The other Vendée Globe race, that of adventurers



“We have a huge chance to go to sea in this special context. To have the right to travel, to adventure and to escape is even more precious and extraordinary. ” These words, launched by Clarisse Crémer, young skipper of People’s Bank, before casting off, everyone, old veterans or rookies like her around the world, could have spoken them. After the start on Sunday 8 November, the 33 sailors often leave behind a friend or relative at risk. “We are worried about our loved ones, a little embarrassed too”, explained Arnaud Boissières.

→ THE FACTS. The Vendée Globe and its racing cars have cast off on the sly

Among the sailors, a small dozen hope to lift the trophy at the end of the 24,296 nautical miles (44,996 km) announced in the logbook. Some even took only 74 days of food (Armel Le Cléac’h’s record time during the 2016-2017 edition) with the ambition of falling below the symbolic 70 days.

But the most numerous will take their time, with their own dreams of a record in mind. “My boat has done four Vendée Globe and six round the world trips and has always made it home safely. So I have high hopes of finishing the Vendée Globe, but I also want to beat the record of this boat which is 98 days, explains Alexia Barrier, at the helm of the former Penguin by Catherine Chabaud, 6e in 1996-1997.

22 adventurers for glory

“They don’t necessarily claim it, but almost all the sailors out of the race for victory have a sporting objective in mind: the DNA of the Vendée Globe is adventure plus competition, that’s the beauty of this race. race “, supports Denis Horeau, former director of the Vendée Globe (in 1989, then from 2004 to 2016) and author of a book on the event (1). He classified the starters into three categories, the “C” (champions), the “A” (adventurers) and the “A + C” (sailors with no chance of a podium but determined to go for it). It counts, for this edition, three “A + C” and nine “C” capable of winning, which leaves the fleet of “A” and its 21 units strength in numbers.

Six women in the Vendée Globe boat

Among these adventurers, some have already won the award for … slowness. Registered in the Vendée Globe 2016-2017, Sébastien Destremau had reached Les Sables-d’Olonne after 124 days of sailing. Joining the fifteen sailors more than 120 days from the history of the Vendée Globe, but without breaking Jean-François Coste’s record of 163 days, achieved during the pioneering edition of 1989. “Out of 165 sailors crazy enough to embark on this non-stop solo round-the-world tour, not many of us have finished, very exactly 88, that indicates the level of difficulty”, defends Sébastien Destremau.

88e of the mad squadron to cross Cape Horn, Sébastien Destremau made during the last edition a key with a metal hanger to symbolically close the Pacific Ocean behind him, a key he presented to the Pope (read above). The objective of the former competition skipper for this new start: “The first time, I started from a blank sheet of paper, no one had ever done that in my region in Toulon, he recounts. In 2016 it was the unknown, today the unknown is to know if I am able to do it again knowing what awaits me. “

The first adventure, being able to take the start

Am I capable of it? This question is probably already trotting in the minds of the 18 rookies, including 12 French, who had to face tough weather from the early morning hours of Monday 9. Many have already experienced very difficult times, on land, before leaving.

Clément Giraud, the first miracle worker in the Vendée Globe

“Everyone knows it, the first adventure is to have been able to take the start”, Clément Giraud repeated over the last few days, who saw his dreams go up in smoke, like his boat, destroyed by a fire on the quays of Le Havre at the dawn of the launch of the Transat Jacques-Vabre 2019. Before the dream of this adventure does not become reality again thanks to the solidarity of another skipper, Erik Nigon, himself in need of financing, and who lent him his boat for the Vendée Globe.

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The “Key to the Oceans”, blessed by Pope Francis

Made on the passage of Cape Horn by Sébastien Destremau, last of the 2016-2017 edition, to symbolically close the ocean behind him, the “Key to the Oceans” was brought back safely. She then accompanied home, in Quercy, the Black Virgin of Rocamadour, patron saint of navigators, moved to Sables-d’Olonne to protect sailors. The key also made a detour to Rome, where Sébastien Destremau presented it to Pope Francis who blessed it, in April 2018. Note that the Black Virgin returned for a few weeks to Les Sables-d’Olonne, to Notre -Dame-de-Bon-Port, where she will stay until the last competitor returns.

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