Vendée Globe, the "Mount Everest of the Seas"
Created in 1989 by Philippe Jeantot, the Vendée Globe quickly became the ultimate test of ocean-going sailboats. Its route and concept are unparalleled: a round-the-world sailboat race, single-handed, non-stop and unassisted. It quickly established itself as the longest competitive sports event in the world – and one of the hardest!
The Vendée Globe is a solo, non-stop, unassisted sailing race, organized every four years. It leaves from, and returns to the port of Les Sables d'Olonne, along France's Atlantic coast.
On November 26, 1989, 13 skippers weighed anchor from the dock of Port Olona – and 10 returned to cross the finish line four months later. Philippe Jeantot had just invented the latest modern legend at Les Sables d'Olonne. The public climbed onboard as well, making a race a huge success, which it has remained all these years. Each new edition of the Vendée Globe is an opportunity to for everyone to witness one of the world's leading sports events, with each team and skipper striving to win one of the last true adventures left in today's world.
The race and its route
The Vendée Globe is open to IMOCA 60-foot monohull racing yachts. It's a solo race, from West to East, non-stop and unassisted. The competitors pass three capes along their route (Good Hope, Leeuwin, Horn), as well as the Pot-au-Noir and the Bay of Biscay, coming and going. All in all, over 22,000 nautical miles of trials, suffering and solitude. This mythic race truly deserves its nickname of the "Mount Everest of the Seas".
In various years, organizers have also established marker buoys or virtual gates, either to create a coastal route near the Sables-d'Olonne, or to prevent competitors from going too far south near the Antarctic, to avoid the risk of hitting icebergs or growlers (small chunks of iceberg which are barely visible).
Walk of Fame
The city of Les Sables d'Olonne has decided to pay tribute to its heroes by creating a "Walk of Fame", along the lines of the famous Hollywood Boulevard. All winners are honored with a bronze plaque, showing their boat, fingerprints, signature, year of the race, their winning time and the name of the boat.
The plaques of the winners of the first seven editions (shown below in order) of the Vendée Globe are located on the seawall in Les Sables d'Olonne
- Titouan Lamazou (Ecureuil d'Aquitaine II), 1989 / 1990
- Alain Gautier (Bagages Superior), 1992 / 1993
- Christophe Auguin (Géodis), 1996 / 1997
- Michel Desjoyeaux (PRB), 2000 / 2001
- Vincent Riou (PRB), 2004 / 2005
- Michel Desjoyeaux (Foncia), 2008 / 2009.
- François Gabart (Macif), 2012 / 2013.