VENDÉE GLOBE: The final finish - An update from Performance Director John Thorn

VENDÉE GLOBE: The final finish - An update from Performance Director John Thorn

Tuesday February 26 2013 Author: Artemis Offshore Academy Location: United Kingdom

Academy Performance Director John Thorn reports on the Vendée Globe as the finish line in crossed for the final time in 2013...

As Alessandro Di Benedetto now celebrates in Les Sables D'Olonne, the 2012/2013 edition of the Vendée Globe has finally drawn to a close. The end of a race on the scale of the Vendée Globe is a time of mixed emotions for all those involved be they organisers, competitors, sponsors or the public. The finish evokes a feeling of joy and jubilation, tinged with a certain amount of relief when the final boat crosses the line to safety and completes their great adventure, as well as a feeling of sadness that the race will soon all be over for another four years.

Alessandro Di Benedetto © JEAN-MARIE LIOT / DPPI / Vendée Globe

The final boat to finish the race, Team Plastique, today completes the 25,000nm race after 104 days at sea, compared to the winning time of 78 days 2 hours and 16 minutes set by Francois Gabart – a difference of 25 days. While Francois’ result was outstanding and a course record, we should not take anything away from the achievement of Alessandro. Racing solo around the world in an Open 60 in THE most iconic and challenging race in the world is an achievement in itself.  With eight retirements and one disqualification, Alessandro has finished 11th out of a starting fleet of 20 boats. His race has not been without incident and he has suffered sail problems, which have slowed his progress since Cape Horn, but he has made it back and achieved what almost half of this year’s Vendée Globe competitors have not. 

The final finish © JEAN-MARIE LIOT / DPPI / Vendée Globe

There will now be the inevitable post race reviews to be undertaken by the IMOCA Class, competitors and organisers and probably top of the list will be the number of keel failures that the fleet has yet again suffered from. With sponsorship and budgets being so tight for the IMOCA fleet, they will surely decide to make some technical changes to give the boats a better chance of finishing the race. Will a one-design boat be the solution? Only time will tell. 

Gabart's finish © JEAN-MARIE LIOT / DPPI / Vendée Globe

A number of sailors and teams are already focused on the next Vendée Globe starting in 2016, while others are working hard to find a sponsor and put a project together.  Included in this last group is Artemis Offshore Academy graduate Sam Goodchild, who in 2013 is competing in his third season in the Figaro and currently training in the heart of the French solo sailing scene at Pôle Finisterre in Port La Foret, Brittany.

Sam Goodchild © Alexis Courcoux

The Vendée Globe is an aspirational event for any sailor and especially the young members of the Artemis Offshore Academy. The current Development Squad have been avidly following the race, taking in turns to update on the daily race highlights for the duration. Joining the Artemis Offshore Academy squad is the first-stepping stone into the world of solo offshore sailing, with many Solitaire du Figaro winners going on to compete in the Vendée Globe, the pinnacle event in the solo offshore racing calendar. One of the main objectives of the Academy is to put one of it’s British sailors in a good position to win the Vendée Globe in 2016/2012, a goal yet to be achieved.

The Artemis Offshore Academy fleet © Lloyd Images

So until then, well done to Alessandro and the other Vendée Globe skippers of 2012/13 and congratulations on completing one of the most gripping and exciting races ever.  I can't wait until next time.

John Thorn, Artemis Offshore Academy Performance Director

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