CHRISTMAS OFFER 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 CommonsArmel 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 CommonsAlex 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

Yesterday, 16:34

Visit historic cities, Western Front battlefields and Unesco heritage sites on a journey through Hauts-de-France

Read more
Friday, October 19, 2018

Known for its gastronomy, architecture and eco-friendly way of thinking, we take a look at what makes Lyon such a special place to live and visit.

Read more
Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Discover the windmills of France, their history and new leases of life

Read more
Culture and attractions
Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Fred Sirieix, Gordon Ramsay and Gino d’Acampo head off in a campervan to south-west France in their latest TV adventure

Read more
Thursday, October 11, 2018

France has long been a muse for artists, but do the locations that inspired the likes of Monet and Van Gogh still look as picturesque today?

Read more
Tuesday, October 9, 2018

If you’re heading off on holiday to France and don’t want to leave your beloved pet at home, make sure to book your flight with one of these airlines and you won’t have to

Read more
Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Inspired by the Ryder Cup? We’ve rounded up some of France’s top courses where you can put your golf skills to the test

Read more
Friday, September 28, 2018

France has some iconic avian species. From the shores of the Mediterranean to the rooftops of Alsace Robin Gauldie discovers the best places to see these big birds.

Read more
Monday, September 24, 2018

Celebrate one of France’s finest exports with a trip to one of these traditional wine festivals

Read more
Monday, September 24, 2018

The sunny south of France, with its rich winemaking heritage, is just a two-hour flight away from the UK.

Read more
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