GETTING STARTED! Vendée Globe, 29 daredevils to conquer the oceans

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SAILING - BI AERIAL SAFRAN APRIL 2016
Do you remember in the old horror movies when the main character announces that he wants to go to the haunted castle and everyone in the village locks themselves in their houses, barring doors and windows? This reminds us of the start of the Vendée Globe, the nonstop solo round-the-world race (aboard IMOCA 60) that began at 1 p.m. in Les Sables d’Olonne.

SAILING - VENDEE GLOBE 2016 - SKIPPERS PRE-STARTNOW THEY ARE ALONE
Until a few hours ago, the 29 participating skippers had the eyes of the world on them, were surrounded by cameras, fans and tearful family members. As they left the port of the Vendée town, they were greeted by thousands of cheering people. Now they are alone in the middle of the Ocean. With the first major obstacle to overcome, that Bay of Biscay which, in past editions, has “claimed victims” by making drastic selections from the very first miles of the race. The daredevil loners then have to round the three great capes, Good Hope, Leeuwin and Horn, and return to Les Sables after nearly 22,000 miles.

Photo Jean-Marie Liot/DPPI/Vendee GlobeTHE RECORD TO BEAT
The record to beat is the one set by Francois Gabart (pictured) in the last edition (2012/13), which was 78 days, 2 hours and 16 minutes: the blond oceansman was the first skipper to go under the 80-day wall (aided by a much more northerly route than the norm in the Indian Ocean), giving six to Professor Desjoyeaux, winner in 2008/09 and 2000/01 (no one to date has done better than him).

vincent-riou-un-titre-a-defendre-et-des-choix-a-faireFAVORITES.
It is clear that, if they can be reliable, hulls with foils (which at the Transat Jacques Vabre were an absolute flop, but now it is assumed that VPLP/Verdier designers have taken the appropriate countermeasures and that skippers have learned how to handle this type of boat) will have an edge, in terms of speed. So in the spotlight is Armel Le Cleac’h with his Banque Populaire VIII, Alex Thomson on Hugo Boss, Sébastien Josse on Edmond de Rothschild, Morgan Lagravière on Safran, and Jean-Pierre Dick on St. Michel-Virbac. They are joined by the very strong Jérémie Beyou with Maître CoQ, a 2010 hull but equipped with retrofitted foils. The only “star” to have relied on a traditional hull is 44-year-old Vincent Riou (pictured), former winner of the Vendée in 2004/05, with his PRB, a 2010 VPLP Verdier design to which the appendages were redone but without foil/DSS. Riou, an experienced skipper, focuses on reliability rather than speed.

THE SCOREBOARD OF PARTICIPANTSschermata-2016-11-02-a-12-41-26

1306320-kdqf-u110114432019fzh-620x349gazzetta-web_articoloTOMORROW THE POINT WITH MICELI
We will follow the regatta with constant updates, starting tomorrow, when we will take the post-start point together with our special correspondent from Les Sables d’Olone, the great Matteo Miceli, who will tell us about the characters, design solutions and curiosities that impressed him.

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