The Vendée Globe
THE CONCEPT OF THE VENDÉE GLOBE IS SIMPLE AND EASY TO UNDERSTAND: YOU HAVE TO SAIL AROUND THE WORLD ALONE WITHOUT STOPPING AND WITHOUT ASSISTANCE. THESE THREE PARAMETERS MAKE THE RACE WHAT IT IS BY ESTABLISHING ITS DNA. THEY ARE CLEARLY LAID OUT IN THE RACE INSTRUCTIONS.
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. Only one out of the nine pioneers who had set off in 1968 succeeded in returning to Falmouth, the major port of British Cornwall. On 6th April 1969, after 313 days at sea, British sailor Robin Knox-Johnston finally reached his goal. Twenty years later, after having won the BOC Challenge twice (solo round the world with stopovers), navigator Philippe Jeantot introduced the idea of a new race around the world, but..non-stop! The Vendée Globe race was born. On 26th November 1989, thirteen sailors took the start of the first edition which lasted over three months. Only seven returned to Les Sables d'Olonne.
The eight editions of what is now called the Everest of the seas by the public have enabled 167 contenders to take the start of this extraordinary race. Only 89 of them managed to cross the finish line. This figure alone shows the extreme difficulty of this global event in which solo racers are confronted to freezing cold, gigantic waves and heavy skies which sweep the Great South! The Vendée Globe is first and foremost a journey beyond the seas and deep down oneself… It has rewarded great sailors: Titouan Lamazou in 1990, Alain Gautier in 1993, Christophe Auguin in 1997, Vincent Riou in 2005, François Gabart in 2013 and Armel LeCléac'h in 2017. The skipper from Finistère became the new record holder of the race in 74 days. Only one sailor has won it twice: Michel Desjoyeaux, in 2001 and 2009. The 9th Vendée Globe will leave Les Sables d'Olonne on Sunday 8th November 2020.