Vendee Globe final qualifications

IMOCA 60 fleet at the start - The Artemis Transat 2008 , the same design for the Vendee Globe 2008 race
Whilst for many of the Vendée Globe contenders, August means it is time for a well deserved rest, some are continuing to sail to achieve their final qualification or to measure up against the rivals, as in the Artemis Challenge around the Isle of Wight, while another has been busy welcoming home a glorious old vessel after a solo circumnavigation. The Vendee Gloge race starts 9 November, 2008.

After the festivities in Brest and Douarnenez, Jean Le Cam set sail to complete the qualifier for his new keel and new mast. This 1500-mile voyage enabled the skipper of VM Matériaux to check over the most recent major modifications before the start of the Vendée Globe. The boat is due to return to the boatyard for some work on the interior fittings. As for Vincent Riou, after changing his keel in Halifax following his collision with a cetacean in The Artemis Transat, he has begun another Atlantic crossing from west to east. PRB is due to reach Brittany around 15th August.

The British competitors in the next Vendée Globe signed up to take part in The Artemis Challenge. Eight IMOCA prototypes lined up off the Royal Yacht Squadron in Cowes, on the traditional start line for the events of Cowes Week. Some sailing in the Solent, a tricky passage by the Needles, a rough trip under the cliffs at Saint Catherine’s Point, there was something for everyone in this edition, which was won by Brian Thompson on Pindar ahead of Sébastien Josse’s BT and Mike Golding’s Ecover. This was Brian’s first win, which gives a big boost to his confidence with less than three months to go before the big day. Some summer studying lies ahead for the British contenders, as the duo of Dee Caffari (Aviva) and Mike Golding (Ecover), and of Brian Thompson (Pindar) et Alex Thomson (Hugo Boss) have chosen to carry out training sessions together to work on fine-tuning their boats and improving their performance…

Arnaud Boissières, the skipper of Akena Vérandas, decided to welcome home Guy Bernardin off Les Sables d’Olonne. Guy set sail to complete a solo circumnavigation on board a replica of Spray, Joshua Slocum’s boat. Two different worlds came together on the water and it was difficult to know which of the two yachtsmen was most moved. It just goes to show that ocean racing is an onging affair.

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