It seems like only five minutes ago that the Race Village at Les Sables d'Olonne was declared ‘open' and the reports were coming in about the huge crowds surrounding the start of the 2012 edition of the Vendee Globe. Now the race is almost over before it's even started. Yesterday the Village was declared ‘open' again – this time to welcome the solo skippers home again at the finish after a race in excess of 25,000nm. Blimey.
The first Vendee Globe started in 1989, and was won by Titouan Lamazou in 109 days. Michel Desjoyeaux was the victor in the last race (2008), circling the globe in 84 days. This time Francois Gabart and Armel Le Cleac'h are only 104 nm apart, with Gabart leading and expected to finish on Saturday evening or Sunday morning – that'll be 76 or 77 days for the whole trip.
Only five minutes ago (1993, actually) we were all getting excited when Bruno Peyron made the first sub-80 days circumnavigation, and if you have a long enough memory you'll remember Sir Robin Knox Johnston's first ever solo non-stop effort in 1969-70... 313 days.
Brazil is certainly stepping up to the sporting plate these days, with the announcement of not one, but two, stopovers in the next Volvo Ocean Race. Add in the 2014 World Cup and the 2016 Olympics, and they've got a bit on!
Who says you have to spend a gazillion dollars and build 72' catamarans to provide sailing entertainment? What you really need is a few Moths, a do-or-die race format and a commentator with a good line in Aussie backchat. Maybe a race venue called Wangi Wangi helps too, but that's an optional extra. Watch the video, it's a hoot!
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