HomeINTERESTClarisse Crémer is Officially selected for the 2024 Vendée Globe

Clarisse Crémer is Officially selected for the 2024 Vendée Globe

Today, July 2, 2024, it’s finally official. After four transatlantic races on the IMOCA L’Occitane en Provence and 14 intense months of racing, Clarisse Crémer has officially qualified and selected for the Vendée Globe 2024.

She will participate in the solo round the world race for the second time, looking to beat her own record that she set in 2020 of being the fastest woman to ever complete the world’s toughest solo yacht race.

Qualify through competition, or nothing

In less than 5 months, on November 10, the 2024 Vendée Globe will start. Clarisse and her team have been fixated on this goal for a year and a half, putting everything in place to allow the skipper to start under the best possible conditions having qualified and been selected on merit. The navigator and mother refused to rely on a Wild Card, an invitation to the Vendée Globe 2024 for a skipper that did not meet all the selection criteria. Media speculation suggested Clarisse was offered the wild card by the race organizers, but these rumours were not something the team or Clarisse were going to rely on.

14-Month Mission to Qualify

Since her return to racing at the Rolex Fastnet Race last July, timing has been extremely tight. In February 2024 she had to divert her energy and resources to fight to clear her name and that of her husband, but still the Vendée Globe qualification remained the primary goal. This race against time has finally ended, as Clarisse and her team have achieved her first objective: 6 races finished, including 4 transatlantic crossings and as of today she is officially qualified for the 2024 Vendée Globe. “Clarisse has completed six races in a little over a year. That’s a better number than I ever did!” her mentor Alex Thomson remarks.

This official qualification is the culmination of several years – and especially a great year of work with L’Occitane en Provence and the team to get here. All the transatlantic races and everything we did was focused on this goal. We did it!” exclaims Clarisse, smiling before adding, “It’s a great victory, a huge pride in the work accomplished by the team.”

Her mentor Alex Thomson shares her emotion: “For me personally and for our team, to see Clarisse finish this race and qualify for the Vendée within the 39 selected skippers, for us is a very proud moment. For me personally, it was as emotional as me finishing the Vendée Globe in second place.”

The Achievement

It’s really a project divided into two parts: the first is to qualify and the ‘victory’ of being at the start of the Vendée Globe. Then the second part is the considerable challenge of the Vendée Globe itself, but it’s a huge victory for the whole team” explains Clarisse.

I am very grateful to Alex Thomson and L’Occitane en Provence, who trusted me and stood by my side throughout this campaign. Without them, none of this would have been possible” says the 34-year-old navigator and mother.

On the shore side for the team, it’s been really tough to start this project, build a team, get the boat, prepare it. Also on the sailing and racing side for Clarisse, it’s been relentless. It never stopped. Not only this, but to go through everything that happened, how the project started, the difficulty with this, to go through the whole story about the weather issues for the last Vendée Globe. These are all mountains we had to climb. It was a tough objective we set at the beginning of this story, but we believed it in and ourselves  and it feels like we’ve achieved the first phase!” explains Alex Thomson.

A Battle Beyond the Vendée Globe

A sporting and moral victory. Clarisse never bowed to her detractors over the past months. “I suffered a lot emotionally when starting this campaign, then I had difficult moments, especially in February. Now it’s a relief, a page turning. Finally, the possibility to look to the future with serenity, even though this project had many twists and turns, I know many things can still happen. But one step at a time, for now, let’s enjoy this victory” she explains.

Alex Thomson has always supported the skipper relentlessly. “It wasn’t fair, it wasn’t right, it wasn’t correct,” says Alex Thomson firmly. He reflects on the various obstacles placed in Clarisse’s path: “When we started this project with Clarisse, it was very emotional. She’d been hurt. It wasn’t fair what happened to her. We agreed with her. I personally thought it was disgusting what happened to her. She persevered despite intense scrutiny, but then the accusations relating to the last Vendée Globe happened. This also wasn’t fair, it wasn’t right, it wasn’t correct. I’ve seen a woman who initially couldn’t really smile, found it difficult to trust anyone, which you can understand given the personal attacks on her. But she didn’t let them win – she developed, she grew, she learned, she got knocked down, she stood back up again and again. To me, seeing someone take these hits and then stand up and carry on like she did is impressive.”

#Raceforequity, a Campaign for Equity in the 2024 Vendée Globe

Mother, navigator, athlete, competitor, comic book author, Clarisse wears many hats. Always determined to balance her passion for sailing and family life, she refused to choose last year, losing her sponsor because of this decision. Thanks to the support of Alex Thomson, she quickly rebuilt her project, and determined that the ‘Race for Equity’ was to be central to her campaign.  The Vendee Globe is one of the few sporting events where men and women in theory compete on the same ‘playing field, but as evidenced by Clarisse’s experience there is still some way to go for this claim to be accurate.  The race organizers are making steps towards allowing provisions within the rules for maternity and these will need to further evolve so as not to penalise skippers who have babies. “My personal story makes me want to drive a change in society so that women no longer have to choose between the desire for motherhood and a sports career” she explained at the boat’s inauguration last September.

On this issue, British navigator Alex Thomson also has a firm opinion: “The qualification process needs to significantly evolve. I think it’s good to consider as many eventualities as possible and really make provisions for someone who has a baby, not to be disadvantaged by the rules. That’s the key part of this. For Clarisse to qualify within the 39 skippers is really important. We wanted to be in control of our own destiny, and we wanted to prove we didn’t need any special treatment. She did an amazing job. I’d certainly see the emotion and feel it from all of our team when she arrived at the finish line of the New York to Vendee Race. It was great for us. Although we share some of the emotion with Clarisse, Clarisse is the one who has to take all this.

Optimization, Navigation, and a Return to Racing Mode

The next few months will be just as intense as the previous ones, as a new race against time begins for the team. They will have only a few weeks to prepare the boat as best as possible for the solo round-the-world race. Clarisse will also have a very tight schedule in the run up to the start line: recovering from the punishing qualification phase, re-starting physical and mental preparations, recommissioning of the boat and getting ready to do battle for 3 months at sea.

For now, one thing is sure: this race promises to be emotionally charged and intense on all levels. Rendez-vous on November 10 for the grand departure of Clarisse as she takes on her second Vendée Globe

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