Vendée Globe skippers to compete in Transat Jacques Vabre

Vendee Globe 2012-2013
© Guilain Grenier / Groupe Bel
Vendée Globe 2012-2013, organised by SAEM Vendee, will start from Les Sables d’Olonne on Sunday 11th November 2012.

Out of the thirteen monohulls that will be setting sail in the Transat Jacques Vabre on 30th October from Le Havre, 11 will be sailed by skippers that will be lining up for the start of the 2012 Vendée Globe. With a year to go to the start of the non-stop solo round the world race, this transatlantic race resembles a rehearsal for the skilled sailors, as they attempt to grab the crown from Marc Guillemot and Charles Caudrelier-Benac, the winners of the 2009 race. If we look at the quality of the line-up, it is very difficult to make any forecasts and getting up there on the podium is going to be tricky. We take a look at those taking part.

4730 miles of double-handed sailing between Le Havre and Puerto Limon in Costa Rica: that is what faces the thirteen duos taking part in the tenth Transat Jacques Vabre. A great opportunity to see how they measure up before the next Vendée Globe, which is due to start on 10th November 2012. The future entrants in the non-stop solo round the world race certainly see it like that, as 11 of them will be there at the start: Arnaud Boissières, Kito de Pavant, Jean-Pierre Dick, François Gabart, Mike Golding, Marc Guillemot, Armel Le Cléac’h, Vincent Riou, Bernard Stamm, Alex Thomson and Dominique Wavre. Only the Spaniard Javier Sanso and the Italian Alessandro Di Benedetto, who has just announced he will be taking part, are missing from the line-up.

The podium of the 2009 race
On 30th October everyone will have their eyes on the winner of the 2009 race, Marc Guillemot, who will have his work cut out to defend the title he won after such hard work battling it out against Kito de Pavant. Marc is able this time to count on the help of a talented co-skipper, Yann Eliès. The two men form an outstanding crew, and on top of that they will be competing aboard Safran, the first VPLP-Verdier designed boat to be built, which became a reference after her launch in 2007. Finishing second in 2009, Kito de Pavant will be trying to do that much better this time, while putting behind him those painful moments in the 2010 Route du Rhum and the 2010-11 Barcelona World Race. This time he will be accompanied by Yann Régniau on Groupe Bel, another VPLP-Verdier designed boat launched shortly after Safran. Third in the last edition of the race, the British sailor Mike Golding is preparing to compete in his seventh Transat Jacques Vabre. With Bruno Dubois, he will be taking part aboard Gamesa, the former Ecover 3 launched in 2007. Marc Guillemot, Kito de Pavant and Mike Golding all know their boats extremely well. This is a valuable asset in terms of reliability and getting the most out of a boat, and should allow them to compete favourably alongside the newer boats which offer a potential for high speed.

Five boats from the last generation
Jean-Pierre Dick, Vincent Riou, François Gabart and Armel Le Cléac’h will be competing aboard 4 VPLP-Verdier designed boats launched in 2010 or 2011; as for Bernard Stamm, he has opted for a Kouyoumdjian designed boat. After winning in 2003 and 2005, Jean-Pierre Dick has certainly got what it takes to shine once again in the Transat Jacques Vabre. With a boat from the latest generation that he has already got used to, having won the double-handed round the world race with Loïck Peyron last winter, he will be sailing alongside Jérémie Beyou, the winner of the 2011 Solitaire du Figaro, who is still busy looking for funding for the Vendée Globe. Vincent Riou has also already sailed many miles aboard his PRB. Aided by Hugues Destremau, the winner of the 2004-05 Vendée Globe is certainly one to watch. Armel Le Cléac’h will be setting off with Christopher Pratt aboard Banque Populaire, the former Foncia aboard which Michel Desjoyeaux and François Gabart took part in the Barcelona World Race. François Gabart, will in fact be a serious contender for the podium alongside Sébastien Col. Currently building up his experience as he makes his way towards the Vendée Globe, he is calmly looking forward to his first major race aboard Macif, the most recent 60-foot IMOCA, which was launched last August. The Swiss sailor Bernard Stamm and his fellow crewman Jean-François Cuzon will be sailing aboard their new construction designed by Kouyoumdjian Cheminées Poujoulat and which was launched in May 2011.

They’re back
Arnaud Boissières, Alex Thomson and Dominique Wavre are back racing in the Transat Jacques Vabre and are not there simply to take part. Accompanied by Gérald Véniard, Arnaud Boissières will be aiming to be at the front aboard Akena Verandas, Vincent Riou’s former PRB, a Farr designed boat launched in 2006. As for the British sailor, Alex Thomson he recently acquired the former BT (and ex-Veolia Environnement), which was first launched back in 2007. In the company of the highly experienced Spaniard Guillermo Altadill, Alex will be taking advantage of the opportunity to get to grips with his new Hugo Boss.

While awaiting his fourth Vendée Globe, the Swiss sailor Dominique Wavre is also back racing again. With Michèle Paret, they will be the only mixed crew in this race in the IMOCA fleet. Their goal: they want to put behind them the disappointment of the Barcelona World Race, when they were forced to retire after dismasting. Dominique knows his Mirabaud (ex-Temenos II), launched in 2006 like the back of his hand after sailing a lot aboard her. Completely refitted after the last Vendée Globe, Mirabaud has now been fitted with a new mast.

Outsiders
The crews formed by Louis Burton/Nelson Burton and Marc Thiercelin/Luc Alphand complete the line-up for this tenth Transat Jacques Vabre. Both newcomers to the IMOCA circuit, the Burton brothers will be trying to acquire experience. Louis is aiming for the 2012 Vendée Globe and they will be attempting to do well on Bureau Vallée (Jérémie Beyou’s former Delta Dore). Finally, taking part for the fifth time in the Jacques Vabre, Marc Thiercelin is taking the skier and car racing champion Luc Alphand with him aboard DCNS 1000.

Vendée Globe website