Why MACIF won the Vendee Globe

Photo: Vincent Curutchet/DPPI
Designers VPLP-Verdier, Technical Manager Antoine Gautier and others tell us about the Vendee Globe-winning boat
We admit Francois Gabart was not thedailysail’s pre-race favourite for the Vendee Globe win. In MACIF he certainly had state of the art hardware, being a latest generation VPLP-Verdier design, complete with considerable input from two time Vendee Globe winner Michel Desjoyeaux. However the 29 year old was the second youngest skipper in the race (and ultimately would become the Vendee Globe’s youngest ever winner). Compared to his rivals, such as Armel le Cleac’h, who finished second in the last race, Vincent Riou who won in 2004-5, or the likes of Jean-Pierre Dick, Mike Golding or Jean le Cam - Gabart, a Vendee Globe rookie, had the least experience. In addition to boat speed and the skill and experience of the skipper, the Vendee Globe is constantly a battle against attrition and the weather. While outbound at the Equator six boats were in contact with the leader (at this point, Armel le Cleac’h on our race favourite, Banque Populaire), by the time they were passing the Cape of Good Hope, this was down to four with Alex Thomson on Hugo Boss dropping behind and PRB dropping out following a collision with a stray buoy. At this stage MACIF had pulled into the lead and spent the remainder of the Southern Ocean match racing with Banque Populaire, the two boats swapping the lead on a seemingly daily basis, doing a horizon job on the chasing pack as they escaped an area of high pressure to the southwest of Australia. The significant moment occurred just after the two boats had passed Cape Horn when MACIF was leading Banque Populaire by 30 miles and was in the Strait of Le Maire. As Banque Populaire skipper Armel Le Cleac’h recounted: “I managed to catch up a little bit. At one point I was just 10 miles