The world of single-handed offshore racing is a unique one. It’s often quoted that more people have been into space than sailed around the planet non-stop. So it’s no surprise that the ninth edition of the Vendée Globe promises to be one of global sports most outstanding events to span the European winter of 2020 -2021.
On November 8 in Les Sables d'Olonne on France’s Vendée coast 33 solo sailors are set to take the start line. Not since the 2008-2009 edition, when there were 30 starters, has the field been so large. This time around it includes ten non-French skippers and a record number of six female skippers.
Regarded as the Holy Grail for solo sailors, the Vendée Globe is the only race of its kind where sail racing combines with adventure on the global stage. During the solo voyage, sailors will push themselves and their boats to their physical limits over the course of 21,638-miles and 70 to 100 days.
Winning the Vendée Globe involves a lot of different factors: a well-organised project team, a fast and reliable boat, hard work and talent. Some competitors bring together all these elements and are determined to perform well and even win. While for others, just by taking part in the toughest race in the world automatically grants them entry into a particularly exclusive club.
During the race they have to know how to fix everything that can possibly break on complex boats, to read ocean weather systems, and to contend with the fear – or joy – that can only come when you are thousands of miles from land, alone.
Solo sailors have always had to be their own engineers, but the complexity of a modern foiler now requires a huge team behind them that not only includes sailmakers and electricians, but also specialists in aeronautics, hydraulics and composites.
The 33-boat fleet that is expected to line up this year is one of the most intriguing and untested that has been seen to date. The IMOCA class has fostered advances in offshore foiling ("underwater wings") that lift the boats above water to deliver seemingly impossible speeds for these 60-foot carbon monohulls. The 2016 edition saw the start of this technological shift. The 2020 edition sees significant technological advances in foil shape, form and structure along with advances in hull design and structure with boats now designed and built specifically to foil and to fly above the sea’s surface for longer periods.
Amongst the line-up of world-renowned sailors is one of the most experienced on the circuit - Alex Thomson, who is entering his fifth Vendée and hoping to take the top spot.
Alex Thomson Racing officially launched its new HUGO BOSS yacht earlier this year, featuring many radical new design features with Doyle Sails once again designing and developing the full sail inventory, utilising Doyle’s latest Stratis technology.
Over 100 naval architects, engineers and boat builders have worked together to design and build the ocean racing team’s new 60ft IMOCA.
The foiling monohull will be instantly recognisable at the start line in Les Sables d'Olonne with its iconic design of black and fluorescent pink state-of the-art hydrofoils.
Doyle Sails are high performance sailmakers, with a reputation for being proven innovators with new sail technology. Our new sailmakers work together delivering the world-class quality, performance and customer service you have come to expect from Doyle Sails globally.
COMING SOON – more on the sail design & technology behind HUGO BOSS.