With eighteen months to go to the start of the eighth solo round the world race, which starts on 6th November 2016, eleven skippers are already pre-registered: Jérémie Beyou, Tanguy De Lamotte, Vincent Riou, Armel Le Cléac'h, Jean-Pierre Dick, Paul Meilhat, Kito De Pavant, Alessandro Di Benedetto, Morgan Lagravière, Alex Thomson and Bertrand De Broc. New boats are being launched, existing 60-footers being bought, budgets being completed or nearing completion: the list of skippers pre-registered is set to grow over the coming months and we can reasonably expect between 20 and 25 boats on the start line in les Sables d’Olonne.
Eleven sailors are already certain of lining up at the start of the next Vendée Globe. Among them, two newcomers (Paul Meilhat and Morgan Lagravière), but also some, who are back for the fourth time (Vincent Riou, Jean-Pierre Dick, Alex Thomson and Bertrand de Broc). The first to make his pre-registration official was Jérémie Beyou, who will be racing aboard Maître Coq (a VPLP-Verdier design from 2010), the former Banque Populaire aboard which Armel Le Cléac’h finished second in theeh 2012-2013 Vendée Globe. Forced to retire in the last two editions, Beyou is aiming to make it to the podium or better…
After finishing tenth in 2012-2013 aboard a 60-foot boat from 1998, Tanguy de Lamotte (Initiatives Cœur-K Line) is moving up a step, as he has acquired a Farr design from 2006, which has already taken part in the race twice, once with Vincent Riou (in 2008/2009) then with Arnaud Boissières (in 2012/2013). Vincent Riou will be the only former winner of the Vendée Globe to be there at the start in 2016, aboard PRB (a 2010 VPLP-Verdier design) on which he was forced to retire last time. His goal will be to join Michel Desjoyeaux as a two times winner. Second in the last two Vendée Globe races, Armel Le Cléac’h will be launching his brand new monohull in late May – a VPLP/Verdier design (Banque Populaire VIII) on which he will be one of the serious contenders.
Jean-Pierre Dick is going to have to wait until Septmber for his StMichel-Virbac to be launched. He too is aiming for the top of the podium. After retiring early on in 2008 and in 2012, Kito de Pavant will hope it is third time lucky in the Vendée Globe, while remaining an outsider. He has acquired the 2010 VPLP-Verdier designed boat, Alex Thomson’s former Hugo Boss (previously Jean-Pierre Dick’s Virbac-Paprec 3) which is to be named Bastide-Otio. Paul Meilhat will be racing on the boat that won the last race. François Gabart’s former Macif (designed by VPLP-Verdier in 2011). An efficient machine, which should allow him to be up there with the frontrunners.
Eleventh in the last Vendée Globe with a boat from 1998, Alessandro di Benedetto is likely to be racing aboard Dee Caffari’s former Aviva, an Owen-Clarke design from 2007, thanks to the support of a benefactor, who is a keen Vendée Globe follower. The Franco-Italian skipper is now looking for more funding to buy the boat and to ensure he will be there in 2016.
Aboard the new Safran, the first of the six VPLP-Verdier designs to be launched for the next Vendée Globe, Morgan Lagravière will be a dangerous rookie. Third in 2012/2013, Alex Thomson will be launching his new Hugo Boss this summer. His main goal on his fourth attempt will be to become the first British competitor to win the Vendée Globe. Finally, the most recent skipper to have completed the formalities to pre-register, Bertrand de Broc will be setting off again aboard the 60-foot boat on which he finished ninth in the 2012/2013 race after 92 days at sea. The former Votre Nom Autour du Monde and ex-Brit Air (designed by Finot-Conq in 2007) has now been renamed MACSF. His ambition to shave a week off his last time.
Other names expected soon
This list is of course far from complete and a certain number of applications are being examined, which means we should see 25 or even more boats competing in the 2016 Everest of the Seas. Starting with some, who are getting their hands on new boats. Sébastien Josse is due to launch his Groupe Edmond de Rothschild at the end of June, while the Italian skipper, Andrea Mura will be launching his Vento di Sardegna in July or August.
After completing the Barcelona World Race aboard Spirit of Hungary – the only new 60-foot boat that has not been designed by VPLP/Verdier – the Hungarian, Nandor Fa is expected to complete his pre-registration shortly. Other skippers, who already have a budget should follow suit, such as Yann Eliès, Arnaud Boissières, Eric Bellion and Louis Burton. Others have acquired boats and are attempting to complete their budget to pre-register, such as Fabrice Amédéo, Rich Wilson and Nicolas Boidevézi. Finally, there are still some skippers looking for sponsors but may well pre-register: Christopher Pratt, Gildas Morvan, Thomas Ruyant, Sébastien Destremau and teh Polish sailor, Zbigniew Gutkowski. The Vendée Globe has never before attracted so much interest from the skippers, with 18 months to go to the start. Those still looking for sponsors have until 1st July to complete their application.