Vendee Globe 18 months out

Vendee Globe start
Vincent Curutchet / DPPI / Vendée Globe ©
Since the publication of the 2012-2013 Vendée Globe Notice of Race last December at the Paris Boat Show, there have been a few new appointments made and some major changes within the organising team. Firstly, in terms of the management structure, the SAEM Vendée chaired by Bruno Retailleau, President of the Vendée Council, has appointed Guillaume Henry as the new Director-General.

He replaces Sophie Vercelletto who occupied this position from 2004, but has now moved on to pastures new. Denis Horeau will once again be the Race Director for the 2012 race, the start of which has been brought forward by one day to Saturday 10th November. As for the skippers, the organisers of the Vendée Globe present the latest news on the line-up with eighteen months to go to the start.

The new director-general of the Vendée Globe is Guillaume Henry (43). Originally from the Sarthe area he later moved to Normandy. With a background in marketing and sales (with diplomas from the ISC, ESCP and a master’s in sports marketing from the ESSEC School), he has worked in Western France and has acquired eighteen years experience in marketing specialising in tourism and promoting the local area, and has managed various projects and teams. More recently he was Head of Eure Tourisme for nine years after running the Deauville Tourist Office. Among his main goals he would like to see the Vendée Globe become a truly global event with a greater number of foreign skippers taking part and wider international coverage.

As for the race itself, after being at the helm of the Vendée Globe in 1989, 2004 and 2008 and currently in charge of the Barcelona World Race, Denis Horeau has once again been appointed as Race Director by the SAEM Vendée. His experience means he has built up an international reputation. He will be assisted by a team of four: Anne-Sophie Lefeuvre, assistant and coordinator of the Race Directors, Guillaume Evrard events assistant, along with an English speaker, who will be one of the two assistant Race Directors.

For the first time, the start of the seventh Vendée Globe will take place on a Saturday (10th November 2012). The schedule for the school holidays and the tide times for November 2012 ruled out a start at noon (GMT) on Sunday. On top of that, as Sunday 11th November is a day of commemoration, it did not seem right to plan a start for that particular day. The SAEM Vendée has therefore decided to bring the start forward by 24 hours. That will allow the people of Vendée and the visitors that pour in to enjoy the start and everything on offer at the Race Village. We should remind everyone that the economic consequences are huge for the Vendée area, with the last edition bringing in 39 million euros.

The SAEM Vendée is working in close collaboration with the IMOCA class to make everything as simple as possible for the skippers. While the economic crisis has meant that it is quite tricky to find sponsors, many projects are already underway or are in the process of being drawn up. The various contacts made during the Barcelona World Race have proved once again that the Vendée Globe represents the ultimate adventure and the event that sailors dream of taking part in.

Around twenty skippers have already expressed their intention to take part in the 2012-2013 Vendée Globe. They can be divided up in the following categories:

12 skippers already in the starting blocks

- Including two skippers, who have officially handed in their registration: Jean-Pierre Dick (Fr) – Virbac Paprec and Vincent Riou (Fr) – PRB

- Seven skippers have requested the pre-registration papers: Arnaud Boissières (Fr) – Akena Vérandas ; Kito de Pavant (Fr) – Groupe Bel ; Dominique Wavre (Switzerland) – Mirabaud ; Bernard Stamm (Switzerland) – Cheminées Poujoulat ; Armel le Cléac’h (Fr) – Banque Populaire ; Marc Emig (Fr) – who is currently looking for partners; Jérémie Béyou (Fr) – also looking for partners

- Three skippers have not yet picked up the paperwork, but have announced they want to take part and already have a partner: Alex Thomson-Hugo Boss (GB) ; Marc Guillemot - Safran (Fr) ; François Gabart - Macif (Fr)

Ten or so other skippers have announced they would like to take part and are currently looking for partners. Among them we find Mike Golding (GB) ; Dee Caffari (GB) ; Jean Le Cam (Fr) ; Samantha Davies (GB) ; Yann Eliès (Fr) ; Rich Wilson (USA)

It should be stressed that some other skippers remain determined to take part in the 2012-2013 Vendée Globe and that boats are still available and ready to race. So we can already look forward to seeing between 25 and 30 boats lining up at the start of the next Vendée Globe.

The Vendée Globe is a unique event for three main reasons:

- Its concept: one man, one boat for a non-stop race around the world without external assistance – the Everest of the Seas. The Vendée Globe is one of the world’s top three sailing events along with the America’s Cup and the Volvo Ocean Race.

- Its audience: The Vendée Globe is one of the races which attract the most people and media coverage: 1.68 million people attended the start and finish in 2008-2009. During the last edition, the media coverage included more than 466 hours of television, 300 hours of radio, 18,000 press articles and 213 million pages were viewed on Internet. The event is calculated to have brought in more than 39 million euros.

- Its organisation: Organised by the SAEM Vendée, the Vendée Globe is a sporting event that fits in perfectly with the identity of Vendée, which is home to the world’s biggest sailing boat manufacturer: Bénéteau-Jeanneau. In addition to that, the sea attracts almost 5 million visitors to Vendée each year. The race conveys the image of a department with a strong identity, which is open to the world, as could be seen with all the small businesses from Vendée that were present at the Paris Boat Show and which sell their products around the world.

Vendee Globe website