More astronauts have circled the Earth than people have sailed single-handedly non-stop, around the world without assistance. Recognised as one of the biggest challenges and most daunting events in the sporting calendar, the Vendée Globe Race is not for the faint hearted…
Taking on the world’s greatest Oceans from West to East, the route encompasses the three major capes of Good Hope, Leeuwin and the Horn. After a long slide down the Atlantic, the treacherous voyage tackles the crossed seas of the Indian Ocean, and then the Pacific – the world’s biggest ocean. If a combination of skill and fortune gets the competitors through the first two legs, the long climb back up the Atlantic to Les Sables d’Olonne, which marks the start and finish of the race, will really put the brave and courageous through their greatest test.
A three times World Champion, Mike Golding is a former career fire-fighter, who turned to professional sailing following his dominant campaign and overall win in the BT Global Challenge 1996/97. He has subsequently achieved podium finishes in premier sailing events including the Vendée Globe, The Transat, the Rhoute du Rhum, the DefiAtlantique, The Transat Jacques Vabre and the Calais Round Britain.
Golding holds several world records including being the first person to have raced the world in both directions. Renowned for his tough mental attitude (he describes himself as ‘dogged and stubborn’) he is feared by his competitors for his abilities in extreme conditions and an innate sense of seamanship.
In 2006, Golding abandoned his race in the Velux 5 Oceans solo round the world race, turning into prevailing winds and currents in the Southern Ocean to rescue his competitor, Alex Thompson (GBR). In the 2008 Vendée Globe, Golding was leading the race at the midway stage in the Southern Ocean, when the boat was dismasted, forcing him to retire. The 2012-13 race is Golding’s last shot at the pinnacle of solo racing.
This will be his fourth entry in the Vendée Globe (7th in 2000/01 and 3rd in 2004/05, retired in 2008-2009)
Educated in Portsmouth, Sam’s keen eye for technical design and innovation saw her attain a degree in Mechanical Engineering from St. John’s College, Cambridge.
A fierce competitor, Sam Davies came to prominence in the 2008-2009 race, where she finished in 4th place. In a dramatic finish, Sam crossed the line in third, but owed a 50 hour time allowance to competitor Marc Guillemot, who crossed the line a mere 48.40” behind her, despite a lost keel. Sam caused a stir with a series of lively video feeds during the race, with media dubbing her “la petite anglaise”.
4th place in the 2008-2009 race
At the age of 40, Vincent Riou has become one of the most symbolic figures of the Vendée Globe. The Brittany–born yachtsman won the race on his very first participation after an epic fight with Jean Le Cam, finishing only seven hours ahead of Le Cam who named him “Vincent the Terrible”.
In the 2008-2009 race, Riou once again crossed paths with Le Cam who eventually had to be rescued by Vincent, damaging his rigging in the process and ultimately led to him retiring from the race. Vincent Riou is the only former winner competing in the 2012-13 Vendée Globe Race.
Joint 3rd in the 2008-2009 Vendée Globe (after redress given). Winner in 2004-2005.
A pure product of the Bay of Morlaix, Jeremie Beyou was trained at the Pole France sailing centre in Brest, and by the age of 18 was already competing with the winners of the French Espoir Dinghy Championship. Success followed, reaching the Top Ten of the French Single-handed Offshore Racing Championship, which he won twice in 2002 and 2005. Beyou’s demanding nature and his acute sense of perfectionism has pushed him throughout his career.
His first attempt in the Vendée Globe ended with him retiring off the coast of Brazil, but since this failure, he’s won the Solitaire du Figaro twice, and the Transat Jacques Vabre alongside Jean-Pierre Dick on Virbrac-Paprec 3. The Vendèe Globe remains his golden challenge, aiming to be up at the front for the 2012-13 race.
Second entry in the Vendée Globe (retired 2008-2009)
Immersed in sailing from a young age, Armel Le Cleac’h discovered the joys of sea gliding on an Optimist in Saint-Pol-de-Leon. As a young boy he dreamt of sailing the oceans, and developed a relentless work ethic which saw him finish second overall in the Solitaire du Figaro 2000, and first in the rookie’s rankings. Impressed with the talent of the young yachtsman, Alan Gautier decided to trust him at the helm of his Figaro, Foncia, on which he won the 7th edition of the Transat AG2R.
In the 2008 Vendée Globe race, Le Cleac’h finished second earning him the respect of his rivals as a spirited, combative and generous man. Recognised as one of the best sailors of his generation, he became the skipper of the recently purchased Banque Populaire 60-foot race yacht with one clear objective; winning the Vendée Globe.
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