The Vendée Globe: Still the Ultimate - Sail Magazine

The Vendée Globe: Still the Ultimate

Why does the Vendée Globe remain, in the eyes of many, the gold standard of global ocean races? Simply put, because of the purity of its challenge.
Author:
Publish date:
Vendee-Globe-2012

Why does the Vendée Globe remain, in the eyes of many, the gold standard of global ocean races? Simply put, because of the purity of its challenge: one skipper, one boat, one world, nonstop, set out from Les Sables d’Olonne, France, and then sail around the planet leaving Antarctica to starboard. The first one back to France wins.

The race continues to attract the world’s most experienced sailors. This year there will be two skippers sailing their ninth global race, and a past winner and two past runners-up among the 14 returning veterans. Five rookies will also be on the starting line November 10. Among these will be Italian Alessandro Di Benedetto, who recently sailed a 21-foot Mini along the same route as the Vendée, broke his mast at Cape Horn, jury-rigged its two pieces back together, and continued on to finish the route nonstop in 268 days.

We applaud 90-foot Rambler’s breaking of the Bermuda record with 20 crew aboard averaging 16 knots for 650 miles in under 2 days. But how about Vendée Globe 2008-9 winner Michel Desjoyeaux? He not only recorded a speed of 30.44 knots under autopilot, but set his 5,000-square-foot spinnaker alone in 27 knots of wind, and averaged 14 knots for 28,300 nautical miles over 84 days. 

Competing in the Vendée means being on high alert round-the-clock. The stress never ends. The Open 60s in the race are huge, the rigs are gigantic, it’s stifling hot in the tropics, and it’s freezing cold in the Southern Ocean gales. Will you be able to make the inevitable repairs? Will you have to go aloft? Will you be injured thousands of miles from help? And perhaps, most important, will you live up to standards of the competitiors who went before you, the storied legacy that is the Vendée Globe?

For the 2008-09 edition of the race, 300,000 people came to the start, and three-quarters of a million people over three weeks walked the docks to see the boats and talk with the skippers and shore crews. Why? Because at its heart, the Vendée Globe is both an incredible dream and a daring adventure, one that transcends national boundaries and appeals to people from all walks of life. I’ll be glued to it. For more on this year's race, visit vendeeglobe.org/en.

Photo courtesy of Jacques Vapillon/DPPI/Vendee Globe

Related

SouthernOcean

The 50th Anniversary of the Golden Globe

Here we go! The 50th anniversary of the Golden Globe, the first singlehanded nonstop round-the-world race, is upon us. On July 1 one tribute event, the Golden Globe Race 2018, will start out of Les Sables d’Olonne, France, with a fleet of 19 amateur skippers setting out in ...read more

180621-X01-Landing-Page

Volvo Ocean Race Cliffhanger

After racing over 44,000 miles round the world and battling their way past the world’s great capes, including the Cape of Good Hope and Cape Horn, it’s all come down to the final 700-mile leg from Gothenburg, Sweden, to the Hague. Brunel, Mapfre, Dongfeng: going into the ...read more

Stearns Photo

Racing the Solo Mac for a Cause

There are plenty of reasons to do a Chicago-Mac race, and Rich Stearns, who has done literally dozens of ‘em should know. This year, though, he’s doing the Solo-Mac for an especially important reason: to help those with prostate cancer.“Two years ago, I was diagnosed with ...read more

TOTW_PromoSite

SAIL's Tip of the Week

Presented by Vetus-Maxwell.Got a tip? Send it to sailmail@sailmagazine.comRafting dangerOne unseen danger when sailing yachts lie alongside one another for a convivial night is that if they happen roll to a wash or begin to move in an unexpected sea, the spreaders can clash ...read more

180615-01 Lead

A Dramatic Comeback in the Volvo

After winning three of the last four legs in the Volvo Ocean Race (and coming in second in the fourth), Dutch-flagged Brunel is now tied for first overall with Spanish-flagged Mapfre and Chinese-flagged Dongfeng following the completion of Leg 10 from Cardiff, Wales, to ...read more

MFS-5-2018-Propan-SP02

Tohatsu LPG-powered 5hp Propane Motor

Gassing it UpTired of ethanol-induced fuel issues? Say goodbye to gasoline. Japanese outboard maker Tohatsu has introduced an LPG-powered 5hp kicker that hooks up to a propane tank for hours of stress-free running. Available in short-, long- or ultra-long-shaft versions, the ...read more