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The Vendée Globe is a round-the-world single-handed yacht race, sailed non-stop and without assistance. The race was founded by Philippe Jeantot in 1989, and since 1992 has taken place every four years.

As the only single-handed non-stop round-the-world race (in contrast to the VELUX 5 Oceans Race, which is sailed in stages), the race is a serious test of individual endurance, and is regarded by many as the ultimate in ocean racing.


The race was founded in 1989 by French yachtsman Philippe Jeantot. Jeantot had competed in the BOC Challenge (now the VELUX 5 Oceans Race) in 1982-1983 and 1986-1987, winning both times. Dissatisfied with the race's format, he decided to set up a new round-the-world non-stop race, which he felt would be the ultimate challenge for single-handed sailors.

The first edition of the race was run in 1989-1990, and was won by Titouan Lamazou; Jeantot himself took part, and placed fourth. The next edition of the race was in 1992-1993; and it has since then been run every four years.

The boats

The race is open to monohull yachts conforming to the Open 60 class criteria. (Prior to 2004, the race was also open to Open 50 boats.) The Open classes are unrestricted in certain aspects, but a box rule governs parameters such as overall length, draught, appendages and stability, as well as numerous other safety features.

The race

The race starts and finishes in Les Sables-d'Olonnemarker, in the Vendéemarker département of Francemarker; both Les Sables d’Olonne and the Vendée Conseil Général are official race sponsors. The course is essentially a circumnavigation along the clipper route: from Les Sables d’Olonne, down the Atlantic Oceanmarker to the Cape of Good Hopemarker; then clockwise around Antarcticamarker, keeping Cape Leeuwinmarker and Cape Hornmarker to port; then back to Les Sables d’Olonne. The race generally runs from November to February; and is timed to place the competitors in the Southern Oceanmarker during the austral summer.

Additional waypoints may be set in the sailing instructions for a particular race, in order to ensure safety relative to ice conditions, etc. For example, in 2004, the racers had to pass north of the following flexible waypoints:
  • a gate south of South Africa, situated at 44° South, between 005° East and 014° East
  • Heard Islandmarker
  • a gate to the South west of Australia, situated at 47° South, between 103° East and 113° East
  • a gate to the south east of Australia, situated at 52° South, between 136° East and 147° East
  • a gate in the Pacific Ocean, situated at 55° South, between 160° West and 149° West
  • a gate in the Pacific Ocean, situated at 55° South, between 126° West and 115° West

The competitors may stop at anchor, but may not draw alongside a quay or another vessel; they may receive no outside assistance, including customised weather or routing information. The only exception is that a competitor who has an early problem may return to the start for repairs and then re-start the race, as long the re-start is within 10 days of the official start.

The race presents significant challenges; most notably the severe wind and wave conditions in the Southern Oceanmarker, the long unassisted duration of the race, and the fact that the course takes competitors far from the reach of any normal emergency response. A significant proportion of the entrants usually retire, and in the 1996-1997 race Canadian Gerry Roufs was lost at sea.

To mitigate the risks, competitors are required to undergo medical and survival courses. They must also be able to demonstrate prior racing experience; either a completed single-handed trans-oceanic race or the completion of a previous Vendée Globe. The qualifying race must have been completed on the same boat as the one the sailor will race in the Vendée; or the competitor must complete an additional trans-oceanic observation passage, of not less than 2,500 miles, at an average speed of at least 7 knot 13 (km/h), with his new boat . Since trans-ocean races typically have significant qualifying criteria of their own, any entrant to the Vendée will have amassed substantial sailing experience.

Previous results


The inaugural edition of the race was led from early on by the eventual winner, Titouan Lamazou, on Ecureuil d'Aquitaine II. Philippe Jeantot, the race's founder, had problems with breakdowns, and then unfavourable winds, which held him back from the race lead. Philippe Poupon's ketch Fleury Michon X capsized in the Southern Oceanmarker; and Poupon was rescued by Loïck Peyron, who finally finished second, in what was generally a successful first run of the race.

Name Yacht Nationality Time
Titouan Lamazou Ecureuil d'Aquitaine II 109 d 08 h 48'50
Loïck Peyron Lada Poch 110 d 01 h 18'06
Jean-Luc Van den Heede 36.15 MET 112 d 01 h 14'00
Philippe Jeantot Crédit Agricole IV 113 d 23 h 47'47
Pierre Follenfant TBS-Charente Maritime 114 d 21 h 09'06
Alain Gautier Generali Concorde 132 d 13 h 01'48
Jean-François Coste Cacharel 163 d 01 h 19'20
Did not finish
Patrice Carpentier Le Nouvel Observateur damaged auto-pilot (Falklands)
Mike Plant Duracell received help (New Zealand)
Bertie Reed Grinaker damaged rudder
Jean-Yves Terlain UAP dismasted
Philippe Poupon Fleury Michon X capsized
Guy Bernardin O-Kay toothache


The second edition of the race attracted a great deal of media coverage; with several participants from the first race, and some promising newcomers, it was set to be an exciting event. Sadly, American Mike Plant, one of the entrants in the first Vendée race, failed to make the start. He was lost at sea on the way to the race, and his boat was found capsized near the Azores.

The race set off into extremely bad weather in the Bay of Biscaymarker, and several racers returned to the start to make repairs before setting off again (the only stopover allowed by the rules). Four days after the start, British sailor Nigel Burgess was found drowned off Cape Finisterremarker, having presumably fallen overboard. Alain Gautier and Bertrand de Broc led the race down the Atlantic; however, keel problems forced de Broc to abandon in New Zealandmarker. Gautier continued with Philippe Poupon close behind, but a dismasting close to the finish held Poupon back and Jean-Luc van den Heede took the second place.

Name Yacht Nationality Time
Alain Gautier Bagages Superior 110 d 02 h 22'35
Jean-Luc van den Heede Groupe Sofap-Helvim 116 d 15 h 01'11
Philippe Poupon Fleury-Michon X 117 d 03 h 34'24
Yves Parlier Cacolac d'Aquitaine 125 d 02 h 42'24
Nándor Fa K&H Banque Matav 128 d 16 h 05'04
José Luis de Ugarte Euskadi Europ 93 BBK 134 d 05 h 04'00
Jean-Yves Hasselin PRB/Solo Nantes 153 d 05 h 14'00
Did not finish
Bernard Gallay Vuarnet Watches rigging problems
Vittorio Malingri Everlast/Neil Pryde Sails lost rudder
Bertrand de Broc Groupe LG keel problems
Alan Wynne-Thomas Cardiff Discovery medical reasons
Loïck Peyron Fujicolor III sail failure
Thierry Arnaud Maître Coq/Le Monde unprepared
Nigel Burgess Nigel Burgess Yachts lost at sea
Mike Plant Duracell lost at sea while relying departure


Another heavy-weather start in the Bay of Biscay knocked Nandor Fa and Didier Munduteguy out of the race early; and several others once again returned to the start for repairs before continuing. The rest of the fleet raced to the Southern Ocean, where a second attrition began. Yves Parlier as well as Isabelle Autissier broke their rudders, leaving Christophe Auguin to lead the way into the south.

Heavy weather took a more serious toll on the sailors in the far Southern Ocean. Raphaël Dinelli's boat capsized and he was rescued by Pete Goss; then, within a few hours of each other, two other boats capsized, and their occupants were rescued by Australian rescue teams. Finally, contact was lost with British sailor Gerry Roufs. While his body was never found, his boat reappeared five months later off the Chilean Coast.

The race was won by Christophe Auguin; and Catherine Chabaud, sixth and last, was the first woman to finish the race.

Pete Goss was later awarded the Légion d'honneur for his rescue of Dinelli. The capsize of several boats in this race prompted tightening up of the safety rules for entrants, particularly regarding boat safety and stability.

Name Yacht Nationality Time
Christophe Auguin Geodis 105 d 20 h 31'
Marc Thiercelin Crédit Immobilier 113 d 08 h 26'
Hervé Laurent Groupe LG-Traitmat 114 d 16 h 43'
Eric Dumont Café Legal-Le Goût 116 d 16 h 43'
Pete Goss Aqua Quorum 126 d 21 h 25'
Catherine Chabaud Whirlpool-Europe 2 140 d 04 h 38'
Did not finish
Isabelle Autissier PRB broken rudder
Yves Parlier Aquitaine Innovations broken rudder
Bertrand de Broc Pommes Rhône Alpes capsized
Tony Bullimore Exide Challenger capsized
Thierry Dubois Amnesty International capsized
Nándor Fa Budapest collision
Didier Munduteguy Club 60è Sud dismasted
Raphaël Dinelli Algimouss capsized
Patrick de Radiguès Afibel beached
Gerry Roufs Groupe LG2 lost at sea


This race was the first major test of the new safety rules, introduced following the tragedy in the previous race. Overall, it was a success; although some boats were again forced to retire from the race, none were lost. This race also featured the youngest entrant ever; Ellen MacArthur, who at 24 years old had managed to put together a serious campaign with her custom-built boat Kingfisher.

Yves Parlier was the first to establish a lead; however, he was soon under attack by Michel Desjoyeaux, who moved into the lead. Pushing hard to catch up, Parlier dismasted and lost contact with race organisers. MacArthur diverted to give him assistance, but was then told to resume racing when contact with Parlier was restored, and managed to maintain fourth place.

Desjoyeaux extended his lead to 600 miles by the Cape Hornmarker; however, MacArthur was closing steadily, having moved up to second place. By the mid-Atlantic she had caught up, and while negotiating the calms and variable winds of the Doldrums, the two traded the lead position several times.

MacArthur's chances of a win were ruined when she struck a semi-submerged container and was forced to make repairs. Desjoyeaux won the race; but MacArthur pulled in just over a day later, to a rapturous reception, as the fastest single-handed woman around the planet. Parlier, meanwhile, had anchored off New Zealandmarker, and managed to fabricate by himself a new carbon-fibre mast from the remains of his broken mast. He continued racing, and gained an official place.

Name Yacht Nationality Time
Michel Desjoyeaux PRB 93 d 3 h 57'
Ellen MacArthur Kingfisher 94 d 4 h 25'
Roland Jourdain Sill Matines La potagère 96 d 1 h 2'
Marc Thiercelin Active Wear 102 d 20 h 37'
Dominic Wavre Union bancaire Privée 105 d 2 h 45'
Thomas Coville Sodébo 105 d 7 h 24'
Mike Golding Team Group 4 110 d 16 h 22'
Bernard Gallay Voilà.fr / 111 d 16 h 7'
Josh Hall Gartmore 111 d 19 h 48'
Joé Seeten Chocolats du Monde 115 d 16 h 46'
Patrice Carpentier VM Matériaux 116 d 00 h 32'
Simone Bianchetti 121 d 1 h 28'
Yves Parlier Aquitaine Innovations 126 d 23 h 36
Didier Munduteguy DDP/60è Sud 135 d 15 h 17'
Pasquale de Gregorio Wind Telecommunicazioni 158 d 2 h 37'
Did not finish
Catherine Chabaud Whirlpool lost her mast
Thierry Dubois Solidaires electronic problems
Raphaël Dinelli Sogal Extenso damaged rudder
Fedor Konioukhov Modern Univ./Humanities retired
Javier Sanso Old Spice retired
Eric Dumont Euroka Services damaged rudder
Richard Tolkien ? rig damage
Bernard Stamm Armor-Lux/foies Gras steering problem
Patrick de Radiguès Libre Belgique beached


300,000 people watched the start of the 2004 race, which for once took place in mild weather. A fast start was followed by a few minor equipment problems; still, the first racers crossed the equator after just 10 days, 3 days faster than the previous race, and all of the starters were still sailing.

Attrition began on entry into the roaring forties: Alex Thomson diverted to Cape Townmarker to make unassisted repairs and continue racing, and a number of other problems hit the fleet. Hervé Laurent retired with serious rudder problems, Thomson abandoned, and Conrad Humphreys anchored to make unassisted rudder repairs. Gear problems and abandons continued; then the fleet ran into an area of ice, with Sébastien Josse hitting a berg head-on.

As the fleet re-entered the Atlantic, the lead changed several times; the race remained close right to the finish, which saw three boats finish within 29 hours.

Name Yacht Nationality Time
Vincent Riou PRB 87 d 10 h 47'55
Jean Le Cam Bonduelle 87 d 17 h 20'8
Mike Golding Ecover 88 d 15 h 15'13
Dominique Wavre Temenos 92 d 17 h 13'20
Sébastien Josse VMI 93 d0 h 2'10
Jean-Pierre Dick Virbac-Paprec 98 d3 h 49'38
Conrad Humphreys Hellomoto 104 d 14 h 32'24
Joé Seeten Arcelor Dunkerque 104 d 23 h 2'45
Bruce Schwab Ocean Planet 109 d 19 h 58'57
Benoît Parnaudeau Max Havelaar / Best Western / 116 d 1 h 6'54
Anne Liardet ROXY 119 d 5 h 28'40
Raphaël Dinelli AKENA Vérandas 125 d 4 h 7'14
Karen Leibovici Benefic 126 d 8 h 2'20
Did not finish
Marc Thiercelin Pro-Form retired
Roland Jourdain Sill Véolia retired
Alex Thomson Hugo Boss retired
Patrice Carpentier VM Matériaux retired
Nick Moloney Skandia retired
Hervé Laurent UUDS retired
Norbert Sedlacek Brother retired


The 2008 edition of the Vendée Globe began on November 9, 2008 and was won by Michel Desjoyaux.

Name Yacht Nationality Time
Michel Desjoyeaux Foncia 84 d 3 h 9'8"
Armel Le Cléac’h Brit Air 89 d 9 h 39'35"
Marc Guillemot Safran 95 d 3 h 19'36"
Samantha Davies Roxy 95 d 4 h 39'1"
Brian Thompson Bahrain Team Pindar 98 d 20 h 29'55"
Dee Caffari Aviva 99 d 1 h 10'57"
Arnaud Boissières Akena Verandas 105 d 2 h 33'50"
Steve White Toe In The Water 109 d 00 h 36'55"
Rich Wilson Great American III 121 d 00 h 41'19"
Raphaël Dinelli Fondation Ocean Vital 125 d 2 h 32'24"
Norbert Sedlacek Nauticsport-Kapsch 126 d 5 h 31'56"
Did not finish
Vincent Riou PRB day 59: dismasted. Redress Given: 3rd place
Roland Jourdain Veolia Environnement day 85: lost keel
Jean Le Cam VM Matériaux day 58: lost keel bulb, capsized
Jonny Malbon Artemis day 56: delaminated mainsail
Jean-Pierre Dick Paprec-Virbac 2 day 53: lost port rudder
Derek Hatfield Algimouss Spirit of Canada day 50: broken spreaders
Sébastien Josse BT day 50: broken rudder system
Yann Eliès Generali day 40: fractured femur
Mike Golding Ecover 3 day 38: dismasted
Jean-Baptiste Dejeanty Groupe Maisonneuve day 37: faulty halyards, broken auto-pilot
Loïck Peyron Gitana Eighty day 36: dismasted
Bernard Stamm Cheminées Poujoulat day 36: ran aground
Dominique Wavre Temenos day 35: damaged keel box
Unai Basurko Pakea Bizkaia day 28: faulty starboard rudder box
Jérémie Beyou Delta Dore day 17: damaged rig
Alex Thomson Hugo Boss day 6: cracked hull
Yannick Bestaven Energies Autour du Monde day 4: dismasted
Marc Thiercelin DCNS day 4: dismasted
Kito de Pavant Groupe Bel day 4: dismasted

See also

External links


  1. Vendée Globe, the official web site (English version)
  2. Introduction,from the official web site
  3. 1989/1990 Edition: A great race is born, from the official web site
  4. Partners, from the official web site
  5. Route, from the official web site
  6. 1996/1997 Edition : The Globe spinning out of control, from the official web site
  7. Qualifying for the Route du Rhum, Conrad Humphreys Racing
  8. 1992/1993 Edition: The edition with the first real dramas, from the official web site
  9. 1996/1997 Edition : The Globe spinning out of control, from the official web site
  10. Pete Goss MBE, from Now You're Talking
  11. Vendée Globe — Entering a New Era, from
  12. Vendee Globe: The full story, from the BBC
  13. 2000/2001 Edition : The Express Globe, from the official web site
  14. Rankings and Positions, from the official web site
  15. Vendée Globe 2004-05 Final Results, from

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