The first of the five qualifying races for the round the world starts this Sunday from Les Sables d’Olonne.
Created hastily – and successfully – in the midst of the Covid-19 crisis to make up for the cancellations of The Transat and the New York-Vendée, qualifying races for the latest Vendée Globe, the Vendée Arctic-Les Sables Olonne is set in the landscape of offshore racing. 25 patterns will take the output of 2e edition this Sunday (5pm) to Iceland for an unprecedented crossing of the borders of the Arctic Circle. The event is one of five qualifying races for the next solo world tour scheduled for 2024, with the Route du Rhum (November 2022), the return race of the Transat Jacques Vabre (November 2023), the Transat CIC and New York – Vendée-Les Sables (2024).
The race notice for the next Vendée Globe states that it is enough to start two of these events and finish at least one of them (in a time 50% slower at most than the winner) it is enough to qualify. But in reality, ticking these boxes alone will probably not be enough to be at the starting line on November 10, 2024. Because with more candidates than available seats (40, plus a wildcard), the number of miles accumulated by the skippers will take into account the Imoca races (12 in total) to decide between them. With its copious route (3,500 miles, the equivalent of a Route du rum, between 10 and 12 days of sailing planned), the Vendée Arctique is a first great meeting even if there is no, yet no accounting urgency.
“My goal is to complete this course to validate qualifying miles, recognizes the Normand Louis Duc (Fives – Lantana Environnement) which aims for a first participation in the Vendée Globe in 2024. But what interests me is to compare the performance of (other) boats (with daggerboards) with mine to see if we can still improve things and define the lines of work for next season. For podium candidates for the next round the world, the counter is also important, without becoming an obsession. “There will be other qualifying races, I leave mainly with the aim of being as efficient as possiblesays Alan Roura, now skipper of Alex Thomson’s former coveted ship (Hugo Boss now Hublot). An extreme foiler who is still learning to master. “Since the training periods have been short since the re-launch of the ship, this great loop through Iceland will bring me a lot of experience on board. Not to mention that I also have a first chance to qualify for the Vendée Globe here“, explains the Swiss.
Third in the last Vendée Globe, Louis Burton is in the same situation at the head of Bureau Vallée 3 (formerly L’Occitane en Provence). “The goal is to continue working on the reliability of the ship. The course is complete and this will allow you to try everything at all speeds, without breaking anything. Obviously, I will aim for the head of the fleet, considering that it is a race that counts for the selection of the Vendée Globe.», Planta el Malouin.
Among the favorites to win, Charlie Dalin (Apivia), Thomas Ruyant (LinkedOut) or Jérémie Beyou (Charal), the issue of miles to accumulate is even more in the background. Except for setbacks, they will be among the top 13 skippers to start a qualifying race at the helm of a new boat, which will exempt them from the mile race. Charal 2 (Beyou) will be released on June 30, while the new Apivia (Dalin) and Advens 2 (Ruyant) are scheduled for early 2023. Shine – and win – in montages that now know by heart is their only goal in this Arctic. Vendée. “I would like to finish the story in the best possible way before I part with it. ” explains Beyou about the Charal 1 with which he won the first edition two years ago.
“We expect much more committed times (than in 2020), warns the triple winner of the Solitaire du Figaro. There will be many transitions, many changes of pace, different sailing configurations. There will be many pitfalls, especially along the coasts of England, Ireland and then around Iceland. It will be necessary to take care of the ice zones and the traffic of fishermen “. From the start of the race, competitors will face a first hurdle, an anticyclonic ridge that stretches from the Azores to Ireland. “It will probably be the second night, it will not be an easy time because we will hardly be able to sleep “. warns Isabelle Joschke (MACSF).
“In the great piece of courage that leads to Iceland, there is a corridor through which the depressions that come from Newfoundland and the United States pass, presents race director Francis Le Goff. They recede to the north and circulate to the west or east of Iceland. You will have to cross these corridors of depression, and for that, choose the best time to cross. The complexity comes from the fact that they move quite quickly, which requires a lot of vigilance. It will be very enjoyable for the fans of the race; it is the promise of a lot of work on board, with regular maneuvers, sailing changes and a lot of sailing work ”.
“Beyond the Vendée Globe, which is out of category, this race with the expected extreme conditions and its long coastal journey along the Icelandic coast, is potentially the toughest of the Imoca circuit in the North Atlantic.For his part, Charlie Dalin considers.