No Vendée Globe was like this. Although each of the nine editions to date is a new, different and very unique adventure, the organizers have never before had to face so many adversities in times of a global pandemic. Nevertheless, a record fleet of 33 participants accepted the challenge. This diversity in the field and the intensity of the very different individual stories will be remembered for a long time. Also because with the historically first German participant Boris Herrmann, a strong protagonist ensured that waves of enthusiasm rose up in this country.
Imposing floor: Charlie Dalin's "Apivia"
First at the finish and second in the final score: Charlie Dalin achieved a remarkable Vendée Globe premiere
The first and for many most important victory of the Vendée Globe 2020/21 was the start of the race itself. For this, the organizational protocols had to be constantly updated and the port of departure had to be adapted to the constantly changing situation. For the unenviable organizers, it was a matter of meeting the national requirements for safe events and creating protocols to ensure the safety of employees, partners, visitors, skippers and teams. All preliminary measures culminated in the unfortunate need to carry out the launch "behind closed doors". However, 93 percent of previous Vendée Globe visitors reported that they felt safe given the measures in place to protect their health.
Boris Herrmann's team released this video from the premiere today on March 16. It is full of exciting memories and pictures worth seeing …
NEVER SO MANY STARTERS HAVE REACHED THE GOAL
The organizers mastered the race in the pandemic with dedication and success, giving the fans an exciting piece of sports history in times when otherwise many things were not possible, but the longing for adventure was great. Another plus point: never before has a Vendée Globe ended with such a tight and gripping finale. In addition, the race served its fans exciting "races within the race". A sign of the increased reliability of the boats: never before - as in this solo lap around the world - could 76 percent of the starters reach the finish line.
Arrived this time, albeit a bit slowed down with a damaged foil: Thomas Ruyant on "LinkedOut"
Unfortunately, after a collision through no fault of his own, Sam Davies also brought the race to an end outside of the classification
The race of records had already started in advance with more candidates than ever before: 37 men and women originally wanted to take part, 33 made it to the starting line. The previous record was set with 30 participants in 2008. The six skippers in the race also set a new record. In 2016 there were still no women at the start, in 2012 there were two. With 25 boats in the rating and an additional two skippers who reached the finish on their own but outside the rating, the highest number of arrivals in a good three decades of racing history ensured enthusiasm and happy faces at the finish. The Vendée Globe's two-decade-old women's record was also underbid: Clarisse Crémer was seven days faster than Ellen MacArthur in her 2001 record with her sailing time of 87 days, 2 hours, 24 minutes and 25 seconds.
Courageous, thrilling and successful: "Banque Populaire X" skipper Clarisse Crémer at her Vendée Globe premiere
WEATHER CAPRIOLS BLURRED THE DESIGN DIFFERENCES
Fog on the start day
Four years ago the foils were still in their infancy and were seen more as experimental. In this edition they were bigger, stronger and offered a more balanced range of services. They could also be developed in the direction of certain profiles. In the latest generation of boats, the hull shapes and structures were designed to match the foils. This new generation of boats had proven to be significantly faster in the two years before the race around the world, but were not able to convince in the same way over the total duration during the race itself. They only achieved impressive top speeds in certain conditions.
The youngest generation of foils did well: Charlie Dalin crossed the finish line first and Thomas Ruyant fourth before the time credits for Kevin Escoffier's rescuers came into play. These two latest generation Imoca yachts had problems with their port foils for different reasons. In the racing phases when they could use their starboard foils in favorable sailing conditions, their foilers were extremely effective. The reliability of the new boats in particular requires time on the water, of which not all skippers had enough due to the pandemic-related cancellations of the transatlantic preparatory races and other obstacles. Some of the skippers on younger foilers had to give up, including Nicolas Troussel on "Corum", who was the only one to lose her mast during this edition, Sébastien Simon on "ArkéPaprec" after a collision with an unknown object in the water and Alex Thomson, whose "Hugo Boss "suffered from structural problems. In the rest of the race, Thomson had to retire with a damaged oar.
Others struggled with problems that resulted in at least the length of the race being interrupted. This included Armel Tripon's "L’Occitane en Provence" and Kojiro Shiraishi's "DMG Mori". Jérémie Beyou was forced to return to the port of departure and destination Les Sables-d'Olonne with "Charal" and to repair it. He started the race again nine days after the start of the field. Offshore sailing with foils will nonetheless remain a rapidly growing topic among developers and thought leaders in the future. The ninth edition of the Vendée Globe has given you a lot of food for thought.
"Charal" skipper Jérémie Beyou is remembered as a tragic hero: The pre-start favorite had to turn back soon after the start with a number of technical problems on board his aggressive young foil. However, he resumed the race nine days after the field and bit his way through. An energy performance that many underestimated …
The older generations of yachts have proven that they still sail very well. Boats with straight swords, well prepared by their technical teams, were able to enter the top ten. More than ever, the Vendée Globe offers scope for projects with more modest budgets, but a lot of drive and commitment.
Overall, however, there were a number of weather phenomena that almost stopped the race at many different points, or at least slowed it down. There were conditions when the fleet experienced compressions or compacted in small groups. In this regard, the storm Thet near Cape Verde, the expansion of the St. Helena high into the southern Atlantic, high pressure areas with light winds in the Southern Ocean, the heavy and troubled seas in the Pacific and - after Christmas - a remarkably long light wind phase in the Pacific. All of these phenomena kept the fleet compact. In some cases, this resulted in surprisingly large comebacks.
Sailed with great ability, strong positioning, iron will, only one hand and an old boat in seventh place: Damien Seguin - here with his cozy on-board companions - is one of the great winners of the ninth edition of the Vendée Globe
FOILER VS. NON-FOILER: SURPRISING BALANCE SHEET
The ninth edition recorded the lowest failure rate in racing history at just 24 percent. At the turn of the millennium, there were still 37 percent of nine tasks among 24 starters. The good results of the boats of the generations 2016 and 2008 in the overall ranking were striking. Four to eight year old boats, the skippers of which were able to exploit their full potential, were able to successfully complete the race. Yannick Bestaven on "Maître CoQ" won the Vendée Globe on a boat with foils from 2016. Louis Burton, who worked with Armel Le Cléac’h's previous Vendée Globe winner “Banque Populaire” under her new name “Bureau Vallée 2”, finished third. With the straight swords of his "Yes We Cam!" Fought for fourth place in 2008. And Boris Herrmann could have celebrated the race with the "Seaexplorer - Yacht Club de Monaco" (Foiler from 2016) on the podium had it not been for the collision on the last evening.
Won the race on a 2016 boat: Yannick Bestaven
Damien Seguin was the first skipper of the Vendée Globe with a handicap to steer his Imoca yacht from 2008 with her straight swords to the formidable seventh place - ahead of the eighth place Giancarlo Pedote and his first generation foiler and Benjamin Dutreux on his sword yacht in ninth place and Maxime Sorel in tenth place. In total, two foilers of the latest generation, four foilers of previous generations and four yachts with straight swords made it into the top ten. Kojiro Shiraishi was the first Japanese and Asian to complete the race. Ari Huusel completed the Vendée Globe as the first Finnish and first Scandinavian skipper.
MORE THAN A MILLION VIRTUAL REGATTA PLAYERS
Figures from the media sector show how great the steel power of the race and its characters were. Compared to the eighth edition, the youngest Vendée Globe recorded 1.3 million more visitors on its homepage and in its mobile applications (11 million visitors vs. 9.7 million in 2016). The virtual race organized by Virtual Regatt also reflected the growing interest: More than one million registered players (1,068,908) mean more than doubling (+ 135%) the number of players four years ago (456,000 players in 2016/17). Although the game recorded 25% of international participants including a very high proportion from Germany and Great Britain, it was a Frenchman, Jean-Claude Goudon, who won this year. He set a new record with 69 days, 22 hours and 16 minutes.
The enthusiasm for video among Vendée Globe fans has exploded: with 115 million clip views, an increase of 44 million views was recorded compared to the 2016/17 edition. Journalists and television teams in 190 countries on five continents reported in words, images and moving images. Some of them will be there again on May 22nd, when the ninth edition of the Vendée Globe comes to an end with the award ceremony.