Imagine enduring extreme weather, rouge waves, little to no human contact, and bone-shattering exhaustion for four solid months. Add in a “no outside assistance” rule and what have you got? The infamous Vendee Globe Race.
Founded in 1989 by Philippe Jeantot, the Vendee Globe is a round-the-world solo race sailed non-stop without assistance. This race is considered a test of extreme endurance and the ultimate ocean racing challenge.
According to VendeeGlobe.org, “the concept of the Vendee Globe is simple: you have to sail around the world alone without stopping and without assistance. These three parameters make the race what it is by establishing its DNA.” Sound like fun? Many racers think so, and continue to compete in this extreme event, spending millions of dollars and countless months – and years – to prepare.
Sound like fun? Many racers think so, and continue to compete in this extreme event, spending millions of dollars and countless months and years – to prepare.
Currently, the Vendee Globe is open to monohull yachts within the “Open 60” class criteria, and the yachts must fit certain parameters such as overall length, draft, stability, and certain safety requirements.
The race starts and finishes in Les Sables-d’Olonne in Vendee, France. The course is basically a circumnavigation from France to the Cape of Good Hope, then around to Antarctica, then back down to France. It typically runs from November to February and is timed, so the racers are in the Southern Ocean during the austral summer.
Each sailor is truly alone. They are forced to rely on their own wits to find their way, carry out repairs to fix damage (which will inevitably happen), and nurse themselves back to health if they fall ill or injured. And for what? A coveted 24-inch silver-plated bronze trophy designed by Philippe Macheret and bragging rights to last a lifetime.
There have been documentaries filmed about it and books written about it, but it is still difficult for one to understand the thrill – and inherent danger – of the radical Vendee Globe race.
To learn more and follow the action of this year’s race, visit www.vendeeglobe.org.