The Start Village opens for the ninth Vendée Globe
The impressive size of the record fleet of IMOCA 60 boats, which will start the ninth edition of the Vendée Globe solo regatta around the world on Sunday 8 November, was on display at Les Sables d’Olonne, when Yves Auvinet , president of the SAEM Vendée and of the Vendée department, officially inaugurated the extensive departure village.
The IMOCA 60 fleet this year marks a record of 33 participants, and is already moored in the Village awaiting the start of the ninth edition of the Vendée Globe, a solo round-the-world regatta. Its impressive size was revealed when Yves Auvinet, president of the SAEM Vendée and the Vendée department, officially opened the sprawling Village of Salida.
The opening ceremony represented a significant milestone, a tribute to the work and dedication that has ensured this historic edition of the race will materialize, for the skippers, the numerous guests and VIPs who represent the organizers of the regatta, the SAEM Vendée, local regional institutions, and for sponsors who enjoyed the fleet for the first time and were able to meet the skippers.
Auvinet, President of the SAEM Vendée and the Vendée department underlined: “Today we are very happy to see our 33 skippers, their boats and their teams present here along the Vendée Globe dock. Seeing them all here in the Vendée, these wonderful machines and their skippers, whether experienced or novice, fierce competitors or adventurers alike, is a source of pride for the department of the Pays de la Loire region and the town of Sables d ‘ Olonne. Given the health context, it is also a relief that the regatta teams, state and health authorities, sponsors and all teams have worked so hard to ensure that the Everest of the Seas departs this year, and for the Vendée Globe retain its popular character ”.
In response from the fleet, French skipper Fabrice Amedeo paid a warm tribute from the bow of Newrest Art et Fenêtres, “A huge thank you for having had the courage to organize this Vendée Globe despite the health situation. I am very happy to be here and to wait for the start now, I am proud to be here with my boat ”.
The health and safety of the 33 solo employers is paramount. Most have their own measures and procedures that limit their interactions in closed and public spaces. So this was a special and unique moment as we gathered at the top of the regatta pontoon at 09:00 this morning, under a benevolent blue sky and promising early sun for the mandatory family photo, keeping distances of security. This is probably the only time everyone will be in the same space at the same time before taking the exit. In addition to a regular testing regimen, patterns will be strictly isolated for the last seven days before departure.
The race director, Jacques Caraes, introduced the skippers in turns. The registration of 33 participants exceeds the previous record of 2008 by three. But there is also another record with six women competing. For the eighteen debutants, the opening day was very special and brought mixed emotions. Today’s reward is savoring the atmosphere, surrounded by the giants of solo round-the-world racing, as well as other rookies. But at the same time the harsh reality arrives, the countdown to the exit is ticking, the tension increases every day and the great challenge approaches.
British rookie Pip Hare (Medallia) smiled, “Today is a day to enjoy. But suddenly you are here and everything has started. Now we have to continue and finish the race, which is very stressful. I want to finish the race above all else. I just want to finish, although you look at the reality and the statistics and it is difficult to achieve it. But today is a day to enjoy ”.
Roman Attanasio (Pure-Best Western), participating for the second time added: “We have been preparing for four years, it always feels something special to arrive and be here at Les Sables d’Olonne. The ascent, going up the canal before departure, has as much symbolism for me as leaving on the day of departure. It marks the beginning of these three weeks at Les Sables. I feel prepared, but the tension increases in this very particular year ”.
Moored along the dock, the seven latest generation IMOCA 60s stood out, designed by four naval architecture firms and recently built with the maximum technology of ocean ships.
Briton Alex Thomson (HUGO BOSS) on his fifth Vendée Globe outing looked relaxed as he spoke briefly, from the deck of his futuristic black and pink IMOCA before heading back to his secluded retreat. “My boat is exceptional, like many other boats here at Les Sables d’Olonne. We have had a very particular year, with a much shorter preparation time, but we are very happy to be here, ”said Thomson, who has not competed in any of the preliminary regattas in France this season and therefore remains an unknown for his rivals on the podium.
French health regulations limit the number of simultaneous visitors to the extensive 30,000-square-meter Village to 5,000. But this prudent restriction has in no way prevented interactive exhibits and exhibits. Visits to the Vendée Globe Exit Village, and especially strolling along the dock, remains a memorable day for visitors of all ages.