French skipper Kito de Pavant has abandoned his Vendée Globe dream following damage to the keel of Bastide-Otio in the South Indian Ocean. Sébastien Josse on Edmond de Rothschild has also retired due to damage to the port foil.

5 December

Kito de Pavant, 55, is now making his way to dry land by supply ship after he was forced to abandon his boat, Bastide-Otio to the South Indian Ocean

The vessel hit an unidentified object while sailing at 16 knots under mainsail with two reefs in very heavy seas.

“I hit something hard with the keel. It was a violent shock and the boat came to a standstill. The rear bearings of the keel were ripped off and the keel is hanging under the boat kept in place simply by the keel ram, which is in the process of cutting through the hull,” explained de Pavant following the accident.

“The keel housing has been destroyed and there is  a huge ingress of water there, but for the moment, it is limited to the engine compartment.”

The supply ship, Marion Dufresne II, was alerted to de Pavant’s plight and made its way to the skipper’s position, waiting until daybreak to rescue de Pavant.

He was transferred to the supply ship at around 2.00 French time on 7 December 2016, where he was seen by the ship’s doctor.

“Kito de Pavant has been recovered by our rigid and board the Marion Dufresne II : he is tired and very disappointed to have to leave the race and his ship,” explained the commander Duduit of the Marion Dufresne II.

de Pavant is pragmatic about his situation, saying he was “lucky in my misfortune”.

Marion Dufresne II

Marion Dufresne II. Credit: Vendee Globe

“The Marion Dufresne was in the zone and there is only four times a year … The conditions were bad and end of the night, I was not able to spread the waterway. Floating floors: it was hard to leave my boat and abandon in the middle of nowhere, it hurts my heart to lose the boat,” he said.

“But it was the only solution because I had almost no energy for pumps and I could not recharge the batteries since the engine was under water … Much of the hull is badly damaged as the background shell is gone with the rear bearing of the keel. And the keel ram tore the hull over a meter; it was eerie to see the boat in that state. It became too dangerous for me,” added the skipper.

“It’s terrible to leave the boat on the spot because I lose a lot and the consequences will be severe: this is the first time I lose a boat … Morally, I’m pretty marked, physically, I can’t do anything,” stated de Pavant.

The Marion Dufresne II is en route to the Crozet Islands and Kerguelen, Amsterdam.

Meanwhile, Sébastien Josse, who was in third place, has also been forced to abandon the race after major damage to the port foil on his Mono60, Edmond de Rothschild.

The boat slammed into the trough of an 8 metre wave in 35 knots of wind on 5 December 2016.

Sébastien Josse, currently in third place in the Vendée Globe, put his race on hold to focus on his own safety and that of the Mono60 Edmond de Rothschild

Sébastien Josse was in third place in the Vendée Globe until he was forced to retire

“I wasn’t really pushing her any harder when the incident occurred, but conditions were rough ahead of the area of low pressure. The wind was blowing at 35 knots and the seas whipped up to around 4 metres,” explained the French skipper, who is currently in the Southern Ocean.

“While surfing along, the boat reached 30 knots before slowing right down to 10 knots as she dug in. It only lasted for a few seconds. I was under the protective cover between the two doors in the companionway. When the boat got going again, I felt that something wasn’t right and I soon saw that there was a problem with the port foil.”

“It was in the water, although I had been sailing with the foils up. I opened the cover to the foil housing and I could see there had been damage. The attachment to the top of the foil, which is a part made of carbon and designed for such strains, had broken. I had to act quickly, as the foil was just being held in place by two screws and if it came out of its mounting, the consequences would be much more serious,” explained Josse.

“It could damage the whole housing by slipping sideways, which would lead to an ingress of water. I quickly gybed to secure the foil and stop that from happening, but unfortunately the timing wasn’t good in terms of the weather. To protect the damaged equipment, I would have had to continue towards the NE, but the worsening weather meant I dived to the SE resting on the damaged foil in some nasty weather,” continued the French skipper.

“On this boat I have already been through worse weather, particularly in the Transat St Barth-Port-la-Forêt, when we had winds up to 50 knots, but here in the Southern Ocean, that is completely different because of how isolated we are,” he added.

While Josse weathered out the storm and sailed with three reefs in the main, several repair solutions were considered by his shore team.

Unfortunately, the extent of the damage means that to carry out effective repairs, Josse had to make the decision to abandon the race.

“When you do the Vendée Globe, you know that every day, you will have work to do on the boat. But that means we’re talking about patching the boat up. I am a first aid nurse, not a surgeon,” explained the solo sailor, who is currently heading for Australia, after 31 days at sea.

 

 

5 December 2016

There is a reason why the Vendée Globe is considered one of the toughest sailing races in the world…especially when the worst can happen.

Kiwi skipper Conrad Colman has been revealing more about the dramatic events of 4 December 2016, which left him dealing with a fire on board and a crash gybe.

“I saw Arnaud (Boissières) on the horizon and was happy to gybe away from him in nearly 30 knots on a shift to improve my age to the east. Then inside I started to smell a faint plastic smell.”

“Thinking maybe that the batteries were having a problem I ran my hands over all the electrical system and ran diagnostics on the computer. Everything was fine… maybe it was just a figment of my imagination! I went outside to take a reef and when I came back inside I saw black smoke and yellow flames leaping from behind the chart table,” he told Vendée Globe TV.

“One of the solar charge controllers was burning and was in the process of taking down the entire electrical system as several important cables pass close by. I took the fire blanket and smothered the flames, ignoring electrical shocks and the burning heat in my desperation to save my boat. When the flames were gone I heard one beep from the autopilot and my world turned upside down.”

Foresight Natural Energy after the crash gybe.in Vendée Globe

Foresight Natural Energy after the crash gybe. Credit: Conrad Colman

“The burnt cables next to the charge controller had short circuited the auto pilot and the boat bore away from the wind and did a crash gybe with me still inside, hands full of molten plastic. The copious ballast tanks and canting keels that make these boats some of the fastest in the world also contribute to them being very unstable when things go wrong because all of their weight is on one side and after my crash gybe the boat was actively trying to capsize itself.”

“When I poked my head out from the door the boat lying heeled over at 80 degrees, the tip of the mast only a couple of metres way from the water. As you have seen in the video I shot, I stood on the side of the cockpit to furl the gennaker and arrange the mainsail and stays so I could right the boat.”

Colman said that even with Foresight Natural Energy righted, he was “still in a tight spot”.

“The wind was increasing, I had a poorly furled gennaker that could flap itself to pieces and no instruments or autopilot. I had to drop the gennaker before I could secure the boat so I could start to repair the electronics. Unfortunately, the bad furling job I had done when the boat was on its side, combined with the strengthening wind, meant that it started unfurling backwards and thrashing around so that I was afraid it would take the mast down,” he explained.

“It took me a long time to try to furl it again while sailing downwind with the helm between my knees so I could use the pedestal to control the winches but eventually I had to resign myself to dropping the twisted mess. I managed to tangle the sail around the other forestays and stop it from falling in the water. However with the sail down it still took me two hours of solid effort to control the writhing inflated mess as the wind gusted 40 knots, spray blew horizontally off the tops of the mountains heaving under, and over, boat as I danced on the foredeck with sail ties and pocket knives.”

Conrad Colman Vendée Globe

Conrad Colman works to right the boat. Credit: Conrad Colman

“With the boat finally secure I came back inside to find everything swimming. Because the boat had spent so much time on its side the keel box had leaked hundreds of litres and I found my food bags, carefully packed spares clothes bags dripping wet or actively floating. My team and I had vacuum packed most of the equipment on the boat in thick plastic so the damage was minimal but some cold weather clothes, spare boots and sleeping bag were soaked,” said Colman.

“I was eventually able to dig through the ashes of the fire and splice important cables back together and get the autopilot back online. I screamed with joy when the little lights danced across their screens again because the alternative was to hand steer to Cape Town and abandon the race,” explained the skipper.

Colman is currently lying in 15th place.

Meanwhile Kojiro Shiraishi, skipper of Spirit of Yukoh, has been forced to abandon the Vendée Globe after he dismasted.

Kojiro Shiraishi, skipper of Spirit of Yukoh, has been forced to abandon the Vendée Globe

Kojiro Shiraishi

At around 0230 UTC on 4 December 2016, Shiraishi, who was inside the boat, heard the sound of the mast breaking.

At the time, Spirit of Yukoh was sailing in a moderate breeze – around 20 knots.

Unable to repair the damage, Kojiro is now safely heading for Cape Town.

There has been better news for the race leader, Armel Le Cléac’h, who has set a new reference time for the Cape Leeuwin.

He crossed the cape’s longitude in south west Australia at 0815 UTC on 5 December after 28 days, 20 hours and 12 minutes of sailing.

Le Cléac’h smashed the reference time set by François Gabart in 2012 by more than five and a half days.

Armel Le Cléac'h

Armel Le Cléac’h

As of 12.00 UTC on 5 December 2016, Le Cléac’h has more than a 107-nautical mile advantage over second placed Alex Thomson.

 

14.13 on 1 December

Alex Thomson has regained his lead in the solo, non-stop, around the world race, the Vendée Globe.

As of 14.00 UTC, the British skipper is just ahead of Armel Le Cléac’h on board Banque Populaire VIII in the southern Indian Ocean.

 

10.35 on 1 December

Alex Thomson’s team believe the British skipper  is on track to re-claim his lead in The Vendée Globe Race.

Over the past 24 hours, Thomson has gained 22.2 nautical miles, cutting Armel Le Cléac’h’s lead on board Banque Populaire VIII from 29.9 nautical miles to 7.7 nautical miles.

For the vast duration of the race so far, Thomson had been leading the fleet; however a week ago he sustained damage to his yacht, Hugo Boss, after a collision with an unidentified floating object whilst in the Southern Atlantic.

This resulted in his starboard foil breaking off which robbed his IMOCA60 of its ability to foil on port tack.

Despite the damage, the only Brit in the round the world race was able to hold his lead for a while until the wind angles changed on day 21 and Banque Populaire VIII was able to take the advantage.

The leading pair have just passed north of the Kerguelen Islands, a remote archipelago of islands in the southern Indian Ocean.

Their incredible battle for the top spot was also captured by the French Navy, who are in the area. One of Marine Nationale’s helicopter crews shot video footage of Hugo Boss bearing down on Banque Populaire VIII.

Le Cléac’h and Thomson are now en route to pass Australia on their way towards Cape Horn in South America.

“You certainly feel isolated here in The Southern Ocean,” noted Thomson. “You are miles away from land in one of the remotest locations on the planet. There is no one here to help or rescue you if something goes wrong and the only things around you are birds and albatrosses.”

“It’s for this reason that you need to be careful in The Southern Ocean. You don’t want to push the boat too hard and break something,” he continued.

“I’m currently ahead of the front sailing at 18-24 knots. I’m going to stay conservative and try to nip at Armel’s heals, If I can,” added Hugo Boss’ skipper.

 

25 November

Alex Thomson has become the fastest Vendée Globe sailor to reach the Cape of Good Hope.

At 15:04 UTC on 24 November 2016, Thomson smashed two more race records in the solo, non-stop, around the world race, as he reached the Cape of Good Hope in 17d 22hrs 58mins.

Thomson has beaten the previous race record to this milestone by 5d 0hrs 48mins.

The former record of 22d 23hrs 46mins was held by skipper Armel Le Cléach onboard Banque Populaire in 2012.

Le Cléach is currently in second place.

As of 0900 on 25 November, the French skipper was just under 40 nautical miles behind Thomson onboard Hugo Boss.

Thomson has also broken a second race record from the Equator to the Cape of Good Hope, passing in 8d 15hrs 56mins, which was previously held by Jean Pierre Dick in 2013 onboard Virbac-Paprec 3, at 12d 2hrs 40mins.

Thomson is determined to be the first British skipper to win the race, which could take up to 80 days to complete.

There have already been casualties, with the winner of the 2004 Vendée Globe, Vincent Riou being forced to retire earlier this week because of keel damage to PBR.

The skipper of Safran, Morgan Lagravière also retired on 24 November, following the damage to the steering, and is now heading for Cape Town.

With 28% of the race sailed in 18 days, the skippers still have to pass Cape Leeuwin in Australia and the famous Cape Horn before turning north and sailing back through the North and South Atlantic and crossing the finish line in Les Sables d’Olonne.

 

22 November

British sailor Alex Thomson has become the fastest skipper in the Vendée Globe over a 24-hour period.

He sailed 535.34 nautical miles in 24 hours on board Hugo Boss, beating the current record holder, Francois Gabart.

The French skipper set the record of 534.48 nautical miles in 24 hours during the 2012 Vendée Globe.

However, the official rule of the world speed sailing record states that the record must be exceeded by one complete nautical mile further than the previous record in order to be ratified.

The distance Thomson sailed in 24 hours on 19 November 2016, which has been confirmed by the race organisers, makes him the fastest solo sailor on a 60ft monohull in a 24-hour period, according to Thomson’s media team.

This is despite an incident on the morning of 19 November, when Hugo Boss hit an unidentified object, breaking part of the vessel’s starboard foil.

Speaking about the incident, Thomson said: “Having had pretty quick night where the boat was sailing high averages and the boat was super uncomfortable I had retracted the foil 30% early this morning and was sailing the boat pretty conservatively in a building breeze.”

“At 09.35 UT this morning I was down below trying to sleep and the boat was sailing in 22kts of wind with a J2 and one reef in the main. I was averaging 24kts of boat speed when I heard an almighty bang and the boat stopped and turned to starboard by about 30 degrees and the rudder popped up,” he continued.

“I quickly went on deck, eased the main sheet and realised I must have hit something. I put the rudder back down, eased the boat down wind and went to take a look and the starboard foil has broken off. Right now I have taken the foot completely off the throttle and changed sails and retracted the remaining part of the foil and will sail on in these conditions until the wind and sea state moderate and I can inspect the damage and assess,” explained the skipper.

“I didn’t see anything in the water but it felt like the boat wrapped itself around something and it has caused some pretty significant damage to my foil. I was instructed to carry out an internal inspection of the boat and there does not appear to be any structural damage to the hull that I can see. For now I am going to continue and assess when I get the chance,” stated Thomson.

As of 0900 UTC on 22 November, 2016., Thomson remains out in front, with second placed Sébastien Josse around 90 nautical miles behind him.

This is the second record Thomson has broken during this edition of the Vendée Globe.

He became the fastest skipper to reach the Equator in a tine of 9 days, 7 hours and 3 minutes.

 

16 November

Alex Thomson has entered the Vendée Globe history books by becoming the fastest skipper to reach the Equator.

The British sailor crossed the line in 9 days, 7 hours and 3 minutes at 19.05 UTC on 15 November, 2016.

Alex Thomson Hugo Boss crossing the Equator in the 2016 Vendée Globe

Hugo Boss crosses the Equator. Credit: Alex Thomson Racing

This beat the previous record set in 2004 by French skipper Jean Le Cam, who did it in 10 days and 11 hours. Le Cam currently lies in 9th position in the 2016 edition of the race.

Thomson onboard Hugo Boss has now entered the South Atlantic Ocean in the Southern Hemisphere.

The skipper has led the Vendée Globe fleet since Saturday evening.

As of 0900 UTC on 16 November, Thomson has a lead of 62.41 nautical miles ahead of Armel Le Cleac’h onboard Banque Populaire VIII.

The Vendée Globe is a single handed non-stop unassisted race around the world.

The race takes place every four years and has historically been dominated by the French.

 

15 November

Alex Thomson has strengthened his position as he continues to lead in the Vendée Globe 2016.

As of 12 UTC on 15 November, 2016, Thomson is now 65 nautical miles ahead of the next competitor Armel Le Cléac’h, racing on Banque Populaire VIII.

48 hours after the race started on 6 November, Thomson expressed his frustrations with his decision to gybe early on in the race and head inland. This cost him many miles, placing him in 9th place.

Since then, Thomson has been climbing back up the leader board.

His decision to pass through a passage between the western Cape Verde islands put him almost 100 nautical miles ahead of the leaders, allowing him to take back pole position.

Although he slowed down when he entered the notorious doldrums, Hugo Boss is now through and still ahead.

With a full moon lighting the deck last night, Thomson said: “It’s been a fantastic day today. I think that is the easiest doldrums crossing I have ever had.”

“Normally the rich get richer at this stage. As I get further south I’ll get more wind and the wind will get more left which means I can ease the sails and go faster. That’s the normal trend and looking at the forecast that should happen,” he added.

Hugo Boss is now approaching the Equator on the 9th day of the race which could see Thomson as the first non-French sailor to reach the Equator in the Vendée Globe.

On top of this, the British skipper is on course to break the current record to the Equator, which was set by Jean Le Cam in 2004 when he reached the Equator in 10 days 11 hours.

 

14 November

In the last 24 hours, Alex Thomson has climbed through the fleet of IMOCA 60’s to take pole position in the 2016 Vendée Globe.

Having reached speeds of 17.8 knots to take back the lead from Armel Le Cléac’h, Hugo Boss has now slowed down significantly as Thomson sails into the doldrums.

As of 0900 UTC on 14 November 2016, Hugo Boss was doing between 9-10 knots.

This particular part of the Atlantic is notorious for its unstable conditions of light, unpredictable airs, but also violent squalls and thunderstorms with heavy rain.

This will be the first major obstacle for the frontrunners as they all look to find the fastest route through to the Southern Hemisphere.

Currently, Thomson appears to be going for a route to the east of his four closest rivals, Le Cléac’h on Banque Populaire VIII, Sébastien Josse on Edmond de Rothschild. Vincent Riou (PRB) and Jérémie Beyou (Maître CoQ).

Thomson has already made a number of bold decisions since the race began. His decision to pass through a passage between the western Cape Verde islands is credited for putting him in his current position.

On 13 November 2016, the seven leading boats were spread out with a gap of 110 miles between then.

As of 0900 UTC on 14 November, that gap is down to 71 miles.

It is Sébastien Josse, who has achieved the best performance, allowing him for a while to grab second place from Vincent Riou before losing that spot to Armel Le Cléac’h, who had lost some ground after the Cape Verde Islands.

The skipper of PRB has regained around ten miles from Alex Thomson. Jérémie Beyou (Maître CoQ) regained 18 during the night, Morgan Lagravière (Safran) around 20, Paul Meilhat (SMA) 40, but honours go to Yann Eliès (Quéguiner-Leucémie Espoir) in eighth position.

In 12 hours, he has cut the distance to the leader from 192 to 132 miles.

Over the next three days, there is likely to be plenty of movement in the rankings as the boats pass through the doldrums.

This is only the eighth day of racing that is coming to an end, so for the leaders, there is still nine tenths of the voyage ahead of them.

This morning, Armel Le Cléac’h stressed that the 50 mile lead he had at the Equator in the 2012 Vendée Globe melted away in the Southern Hemisphere.

10 November

After doubts about his initial race strategy, Alex Thomson says he is in “high spirits” onboard Hugo Boss as the 2016 Vendée Globe fleet heads south.

As of 11.00 UTC on 10 November, Thomson is currently lying in ninth place as the IMOCA 60’s head towards the west coast of Africa.

He is just under 70 nautical miles behind race leader Armel Le Cleac’h on Banque Populaire VIII.

However, Hugo Boss, which initially led the race which began on 6 November, is now positioned as one of the most westerly boats.

This could be to Thomson’s advantage as this part of the Atlantic is renowned for having a wind shadow up to 150 nautical miles west of the island Madeira.

The winds have also picked up overnight and are forecast to continue to do so throughout the day.

This could see Hugo Boss pick up speed as the fleet approach the Equator.

Le Cleac’h is currently 10.53 nautical miles ahead of Vincent Riou on PBR.

Paul Meilhat on SMA lies third.

9 November

As of 11am UTC on 9 November, 2016, Hugo Boss skipper, Alex Thomson is in 8th place, after falling from podium position.

Alex Thomson Hugo Boss in the 2016 Vendée Globe

Hugo Boss. Credit: Cleo Barnham

The leadership of the 2016 Vendée Globe has swapped between five different skippers since Sunday’s start.

Frenchman Armel Le Cléac’h, a runner up in the last two Vendée Globes, is now out in front on Banque Populaire VIII.

Thomson, who came third in the 2012-13 race, yesterday questioned his strategy to break away to the east.

He admitted that his choice – executed partly in light of pre-start strategy – may not be as beneficial in the long term.

“I am not too sure about my positioning now,”” Thomson told Vendée Globe Live at midday (UTC) on 8 November.

“Initially I thought it was a good idea and part of the strategy at the beginning, I am not too sure it is going to pay off that well in the next day or so,” he conceded.

Le Cléac’h has sailed a more conservative line on Banque Populaire VIII, sticking closer to the direct route.

“The strategy has changed somewhat since the start, said Le Cléac’h on 8 November.

“The high is blocking us and the choice down the Portuguese coast isn’t as interesting as we initially thought. We’re keeping out to the west to pick up the next lot of wind. When you’re dealing with strategy it’s for the long term, in particular how to deal with Madeira and the Canaries. We need to choose our position in the coming hours,” he stated.

Closing in on Le Cléac’h is second placed Paul Meilhat on SMA, who was in fact the fastest in the fleet on Tuesday sailing almost 300 miles in just 24 hours.

Third place is Vincent Riou on PBR.

 

7 November

As expected, the conditions in the Bay of Biscay are favouring the new foilers in the 2016 Vendée Globe.

Overnight, the fleet has divided as British skipper Alex Thomson takes podium position with top speeds of 20 knots.

He is battling against two of the French favourites Armel le Cleac’h onboard Banque Populaire VIII and Jean Pierre Dick racing on St Michel Virbac.

HUGO BOSS Alex Thomson prepares for the Vendee

Hugo Boss. Credit: Cleo Barnham

Speaking ahead of the start, Thomson, who came third in the 2012-2013 Vendée Globe, believes Hugo Boss is capable of winning.

“After four years, the day has finally arrived,” said Thomson. “The team has worked incredibly hard to get Hugo Boss ready and I am confident that we now have a boat which is genuinely capable of winning the race.”

“Of course, today is bitter sweet for me. I get to enjoy the atmosphere as thousands of people gather to wave myself and the other sailors off, but I also have to say goodbye to my wife and children, which never gets easier as time goes on,” continued the skipper.

“The next time they see me, I hope to be crossing the finish line on board Hugo Boss in first place. That would be an incredibly special moment not only for myself and my team, but for British sport as a whole,” he stressed.

Find out about the 2016-17  Vendée Globe in numbers below

The three leading boats are now around 14 nautical miles ahead of fourth placed Safran skippered by Morgan Lagravière.

The fleet has separated into three groups.

Alex Thomson sets off on the 2016 Vendée Globe

Alex Thomson sets off on the 2016 Vendée Globe. Credit: Lloyd Images

All the foilers except No Way Back are in the leading group. Pieter Heerema said from the outset that he would determine his own pace.

In addition to the trio out in front, Morgan Lagravière’s Safran, Jérémie Beyou’s Maître CoQ and Sébastien Josse’s Edmond de Rothschild are in 4th, 6th and 7th place respectively.

Among the boats with straight daggerboards, it is Vincent Riou, who is doing the best, after a great start yesterday. PRB is currently in 5th place.

Paul Meilhat (SMA) aboard the boat that won the last edition (ex-Macif) is in 8th place, 20 or 30 nautical miles back from the leader.

It is here that the battle will rage between boats from the 2008 generation skippered by Yann Eliès, Tanguy de Lamotte, Thomas Ruyant, Jean Le Cam, Bertrand de Broc and Louis Burton.

3 November

How do you cook meals as well as sail in the Vendée Globe – one of the most competitive single handed yacht races in the world?

British skipper, Alex Thomson invited F1 race driver, Susie Wolff and big wave surfer, Sebastian Steudtner on board his  £4.5 million IMOCA 60, Hugo Boss to taste the selection of freeze-dried food that will make up his menu for the next three months.

Vendée Globe Alex Thomson Hugo Boss

Trying out a freeze-dried meal

Once the race begins, the entrants are not allowed any additional food on board. Freeze-dried food is also lightweight – an all important factor when speed matters.

During the last Vendée Globe, Thomson lost eight kilos in 80 days. He calls his race menu  “the most expensive diet in the world”.

Thomson finished in third place in the 2012-2013 Vendée Globe.

This year, he seeks to make history and become the first British sailor ever to win the iconic race.

“If I can win this race it will be a huge moment in British sport. It’s been a long journey to get here, but we’re more ready than we will ever be.  My motto for this race is simple: sail, survive and succeed and that’s what I aim to do,” commented Thomson.

The 2016 Vendée Globe starts from Les Sables d’Olonne in western France at 1202 UTC on 6 November 2016.

In all, four continents and ten nationalities are represented in the race.

There are 20 French competitors, one New Zealander (Conrad Colman), one Spaniard (Didac Costa), one Hungarian (Nandor Fa), one Dutchman (Pieter Heerema), one Irishman (Enda O’Coineen), one sailor from Switzerland (Alan Roura), one Japanese skipper (Kojiro Shiraishi), one from Britain (Alex Thomson) and an American (Rich Wilson).

This is the eighth edition of the race, which now attracts hundreds of thousands of visitors to the official Vendée Globe Village, which is open from 15 October until 6 November, 2016.

During the first week, 300,000 people have visited the village, with 380,000 visiting the second week.

Commenting on the event, the President of the Vendée Globe, Yves Auvinet said: “We had prepared ourselves for crowds at the official village, but I must admit that the figures for the first two weeks surprised us, particularly with crowds strolling up and down the pontoons and in the aisles in the village.”

“The Indian Summer in Vendée since the opening, the high standard of the line-up for this eighth edition and the quality of the events and exhibitions in the Village have clearly attracted a lot of visitors. Once again, the magic of the Vendée Globe is working, as it has done with each edition,” he added.

The 2016 Vendée Globe in numbers
1: Previous winner lining up: Vincent Riou (in 2004-2005).

vendee_globe_2012-2013_vincent_riou_prb

Vincent Riou departing for the 2012-13 Vendée Globe. Credit: Sylvain NGR/Wikimedia Commons

2: Number of birthdays to be celebrated at sea before mid-February (Conrad Colman 2nd December, Didac Costa 22nd December).

5: Sailors lining up for the fourth time: Bertrand de Broc, Jean-Pierre Dick, Jean Le Cam, Vincent Riou and Alex Thomson.

7: Boats fitted with foils, including 1 older generation boat: Maitre Coq.

8: Editions. Launched in 1989, this is the 8th edition of the Vendée Globe, which takes place every four years.

10: Nationalities represented with for the first time a Japanese skipper, a Dutchman, a New Zealander and an Irishman.

14: the number of rookies lining up for their first Vendée Globe: Didac Costa, Thomas Ruyant, Alan Roura, Morgan Lagravière, Sébastien Destremau, Conrad Colman, Kojiro Shiraishi, Pieter Heerema, Romain Attanasio, Eric Bellion, Fabrice Amedeo, Enda O’Coineen, Paul Meilhat, Stéphane Le Diraison.

23: The age of the youngest entrant, the Swiss sailor Alan Roura.

43: Difference in age in years between Alan Roura (23) and Rich Wilson (66), the youngest and eldest competitor in the Vendée Globe.

50: The percentage increase in the number of boats in comparison to 2012.

Gabart wins the Vendée Globe 2012-13

François Gabart shattered the Vendée Globe record in the last race in 2012-13. Credit: Ines Saraiva/Wikimedia Commons

78: days, 2 hours and 16 minutes: At the finish of the last race in 2013, François Gabart shattered the Vendée Globe record. The Frenchman improved on the previous reference time set by Michel Desjoyeaux in the 2008-2009 Vendée Globe by six days.

80: Days. Only two sailors have completed the Vendée Globe in less than 80 days, the legendary time it took Philéas Fogg: François Gabart and Armel Le Cléac’h in 2013.

1998: the year the oldest IMOCAs in the 2016 fleet was built (Romain Attanasio’s Famille Mary-Etamine du Lys) and TechnoFirst-faceOcean (Sébastien Destremau).

24,020: miles, or 40,075 kilometres – the theoretical distance. Remembering that most of the competitors will sail more, sometimes even more than 52,000km to avoid icebergs and areas of high pressure (where there are light winds).

François Gabart

Gabart abandons record attempt

French sailor François Gabart has decided not to continue his attempt to beat the North Atlantic crossing record between New…