Start date confirmed for 2016 Vendee Globe

With less than two years to the start of the Vendée Globe, Bruno Retailleau, President of the Saem Vendée, gave a complete rundown of the situation concerning the eighth Vendée Globe at the Paris Boat Show this afternoon (Tuesday). As well as confirming the start date for Sunday 6th November 2016, we also learnt that around fifteen sailors are already certain to compete and that 20-25 were well advanced in their project. This press conference was also an opportunity for Sodebo and the town of Les Sables d’Olonne to announce that they have renewed their commitment to the race. Many skippers were also present to present their projects.

The start date is now official. The start of the eighth edition of the non-stop solo round the world race, the 2016-2017 Vendée Globe, will take place on Sunday 6th November 2016. Bruno Retailleau, President of the Vendée Council and the SAEM Vendée, the event organiser, appeared very optimistic. “Everything seems to be looking favourable for this edition, both in terms of the race and the organisation.” After showing a teaser video, Bruno Retailleau reminded everyone of some very impressive figures.

“The Vendée Globe is already France’s leading sporting event in terms of media coverage along with the Tour de France and Roland-Garros with coverage representing 200 million euros. We can also see some other data about the 2012 event, which illustrated how exceptional the impact was for such an ocean race.  9 million single visitors looked at the website during the three months of the race, 285 million pages were viewed, 30 million videos watched, 500,000 players joined in with the Vendée Globe Virtual Game, 85 hours of live TV were watched, 1,700 accredited  journalists attended the Race Village at the start…”

Sodebo back as partner to the event

The digital boom with Internet and social networking means we can look forward to even greater coverage for the 2016-2017 edition. Bruno Retailleau explained, “New media arrangements and innovative editorial formats will mean increased coverage of the race, the skippers and the partners. During the race, the Vendée Globe will have its own Web TV broadcasting 24 hours a day with three live daily broadcasts and two weekly shows. People will be able to follow closely the lead up to the race with a video magazine “Aiming for the Vendée Globe” which will throw the spotlight on all the news concerning the various projects.” 

In addition to this, 90% of the budget for the event has already been secured, in particular, because the three major partners for the Vendée Globe, the Vendée Council, Sodebo and the town of Les Sables d’Olonne have renewed their support for the Everest of the Seas. Patricia Brochard, President of the Sodebo Group and Didier Gallot, Mayor of Les Sables d’Olonne, were on the stage to express their support for the Vendée Globe, alongside Jean-Pierre Champion (President of the French Sailing Federation), Jean Kerhoas (IMOCA President) and Denis Horeau (Race Director).

20 to 25 boats at the start

As for the race, the Notice of Race has been drawn up. The DNA of the Vendée Globe has of course been respected and there are no major changes. The Jury and Race Committee have been appointed. The President of the Jury will be Bernard Bonneau, “one of the most famous judges in the sailing world, who will also be President of the Jury at the Rio Olympics in 2016.” Bruno Retailleau handed over the microphone to Jean Kerhoas, who spoke about the new IMOCA class rules and the question of the use of foils, which should add to the technological attraction of the Vendée Globe.

The sailors were quite naturally given pride of place at this conference. Bruno Retailleau reminded everyone that there is ongoing contact with all the solo sailors. “In this difficult economic context, the Council and the SAEM Vendée offer their help to the skippers, who are looking for sponsors, through the use of marketing and communication tools, but also with joint meetings in order to explain the high return on investment that an event like the Vendée Globe with such media coverage offers.” No fewer than around thirty sailors hoping to compete in the Vendée Globe made the trip to present their projects (see below).

To sum up, “We already have fifteen teams committed, which is much more than we had with two years to go to the 2012 race, and we are confident that we should have between 20 and 25 boats on the start line on 6th November 2016,” declared Bruno Retailleau. “We’re looking at quality too, as a third of this fleet will be made up of new boats, which is an exceptional proportion and even a unique situation in such ocean races.” The President of the Saem Vendée concluded, “The 2016 edition of the Vendée Globe looks like being an exceptional one from every point of view. Firstly, with a line-up offering quantity, quality and diversity, which promises an exciting race out on the water. Then there is the coverage, which is being stepped up. Finally, with solid partnership agreements, we are able to work without any worries. All of this will strengthen the Vendée Globe in its position as the greatest ocean race in the world.”

The 15 sailors already committed: 

Aboard seven new boats: Morgan Lagravière (FRA / Safran), Armel Le Cléac’h (FRA / Banque Populaire), Alex Thomson (GB / Hugo Boss), Sébastien Josse (FRA / Groupe Edmond de Rothschild), Andrea Mura (ITA / Vento Di Sardegna), Jean-Pierre Dick (St Michel-Virbac), Nandor Fa (HG / Spirit of Hungary).

Aboard eight existing boats: Vincent Riou (FRA / PRB), Yann Eliès (FRA/Groupe Quéguiner), Jérémie Beyou (FRA / Maître Coq), Tanguy de Lamotte (FRA / Initiatives Cœur), Louis Burton (FRA / Bureau Vallée), Eric Bellion (FRA / Comme 1 seul Homme), Rich Wilson (USA / Great America IV), Armel Tripon (FRA / For Humble Heroes).

– Vendee Globe Media

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