Vendée Globe: Conquering the world

British sailor Alex Thomson as he comes in second in the Vendee Globe race at Les Sables d'Olonne, western France. On January 19, 2017.

Decryption of the most famous sailing race in the world, organized every 4 years.

The Vendée Globe is a single handed sailing race which takes place every four years with a start in « Sables d’Olonne », in the Vendée (France). It’s first edition took place in 1989 by an idea of Titou Lamazou. Sailors sail around the world for a hundred days in very difficult conditions. The people who take part in this crossing are called « skippers », and they all have their own boat which is worthmillions of euros. They then need sponsors who will help them pay for their boat, which is called « Imoca ». For example, the big sailing sponsors are Hugo boss or Charal. These companies pay a tremendous amount of 2 to 4 million euros for each skipper. This race therefore represents a great economic stake for the nautical industry since it employs thousands of people.

It is the most famous and mediatized sailing race in France. The skippers are not allowed to make any stopovers and are not entitled to any assistance, except in cases of extreme danger. For example, in 1992, skipper Bertrand de Broc had to stitch up his tongue himself without medical help, and this year, he broke all the records as 33 skippers set off for the crossing of the world with different nationalities represented as English or Spanish skippers.


This year, the big favorite of the race, Jeremie Beyou, skipper of the boat Charal, recently collided with a « UFO ». (unidentified floating object) and was forced, after sailing for about ten days, to return to Les Sables d’Olonne to repair his boat. Thus, he lost a lot of time on his competitors but decided to go back and continue the course. The skipper at the head of the race at the moment is Alex Thomson, skipper of the Hugo Boss boat, who is also a
big favourite in the race : « Everything is fine (…) I have a few little things to d and some tidying up, but no big problems » as he declared a few weeks
ago. The skippers are launched for at least another sixty days and will eventually experience Christmas on their boat.

French sailor Armel Le Cleac’h celebrates onboard Banque Populaire VIII after winning the Vendee Globe race at Les Sables d’Olonne, western France on January 19th 2016. ©Icon Sport


Since 2012, the competition has been modernized by offering players the opportunity to challenge the real participants through the Virtual Regatta Offshore mobile application. Founded in 2006 by former French skipper Philippe Guigné, it organizes around 50 sailing races a year and has no less than 1.5 million active players across 193 countries. Available on all devices, this application displays the position of the skippers in real time, as well as the weather conditions they encounter every second.

This year, the application has been a dazzling success, with nearly 820,000 participants online, a figure accentuated by the containment and sanitary measures taken against the Covid 19. But behind this success lies the real reason for the general craze created by the a p p l i c a t i o n. The winner of this virtual experience will receive 10 thousand euros, an amount that raises year after year as the number of participants increases, enough to attract more and more parti-cipants …

In recent years, this event has become extremely popular aroun the world. Real and online participants have never been so numerous and a genuine economy has developed The future of the Vendée Globe has everything to be radiant, and who knows what surprises it will offer us in the next few years?