Driving for more Brits in the Vendee Globe

Ingrid Abery Photography / www.ingridabery.com
Solo round the world race organiser and skippers gather in London one year out from the start
A year out from the start of next year’s Vendee Globe so the organisers of the singlehanded round the world race gathered at the RORC yesterday to lend a helping hand to the British skippers still looking for sponsorship to compete in their event. Along with Guillaume Henry, the new race’s CEO and Race Director Denis Horeau, on the presentation panel were Stuart Hosford, MD of Alex Thomson Racing and Peter Pantlin, Chief Corporate Officer from Gamesa. Also attending was the venerable figure of Sir Robin Knox Johnston, the first man to sail singlehanded non-stop around the world and winner of the 1968-1969 Sunday Times Golden Globe race. While seven British IMOCA 60s competed in the 2008-9 Vendee Globe, at present just two are due to be on the Les Sables d’Olonne start line come 10 November next year: Mike Golding with Gamesa and Alex Thomson with Hugo Boss. This leaves Sam Davies, Dee Caffari, Brian Thompson, Steve White, Oscar Mead, Phil Sharp and Scottish sailor John MacKay still hunting for funds. Denis Horeau pointed out that Britain was the country that invented solo round the world sailing with the Sunday Times Golden Globe and developed the sport with the OSTAR that in turn spawned the BOC Challenge (now the Velux 5 Oceans), and caused its two time winner, Philippe Jeantot, to set up the first Vendee Globe in 1989. British solo sailors have competed in every event since the second Vendee Globe in 1992 creating some of the most memorable tales from the high seas – Pete Goss’ rescue of Raphael Dinelli and the rescue by the Australian navy of Tony Bullimore in the 1996-7 race, the duel between Ellen MacArthur and Michel Desjoyeaux in 2000 and the performances in particular of Sam Davies and Steve White in 2008-9. There was a video