Publish date:

2020-21 Vendée Timeline

As a spectator event, France’s Vendée Globe never disappoints, and the 2020-21 edition of the quadrennial round-the-world race was no exception. From equipment failures to climactic rescues, heartbreaking abandonments and a breathtakingly close finish, this edition, which included 33 solo sailors racing IMOCA 60s, truly brought Hollywood-levels of drama. Here’s a recap of the race’s highs and lows.


11/7 Due to pandemic restrictions, the skippers undergo strict quarantining and testing before the race starts. The race village is closed early and sendoff festivities are limited.

11/8 The fleet leaves Les Sables d’Olonne. Fabrice Amedeo (Newrest—Art & Fenêtres) returns to port immediately after the start to make repairs to a headsail hook.

11/11 800 miles in, Jérémie Beyou (Charal), a race favorite who’d already had a taste of leading the fleet, returns to Les Sables d’Olonne to make repairs. Though the rules allow for returning and restarting, he will be six days and 2,500 miles behind the fleet by the time his boat is ready to go.

11/16 Nicolas Troussel (CORUM L’Epargne) is dismasted near Cape Verde after which he is the first to retire. He is in 12th place at the time.

11/18 Alex Thomson (Hugo Boss)—one of the strongest sailors in the fleet and back for his fifth Vendée Globe—is the first to cross the Equator with a healthy lead of 70 miles.

11/22 Thomson discovers structural damage aboard his brand-new boat. While making repairs, he drops from first to 14th in a matter of days.

11/30 Charlie Dalin (APIVA) leads the fleet around The Cape of Good Hope. Kevin Escoffier’s boat (PRB) sinks hundreds of miles southeast of Cape Town after slamming into a wave. Another one of the ill-fated race favorites, he’d been in third place. His four closest competitors divert from their races to search for his liferaft.

12/1 Jean Le Cam (Yes we Cam!) locates Escoffier in the early hours of the morning and in an outstanding feat of seamanship is able to take him aboard.

12/2 During a video call with French President Emmanuel Macron, Le Cam and Escoffier apologize for violating France’s social-distancing rules. Macron seems OK with it.

12/4 Thomson arrives in Cape Town to survey damage to his starboard rudder and retires from the race, his third time abandoning a Vendée Globe.

12/5 Sam Davies (Initiatives-Coeur) and Sebastien Simon (Arkea Paprec) arrive in Cape Town and also abandon their races due to damage. They’d been in 10th and fourth place respectively.

12/11 Fabrice Amedeo returns to Cape Town and retires after his backup computing system fails. He’d been in 21st.

12/14 Davies leaves Cape Town to complete her circumnavigation after having made the necessary repairs. She is no longer officially competing as a result of having received outside help with her repairs.

12/25 After 15,800 miles, Boris Herrmann (Seaexplorer-Yacht Club De Monaco) and Jean Le Cam spend Christmas together with less than a mile separating their boats.

1/2 Yannick Bestaven (Maître CoQ IV) rounds Cape Horn in first place with a 160-mile lead.

1/10 Isabelle Joschke’s canting keel on MACSF, which had been jury-rigged to stay on centerline after a previous failure, breaks and cannot be secured in place. She is in 11th place when forced to retire in the home stretch of the Atlantic.

1/16 In an incredibly close Atlantic sprint, Louis Burton (Bureau Vallée) makes it to the Equator first. Sébastien Destremau (Merci) retires in New Zealand after a series of problems including a cracked bow. He was in 26th.

1/27 Charlie Dalin arrives in Les Sables d’Olonne after 80 days, 6 hours and 15 minutes, taking line honors, but...

1/28 Yannick Bestaven wins the Vendée Globe with a corrected time of 80 days, 3 hours and 44 minutes, having been credited 10 hours and 15 minutes for his role in the search for Escoffier. The top eight boats finish within 24 hours of one another, an incredibly close finish. 

All images courtesy of 2020-21 Vendee Globe

April 2021



Mirabaud Voting Open to the Public

Photos from the industry's top photographers are in, and the 12th annual Mirabaud Yacht Racing Image competition is underway. An international panel of judges has selected this year's 80 finalists, which have been published online. The panel will also select the winner of the more


Annapolis’ Boat Show is Back

After a year off in 2020, the United States Boat Show in Annapolis is back. From the diminutive Areys Pond Cat 14 XFC to the massive Lagoon Sixty 5, many of the SAIL’s 2022 Best Boats Nominees are on display for the public to get a firsthand look at, and SAIL’s Best Boats panel more


Close-Hauled to Hawaii

The saying “Nothing goes to windward like a 747,” is one of my favorites. I actually once took a 747 upwind, retracing my earlier downwind sailing route across the Pacific. I’ve also done a fair bit of ocean sailing to windward. The 747 was a lot more comfortable. But then more


Refurbishing Shirley Rose: Part 3

If you missed the first installment, click here. The hull and deck of Shirley Rose had been repaired, but what kind of sailboat would she be without a sturdy rig? I was told she was ready to sail, and that the owner replaced the standing rigging a few years before. Shirley Rose more


Mini Transat: Bouroullec and Fink Win Leg One

The Mini Transat is a roughly 4000-mile course that comprises two legs— Les Sables D’Olonne, France to Santa Cruz de La Palma in the Canaries, and Santa Cruz de La Palma to the French Caribbean island Guadeloupe. Two fleets of Mini 6.50s compete—the Production class in more


Book Excerpt: Taken By The Wind

In 1975, as a senior at Harvard, the question for Chicago-area sailor Mike Jacker became what to do next. The answer, as related in his new book Taken by the Wind, was to make a small-boat voyage to Tahiti with his grade-school friend Louis Gordon and Harvard classmate Clark more

Maserati _Arthur Daniel

The RORC Caribbean 600 is Back

With a start planned for February 21 in Antigua, the famed 600-mile Caribbean race is back. The course circumnavigates 11 Caribbean islands starting from English Harbour, Antigua, and heading north to St Maarten and south to Guadeloupe, passing Barbuda, Nevis, St Kitts, Saba and more


The Ocean Race Europe

The fully crewed, round-the-world Ocean Race has experienced tremendous change over the years. From the 1993 transition to a one-design fleet to an ever-shifting route, what began as the amateur Whitbread Round the World Yacht Regatta in 1972 is a very different race today. The more