Called "the Everest of the sea", the Vendée-Globe
a yacht race open to 60ft monohulls – this time 29 yachts
will set off, including one British contender (Alex
but – unusually – no women in the
The origins of the race lie in the voyage made by
the Canadian Joshua Slocum,
first of the great single-handed circumnavigators, who sailed the
42,000 kilometres in three years, finishing in 1895. A hundred years later,
today's non-stop sailors accomplish this feat in an incredible
three months, with the finishers returning to a heroes' welcome at Les
Sables-d’Olonne from late January 2017.
The winner stands to pocket 150,000 euros (about £100,000).
Safety is the organisers' watchword each time, and the
who each pay entrance fees of more than £6,000 - must complete certain
qualifying races, and sail 2,500 miles in their Vendée Globe yacht.
For two or three weeks before the race (this year from 20 October),
they have to be present in Les Sables for trials, safety checks
and to attend medical and survival courses. Yachts must be self-righting,
unsinkable, and have watertight bulkheads, survival doors, radar
transponders, and fluorescent keels.
Contestants receive identical digital weather maps, showing the
position of large areas of low pressure (indicating storms).
For weeks before the start visitors throng the
“Vendée Globe village,” which gives access to pontoons in Port Olona (the Les
Sables marina) and gives
them a chance to admire the sleek lines of these craft, and to give
to the courageous yachtsmen.
Seen against those of more conventional yachts,
the 25-metre-high masts of the Vendée-Globe boats make an impressive
sight - especially when you think that skippers often have to scale the mast
carry out running repairs while under way in hostile weather conditions.
Access to the “village” and pontoons this year will
20 October to 5 November 2016, from 10am to 8pm.