PHOTOS: YOICHI YABE / VENDÉE GLOBE
THE EIGHTH VENDÉE GLOBE, which will begin from Les Sables d’Olonne in France, will gather Skippers aged between 23 and 66, who represent four continents and 10 nations including Japan.
For the first time in the history of the event, seven Skippers will set sail on IMOCA 60s fitted with foils, which allow the boat to be lifted up, offering gains in speed in certain conditions. Sailors who have kept their traditional daggerboards will also be competing for final victory.
The regatta will see almost as many rookies as sailors, who have already attempted the Everest of the Seas. Fourteen skippers will be discovering the race, while 15 others are returning. Five will be joining this year – Marc Thiercelin, Mike Golding and Dominique Wavre in the small group of those who have taken part in the non-stop solo round the world race four times. Among them, the only previous winner lining up this year will be Vincent Riou. Two others have already made it to the podium: Jean Le Cam (second in 2004-2005) and Alex Thomson (third in 2012-2013). Jean-Pierre Dick and Bertrand de Broc will also be competing in their fourth Vendée Globe.
Six sailors will set sail from Les Sables d’Olonne for the third time, including Armel Le Cléac’h and Arnaud Boissières, who could become the first sailors to complete three Vendée Globes in a row. Four will be setting sail for the second time. The edition will bring together the youngest competitor in the history of the race, the 23-year-old Swiss sailor Alan Roura, as well as the oldest, the 66-year-old American Rich Wilson, with the average age being 44.
Ten different nationalities will be represented among the 29 competing. There will be 20 Frenchmen, one from Japan, one from New Zealand, a Spaniard, a Hungarian, a Dutchman, an Irishman, one Skipper from Switzerland, a British skipper and an American. Among the nine non-French Skippers, three are returning to the Vendée Globe: the Hungarian Nandor Fa, the British sailor Alex Thomson and the American Rich Wilson. Two rookies continue the Vendée Globe tradition in their respective countries: Didac Costa will become the fourth Spaniard to take part in the Vendée Globe since the event was created in 1989, while Alan Roura will take up the torch in Switzerland after Bernard Gallay, Bernard Stamm and Dominique Wavre. The other foreign Skippers that are registered are the first to do so in their countries: Kojiro Shiraishi for Japan, Conrad Colman for New Zealand, Pieter Heerema for the Netherlands and Enda O’Coineen for Ireland.