The horizon is starting to look clearer for those aiming to compete in the 2020 Vendée Globe. On 4th July, they are due to start the Vendée-Arctic-les Sables d’Olonne, a 3600-mile solo ocean race around a big triangle reaching up to the limits of the Arctic Circle.
This race with its brand new course organised by the IMOCA class in conjunction with the Sea to See company, and supported by Vendée and the town of Les Sables d’Olonne, is a real prologue for the Vendée Globe. It is something that the racers are looking forward to and will allow them to test their boats, which have recently come out of the yards, while for some it also offers an opportunity to qualify for the non-stop solo round the world race without assistance, which is set to start on 8th November.
The event will take place in conditions that respect the public health measures that are in place and will also convey various messages involving medical research, the protection of the oceans and literature.
The IMOCA and the organisers of the Vendée Globe looking towards the same goal
At a moment in time when the skippers and their teams are starting work again, the prospects are looking good for the organisation of the Vendée Globe this autumn and the announcement of a summer race starting from Les Sables d’Olonne has brought a breath of fresh air to the projects. Most of the sailors have not sailed for months and they are all in a hurry now to be able to enjoy the sea and racing.
For several weeks, the IMOCA class and the organisers of the Vendée Globe have been busy finding a replacement for the two solo transatlantic races, which were unable to take place as planned this spring. This alternative has taken shape and has become the Vendée-Arctic-Les Sables d’Olonne.
This event was conceived around a 3600-mile long race course, representing ten to twelve days of solo sailing for the first time on IMOCA boats between the coast of France – with the start and finish in Les Sables d’Olonne – the West of Iceland and the North of the Azores. The final list of entrants will be revealed in early June. Permits have already been applied for from the authorities with the support of the French Sailing Federation (FFVoile).
In this race, the fleet will have to sail up to the latitude of 65 degrees North on the edge of the Polar Circle, which is further north than Cape Horn is to the South.
The choice for the start date of 4th July was down to a question of timing:
It is highly symbolic that for this dress rehearsal, the start and finish line off Les Sables d’Olonne will be in the same place as for the Vendée Globe.
Ocean racing, science and literature
* Seven skippers have to sail a solo voyage of 2000 miles, approved by the Race Directors (Alex Thomson, Nicolas Troussel, Sébastien Simon, Sébastien Destremau, Didac Costa, Conrad Colman and Louis Burton). Four have to race in and complete the equivalent of a solo transatlantic race (Kojiro Shiraishi, Armel Tripon, Isabelle Joschke and Clément Giraud).