The Vendée Arctique race starts today from the west of France

Solo sailors hoping to qualify for the Vendée Globe yacht race will set off from Sables d’Olonne, Vendée, today (June 12) to start the Vendée Arctique race around Iceland.

The Vendée Arctique-Les Sables d’Olonne race was created during the Covid-19 crisis to compensate for the cancellation of The Transat and New York-Vendée, which were qualifying races for the last Vendée Globe. It is now a permanent fixture on the race calendar.

A total of 25 skippers will leave this Sunday (at 5:00 p.m. this afternoon) for Iceland for the 2nd edition of a regatta to the limits of the Arctic Circle.

The course is 3,500 nautical miles long across the North Atlantic Ocean around Iceland, the equivalent of a Route du Rhum, and is scheduled to last between 10 and 12 sailing days.

The race is one of the five qualifying races for the next solo round-the-world event scheduled for 2024. The other races are the Route du Rhum (November 2022), the Transat Jacques Vabre lap (November 2023), the Transat CIC, and New York-Vendée-Les Sables (2024).

The next Vendée Globe will start on November 10, 2024.

The rules stipulate that starting two of these qualifying events and finishing at least one (with a time less than or equal to 50% of the winner’s time) is enough to qualify for the main competition.

However, in reality, these achievements alone are unlikely to guarantee qualification, as there are more candidates than there are places available (40, plus a wildcard).

sailor selection

Normandy’s Louis Duc, who is aiming to take part in the Vendée Globe for the first time in 2024, said: “What interests me is to compare the performance of the (other) daggerboard boats with my own to see if there are things we can improve. and define the work areas for the next season”.

Alan Roura, the Swiss skipper of Alex Thomson’s (Hugo Boss now Hublot) coveted former boat, said: “There will be other qualifying races, but above all, I start with the aim of performing as well as possible.

“As the training periods have been short since the boat was relaunched, this big circuit around Iceland will give me a lot of experience on board. Not forgetting that this is also my first chance to qualify for the Vendée Globe,” she said.

Louis Burton, who came third in the last Vendée Globe and is from Saint-Malo, on the Bureau Vallée 3 boat, said: “The goal is to continue working on the reliability of the boat. The course will allow us to test everything at all speeds, without break anything.

“Obviously I’m going to aim for the top of the fleet, considering this is a race that counts for the Vendée Globe selection.”

Among the favorites to win are Charlie Dalin (Apivia), Thomas Ruyant (LinkedOut) and Jérémie Beyou (Charal).

career challenges

Mr Beyou, a three-time winner of the Solitaire du Figaro race, said: “We expect a lot more action (than in 2020). There will be many transitions, many changes of pace and different configurations of sails.

“There will be a lot of cheating, especially when sailing off the English and Irish coasts and around Iceland. You will have to be careful with the ice and the traffic of fishermen.

Isabelle Joschke, from the MACSF team, warned: “From the start of the race, the competitors will face a first obstacle, a ridge of high pressure that stretches from the Azores to Ireland. It will probably be the second night, it will not be an easy time because it will be difficult to sleep.

Race director Francis Le Goff explained: “In the great expanse of water that leads to Iceland, there is a corridor through which casualties from Newfoundland and the United States pass. [and competitors will have to] Cross these low pressure lanes and choose the best time to do so.

“The complexity comes from the fact that they move quite quickly, which requires a lot of vigilance. It will be a lot of fun for the fans of the race; It promises a lot of work on board, with regular manoeuvres, sail changes and a lot of navigation work”, he said.

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