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New York Vendée , an edition rich in lessons before the Vendée Globe!

The last major ocean race ahead before the Vendée Globe, the most famous solo round the world race, the New York Vendée – Les Sables d’Olonne delivered on all its promises. From the Statue of Liberty to the famous Les Sables d’Olonne channel, the solo skippers found themselves engaged in a Transatlantic race full of twists and turns requiring big reserves of mental fortitude, patience and an ability to trust one’s instincts. It was a  real dress rehearsal before the Vendée Globe, the final list of competitors for which will be published on July 2.

Of course there are the iconic breathtaking images that will stay with you for a long time. Those of IMOCAs speeding between the Statue of Liberty and Manhattan during the Vendée Liberty event. Then the skipper face uncertain weather, to the point of setting out on very distinct, opposite routes on the North Atlantic as their playground. And the reward is the ascent of the famous channel in Les Sables d’Olonne.

The race finished with big smiles, each skipper arriving with nothing left to give. Empty.  In New York, the event helped to popularize the discipline to a wider audience and to promote the Vendée and its businesses during the Vendée Liberty in particular. This objective of internationalization was delivered on even before the start as nearly half of the entries were from outside of France.

And the New York Vendée was innovative in different ways. For the first time, an IMOCA transatlantic race was started quite far offshore, nearly 100 miles from the coast. This was to preserve ecosystems and marine fauna as much as possible. And marine biodiversity protection zones were fixed to the north on the way out from the US East coast and around the Azores.

At the start the weather was hard to read and to deal with. After a start with a very light wind, erratic conditions and then squalls, the skippers all came up against a front. All, except Charlie Dalin (MACIF Santé Prévoyance) and Boris Herrmann (Malizia – Seaexplorer) who pressed so hard,  making “meter after meter” according to Dalin before escaping. Dalin sailed to the finish to claim his first solo victory in an IMOCA transatlantic. The German, for his part, set off to the North, initially doubted then lengthened his stride until the finish, taking 2nd place.

Behind the chasing pack had to modify their objective. In this race within the race, Sam Goodchild (VULNERABLE) dismasted, Jérémie Beyou (Charal, 3rd) found he had more mental and physical resources than even he knew, Sébastien Simon (Groupe Dubreuil, 4th) was impressive and Sam Davies (Initiatives Cœur, 6th) just never gave up to the point of overtaking Yoann Richomme (Paprec Arkea, 7th) just before the finish.

And beyond that apart from Sam Goodchild, all the skippers were able to complete the race on time, with many groups enjoying a final fast sprint for the line on the heels of the one and only low pressure system they surfed to the finish.

While we wait for the final list of competitors for the Vendée Globe

The visitors who came to watch enjoyed themselves. Along the harbour entrance, around the pontoon and the village, the crowds were out to greet the skippers. This was clearly a popular event and the sailors themselves spoke about the warm welcome. The crowds were out too to celebrate World Oceans Day in the village last Saturday, just before the race outcome was decided.

The New York Vendée was something everyone was looking forward to, as it was seen as a rehearsal for the Vendée Globe. This was similarly the case for all those involved in organising the event, as well as the skippers.  There was a lot at stake, as by taking part, some sailors completed their qualification process for the round the world race. There was a race to clock up the miles to sort the skippers out. Each competitor was awarded 4755 miles, except for Sam Goodchild, who sailed 3113 miles before being forced to retire.

The final list of the forty contenders for the tenth edition of the Vendée Globe is becoming clear. It will be revealed on 2nd July at a press gathering. With 149 days to go to the start, the clock is ticking. We look forward to seeing you on 10th November for the tenth edition of the Vendée Globe

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