Vendée Globe – The official press conference for the Transat Jacques Vabre took place on Tuesday 15th September in the centre of Paris. It symbolically marks the return of the IMOCAs after the summer break. The Vendée Globe boats will be the largest class lining up at the start in Le Havre in 40 days, on Sunday 25th October.
Out of the 40 sailors competing, at least 17 will be lining up at the start of the 2016 Vendée Globe. This transatlantic race will be the first major battle between the tried and tested boats and the newer models, which only came out of the yard this summer.
Today in Paris, at the traditional opening press conference for the double-handed classic, it was confirmed that 20 IMOCA 60s will be at the start. The course is a classic one with 5400 miles to sail between Le Havre and Itajai (Brazil), in which the first week can always prove to be tough in terms of the weather. This course is in fact very interesting for the future Vendée Globe contenders, as it corresponds to the first part of the round the world race, down to the approaches to the St. Helena high. It will therefore be a sort of dress rehearsal over this part of the course with one year to go to the start in les Sables d’Olonne.
One to watch: the battle between the older and brand new monohulls
Out of the 42 boats registered, almost a half (20) are in the IMOCA class, which has turned out in force. Out of the 40 sailors in this class, at least 17 are contenders for the 2016 Vendée Globe. They are there to win or to test their new foiling machines and see how they measure up against their rivals on tried and tested boats. This will in fact be the first time that we have been able to see a real battle between the older boats and the modern ones, which have just come out of the yard.
There is no point in trying to figure out who is the favourite, particularly as the experience of the foils is still in its early days. The general opinion however, is that boats from the previous generation (like Vincent Riou’s PRB or Yann Eliès’s Quéguiner-Leucémie Espoir) could do a little better than the brand new boats with their foils, as these boats are still in their running-in phase. But we will have to wait and see, as some of these newer boats have already shown their strength. That is the case for Morgan Lagravière’s Safran 2, which made it to the podium in the Rolex Fastnet Race in the summer and he will be racing with another talented Figaro racer, Nicolas Lunven.
It is going to be fascinating too to see how the new boats with foils do against each other depending on their launch date, with some clocking up the miles, while others are barely out of the yard, like St-Michel Virbac, skippered by the triple winner of the event, Jean-Pierre Dick. That is just one example and we must not forget that in such a double-handed race across the Atlantic, the skippers really push their boats hard to get the full potential out of them… while when sailing solo, the skippers have to ease off at times.
For the sailors, for the teams, but also for everyone following the Vendée Globe, this transatlantic race should give us a lot of information to study and analyse. We will of course be watching closely the brand new boats: Safran 2, Banque Populaire VIII, Edmond de Rothschild, Hugo Boss, St Michel-Virbac with just one year to go to the start of the solo round the world race…
The IMOCAs taking part this year:
Banque Populaire VIII / Armel Le Cléac’h and Erwan Tabarly
Bastide – Otio / Kito de Pavant and Yann Régniau
Bureau Vallée / Louis Burton and Romain Attanasio
Comme un seul homme-Stand as one / Eric Bellion and Sam Goodchild (GB)
East Side Story / Nicolas Boidevézi and Ryan Breymaier (USA)
Edmond de Rothschild / Sébastien Josse and Charles Caudrelier
Hugo Boss / Alex Thomson (GB) and Guillermo Altadill (ESP)
Initiatives-Cœur / Tanguy de Lamotte and Samantha Davies (GB)
Le Bateau Des Metiers By Aerocampus / Arnaud Boissières and Stan Maslard
Le Souffle du Nord / Thomas Ruyant and Adrien Hardy
MACSF / Bertrand de Broc and Marc Guillemot
Maître CoQ / Jérémie Beyou and Philippe Legros
Newrest-Matmut / Fabrice Amedeo and Eric Peron
O Canada / Eric Holden (CAN) and Morgen Watson (CAN)
PRB / Vincent Riou and Sébastien Col
Quequiner – Leucémie Espoir / Yann Elies and Charlie Dalin
Safran / Morgan Lagravière and Nicolas Lunven
SMA / Paul Meilhat and Michel Desjoyeaux
Spirit Of Hungary / Nándor Fa (HUN) and Péter Perényi (HUN)
St Michel-Virbac / Jean-Pierre Dick and Fabien Delahaye
by Bruno Ménard / Mer and Media Agency