was rolled out of CDK Technologies’ build shed in Port-la-Fôret, France on Saturday, August 7 and will head to MerConcept in Concarneau for its foils to be fitted along with other final touches. The boat’s colorful design, created in collaboration with two of Italy’s leading designers - Marco and Stefano Van Orton - and France’s Jean-Baptiste Epron - will be unveiled in full when the boat sails for the first time at the end of August.

Where IMOCA 60s are traditionally designed for the typical downwind course of the solo Vendée Globe, the 11th Hour Racing Team boat has been optimized for the broader range of conditions expected in The Ocean Race, which will cross the equator four times in the 2022-23 edition.

Featuring an entirely closed cockpit design, the new IMOCA 60 allows up to five sailors to live and work under the protection of its cover for the majority of time spent offshore. Thanks to its innovative shape, the cockpit provides near-360 degree visibility, further enhanced via a refined auto-pilot, navigation system, cameras, and marine mammal deterrence system.

11th Hour Racing’s new IMOCA is rolled out of the shed at CDK Technologies in Port La Foret to see sunlight for the first time.11th Hour Racing’s new IMOCA is rolled out of the shed at CDK Technologies in Port La Foret to see sunlight for the first time.

Also to be revealed in the coming weeks will be the culmination of two years - and several iterations - of foil design, tested both in the simulator and on the team’s first IMOCA 60, known as 11.1.

Striving to inspire action within the marine industry and beyond, the new 11th Hour Racing Team IMOCA 60 is seeking to set a benchmark for boat building innovations by utilizing alternative materials like flax for hatches, interior and deck panels, and implementing sustainable practices including stakeholder working groups and supply chain engagement, along with a highly analytical life cycle approach while supporting the creation of new IMOCA Class sustainability rules.

Skipper Charlie Enright was excited about the launch: “We’ve designed a version of the IMOCA 60 that no one has ever built before. Our boat should be able to withstand the toughest conditions in the most remote corners of the world, but is also able to compete in various shorthanded configurations. To build an all-around-performer like this, we have worked with the best in the trade: Guillaume Verdier as the lead naval architect, the technical and performance experts at MerConcept, and the build team at CDK Technologies. Running this project during a global pandemic was definitely a challenge, however, one constant never changed: putting sustainability at the center of the whole process.”

Damian Foxall, Sustainability Program Manager at 11th Hour Racing Team, explained more about this sustainability-first approach: “You can’t manage what you can’t measure - and what you can’t measure, can’t be improved. This is why we have executed a full Life Cycle Assessment over the course of the build process, in order to determine the environmental impact of the different components and procedures. Based on this evidence, we can work out different ways to reduce our impact, such as substituting highly-polluting materials with new alternatives, reducing single-use elements, optimizing our supply chain and internal operations, and refining the boat’s actual shape to make it more energy-efficient.

“Sharing our findings with the rest of the industry, from boat builders to sailors to race organizers, is an essential part of our mission, in order to inform the future and push the paradigm shift we urgently need. We have only 8 years left to meet the requirements of the Paris Agreement to reduce our impact by 50%. Business as usual is no longer an option.”

Durability has been a crucial factor in reducing the IMOCA 60’s overall footprint without compromising on performance and safety. Adaptable to both short-handed and fully-crewed racing, the boat in its current setup has been optimized to race with up to five sailors. The boat’s race schedule includes the upcoming Défi Azimut (raced double-handed with a non-sailing onboard media crew member), the Transat Jacques Vabre (double-handed), and The Ocean Race 2022-23 (four sailors and one sailing onboard media crew member).

“Winning The Ocean Race is our ultimate goal,” said Mark Towill, CEO of 11th Hour Racing Team. “These past months have been a huge collaborative effort, connecting a multitude of different stakeholders across the globe to build a boat that is completely different from what this Class has known so far. We are challenging the status quo and aiming to do it as sustainably as possible and sharing these learnings with the wider marine community. We are all extremely proud to see the boat leave the shed and are incredibly grateful to everyone for their hard work.”

Supported by sponsor 11th Hour Racing, the Team is looking to inspire other teams, race organizers and marine businesses to take action by starting their own sustainability journey. "The marine environment is harsher than any other, even outer space; the salt, wind, sun, and incredible force of water work to corrode, break down, or tear apart everything onboard," noted Jeremy Pochman, co-founder and CEO, 11th Hour Racing. "If the sustainable materials used in building the Team's new IMOCA can survive these conditions, then it's clear we can use such materials in less demanding boats, and the advances could ripple out through other industries that deal with far less harsh environments. This is a remarkable milestone as we work to change the narrative around sustainability in the marine and maritime industries, and in everyday life."

Leading up to the new boat’s naming ceremony scheduled for September 13, 11th Hour Racing Team will release a series of content features, including videos and photos, giving detailed insight into the new IMOCA 60’s unique design, artwork, and innovation processes.

Published in Vendee Globe
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Almost six months after the first skippers crossed the Vendée Globe finish line already the tenth edition, starting November 2024, is on everyone's mind. And the enthusiasm stemming from the last edition is significant, already there are around 45 sailors who are wanting to be on the starting line in just over three years time. And so here is a round-up of the state of play as we go into summer, knowing of course that the clock is always ticking.

As regular readers know, there was a big interest from Ireland in the last race with four campaigns mentioned at one point but none ultimately made it to th 2020 startline.

Only one Irish boat has ever made it to the Vendee Globe start line and that was in the 2016 race when Galway sailor Enda O'Coineen made the Sable's D'Olonne line. His entry Kilcullen was dismasted off New Zealand in January 2017 and he never finished the race but, much to his credit, O'Coineen did complete the course sailing the boat home to France in April 2018 and becoming one of only a handful of Irish sailors to solo circumnavigate the globe.

The Vendée Globe has really never stopped. Yes, the finish line is crossed but the challenge is ongoing for many. Some skippers made no secret that during their last weeks on board they were already working to make their projects continue. "2024 is already only tomorrow", Romain Attanasio said during the latter days of his race.

For those who want to be competing at solo racing’s absolute pinnacle, re-immersing themselves in the most prestigious challenge is a "must".

According to figures from Figaro Nautisme, already 45 skippers would like to enter the next edition (there were 34 in 2020).

Here is a broad overview


The announcement came accompanied by a great fanfare in a massive TV studio in early May. Charal and Jérémie Beyou (13th in the last edition) announced the construction of a new IMOCA monohull. The new Charal 2 will be designed by Sam Manuard and is presented by the skipper as "a break with the rounded bow" and a "relatively easy, ergonomic and versatile" boat.

Boris Herrmann announced on this Vendée Globe site his desire to have a new boat, a VPLP design “We want to continue for the next 4 to 5 years,” he explained aiming for crewed The Ocean Race and the next Vendée Globe. In May he was already in a"full discussion on the design" and has a target of launching by next June. His boat is being built at the Vannes yard Multiplast, like that of Maxime Sorel who has also announced he will build new. The blond haired solo racer who was tenth in the Vendée Globe has a new sponsor, Chocolats Monbana alongside the continuation of the partnership with V and B and the area of Mayenne. He decided to have an Apivia sistership with MerConcept. This, he sees, is a way to give a new dimension to his project" while having "the assurance of having a boat ready as soon as it is launched, scheduled for June 2022".

Same too for Kevin Escoffie who will have a new PRB. Currently freelancing with Banque Populaire to sail in the Transat Jacques Vabre, the skipper announced at the end of May that he would carry on with PRB who have bought a new boat hull. They have in fact bought the hull of an IMOCA which was being built by Carrington Boats to a design by Guillaume Verdier. Escoffier is delighted with the advance in timing he gets from taking on a hull that is all but built and so he says it will "make the new PRB more reliable".

For his part, Armel Tripon, who no longer enjoys the support of L’Occitane en Provence, announced the construction of a new scow (a boat with a rounded bow), while resuming sailing and competing in the Ocean50 multihulls

The ‘transfer window’ or the sales funnel if you like always goes on at the end of each edition, as skippers chase boats which will take their game up a level, or two. Just as he was after 2016-17 the one who got the ball rolling was Louis Burton. Third in the Vendée Globe, the Saint-Malo skipper acquired L’Occitane en Provence on which he is currently competing in The Ocean Race Europe. "It's like a dream, I'm discovering a new machine that makes me want to take on even more challenges," he explained during the launch of his newest boat;

Meantime Bureau Vallée 2 has found a happy buyer: Pip Hare. The effervescent Briton (19th in the last Vendée Globe) and her sponsor Medallia are lining up for a more competitive, faster more sporty boat, a “very efficient” boat, emphasizes the Briton.

At the beginning of May, we learned that Romain Attanasio was also going to experience the joys of sailing with foils. The sailor has acquired the Malizia IMOCA from Boris Herrmann (Seaexplorer-Yacht Club de Monaco) which he has put in its new colours thanks to the support of a new sponsor, Fortinet, which will be alongside Best Western.

Fabrice Amedeo is the first in this category. After retiring into South Africa he will go for a new cycle with the same boat. He benefits from new colours as the Nexans company has joined it.

Kojiro Shiraishi will also be on the same boat for his third participation. He announced in April that together with his sponsor, DMG-Mori. "The boat and I will set out to be faster and I will try to make the boat more comfortable to sail and improve the foils".

The winner of the last edition, Yannick Bestaven, remains vague on his intentions, even if he assures us that his current boat is "almost sold". First to cross the line, second in the final standings, there is no doubt that Charlie Dalin will be part of the adventure again. He has been testing new foils, the uncertainty about his participation in 2024 boils down to one question: will he leave with the current revamped Apivia or with a new boat?

Same problem for Sam Davies (Initiatives Coeur). This is what she said to Tip & Shaft: “With the team and the partners, we are looking for a way to 'upgrade' for the next Vendée Globe. Nothing has been decided we are looking for the best possible solution. "

Alex Thomson (Hugo Boss) he has not formally announced anything but is believed to favour the creation of a new boat. Nicolas Troussel is not closing the door on the idea of building a boat either: "It will depend on what happens this year," he confided before taking part in The Ocean Race. Damien Seguin (Apicil Group), for his part, reaffirmed in the Journal du dimanche "wanting to sail a foiling boat from 2022 onwards".

Thomas Ruyant explained that his “history with the Vendée Globe is not over”, he is currently with LinkedOut until the Route du Rhum 2022. However, it is difficult to imagine him missing the next round the world and he also currently competing in The Ocean Race Europe. Among his teammates, there is Clarisse Crémer, 12th in the last Vendée Globe, who has reaffirmed her desire to participate again, without any official announcement having yet been made to that effect. Alexia Barrier is also said to be at the same stage.

Arnaud Boissières has also expressed his desire to participate in a 5th Vendée Globe. But the question is with which boat? On several occasions, he has expressed his desire to acquire Maître Coq IV, the boat of the winner and his friend, Yannick Bestaven. “More than ever I want to put a competitive, lasting imprint on the Vendée Globe,” he explained to Ouest-France. Isabelle Joschke also aspires to come back. However, the skipper who races in MACSF colours does not necessarily want to have a new boat, she told Voiles et Voiliers.

For his part, Alan Roura must deal with the withdrawal of his sponsor, La Fabrique. The Swiss sailor, however, remains particularly motivated to find new partners, as he told Voiles et Voiliers: "I am confident in my ability to convince sponsors to come on board with me". Sébastien Simon is also looking for partners as Arkéa Paprec leaves the adventure at the end of the year but will build a new boat for an as-yet undisclosed skipper.

At Miranda Merron, who also experienced the withdrawal of her sponsor, Campagne de France, the equation is more complicated. "Miranda would love to set off again on a Vendée Globe but without sponsors or substantial financial means, I don’t think it can happen," said Halvard Mabire to Voile et Voiliers.


A project is taking shape for Louis Duc. He who had recovered the IMOCA Fortil from Clément Giraud, damaged after a fire, has just announced the arrival of a first partner, the group of landscape gardeners Lantana Paysages. The adventurer Guirec Soudée, known for having sailed around the world with a hen is working on participation. He bought the IMOCA from Benjamin Dutreux (OMIA-Water Family, 9th). This is also the case for Antoine Cornic who has acquired the ex-Spirit of Canada (Derek Hatfield, Vendée Globe 2008).

Sébastien Josse has repeatedly reaffirmed his desire to be there. Yann Eliès, who has just completed the double-handed Transat, says "he has rediscovered his faith" and is aiming for "a boat of the 2020 generation or the previous generation", as he explained to Voiles et Voiliers. Violette Dorange, also entered in the double-handed Transat, expressed her willingness to set up a project and seek funding.

Two other participants on The Ocean Race Europe are also in the running: Justine Mettraux and Yoann Richomme. The Swiss sailor Mettraux who is cutting her teeth aboard 11th Hour Racing, is aiming for a "2nd or 3rd generation IMOCA". Finally, note that the names of Nicolas Boidezevi and Jorg Riechers are also cited for this next edition. Case to follow!

A round up of boats

2024 New Boats

  • Sea Explorer for Boris Herrmann
  • Eleventh Hour 2
  • V&B Monbana-Mayenne for Maxime Sorel
  • Charal 2 for Jérémie Beyou
  • PRB for Kevin Escoffier

Generation 2020

  • Bureau Vallée 3 for Louis Burton
  • Corum L’Epargne
  • DMG Mori
  • Apivia
  • Medallia (ex-Bureau Vallée 3) for Pip Hare
  • Fortinet-BestWestern (ex- Sea Explorer) for Romain Attanasio
  • Nexans-Art&Fenêtre for Fabrice Amedeo
  • Prysmian Group for Giancarlo Pedote
  • For sale : Arkea Paprec, Hugo Boss, Charal 1, Linkedout, Maître Coq

Generation 2014 

  • Nandor Fa's boat

Generation 2013

  • Team Germany, ex-Acciona
  • Banque Populaire sold

Génération 2008

  • Yes We Cam, La Mie Caline, Time For Océan, Omia Water Family sold
  • Apicil for sale
  • Merci de Sébastien Destremau
  • Groupe Setin of Manu Cousin
  • MACSF of Isabelle Jochke
  • La Compagnie du Lit de Clément Giraud
  • Campagne de France of Miranda Merron
  • Plan Farr 2008 of Louis Duc
  • V&B de Maxime Sorel
  • La Fabrique of Alan Roura
  • Spirit of Canada of Antoine Cornic
  • Stark oj Ari Huusela (for sale)
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Winner of the ninth Vendee Globe Race, Yannick Bestaven has embarked on an ambitious sporting dream: to win the Everest of the Seas twice in a row, the round-the-world sailing solo and non-stop.

Building on this objective, Maître CoQ has renewed its sponsorship for Bestaven and his sailing team.

A partnership contract was signed until June 2025, resulting in a new IMOCA yacht.

The construction of Maître CoQ V will begin in June 2021 in the boat building site of, CDK technologies, in Port-La-Forêt, for a launch one year later. It will be a Verdier plan, designed in the moulds of the 11th Hour 2 monohull.

Bestaven will start this season in two double-handed races, the Rolex Fastnet Race on August 8 in the waters of the Solent and November 8 in the Jacques Vabre transatlantic which will leave from Le Havre for Martinique.

Bestaven has called on a sailor who has supported him since the start of the Master CoQ project, Roland Jourdain to be his double-handed partner in both these races.

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Almost six months after they competed in the world’s most brutal race — the singlehanded non-stop lap of the planet that is the Vendée Globe — many of the IMOCA fleet will be returning to the race course for the first time in August’s Rolex Fastnet Race.

Aside from the added attraction of the race now ending up in home waters, with the finish moving for the first time to Cherbourg, for the IMOCA teams the Royal Ocean Racing Club’s flagship event is also a qualifier for November’s Transat Jacques Vabre.

Running from Le Havre to Martinique (via Fernando di Noronha off Brazil), this event is double-handed and the world’s most advanced offshore monohulls will also sail in this configuration for the Rolex Fastnet Race.

The line-up is impressive. It includes Charlie Dalin on Apivia who was first home into Les Sables d’Olonne in late January, until Maître CoQ, skippered by Yannick Bestaven, subsequently became the race’s winner after he was awarded time compensation for his part in the rescue of Kevin Escoffier.

From the US, The Ocean Race team 11th Hour Racing has not one but two IMOCAs entered. This includes the 2016 vintage former HUGO BOSS, being campaigned by the mixed Anglo-Swiss crew of Volvo Ocean Race veteran Simon Fisher and Justine Mettraux.

Charlie Dalin, second in the last Vendée Globe aboard Apivia, is competing in the Rolex Fastnet Race | Credit: Maxime Horlaville/Disobey/ApiviaCharlie Dalin, second in the last Vendée Globe aboard Apivia, is competing in the Rolex Fastnet Race | Credit: Maxime Horlaville/Disobey/Apivia

But all eyes could be on the campaign’s latest steed, to be sailed by American Charlie Enright and top French offshore sailor Pascal Bidégorry. Whether she will make it is in the balance: the launch of this new Guillaume Verdier design, built by CKD Technologies and project managed by Francois Gabart’s company MerConcept, is scheduled for the end of July, leaving precious little work-up time before the 8 August start.

Significantly this will be the first new flying IMOCA launched with The Ocean Race in mind, rather than the Vendée Globe. However, Enright, who two years ago was outright winner of the Rolex Fastnet Race as sailing master on the Askew brothers’ VO70 Wizard, explains they are hedged.

“In some ways we are optimised for both crewed and shorthanded racing, and in other ways we have definitely compromised to be able to wear both hats in this fleet. It is the first IMOCA built with The Ocean Race as its primary objective,” he said.

What this means in terms of the specifics of the new hardware, we will have to wait and see. Theoretically with the potential to trim the foils more regularly, they could be more optimised and less draggy than the present generation foils.

For sure it will require more interior and cockpit space to accommodate four crew plus a media crewman and it will be interesting to see the degree to which the cockpit is enclosed. There is also a tricky engineering balance to be reached in that the extra crew equals extra weight and righting moment and they can potentially drive the boat harder, but at the expense of extra structural weight, which in turn is bad for light airs foiling.

The first new flying IMOCA launched with the Ocean Race in mind — one of two boats entered by 11th Hour Racing | Credit: Amory Ross/11th Hour RacingThe first new flying IMOCA launched with the Ocean Race in mind — one of two boats entered by 11th Hour Racing | Credit: Amory Ross/11th Hour Racing

In with a strong chance of line honours is Britain’s Alex Thomson and HUGO BOSS. After leading the Vendée Globe fleet into the South Atlantic, HUGO BOSS in that race suffered structural damage to her bow and Thomson was subsequently forced to retire into Cape Town with “irreparable rudder damage”.

HUGO BOSS is back in the water with two new rudders and Thomson and his team in Gosport, UK are keen to prove the potential of their radical craft, the first IMOCA with a fully enclosed cockpit.

For Thomson, the Rolex Fastnet Race has played a major part in his sailing career: “I love the Rolex Fastnet Race. I got my sailing instructor [qualification] in 1994 and in 1995 I joined Britannia Sailing, who were the first people to do amateur ‘pay to play’ racing, and did my first Fastnet within a few months of joining them. I didn’t know it at the time, but that was when I found out that offshore was what I loved to do.”

After winning the 1998-99 Clipper Round the World Race, it was in the 2003 Rolex Fastnet Race that Thomson first raced under the colours of HUGO BOSS. With their subsequent support he has gone on to become Britain’s most successful Vendée Globe skipper, podiuming on two occasions.

Of his past Rolex Fastnet Races, Thomson recalls: “My first was in 1995 on a Sigma 36 and it took us more than seven days. The most painful one was when it took us the four days on an IMOCA in 2005!”

The Rolex Fastnet race has played a major part in Alex Thomson’s career and he will compete with HUGO BOSS | Credit: Alex Thomson RacingThe Rolex Fastnet race has played a major part in Alex Thomson’s career and he will compete with HUGO BOSS | Credit: Alex Thomson Racing

Sam Davies, the British Vendée Globe and Volvo Ocean Race skipper, says that the Rolex Fastnet Race inspired her as a teenager growing up in Portsmouth: “As a kid I remember seeing all these boats, the Admiral’s Cuppers, the maxis — the best of the best boats there in Solent to do the Fastnet Race. Hearing the stories from the 1979 race made it even more awe-inspiring. And it seemed just so far! How could people do a race that long?! That’s funny now.”

This will be Sam’s ninth Rolex Fastnet Race, a long way from her first when she was 19 with the parents of top pro sailor Gerry Mitchell on their Jeanneau Sun Legende 41.

“It was a good family-owned racing boat where the husband and wife sailed all the races together. We did all the RORC races and qualifiers — it was very competitive,” she recalled.

At the time Mitchell was en route to the 1993-94 Whitbread Round the World Race on the Dolphin & Youth Whitbread 60 and occasionally he and some of his talented friends would join them. The experience of racing with the Mitchells and the chance to meet future and existing legends of the sport all helped set Sam on track for her future career.

It is for this reason that she feels great pride returning to the Solent on board her state of the art race boat as a major wheel within the world’s most significant offshore fleet. This time she will be racing her IMOCA Initiatives Coeur with French Solitaire du Figaro winner Nicolas Lunven.

Also significant for Sam is that racing in the same part of the IMOCA fleet will be her partner Romain Attanasio. He recently secured funding for his next IMOCA campaign with Fortinet-Best Western and has acquired Boris Herrman’s IMOCA, originally the 2016 vintage Edmond de Rothschild.

“There is a group of us — me, Isa [Joscke on MACSF], SiFi and Jojo [Simon Fisher and Justine Mettraux on 11th Hour Racing] and Romain — on old boats that have been optimised. I am looking forward to that race.”

Sam Davies, the British Vendée Globe and Volvo Ocean Race skipper, was inspired by the Rolex Fastnet Race from a young age | Credit: Maxime Horlaville/polaRYSE/Initiatives-CoeurSam Davies, the British Vendée Globe and Volvo Ocean Race skipper, was inspired by the Rolex Fastnet Race from a young age | Credit: Maxime Horlaville/polaRYSE/Initiatives-Coeur

Sam says the likely IMOCA winners will be the latest generation boats, all of which at least started the last Vendée Globe and which their skippers know better than ever.

The latest generation of foilers come into their own in 12 knots, at which point they foil when the older generation do not. However while they are optimised for the round the world course, to the extent that some are not great upwind, a course like the Rolex Fastnet Race’s could benefit older more all-round boats.

“If we get a light spot or a tricky spot, if it is downwind spinnaker sailing and we are more in the water than out, then all our group of boats will still be in with a chance. That is the good thing about the Rolex Fastnet Race because it is coastal, and tricky racing and there’s tides, it’s summer so there’s probably light winds at some point,” she said.

The latest generation IMOCAs competing currently include Hugo Boss, Apivia, Sebastien Simon’s ArkeaPaprec and Nicolas Troussel’s CORUM L’Epargne, which is currently competing in The Ocean Race Europe. Another to watch will certainly be Jérémie Beyou and Chris Pratt on board Charal, which returns as the defending champion in the IMOCA class.

“This is the first event of the season for us,” says Beyou. “It’s a good rehearsal for the Transat Jacques Vabre on a sporting level and also to prepare the team. We have to be ready for the delivery, the stand-by in Cherbourg, the choice of sails, etc — the whole pre-race routine that's important to test.

“It’s a race we won two years ago, so we hope to do as well, but there are a lot of people and it will be a bit tricky at the start exiting the Solent. There’s a lot to avoid, but it’s great fun, a great show and we’re going to enjoy it too.”

Published in Fastnet

Thirty-one of the 33 skippers who competed in the 9th Vendée Globe mustered in Les Sables-d'Olonne today for the official prize-giving and closing ceremony which saw Yannick Bestaven (Maître-CoQ) receive top award as the overall winner.

There were two further key announcements, the 10th edition will leave from Les Sables d’Olonne on November 10, 2024 and the sailors should finally have a chance to meet with race fans later this year, at a popular festival to be organised on Saturday, September 25, 2021!

This ninth 9th edition was celebrated today Saturday 22 May in the Espace des Atlantes, in Les Sables-d'Olonne. The health situation in France means crowds were strictly limited and it was a relatively muted affair compared to previous years. But the smiles were broad and the laughter audible as the skippers met up for the first time since the start last year, and had a great chance to finally share memories in person.

31 of the 33 skippers entered in the 9th Vendée Globe were there. Only Boris Herrmann (Seaexplorer - Yacht Club de Monaco) and Alex Thomson (HUGO BOSS) could not come. Pip Hare (Medallia, already on her way to the next edition) and Ari Huusela (Stark) both made it to Les Sables d’Olonne.

For Yannick Bestaven (Maître-CoQ) the winner, the day started in an atmosphere more reminiscent of Hollywood as the 2020-2021 champion added his handprints to the Remblai winners where Armel Le Cléac'h (2016- 2017) who he succeeds and those of, François Gabart (2012-2013), Michel Desjoyeaux (2000-2001, 2008-2009), Vincent Riou (2004-2005), Christophe Auguin (1996-1997), Alain Gautier (1992- 1993) and Titouan Lamazou (1989-1990).

The programme featured an hour-long TV show, broadcast on and social media. Skippers recounted their memories, the highlights including Jérémie Beyou talking of his changed perspective on racing round the world, Clément Giraud talking of his voyage of self discovery, but also the rescue of Kevin Escoffier relived and of course that epic, close battle to the finish line.

Quotations from the Vendee Globe Organiser & Competitors

Yves Auvinet (President of the Vendée Globe):
“We are staying the course: there will indeed be a Vendée Globe in 2024! And if all goes well, the start will be given on Sunday, November 10, 2024 at 1:02 p.m. We are extremely frustrated to have organized this Vendée Globe with a lot of it on camera only and not in person but we are meeting on Saturday September 25 to celebrate, if conditions allow, with all the public, our heroes of the Vendée Globe 2020-2021 ”.

Yannick Bestaven (Maître CoQ IV):
“Winning has changed a lot of things, finishing the Vendée Globe. is already a victory. The second win was to have a partner, who trusted me and my team. And, over the course of the race, the ambitions came. I never said to myself that I had secured the victory: there were so many twists! It wasn't until the finish line was crossed that I knew I had won. I want to get back out on the water, but on the Vendée Globe? I don't know yet, we'll see ”.

Charlie Dalin (Apivia):
"This here today is the last event of this edition! It's been something great today to be able to look back at the channel, the port, the finish line. I had only spent 20 days at sea before this race and so I discovered a lot of things.”

Louis Burton (Bureau Vallée 2):
"Certainly the notion of surpassing oneself is very strong in sailing. When we meet a few weeks later, everyone has a great story to tell. The Vendée Globe is sailing competition at the very top level."

Boris Herrmann (Seaexplorer - Yacht Club de Monaco):
“The Vendée Globe is more than a race. Between us, there are stronger bonds between humans than between us as competitors."

Giancarlo Pedote (Prysmian Group): 

"It's a strong emotion! The first thing I did this morning when I got here was come and see the way out the channel. All the memories flood back. We had the chance to experience something intense in emotions, exceptional. I had lots of meetings, and that's also the richness of an event like that. What unites us: the same emotions, the same difficulties”.

Stéphane le Diraison (Time for Oceans):
"This Vendée Globe is so intense that I felt like I was living in another dimension. Coming back here reactivates all these beautiful emotions. It’s nice to see the faces of everyone with whom I have shared this adventure. And I'm coming back as a finisher, yes, I was so keen to come back to the end of the story! "

Didac Costa (One Planet One Ocean):
“As it was my second edition, I was able to enjoy my surroundings more. The circumstances of life mean that I took advantage of my passion for the Vendée Globe before very quickly returning to my professional life (Didac is a firefighter in Barcelona), that's how it is, life is like that ".

Kojiro Shiraishi (DMG Mori Global One):
“I really wanted to complete this world tour not only for my mentor Yukoh Tada, but also for all the Japanese people. I must continue to race offshore for them too and open up this future to them”.

Published in Vendee Globe
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British skipper Pip Hare and her sponsors Medallia have confirmed they are the new owners of the IMOCA Bureau Vallée 2 which Louis Burton sailed to third place on the Vendée Globe which has just finished and which Armel Le Cléac’h sailed to victory in 2016-17 in a record time of 74 days 3 hours. The purchase of this well proven successful IMOCA represents a massive step towards the 2024 Vendée Globe for Hare, 47, who has worked relentlessly to achieve this goal since she finished in 19th place back on 12th February.

Hare, whose inspirational attitude and sheer tenacity made her one of the most popular stories of this ninth edition, raced the 21-year-old former Superbigou, but admits she had already earmarked two boats last October, as her potential ‘next boat’. Now she is determined to take a short rest, learn the boat and up her skill levels to be ready for a full IMOCA season in 2022.

Another key goal achieved for you Pip, it must feel fantastic to know you have every chance to be on the start line in 2021, what is the duration and scope of the programme you have with Medallia?

This is to take me to Vendée Globe 2024. This year I will now take it a little bit slower because it is a massive step up for me and I don’t want to rush things. I want to make sure I am doing things at the right time for me. So we have said we might possibly do the Transat Jacques Vabre, maybe, but the most important thing is that I get myself to be super confident, super comfortable sailing this new boat and then as of 2022 I will be doing the IMOCA Globe Series, I want to try and do some UK offshore events to support the UK circuits a bit, I might be a lone wolf, but I don’t want to have a great boat and then just disappear off to France! A Round Britain record would be fun and it is Round Britain & Ireland race next year, so there are some fun things to do out there as well.

How do you feel about having a new boat, it is another important career step…

Exhausted! I don’t know. When we walked round the dock at the start of the Vendée Globe Leslie (Stretch CEO Medallia) was already saying ‘we might be interested in taking this further. And that was before we had even left the dock. Of course I was looking at which boats would be good. I was never a 2020 and only 2020 girl ever. Of the boats I looked at, the two I said I would be interested in were Maître Coq and Bureau Vallée and Bureau Vallée ended up being the one I wanted most and we got that one. It is a massively capable boat, I just hope I am the massively capable skipper to go with it.

You have a transition period, a good handover stage with Louis (Burton) and Servane (Escoffier, Louis’ wife, business partner and manager)?

Yes they have been massively supportive. In reality they are just across the channel and we are going to be working alongside them as we recommission the boat. And Louis and members of his team will come and do some sailing with me. I am so happy and little bit scared.

And so what is your schedule, when do you take on the boat and when can you start training?

We own the boat now but with the Ocean Race Europe happening we likely won’t get it back in the water until the end of June beginning of July and I will run it out of Poole from the end of July. I will have the training wheels on.

Now you can get some rest?

I have a week next week in France. All of us Vendée Globe girls are going to the French senate and so I have a week in quarantine in Britanny. That is my rest.

And what was it like saying farewell to the old Medallia, the Superbigou, was it a bit sad?

It was and it wasn’t. It was because it was The End, drawing a line under everything but really I had done everything I wanted to with the boat. And because it was The End I was not sad to see it go. We came together to do one thing. Now it is over and it was time to move on, let us say. We had a ‘conscious uncoupling’ as Gwyneth Paltrow would have it.

Have you been sailing at all?

I have missed sailing like crazy. I am jealous of anyone who has been out sailing, the sailing has started again the in the harbour here (Poole) but I have just been too busy to get a ride out with anyone. So I have been a bit jealous of everyone out on the water. By June I will be fully back into it I think and lots of different things. I will do the Quarter Ton Cup and I am looking forwards to that, it is super competitive, it is such different sailing. They guys I sail with Tom Hill on Belinda (1986 Gonzalez design) I have sailed with for a few years and it is good fun, good banter. There is a lot to enjoy. I will be trimming the mainsail.

And your fitness is coming back. You spoke about doing the 3 Peaks Race this year….?

I have been training but I fell over. I keep falling over, I think my body is trying to tell me something! and I fractured two ribs. I literally tripped over a tree root and got another root on my sternum and fractured two ribs. I really, really want to do it but maybe my body is trying to tell me something. But it has been really, really hard. I am such a long way off where I wanted to be. The biggest issue has been my weight loss. I lost so much weight – 9 kilos – and one of the things with rapid weight loss like I had is that when you go back to eating normally your body stores everything and so I am now struggling with being overweight now. That is hard with running and so it will take me a few months.

So really you have been going at 100% since you finished…

When I came back I was determined not to feel the void, the black hole after the race is gone. And so I have been full on. You don’t have time to bask in the glory and it is not terrible because I can still close my yes and remember how amazing it was. It is still is, was, the best thing I have ever done in my life. But it does feel like I have changed so much that it feels like it was someone else who did the race. That just makes me more determined to be back on the race, to have a longer programme, do more sailing and be out there more. That is what I crave.

So everything has been on hold until now?

Now I am so close to it not being on hold and soon I will be able take the foot off the gas and let some other people take the strain a little bit and just have an emotional reset. We are on the verge of the next step. But it is great to know now I will have the chance to operate at the level I want to be at on the next race.

What did you learn about yourself on this last Vendée Globe?

I think I surprised myself where I was in the fleet and how hard I was able to push that boat. I am not scared to push. That was the big unknown for me. Was there a switch in my brain that would not allow me to push hard, that sees risk. I am a lot tougher than I thought I was. I was not frightened about the physical nature of that boat, and that applied over an extended period of time. That was quite a good thing to discover about myself because it really did make be believe 100% I should be continuing. Every step of my career I have said I have to have an honest evaluation of how we did. And if I got to the stage where it is ‘no this is as far as I can go’ then I would have been at one with myself because I had gone as far as I could. I always wanted to go into things with the confidence as I should be there, rather than ever parachuting in, being out of my depth, and then getting out of it.

And so how does this next phase look?

All of this project was about the boat. I put myself last. I had the chance to sail with Paul Larson and that was great for me because my whole career I have not really had the chance to sail with really great sailors that often. What I would like for me career wise, now, is this is my greatest opportunity to develop as a solo sailor and I would really, really like to have more coaching, to join up with some of the French training camps, to sail with different people. Until now I have never felt I was the right calibre for people to want to do that with me. I am still a bit hesitant about who I sail with, but I have much more confidence about being able to hold my own. I am really, really just desperate to learn. I have spent so long teaching and coaching other people, now I want to learn.

Is coaching and teaching good for your own sailing and how you learn?

Yes! 100% coaching is an amazing way to improve your own sailing. My ability to solo sail is in no small way thanks to the likes of corporate sailing at Cowes Week, having a different team every day, having to tell people who have never ever been on a boat how to drop a spinnaker, you are manging risk and breaking things down and communicating what to do all the time, vocalising. I think that makes you look at sailing in a different way.

And with six girls on the last race can we see even more on the next race?

I reckon we will see more girls on the next race. Talking with all the girls recently I think we all want to be back, I was speaking to Miranda and she wants to do it again. And there are more girls out there. I was in Jersey giving a talk recently and there were two ladies came up to me there and just said to me how inspired they have been to improve their own sailing, at their own level. That was really lovely. The interesting thing is everyone kind of assumes it is about inspiring the younger generation but it is not. Sailing is for everyone and there are entry levels at every point, but yes it is great to talk about inspiring the younger generation, but there is a change in the demographic of the mass of people on the water and I think in due course that will make it easier for women at the elite end of the sport.

Published in Vendee Globe
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When Finnish solo skipper Ari Huusela crossed the finish line of the 2020-2021 Vendée Globe this Friday morning at 08 35 46 hrs UTC in Spring morning sunshine, light winds and mirror-smooth seas to finish in 25th place on the solo non-stop race around the world, it marked the ultimate conclusion of an ocean racing dream which has occupied almost all of his spare time over the last 22 years.

The elapsed time for Huusela is 116 days 18 hours 15 minutes and 46 seconds and he closes the finish line 36 days after winner Yannick Bestaven and Charlie Dalin crossed.

Huusela’s low risk ‘one chance only’ race round the planet has been executed with all the prudent weather routing precision and safeguards that might be expected of a long haul airline pilot who, while competing in his own ocean racing pinnacle event at the age of 58 always wanted to give himself the absolute best chance of finishing the course.

An airline maintenance engineer turned career pilot who has been a keen amateur ocean racer since 1999 when he first raced the Atlantic in a tiny Mini650, Huusela becomes the first skipper from a Nordic nation to start and complete the Vendée Globe.

He may be the last finisher to break the finish line, 25th from a record entry of 33 skippers, but it is doubtful there is a sailor on this race who has taken more pleasure nearly each and every day of his race.

Emotional arrival

A skipper who has built a huge, respectful following for his safety-first approach and his regular, relaxed communication, as the last finisher into the Les Sables d’Olonne channel an emotional Huusela was given a huge welcome back.

Ari Huusela - a skipper who has built a huge, respectful following for his safety first approachAri Huusela - a skipper who has built a huge, respectful following for his safety first approach

“I was crying most of last night, I have been thinking about this for so long. I am so thankful to my team. Without them I would not be here, and to Alex Thomson who was the first one who pushed me and helped me a lot to start the project. And this welcome here today is so touching. To have been to all the starts of this race since 1996 and now to finally have finished today seeing all these people on the sea, in the Channel and now on the land is just amazing, to be able to enjoy it myself. I am so happy Les Sables d’Olonne and the Vendée region arrange this race, and so to see these nice people from Les Sables d’Olonne taking care of us and being out here this morning is just lovely.”

And while he quickly built his reputation as the race’s ‘super happy sailor’ he had tough times too, particularly beating back up the Atlantic ocean in big, confused seas.

“The hardest bit was when the boat was slamming when the sea state was so terrible and confused, the boat was slamming, slamming at the time. I thought the boat would break into pieces. And it was so uncomfortable to be in the boat at that time, that lasted two or three days and I called Niina (his partner and project manager) and I said had reached a point where I hoped the boat would break in two pieces and I could be rescued by a cargo ship, saving me.”

Few setbacks

Both technically and mentally he suffered his biggest setbacks very early on in the race, in the first couple of weeks. But having overcome these minor issues himself, since then Huusela’s two primary modes have been either ‘Happy’ or ‘Super Happy’.

As he closes a Vendée Globe which sees the highest ever number of finishes - 25, seven more than 2016-17’s previous best when 11 of the 29 skippers who started abandoned, Huusela can also reflect that he was in the race almost all of the way round.

Only in the last two weeks of the course did he finally lose contact with his nearest rival when Alexia Barrier escaped out of the zone of high pressure south of the Azores to move several hundred miles ahead of the Finnish skipper, who suffered three frustrating days crawling at sub 5kts speeds and making only around 50 miles a day.

Speaking a few days before his arrival, Huusela confirmed again that his only main goal was always just to finish. Were he to be in last position that was not going to be a concern for him.

“I am not worried at all. I am just super happy to be in the race and to be where I am. When I started the race I would have been happy to do it in 110 days but to me, it doesn’t matter if it is 150 days; that’s fine as long as I do finish. I knew I would be far away from the others. The most important thing is to finish with a solid boat in a good condition.”

Completing the Vendée Globe is the high point of an ocean racing career which really started in the Mini Class at the back end of the 1990s. He completed the 1999 MiniTransat on a Finnish boat designed by Kamu Strahlmann which was previously sailed on the 1997 race.

He placed 13th of 16 finishers, one place behind French skipper Yannick Bestaven. In the intervening years he purchased the Andrew Cape designed former Aberdeen Asset Management which was sailed to 11th in the 2001 race by Sam Davies.

For reasons that he still does not fully comprehend he was not allowed to start the 2003 MiniTransat race – because the organisers said he had not accumulated enough miles on his ‘new boat’. Undaunted he sold the boat on to Isabelle Joschke and helped her start in the class before locating his previous Mini which was in a state of disrepair in a field in Ireland. So he completely refitted the boat and raced the 2007 Mini-Transat on it, finishing 37th.

Seven years later, after a spell sailing F18 catamarans he returned offshore to progress his Vendée Globe dream and took on the solo Route du Rhum on a Pogo 40 in the Rhum class, sailing a steady race to ninth position.

But the Vendée Globe was always his goal and in April 2018 he purchased the Owen Clarke design which had started life as Dee Caffari’s AVIVA for the 2008-9 race and which she also raced on the 2010-11 Barcelona World Race with Anna Corbella.

In the time available to him away from flying Airbus 350s for his job, he prepared his campaign doing the 2018 Route du Rhum to Guadeloupe on which he finished 2018 and the 2019 Transat Jacques Vabre with Mikey Ferguson finishing 26th. His goals were always modest as were his budgets, simply building enough miles and experience towards his Vendée Globe challenge.

In the summer before the start he secured the sponsorship of STARK, one of Finland’s biggest building materials groups. While he was racing their programme won three national sponsorship awards in his native country, where Huusela has become a national hero with a huge following.

When he left the dock for his Vendée Globe on November 8th it was an emotional moment. It was the fifth time he had been to Les Sables d’Olonne for a start and this time he was crossing the line.

In fact he settled into his routine early, even if he felt slightly more nervous than on his ‘normal’ Transatlantic races that he had become used to. His confidence was knocked when he was flattened in the first big frontal system. Followed by an electrical problem – his batteries overcharging from the hydrogenator causing a complete system blackout – Huusela became concerned that his race might be plagued by daily problems.

“At first it was like the Route du Rhum or the MiniTransat or the Transat Jacques Vabre. But I had a bad time in the Doldrums with lots of thunderstorms and rain like I have never seen before, I thought I was going to drown in the rain. And then after that it was annoying to be upwind for the first while I did not like that.” He recalled recently, “Afterwards it was so nice sailing all the way to under South Africa, I really got into it then and enjoyed sailing under my A3, my biggest Code sail. At one point under South Africa we had three boats within a mile, Clement Giraud, Séb Destremau and I, and I took pictures and it was really cool. It was sunny, with beautiful days of easy miles. It was not really like the big south.”

Comfort Zone

He set himself strict wind limits downwind for his routing – 30kts maximum downwind – to minimise the stress on himself and the boat, which he has a significant finance loan on and which he therefore needed to sell in good condition on his return.

“I am sticking to my comfort zone, a slower, longer route but I am always so happy to be here. I feel safe and felt the boat was safe, this is the way I can stay in the race.”

At Cape Leeuwin he stayed north out of a nasty low pressure system which his nearest rival and running mate Alexia Barrier sailed through.

“I just did not want to be in those areas. I enjoyed the stable conditions and easy miles and I was sure I could keep the boat in one piece. The main thing has been finishing the race for me. I don’t think I will ever have the chance to make a big project like this again and so I have to make it to the finish.” He said a few days ago.

His toughest days were the wipeout a few days after the start and when he was obliged to route through a 40-50kts storm to get to Cape Horn.

“The boat was knocked flat and the mast was in the water, I have never experienced that before, so that night was really, really bad, just a few days into the race.” he recalls.

“The heavy downwind coming to Cape Horn was so bad with the waves, I had two wipeouts with the waves, but they were not so bad as the mast did not hit the water, but it was scary.”

In fact at Cape Horn, rather than being very isolated and alone he rounded in close company with Alexia Barrier and Sam Davies – who was completing her Vendée Globe out of the race – and he enjoyed and profited from contact with them, and many other skippers, on the climb up the Atlantic.

“But the worst bits recently have been slamming in the horrible waves in the Atlantic, that has been really bad for me and the boat.” Huusela said just before the Azores.

The final days of his race, spring sunshine and flat seas have been a just reward for Ari Huusela who has become a huge national hero at home in Finland, just as he has become a treasured memory on this Vendée Globe for his seemingly endless good-humoured Christmas advent messages and his daily video reports from the super happy sailor on ‘STARK IMOCA Vendée Globe 2020’…..

Published in Vendee Globe
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