The second edition of the Vendée Arctique race gets underway this weekend, which will see 25 solo skippers take on a gruelling course in their IMOCA 60s.
The Vendée Arctique-Les Sables d’Olonne race is set to begin this weekend, Sunday 12 June 2022 and will see 25 solo skippers competing on their IMOCA 60s.
The race may not be familiar to many – this is only the second edition of the race after a successful first running back in early 2020. The Vendée Arctique was born during Covid when two key transatlantic races had to be cancelled in the immediate lead up to the 2020-2021 Vendée Globe and skippers were in danger of being short of the hard ocean racing miles needed to test their boats.
So the idea was conceived to race into high northern latitudes for the first time for the IMOCA class. The first edition proved to offer a great, close-fought test for the skippers, and was generally seen as a bruising affair, which offered a good opportunity to push boats to their limits. It proved popular with fans too and has thus been incorporated into the IMOCA Globe Series calendar.
Vendée Arctique course
It is a demanding course and one which is very different to the Vendée Globe itself. Whilst the Vendée Globe heads south across the Equator, on this race the solo skippers head towards the Arctic Circle. They will then round to the north of Iceland passing clockwise or anti-clockwise. The whole fleet are required to round Iceland in the same direction, with the choice being made by the race directors based on the weather forecast the day before the start.
With a theoretical course distance of 3,500 nautical miles (6,482 km) the Vendée Arctique is typically a similar distance to the four yearly Route du Rhum but ‘The Rhum’ races south into regular trade winds, which allow skippers to sail fast in the predominantly downwind consistent conditions. In contrast the Vendée Arctique climbs through and/or around the strong, changeable winds of North Atlantic low pressure systems into increasingly cold, unsettled hostile winds and seas.
And returning to Les Sables d’Olonne often there are blocking high pressure systems with light winds in the Bay of Biscay – which were seen last time meaning the race is not over until the finish line is crossed and places can change In the final miles into the Vendée finish line.
The Vendée Arctique is the first qualifying race for the Vendée Globe 2024. Four other races will allow candidates for the Vendée Globe to qualify: the Route du Rhum (November 2022), the Transat Jacques Vabre (November 2023), the Transat CIC Brest United States (May 2024) and the New York – Vendée (July 2024).
Hence many teams are looking to the Vendée Arctique as the effective start of the buildup to the next Vendèe Globe, with skippers using it as the first big test of their new (or new to them) boats.
The skippers taking part in Vendée Arctique
Fabrice Amedeo (Nexans – Art & Fenêtres)
Fabrice Amedeo will take part in the Route du Rhum for the fourth time later this year and is now into a new cycle and heading into his third Vendée Globe for which he has optimised his IMOCA Nexans – Art & Fenêtres by adding large C-shaped foils.
Romain Attanasio (Fortinet – Best Western)
Romain Attanasio’s first Vendée was back in 2016 when he sailed Tanguy de Lamotte’s former Initiatives-Coeur and finished in 110 days. He then bought a newer boat and took part in his second Vendée Globe which he finished 20 days quicker than the previous race. Now he has Boris Herrmann’s former Seaexplorer – Yacht Club de Monaco, Romain is aiming to get even further up the rankings.
Éric Bellion (COMMEUNSEULHOMME powered by Altavia)
Éric Bellion first entered the Vendée Globe in 2016 and finished 9th, but first newcomer, after 99 days. Four years later, he decided to return and he’s taking part in all of the IMOCA Globe Series races in 2022 aboard Hubert (Jean Le Cam’s famous IMOCA), before acquiring a brand new boat in 2023.
Jérémie Beyou (Charal)
Jérémie Beyou has started the Vendée Globe four times with his best finish being 3rd in 2016-2017. Armed with a brand new boat, he was the winner of the first Vendée Arctique in 2020 and was one of the key favourites in the Vendée Globe. But after 48 hours, he was forced to return to Les Sables d’Olonne to repair significant damage, effectively ending his chances of victory. A new IMOCA, Charal 2, will be launched later this year in time for the Route du Rhum 2022 as he heads for his fifth consecutive Vendée Globe start. For now he will compete onboard his previous Charal.
Arnaud Boissières (La Mie câline)
Arnaud Boissières is the only sailor to complete four Vendée Globe races in a row. Now aboard La Mie Câline 3, he is keenly looking ahead to doing well in 2024 in his next round the world race sailing onboard his 2010 VPLP/Verdier design, originally launched as Foncia 2 and now with foils.
Louis Burton (Bureau Vallée)
Since 2010, Louis Burton has sailed across the Atlantic countless times, has taken part in three Vendée Globe races, with a third place in the last edition in 2020-2021. A few days after returning ashore, Louis Burton and Bureau Vallée announced they were buying the radical foiling IMOCA, formerly L’Occitane en Provence designed by Sam Manuard and an outlier in the fleet at the time, taking a scow-bow concept to the extreme of the rules.
Conrad Colman, USA/NZL (Imagine)
In 2016, Conrad Coleman completed the Vendée Globe under jury rig and became the first sailor to complete the race without using fossil fuels. He fought hard for his spot on the startline having put everything into his quest for sponsorship and funds to take part in the race. He was unable to secure funding for the last edition of the race, but it now looking to return again for the 2024 Vendée Globe. He’s currently sailing a non-foiling 2007 VPLP/Verdier design.
Antoine Cornic (Ebac)
Antoine Cornic finished the Mini Transat in tenth place at the age of 21. Sixteen years later and after a break from offshore sailing he returned and finished 11th in 2017. He is now aiming for his first Vendee. He’s acquired Canadian skipper Derek Hatfield’s ex-Spirit of Canada, an Owen-Clarke design from 2007.
Manuel Cousin (Groupe SÉTIN)
Manuel Cousin finished his first Vendée Globe in 2020 in 23rd, never giving up, in spite of a broken keel ram. He intends to be there on the start line for the 2024 Vendée Globe. He’s currently sailing the same 2007 Farr designed IMOCA 60 on which he completed the last Vendée.
Charlie Dalin (Apivia)
In 2020 Charlie Dalin sailed an impeccable first Vendée Globe to cross the line first but was given 2nd overall after time compensations were applied for those who helped in the rescue of Kevin Escoffier. He will race the next Vendée Globe on a new boat scheduled to be launched in June 2023, but will compete in the Vendée Arctiques on the previous Apivia which he sailed the 2020 Vendée Globe
Louis Duc (Fives – Lantana Environnement)
Despite never competing in the Vendée Globe, Louis Duc has a long and established offshore career. In 2002 a young Duc repaired a wrecked Pogo1 and qualified for the Mini Transat. In 2008, he won a brilliant 4th place in Class40 on The Transat 2008, his first solo Atlantic crossing. He is also behind the design of the Lift40, an innovative Class40 that won the 2018 Route du Rhum. He is currently racing a 2006 Farr design IMOCA60.
Benjamin Dutreux (Guyot Environnement – Water Family)
Vendée-based Benjamin Dutreux is a young sailor who is seen as one of the stars of the last edition of the Vendée Globe where he finished 9th aboard an old generation IMOCA and with a micro-budget. He then won the Ocean Race Europe a few months later with Offshore Team Germany. He will be racing onboard one of Alex Thomson’s ex-Hugo Boss designs, upon which the Brit was 2nd in the 2016 Vendée Globe.
Benjamin Ferré (Monnoyeur – Duo For A Job)
Benjamin Ferré is a Breton-based sailor who, after a history of voyages and boat hitchhiking decided to move into offshore racing in 2017. Two years later, he stepped on the podium in the 2019 Mini-Transat aboard Pile Poil and finished first Rookie. He has acquired a 2010 IMOCA60 which was last seen under the Banque Pop colours as Banque Populiare X and sailed in the last Vendée Globe by Clarisse Cremer.
Pip Hare GBR (Medallia)
Having sailed round the world, non-stop, alone as part of the 2020/21 Vendee Globe race, Pip Hare took her place in history as only the 8th woman to ever finish the race. She started the race as the underdog, battling for her place in a fleet of the world’s best offshore solo sailors. By the time she finished three months later, she’d won the admiration of her peers and the hearts of her growing number of followers. Pip emerged as the skipper who smashed expectations and pushed her old boat to a performance few thought possible. With one Vendee Globe complete, Pip is now well on her way to the next solo circumnavigation in 2024. Her sponsor, Medallia, is staying onboard as title for the next race and she’s got a new foiling boat – the 2016 Vendée Globe winner when it was sailed by Armel Le Cléac’h.
Isabelle Joschke GER/FRA (MACSF)
At 27 years old Isabelle Joschke she set out on her first Mini Transat. During her second participation, in 2007, her victory in the first leg showed her real potential. With Alain Gautier running her programme she took on the Vendée Globe in 2020. But Joschke was forced to retire after suffering damage to a keel ram just before Cape Horn. She is currently racing a 2007 VPLP/Verdier design.
Nicolas Lunven (Banque Populaire)
In 2017 Nicolas Lunven won the Solitaire du Figaro eight years after his first title. He subsequently worked with and sailed on Morgan Lagravière’s Safran, the first foiling IMOCA. And in 2017-2018, he was part of Dee Caffari’s crew for the Volvo Ocean Race. This was followed by two new participations in the Transat Jacques Vabre, taking 2nd place in 2019 with Kevin Escoffier and 5th place in 2021 with Sam Davies. Now this year he replaces Clarisse Crémer (who is on maternity leave) in the first two races of the season aboard the IMOCA Banque Populaire.
Sébastien Marsset (Cap Agir Ensemble #sponsorsbienvenus)
Sébastien Marsset has taken part in two Volvo Ocean Races and competed in the 2019 Transat Jacques Vabre on an IMOCA. He has set himself the goal of taking part in the 2024 Vendée Globe. His current boat is a 2006 Farr design.
Giancarlo Pedote ITA (Prysmian Group)
When Italian racer Giancarlo Pedote set off on the Vendée Globe in 2020, it was his first ever round the world race – though he had raced offshore extensively ahead of that. He was very much in or in touch with the main leading group for most of the 2020/21 race. And he finished in 8th position, just a few hours after the winner of the event. He’s still using the same 2015 VPLP/Verdier design in which he completed the 2020 Vendée Globe.
Alan Roura SUI (Hublot)
Alan Roura has been involved in (almost) everything in the offshore scene. In the 2016 Vendée Globe he finished 12th – becoming the youngest skipper in the history of the event to complete the race at the age of just 23. Four years later, he was once again the youngest racer at the start of the 2020 Vendée Globe, which he finished in 17th place – having suffered many technical problems. He has now acquired Alex Thompson’s very radical Hugo Boss from the last Vendée Globe – which looked impressive quick before damage forced Thomson’s retirement.
Thomas Ruyant (LinkedOut)
Thomas Ruyant has seen his share of bad luck in the Vendée Globe, retiring from the 2016-17 race due to damage and damaging his port foil when challenging for the lead in the 2020-2021 race. Nevertheless in 2021, he achieved a superb result by finishing 6th despite the foil damage. For now he will be competing on the boat that took him to sixth place in the last Vendée Globe, but has a new boat in build.
Damien Seguin (Groupe APICIL)
Born without a left hand, Damien Seguin already had a very successful inshore racing career before he took on the 2020-2021 Vendée Globe. He is a triple Paralympic medalist in 2.4 mR (gold medalist in Athens and Rio and a silver medal in Beijing). In 2021 Damien Seguin finished 7th in his first Vendée Globe and thus became the first disabled skipper to complete a circumnavigation of the globe. He is aiming for the Vendée Globe again but this time is aiming even higher having acquired a foiler in the shape of the 2015 VPLP/Verdier design originally launched as Safran.
Kojiro Shiraishi JPN (DMG MORI Global One)
At the age of 26, Kojiro Shiraishi became the youngest sailor to complete a non-stop, unassisted solo round-the-world trip. He also became the first Japanese sailor to participate in the Vendée Globe when he took part in 2016 but had to retire into Cape Town when the tip of his mast broke off. Then in 2018, the company DMG MORI announced the construction of a new foiling IMOCA for him with a view to participating in the Vendée Globe 2020. Despite a complicated start to the race due to his torn mainsail, he managed to repair it and set off again to finish his Vendée Globe. In so doing he became the first Asian sailor to finish the Vendée Globe. The boat has undergone extensive improvements to enable Koji to set off again on a new Vendée Globe 2024 campaign.
Guirec Soudée (Freelance.com)
At 24 Guirec Soudée became the youngest sailor in the world to cross the Northwest Passage, famously sailing solo with a red hen named Monique. Guirec also completed a double transatlantic solo row, without assistance in both directions: east-west then west-east. Now Soudée has launched a new adventure project – ocean racing in an IMOCA 60 setting out to take on the Vendée Globe 2024. He’s picked up a 2007 Farr design to complete his Vendée Globe.
Denis van Weynbergh BEL (Laboratoires de Biarritz)
Belgian skipper Denis Van Weynbergh has accumulated many ocean racing miles in a variety of classes, ticking off the Route du Rhum, the Transat Jacques Vabre and the Transat Québec-St Malo as he aims for Vendée Globe. He has acquired IMOCA 60 Spirit of Hungary, co-designed and raced by Nàndor Fa to seventh place in the 2016-17 Vendée Globe. He has already sailed more than 70,000 miles – or nearly three times round the Vendée Globe course – and he aims to become the first Belgian to complete the legendary solo non stop around the world race.
Szalbocs Weöres HUN (Szabi Racing)
Inspired by his compatriot Nandor Fa who was the first Hungarian sailor to come and take on the Vendee Globe three times (1992-1993 5th, 1996 – retired– and 2016 – 8th), Szalbocs Weöres, 49 is on a steep learning curve. A professional rigger he worked for the South African challenge, Shosholoza, during the 2007 America’s Cup. He’ll be sailing the boat launched for Dee Caffari’s Vendée Globe race back in 2008.
See the IMOCAs taking part in Vendée Arctique
Pip Hare and her technical director Joff Brown share a dockwalk tour of the boats taking part in this year’s Vendée-Artique Race
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