5 ISSUES FOR £5 Subscribe to France Magazines today click here

Guide to the Vendée Globe

PUBLISHED: 12:58 20 January 2017 | UPDATED: 12:58 20 January 2017

The 2012/13 Vendée Globe © Sylvain NGR/Creative Commons

The 2012/13 Vendée Globe © Sylvain NGR/Creative Commons

Archant

Find out more about the most challenging sailing race in the world, the Vendée Globe, and runner up Alex Thomson

What is the Vendée Globe?

It sounds straightforward enough: you have to sail around the world without stopping, single-handed and without assistance. Except it’s also a race. Known as ‘the Everest of the seas’, it’s one of the most relentless endurance tests and it tops the ambition-list of most competitive sailors.

The French record-setting sailor Philippe Jeantot first came up with the idea in 1987, back when only five sailors had ever successfully sailed non-stop around the world. It’s a race held every four years, so the 2016-2017 competition is only the eighth since its inception.

With a theoretical distance of 24,393 miles – starting and finishing at Les Sables-d’Olonne in the Vendée - it takes nearly three months to complete.

Indeed, many won’t finish at all: race statistics suggest that over 50% of those who line up at the start will not make it all the way around. Even though the skippers are skilled and experienced, they still face technical problems, accidents, illness and great risks: famously, in the 1996-1997 race, Canadian Gerry Roufs was lost at sea and never seen again. The Vendée Globe is not a race for the faint of heart.

____________________________________________________________________

Related articles

23 amazing facts you didn’t know about the Tour de France

Interview with Eddie ‘the Eagle’ Edwards

____________________________________________________________________

Armel Le Clac'h on the start line, the 2016/17 winner © Eric HOUDAS/Creative Commons Armel Le Clac'h on the start line, the 2016/17 winner © Eric HOUDAS/Creative Commons

The stages of the Vendée Globe

Essentially, each skipper sails the world from west to east, via the three major capes. From the long slide down the Atlantic to the treacherous voyage across the Southern Ocean, then the Pacific and the final climb back up the Atlantic, it’s a route filled with risk.

Les Sables to the Equator

Equator to Good Hope

Good Hope to Cape Leeuwin

Cape Leeuwin to Cape Horn

Cape Horn to Equator

Equator to Les Sables

2016/17 results

1st place: Frenchman Armel le Cleac’h who set a record time of 74 days, 3 hours, 35 minutes and 46 seconds

2nd place: Brit Alex Thomson who finished in 74 days, 19 hours, 35 minutes and 15 seconds

____________________________________________________________________

Related articles

Fun ideas for active weekend breaks in France

Interview with James Cracknell

____________________________________________________________________

Alex Thomson, the 2016-17 runner up © Eric HOUDAS/Creative Commons Alex Thomson, the 2016-17 runner up © Eric HOUDAS/Creative Commons

Alex Thomson

Age: 42

Born in: Bangor, Wales

Now lives in: Titchfield, UK

Boat: Launched 2015

Sponsors: Hugo Boss

Vendée Globe: 4th attempt

2016/17 finishing position: 2nd

Alex Thomson, this year’s only British competitor, has had the good fortune to be sponsored by Hugo Boss for an impressive 13 years; this time, all eyes were on his incredibly sleek and stylish boat.

Built near Southampton at Green Marine, specialists in carbon-built racing-yachts, it cost £3.5 million and was developed with German Konstantin Grcic, renowned for formal, high-tech design. Strikingly beautiful, it’s a complete one-off, custom-designed for Thomson.

“There are two sides to sponsorship,” Alex explains. “First comes the racing; but we work hard to give a good return back to our sponsors through PR, marketing and brand-awareness. It’s about the relationship you have with the sponsor. You have to listen to their requirements and ensure that, through racing, you deliver the best results.”

Famous for his daring, adrenaline stunts, such as diving from the top of his mast in a Hugo Boss suit, Alex Thomson is as much a one-off as his boat.

Quick questions

Tea or coffee? Tea

Music? None

Treats? Serrano ham, salted peanuts and mayonnaise

Article by France Magazine France Magazine

More from Travel

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Looking for a new route for your next cycling holiday to France? On the ‘Trail of Two Cities’ route you can cycle from London to Paris and discover many beautiful towns and villages along the way

Read more
Cycling in France
Thursday, June 14, 2018

There are 14 villages on the shortlist to win the title of ‘France’s favourite village 2018’ – explore them all and vote in our poll to let us know which one is your favourite

Read more
Monday, June 11, 2018

In a patchwork of landscapes, the Upper Valley of the Aude boasts unspoilt countryside and a protected natural environment, which is perfect for hikers and nature lovers looking to escape the crowds of Carcassonne

Read more
Friday, June 8, 2018

Cycling through the Loire Valley past vineyards and châteaux, dressed in vintage clothes and riding a retro bike… what’s not to love about the Anjou Vélo Vintage?

Read more
Cycling in France
Thursday, June 7, 2018

Need ideas for this summer holiday in France? There are plenty of routes for a multi-activity trip in the Maurienne valley in the French Alps

Read more
French Alps
Tuesday, June 5, 2018

From recycling schemes to public parks and green spaces, a number of French cities are making an effort to become more environmentally friendly. According to a report these are the 10 greenest cities in France

Read more
Pays de la Loire
Friday, June 1, 2018

From famous gardens in Antibes and Nice to less well-known jardins in Menton and Mandelieu-la-Napoule, there are plenty of remarkable gardens to visit along the Côte d’Azur

Read more
Provence-Alpes-Cote d Azur
Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Explore Europe on a CroisiEurope river cruise and discover sunlit vineyards, vibrant cities and fascinating places...

Read more
Boating in France
Friday, May 25, 2018

Fancy something a little different during your next trip to France? Visit one of France’s many weird and wonderful museums

Read more
Culture and attractions
Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Soothe aches and pains and take in beautiful architecure with a visit to these spa towns renowned for their thermal waters

Read more
Short breaks
Subscribe today

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to the following newsletters:

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Our Privacy Policy

France Forum

Questions about France? Visit our free France forum to get help and advice from thousands of other Francophiles and expats. Topics include: property, tax, law, travelling, pets, education, healthcare and much more.

Join the forum

Most Read

Join us on social media

France magazine
Living France magazine
French Property News magazine

Enter our competitions

Win books, DVDs, travel and even holidays in France in our great competitions! Take a look at our latest competitions…

Enter now