Vendee Globe - Phillipe Jeantot

Ed Gorman speaks to the man behind the world's toughest yacht race
Phillipe Jeantot will not forget the last Vendee Globe in a hurry. The succession of disasters and rescues deep in the Southern Ocean presented him, as race organiser, with enormous logistical and political challenges and it was he who took much of the flak from those who argued the race was a ridiculous escapade which made unfair demands, particularly on the rescue services in Australia. Remember the images of Thierry Dubois sitting on the upturned hull of his yacht, which still had its keel on, as huge Southern Ocean rollers swept past. Then there was Tony Bullimore, who spent five days awaiting rescue inside his upturned hull when his keel fell off, and Raphael Dinelli who cheated death when Pete Goss came to his rescue after his boat broke up and sank. After all of that, tragedy came later in the race when Gerry Roufs vanished off Groupe LG2, 2,600 miles from Chile. The loss of Roufs was a big blow for Jeantot and his co-ordination of the search for the Canadian skipper by other competitors led to a bitter row, and a very public falling out with Isabelle Autissier whom Jeantot accused of giving up the search too easily. It is not surprising then that Jeantot - a veteran of three BOC round-the-world races and one Vendee - has one simple dream this time round, namely that 24 boats will set off on Sunday on the fourth Vendee Globe and 24 boats will cross the finish line in three or four months time. That, of course, is entirely unrealistic in a race in which between a half and two-thirds of the field can be expected not to complete the course non-stop and without assistance. Yet Jeantot has reason to be more optimistic this time and he believes that new safety